Australian Grand PrixView

By on Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Mercedes AMG Petronas

Mercedes AMG Petronas

Almost four months after claiming his second world title in Abu Dhabi, Lewis Hamilton begins his quest for a third crown in Australia this weekend as Formula 1 kicks back into life after its winter break.

Though with the off-season growing ever shorter, few inside the sport have had much time to rest, with the winter period a particularly tumultuous one for Formula 1.

Caterham’s five year stint in the sport came to an end when administrators threw in the towel while Marussia rose from the ashes to enter this weekend’s race under the Manor Marussia guise. Several other teams have been struggling financially, with Sauber embroiled in a court case with Giedo van der Garde over a 2015 contract.

And while the circus rolls on into Albert Park, the thoughts of many remain with Jules Bianchi and Michael Schumacher, who continue their fight on the other side of the world.

The track

This year’s Australian Grand Prix will be the 20th to be held at the picturesque Albert Park Street Circuit in Melbourne, following the event’s switch from Adelaide.

The 16-turn track layout remains largely unchanged since the inaugural race in 1996, which was won by Williams driver Damon Hill, who went on to claim that year’s championship.

61% of the lap is spent at full throttle, with the DRS zones placed on the pit straight and the straight between Turns 2 and 3.

Scuderia Ferrari

Scuderia Ferrari

Most of the corners are low to medium speed – as is usual with a street circuit – though the kink at Turns 11 and 12 requires commitment and a car with a strong front end, leading to an overtaking opportunity into Turn 13.

Fuel consumption is the second highest of the entire campaign due to short bursts of acceleration from low speed, while there are typically 56 gear changes per lap.

“There are plenty of interesting corners, but if I had to pick my favourite part of the lap I would choose the section between turns nine and twelve in sector two - the slow chicane leading to the straight and that fast left-right combination,” says Force India’s Nico Hülkenberg.

“It's a track with a few good overtaking spots - turn 3 and 13, the right-hander after the back straight, come to mind. A lot depends on how the tyres are degrading because being on different strategies can open up new opportunities. Having good downforce is essential and is the main priority when setting up the car.”

The race

10 teams will line up on the grid this weekend but at the time of writing it remains unclear exactly who will compete for Sauber, with the team having nominated Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr, but having lost a court case against Van der Garde.

Red Bull/Getty Images

Red Bull/Getty Images

The race weekend marks the start of several new relationships in the sport; Sebastian Vettel’s partnership with Ferrari gets underway, with Daniil Kvyat filling his boots at Red Bull. Australia also marks the first event of the renewed collaboration between McLaren and Honda.

Four drivers are set to make their Formula 1 debuts in Australia; Max Verstappen will line-up as the youngest ever driver in the sport’s history, and he will do so alongside fellow rookie Carlos Sainz Jr.

Felipe Nasr makes the jump from GP2 to Sauber, with former Caterham test driver Roberto Merhi lining up for Manor Marussia, next to Will Stevens, who has just one Formula 1 race under his belt.

Those drivers have also selected numbers for their Formula 1 career; Verstappen will use 33, Sainz Jr. 55, Nasr 12, Stevens 28 and Merhi 98.

At McLaren, Kevin Magnussen will substitute for Fernando Alonso, following the Spaniard's crash during testing.

Tyre supplier Pirelli has selected the Soft (yellow-banded) compound and the Medium compound for this weekend’s event.

Timetable (GMT +11)

Friday 13 March

  • Practice One: 12:30 - 14:00
  • Practice Two: 16:30 - 18:00

Saturday 14 March

  • Practice Three: 14:00 - 15:00
  • Qualifying: 17:00 (60 minutes)

Sunday 15 March

  • Race: 16:00 (58 laps or two hours)

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