2018 Australian Grand PrixView

By on Monday, March 19, 2018

It’s a different kind of Australian Open as the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship heads to the land down under for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix March 25 at Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit.

While the championship battle will be waged among the big-three teams of Mercedes, Scuderia Ferrari and Red Bull, the ultra-competitive midfield is wide open. Seven teams consisting of Haas F1 Team, Force India, Williams, Renault, Toro Rosso, McLaren and Sauber appear to be on relatively equal footing as the 21-race season kicks off this weekend inside the city’s Albert Park.

The Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit comprises public roads encircling Albert Park Lake, a man-made body of water just south of Melbourne’s central business district. The roads were rebuilt prior to Formula One’s debut at the track in 1996, but because the surface only sees race cars about once a year, grip is hard to come by, especially in the initial practice sessions. It’s a street circuit that behaves more like a natural road course. It’s quick too, with Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton setting a track-record time in qualifying last year with a blistering lap of 1:22.188 to take the pole.

Facts and stats

Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit has hosted Formula One since 1996, with last year’s Australian Grand Prix serving as the venue’s 22nd grand prix. However, this is the 34th Australian Grand Prix, with the inaugural Formula One race taking place in 1985 on the Adelaide Street Circuit, which was won by Keke Rosberg, father of 2016 Formula One champion Nico Rosberg. Albert Park hosted races in the 1950s on a 5.03-kilometer configuration of the current circuit. During this time, however, the race ran in an anti-clockwise direction, as opposed to the current clockwise direction of the track’s layout.

Circuit length: 5.3 km

Turns: 16

Direction: clockwise

Race laps: 58

First Grand Prix: 1996

Race lap record: 1:24.125 (Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, 2004)

2017 Qualifying: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

2017 Race: 1. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari), 2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), 3. valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)

Weather prediction: lows will range from 14-17 degrees Celsius to highs of 26-28 degrees Celsius.

Tyres: soft, supersoft, ultrasoft

Timetable (GMT +2):

Friday 23 March

Practice One: 02:00 – 03:30

Practice Two: 06:00 – 07:30

Saturday 24 March

Practice Three: 04:00 – 05:00

Qualifying: 07:00

Sunday 25 March

Race: 07:10

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