The Big Preview: Round 1, Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park, Melbourne

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Formula 1 returns this week, with Melbourne hosting the Australian Grand Prix, the first round of the 2014 FIA Formula One World Championship.

The temporary track around the Albert Park lake provides a stern challenge for drivers and cars alike. As is traditional with street circuits, the surface lacks the grip of a permanent racing facility. This leads to high track evolution as the circuit ‘rubbers-in’ over the weekend making set-up a moving target.

The circuit also has various bumps and undulations that have been known to catch drivers out, particularly coming into braking zones, with gravel traps and unyielding walls waiting for the unwary or the unlucky.

Formula One World Championship

The 2014 edition of the Australian Grand Prix has another factor to consider. All eyes will be on the performance of F1’s new turbocharged power units. Winter testing suggested the 2014 cars had all the performance of their predecessors but with the hybrid technology still in its infancy, glitches abounded during the three scheduled testing sessions.

While teams were able to complete race simulations with increasing confidence towards the end of the testing season, a race of attrition is to be expected in Melbourne.

Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday 17 March 2013.

Additionally, teams are still on the learning curve with their new equipment. The new cars will complete the race distance on two-thirds the fuel used by their predecessors – but maximising the potential of that load entails a new paradigm in race craft and is very much a work in progress.

Teams have acknowledged this first grand prix of the season will be a voyage into the unknown, with many discovering for the first time the capabilities of their race-specification cars during the practice sessions. It promises to be a surprising and exhilarating weekend.

Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday 9 March 2014

Albert Park Circuit Data

  • Length of lap: 5.303km
  • Lap record 1:25.125 (Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, 2004)
  • Start line/finish line offset: 0.000km
  • Total number of race laps: 58
  • Total race distance: 307.574km
  • Pitlane speed limits: 60km/h in practice and 100km/h in qualifying and race

DRS Zones & Circuit Notes

  • The kerb on the exit of Turn 12 has been levelled and renewed (with the same design of kerb).
  • DRS sectors will be the same as those used in 2013. Activation One is 762m before Turn One, Activation Two is 510m before Turn Three. They share a single detection point, located 13m before Turn 14.

Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday 17 March 2013.

Australian Grand Prix Fast Facts

  • Albert Park first hosted an F1 World Championship Grand Prix in 1996. It twice held the (Formula Libre) Australian Grand Prix in the 1950s – the 1956 edition being won by Stirling Moss driving a Maserati 250F.
  • Of the 18 F1 races held at Albert Park, 11 have been won from the front row. David Coulthard’s victory from 11th in 2003 is the win from furthest back, next is Kimi Räikkönen’s victory last year from seventh on the grid.
  • Three drivers make their Formula One debut this weekend. Toro Rosso have Daniil Kvyat (19) driving the STR9. The Russian won the GP3 title in 2013 and Formula Renault 2.0 Alps in 2012. Sweden’s Marcus Ericsson (23) will drive for Caterham. Ericsson is a former champion of Formula BMW UK and Japanese Formula 3. At McLaren Danish driver Kevin Magnussen (21) takes part in his first grand prix. Magnussen is the 2013 World Series by Renault Formula Renault 3.5 Champion and a former champion of Formula Ford Denmark.
  • Returning to Formula One after a season’s absence is Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi. Now with Caterham, the former Toyota and Sauber man has 60 grand prix starts to his name. He has 28 top 10 finishes with a best result of third, appearing on the podium at the 2012 Japanese Grand Prix.
  • 2014 sees many new regulations. In a change to the rules governing tyres, drivers who appear in Q3 will start the race using the tyres with which they set their fastest lap in Q2 – this new rule has been approved by the F1 Commission with a view to ensuring drivers participate in the pole position shoot-out.
  • Concerning the race, the essential new sporting regulation introduced for 2014 is a limit on fuel consumption. Between the start of the race and the chequered flag, a maximum of fuel load of 100kg may be consumed – approximately two-thirds of the race consumption of the V8 engines retired at the end of the 2013 season. There is also a maximum fuel-flow rate of 100kg/hour.
  • On the technical side, the new internal combustion component of the F1 power unit is a 1.6-litre 90° V6 unit. It is turbocharged, features direct injection and is limited to 15,000rpm.
  • Power will also be provided by two energy recovery systems. ERS-K has a 120kW motor-generator unit (MGU-K), replacing the 60kW unit used previously for KERS. The unit can use 4MJ of energy per lap, up from 400kJ. This specification means 2014 energy recovery will supply twice the power of its predecessor for five times as long. It is sufficient to ensure the MGU-K will be recovering or releasing energy for the majority of every lap at most circuits.
  • ERS-K will only be allowed to recover 2MJ per lap. Additional energy will be recovered by a second system, ERS-H, that harvests energy from waste heat in the exhaust. No limit is placed on the amount of energy that can be recovered by ERS-H.

Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday 16 March 2013.

