The Australian Grand Prix Corporation released progress photos yesterday of the construction currently underway at the Albert Park Circuit, regrettably accompanied once again with an over simplified track map.
What we know is that the Albert Park Circuit is getting its first facelift from the mostly original 1996 layout. While the circuit is often criticised for generating single file racing due to the lack of passing opportunities, the races here are authentic. The Grand Prix generally does not come with needless FIA interpretation, and most importantly, every mistake at this circuit results in the appropriate punishment.
The latter will only become more true with these track modifications, which include reducing the angle from six corners, straightening out the original 5.303 metres circuit length and cutting it to 5.280 metres. Most importantly, the proper minimalist curbing and grass-defined track limits looks to be staying.
I’ve put the spreadsheets down this weekend and harnessed my background in civil infrastructure instead. I’ve spent some time analysing the construction progress photos, reviewed track width modifications and weaponized google maps with CAD software to put together what should be a reasonably accurate representation of the circuit changes to come. Unfortunately there is not enough information available to conceptualize the proposed changes to Turn 15.
Judging from the information available it appears Turn 1 will be widened by 2.5 metres from the exit of the pit lane to Turn 1. This turn has always been oddly tight requiring good balance to navigate the ultra quick right/left direction change. Historically a mistake here results in battles into Turn 3. From the drone photos, it appears the odd tightness, the result of the small radius of the inside curbing, is going to stay, but 2.5 metres in extra real estate will most certainly result in higher minimum apex speeds.
Its unclear at this time where the extra width being added to Turn 3 blends in approaching the corner. What looks certain is the inside curb will not remain minimalist judging by the generously wide step in excavation beyond the track widening likely indicating a two-stage inside curb. A four-metre widening is noted in this corner, judging by the drone photos the track width will grow by 2.5 metres and the curbing will be four metres wide.
This portion of the circuit is the most complete and easiest to analyse as it’s pretty straightforward. The change here appears to be a new corner alignment comprising of a 40-metre single radius corner. Light braking will be expected here and it’ll be the last time a driver touches the brakes until what will now become a daunting Turn 11.
Turn 9 and 10
The re-alignment here is substantial and straightens out and blends the existing Turn 9 entry and turn 10 exit. A key note is the way the corners flow, beginning with what appears to be an approximately 250 metre radius right turn blending into an approximately 400 metre radius left turn importantly meeting and continuing the existing radius of the Turn 10 exit in one smooth transition down to Turn 11. This is going to be disturbingly fast. While there is no profile or cross sections available, notable super elevation is expected here.
The second completely reconstructed area of the circuit at Turn 13 should spice up the action. There is also an approach widening to the inside of the circuit appearing to be approximately 3.5 metre at corner entry. Notable points from the drone photos is that the inside corner radius looks as though it will be kept tight, a potential reduction in radius from the previous Turn 13 perhaps? There’s also a very subtle bend to the left heading to turn 14. The placement of the granular suggests a two-stage wide exit curbing similar to what was already there, but most importantly, no asphalt run off outside of the curb limit.
No information available although a substantial changes are planned. Stay tuned.