The Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit - Racing around the lake in the city centre
The Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, or the Albert Park Circuit as it also known, is a street circuit around the lake in Melbourne’s Albert Park. It is best known as the home of the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix, but this venue has a long motorsports history and regularly hosts various racing events.
The Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit has FIA Grade 1 licence and it is considered as the one of the most popular tracks in the Formula 1 championship. Made on public roads, this track is 5.303 km long and has 16 turns. The stands capacity is 80.000.
History of the track in Albert Park dates back to the 1950s
The track has a long history, starting from the 1950s when it was called Albert Park Circuit. That layout was slightly shorter than the modern one and had only nine turns. From 1953 until 1958, Albert Park circuit was the host of the various racing formats, including Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix. Another difference from the current track was that racing was done in an anti-clockwise direction.
There is an interesting story about how Formula 1 returned to Melbourne. The ambition of the Victoria state new government was to wake the city up, promoting tourism and boosting the local economy. On the top of the wish list was bringing top international events to the city and Grand Prix race was one of them. Finally, this plan was accomplished when the hosting of the race was taken from the rival city of Adelaide.
Smooth surface despite being street circuit
Located near the centre of Melbourne, Grand Prix Circuit consists of public road sections, many of them incorporated from the old track from the 1950s, but some parts of the circuit were rebuilt before the first Grand Prix race in 1996. Compared to other street circuits, the track in Melbourne has a quite smooth surface. It is a very flat course, considered as a relatively fast track and easy to drive. The drivers commented that it was easy to learn the circuit which allowed them to find a proper rhythm and achieve competitive lap times.
Some major changes were made in 2004 when the pit lane chicane was removed and in 2011, when another pit lane was added for the purposes of V8 Supercars paddock. Traditionally, V8 Supercars series non-championship race is a support race for the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix.
Long preparations for the Australian Grand Prix at circuit in Melbourne
Preparations for the Australian Grand Prix start almost two months before the race. The stands raising, setting up protective fencing and pedestrian overpasses take a lot of time. After the Grand Prix weekend, everything that was set needs to be removed within six weeks.
Despite being popular and being the most common destination for the start of the Formula 1 season, the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit has opponents, mainly in local citizens and the owners of the facilities nearby the circuit. Every year, they are silently protesting against the race, complaining about air pollution, noise and the fact they are losing money due to the access to many facilities being restricted during the racing weekends. Those protests are usually short-lived and they are falling into oblivion after the Grand Prix weekend which is always well attended.
Michael Schumacher holds lap record time
Apart from the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix, the circuit in Albert Park hosts other international and national racing series, like V8 Supercars. Lap time record holder is Michael Schumacher. Driving a Ferrari in 2004 Australian Grand Prix, the German set the lap time 1:24.125. By the end of 2015, Michael Schumacher was the most successful Formula 1 driver at Melbourne Grand Prix circuit with four wins. Jenson Button has three wins on his account while David Coulthard, Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton won the race twice.
Video – Michael Schumacher pole lap, 2004 Australian Grand Prix
Address: 3206, 12 Aughtie Dr, Albert Park VIC 3206, Australia
Phone: + 61 (03) 9258 7100