Reuters Australian Grand Prix Statistics

  • Statistics for Sunday’s season-opening Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit.
  • Quadruple world champion Vettel is chasing a record 10th successive race victory after winning the last nine of 2013. He is the first driver to do that in a single season.
  • The 26-year-old German, who won a record-equalling 13 races last year, has not been beaten since July.
  • The only other driver to have won nine races in a row was Italian Alberto Ascari in 1952/53.
  • Vettel is the youngest quadruple world champion and the first to win his first four crowns in a row.
  • Compatriot and seven times champion Schumacher, currently in a coma after a skiing accident, is the only driver to have won five championships in a row.
  • Red Bull have won the constructors’ crown for the last four years, only the third team to perform that feat after Ferrari and McLaren.
  • Five champions will be on the Melbourne starting grid: Vettel (2013, 2012, 2011, 2010), Jenson Button (2009), Lewis Hamilton (2008), Kimi Raikkonen (2007), Fernando Alonso (2006, 2005).
  • Vettel and Raikkonen are the only ones still racing for the teams with which they won their titles.
  • Vettel has 39 career wins, Fernando Alonso 32, Lewis Hamilton 22, Raikkonen 20 and Jenson Button 15.
  • Vettel needs two more race victories to equal the late Ayrton Senna’s tally of 41. Only Alain Prost (51) and Schumacher (91) have won more.
  • Ferrari have won 221 races, McLaren 182, Williams 114 and Red Bull 46.
  • McLaren have not been on the podium since November 2012, when Button won in Brazil.
  • Vettel took nine poles last year, well short of his 2011 record of 15. Mercedes and Red Bull were the only teams to start on pole in 2013.
  • Vettel now has 45 career poles. Only Schumacher (68) and Senna (65) have scored more.
  • Ferrari have finished a record 67 successive races with at least one car in the points, a run that dates back to the 2010 German Grand Prix. Alonso is the sport’s all-time highest scorer with 1,606 points to date, although systems have changed.
  • Caterham and Marussia have yet to score a point after four seasons in F1.
  • Since 1950, 59 drivers have scored points on their Formula One debut. There are three rookies this season – Denmark’s Kevin Magnussen at McLaren, Russian Daniil Kvyat at Toro Rosso and Sweden’s Marcus Ericsson at Caterham.
  • Button has won three of the last five Australian Grands Prix (with Brawn in 2009 and McLaren in 2010 and 2012).
  • Schumacher won four times in Australia, the most by any driver.
  • All five active world champions have won in Australia.
  • No Australian has ever won his home race. Daniel Ricciardo, at Red Bull, is the only one on this year’s starting grid.
  • Melbourne has been the season-opener on 16 previous occasions. Since 2002, the winner in Australia has ended the season as champion on seven occasions. The exceptions were David Coulthard in 2003, Giancarlo Fisichella in 2005, Button in 2010 and 2012 and Raikkonen in 2013.
  • In total, the winner in Melbourne has gone on to be world champion 11 out of 18 times.
  • The race winner at Albert Park has started on pole on eight occasions. Raikkonen won last year from seventh on the grid. The lowest starter to win was Eddie Irvine from 11th in 1999.
  • Australia marks the race debut of the new 1.6 litre V6 turbo power unit with energy recovery systems. It replaces the 2.4 litre V8 engines.

Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday 12 March 2014

Australian Grand Prix Race Stewards Biographies

  • Dr Gerd Ennser has successfully combined his formal education in law with his passion for motor racing. While still active as a racing driver he began helping out with the management of his local motor sport club and since 2006 has been a permanent steward at every round of Germany’s DTM championship. Since 2010 he has also been a Formula One steward. Dr Ennser, who has worked as a judge, a prosecutor and in the legal department of an automotive-industry company, has also acted as a member of the steering committee of German motor sport body, the DMSB, since spring 2010, where he is responsible for automobile sport. In addition, Dr Ennser is a board member of the South Bavaria Section of ADAC, Germany’s biggest auto club.
  • As the son of former McLaren team principal Teddy Mayer, Tim Mayer grew up around motor sport. He organised IndyCar races internationally from 1992-98, aided the construction of several circuits, and produced international TV for multiple series. In 1998 he became CART’s Senior VP for Racing Operations. He also became VP of ACCUS, the US ASN. In 2003, Mayer became COO of IMSA, operating multiple series at all levels, and also took on the role of COO and Race Director of the American Le Mans Series. He was elected an independent Director of ACCUS and FIA US Alternate Delegate, responsible for US World Championship events.
  • During a motor sport career spanning almost 40 years, Emanuele Pirro has achieved a huge amount of success, most notably in sportscar racing, with five Le Mans wins, victory at the Daytona 24 Hours and two wins at the Sebring 12 Hours. In addition, the Italian driver has won the German and Italian Touring Car championships (the latter twice) and has twice been American Le Mans Series Champion. Pirro enjoyed a three-season F1 career from 1989 to 1991, firstly with Benetton and then for Scuderia Italia. His debut as an FIA Steward came at the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and he has returned regularly since.
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