Melbourne’s Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit has been a fixture on the F1 calendar since 1996 and it holds a special place on that calendar, hosting the opening race of the season.
The 2019 Australian Grand Prix broke a 14-year attendance record for the event, with 324,000 fans attending the four days, including over 100,000 on race day.
The opening race of the season is also the first step on the ladder for rookie drivers and this season proved to be no different, with Valtteri Bottas striking the first blow in his efforts to wrest the world title away from Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton.
It was a good start for the younger drivers on the roster. Young Brit Lando Norris qualified in the top ten and finished a respectable twelfth, while Lance Stroll, Charles LeClerc and Max Verstappen all scored points, with the latter making the podium behind the Mercedes duo.
On the evidence of the latest race around the lake at Albert Park, a Charles LeClerc armed with Ferrari’s horsepower is going to be a force to be reckoned with in years to come. The result also saw his odds, across the F1 sportsbooks of reputable bookmakers accessible from this Bitstarz Casino Review, shorten drastically. In losing out to experienced teammate and four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel by just 1 second, he shows much promise, and appears to have vindicated Ferrari’s continued belief in the power of F1 legacies.
Of course, all venues with a sense of tradition also become known for favouring certain drivers, but Bottas has a long way to go before emulating Michael Schumacher. The German legend is the only man to win four times at Albert Park in the post-1996 version of the Australian Grand Prix, and 2003 was the only year within his run of five title wins with Ferrari (between 2000-04) to see him leave Melbourne without standing atop the podium.
The Australian Grand Prix’s already-impressive longevity is granted further radiance by the fact that it is, logistically speaking, a difficult event to execute. Unusually near to ‘civilisation’ for a Formula 1 circuit, there is some 300,000 man hours involved in setting up the venue, from the concrete barriers to the grandstands and corporate facilities. Work generally starts some two months prior to the event and it takes less time to pack it all up afterwards.
The Australian Grand Prix Corporation now owns the majority of temporary grandstands erected at the venue and this year, an Auckland-based company refurbished some 12,000 seats to make them look like new by applying a solution over a two week period.
During the year, the public are free to drive around the circuit, but in the lead-up to the event, the gates are shut, causing a traffic nightmare in the area, but one that’s necessary to stage such a large-scale event.
As a street circuit, Albert Park’s infrastructure has several notable highlights that are exclusive to race day. After getting past Turns 4 and 5, the circuit takes on an entirely more unpredictable approach, with a drawn-out chicane and a sharp right, before an arc-shaped straight provides some excellent opportunities to overtake the opposition.
Turns 13 and 14 are right-angle right turns, and less-experienced drivers often get found out at this stage. A hard left awaits at the final turn, before the home stretch that has seen many drivers get a Championship season off to a winning start.
The current contract for Melbourne to host the F1 Grand Prix is in place until 2023 and given the success of the event, which also now includes a championship round of the Supercars, it appears unlikely to move anywhere else anytime soon.