A lap around Albert Park
One of the most popular circuits in Formula One, Albert Park has been hosting the Australian Grand Prix since 1996 when it moved from Adelaide.
|Albert Park circuit|
Well liked by the drivers, teams and fans alike, Albert Park is one of four tracks on the current calendar - along with Monaco, Valencia and Singapore - which is raced through the streets of the host city.
With 16 turns, including 10 right-handers, the circuit is 5.303km in length, the 58 laps making up a race distance of 307.574km, and the lap record of 1:24.125 was set by seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher in 2004.
Only a couple of kilometers from Melbourne's central business district, the track is laid out in a region that also includes the man-made Albert Park Lake as its centerpiece, a football stadium, a golf course and a water sports complex.
With Victoria winning the contract to host the race in 1993, the roads that were to be used were rebuilt in the lead-up to make sure that the surface was as smooth and consistent as possible.
With only a short distance from the start/finish line to the opening turn, drivers try to get away quickly and up to 300km/h before dropping back to about 145km/h to negotiate the right-hander, and the jockeying for position can have spectacular consequences.
In 2002, pole-sitter Rubens Barrichello cut across in front of a charging Ralf Schumacher, who had nowhere to go and crashed into the rear of the Brazilian's car, while last year Nelson Piquet Jr and Giancarlo Fisichella collided with the Italian's race over at the first bend.
Drivers accelerate to about 200km/h through the left-hand turn two where four cars came to grief on the first lap last year including that of Australian Mark Webber. Coming out of there they speed up even further before dropping back to under 100km/h approaching the right-hand turn three. It was here in 2001 that Jacques Villeneuve shunted Ralf Schumacher from behind and also became airborne.
A short stretch sees the drivers hit about 145km/h leading up to the left-hander that is turn four, with speeds building further beyond 300km/h on the way through the right-hand turn five building to turn six.
The right-hander at turn six starts the second sector and is followed by the gentle left-hander that is turn seven and the right-hand turn eight as speeds again build to about 280km/h.
After slowing to just over 100km/h through the sharp right-hand turn nine and left-hand turn 10, drivers again reach about 250km/h as sector two ends coming along to turns 11 and 12, with speeds only reduced marginally through these.
The right-hander at turn 13 brings drivers back to under 140km/h before its strong acceleration down a short straight then back down to 200km/h at the right-hand turn 14 before increasing to 240km/h approaching turn 15.
This sharp left-hander is one of only two on the track - along with turn three - that forces drivers back under 100km/h into second gear, but they crank it back up to 180km/h through the right-hander that is turn 16 and beyond 300km/h down the main straight.