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Complete Guide to the Albert Park Circuit

Let's dissect the circuit where the 2013 Formula 1 season will start this weekend.
Monday, March 11, 2013

March 11th, 2013 (F1plus/G. Polychronis).- Situated in Melbourne’s south, is the Albert Park Circuit, which has hosted many memorable Grands Prix. Here is your complete guide to the track.

The Albert Park Circuit is classified as a street circuit, however its surroundings are not typical of one, as it does not loop city structures; instead it loops trees and parklands, which form the magnificent Albert Park.

The park is home to many scenic features, such as the picturesque Albert Park Lake, which acts as the heart of the circuit and is a locale for many native animals and exotic vegetation. This greatly contributes to the overall aesthetics of the street circuit. The general surroundings creates a certain uniqueness to the track, which is why it acts as one of the best locations to open a Formula One season.

The course itself is considerably fast and many drivers find that the circuit is very easy to learn due to the consistent placement of the corners. This also adds a very smooth and flowing element to the track. There are however, scarce overtaking opportunities, as the track holds few long straights, which is expected of a typical street circuit.

The course consists of a total of 16 turns and is 5.3 kilometres (3.3 miles) long. The lap record belongs to Michael Schumacher at 1:24.125, which was set in 2004.

Here is what the drivers will be experiencing:

Turns One and Two – ‘Brabham’ and ‘Jones’: Turn one arrives just after the first DRS zone and is a medium paced right-handed turn. Drivers will apply the brakes immediately after the 100 metre sign and will shift down into third gear. Turn two acts as the exit of ‘Brabham’ and drivers should attack the curb in order to gain maximum speed as they enter the second DRS zone.

Turn Three – ‘Whiteford’: ‘Whiteford’ is situated at the end of the second DRS zone and poses as the best overtaking opportunity on the track. Drivers will brake approximately 100 metres from the apex and shift down to second gear in order to negotiate the 90 degree right hander. The heavy braking nature of this corner, coupled with DRS, brands this turn as one of the most action packedlocations on the track. Turn three is the absolute cream of all spectating points on the circuit. Spectators on both the inside and outside of the entry to this turn will feel closer to the action than anywhere else on the circuit.

Turn Four: As drivers exit turn three, they will need to swiftly position themselves for the medium paced, left-handed turn four. Drivers are treated to a large run-off area on the outside of the turn.

Turn Five: Shortly after turn four, is a full throttle right-hander. Drivers must hit the apex perfectly; otherwise staying full throttle will prove to be a challenge. Drivers will need to fully utilize the outside kerb, but at the same time, they must respect the synthetic turf that dangerously lingers between the kerb and the barrier. Spectators who are situated at this turn will enjoy spine-tingling acceleration and speed.

Turns Six and Seven: it is one of the most difficult corners on the track, as finding the optimal braking zone is challenging. This is due to the crooked entry to the corner and a vast expanse of shadows from Albert Park’s trees that engulf the road. Once the drivers locate the optimal braking zone, they will shift down to secondgear and complete the right-hander. Drivers will emerge into the sunlight as they race flat-out through the exit of the corner, which creates the left-kinked turn seven.

Turns Nine and Ten – ‘Clark’: ‘Clark’ acts as a right-to-left chicane, which can also be considered a decent over taking opportunity. In order to overtake, drivers will need to gain maximum speed through the long, right-handed sweeping turn that is turn eight. They will then need to dive in on the inside of turn nine to force the opponent to yield his position. Maximum traction is important to gain the best possible exit through the second part of the chicane, which leads onto a very long, flat-out left-handed sweeping stretch of road. To observe the action at this chicane, a significant spectating mound is provided, which allows spectators to have a wide-angle view of the whole chicane.

Turns Eleven and Twelve: Turns eleven and twelve produce a very fast left to right chicane, generally taken in 5th gear. Only a slight tap of the brakes is required for the first half of this chicane and the second half is taken atnear full throttle. The kerbs should be attacked, however too much kerb will disrupt the stability of the car.

Turn Thirteen – ‘Ascari’: After another sweeping stretch of road that passes the Albert Park Golf Course, drivers will encounter a ninety-degree right-hander that is ‘Ascari.’ This corner is commonly taken in second gear with the opportunity for drivers to dive down the inside to complete an overtaking maneuverer.

Turn Fourteen – ‘Stewart’: Drivers will then face another right-hander, which only requires a tap of the brakes and a shift down into fourth gear. The exit kerb will be attacked as they prepare for turn fifteen.

Turns Fifteen (‘Prost’) and Sixteen: ‘Prost’ is the penultimate and slowest turn on the track. It is a second gear, left handed hairpin and a good exit is crucial from this turn in order to gain maximum speed through the near flat-out right-handed turn sixteen. The exit of turn fifteen and the outside of turn sixteen is fortified by the ‘Schumacher’ grandstand and ‘Prost’ grandstand, while the pit straight is spectated from the ‘Senna,’ ‘Webber’ and ‘Fangio’ grandstands.

The Albert Park Circuit is a truly special track, which is widely cherished and enjoyed by the Formula One community. In recent years however, there has been much speculation surrounding the Melbourne Grand Prix with many Melbournians attempting to oust the event and the government complaining about expenses. The Melbourne Grand Prix attracts larger crowds than some European races, which proves how important this event is to the F1 calendar.     

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