For UK fans like me it’s time to set your alarm clocks for the Australian Grand Prix. The mix of excitement, tension and sleep depravation finally reaches climax as the lights go out for the new 2016 season!
|Carnage in 2002|
The Albert Park circuit in Melbourne has hosted the race since 1996, using public roads around a lake in what is essentially a street circuit. Teams enjoy a chilled Australian atmosphere, often hanging out behind the motor homes on deck chairs. As per the nature of a street circuit your car set up and balance is forever changing as the weekend progresses. Dirt, oil and diesel slowly clears as the track ‘’rubbers in’ and the grip level increases. The mix of slow and medium corners interlinked by two straights requires good engine performance. Braking and traction is also of importance. Following the back straight is the high speed challenge of turns 11 and 12, a fast chicane that catches anyone out off line. If you’ve done a few laps here on a computer game you’ve probably enjoyed its flowing nature. I became very familiar with the layout – mainly because I don’t really progress past the first race on season mode!
|Brundle goes flying in 1996|
The track is not without its incidents, especially with a tight and challenging run to the first corner. On the first lap of the first race back in 1996 David Coulthard thought he had killed Martin Brundle. Both DC and Johnny Herbert left little room for Brundle’s yellow Jordan on the run to Turn 3. The car made contact and was catapulted into the air. Landing upside down on the tarmac, the car then skidded into the barrier and rolled on impact. Fortunately for Brundle the roll over hoop did its job and he miraculously appeared unscathed. On a more solemn note track marshal Graham Beveridge was not as lucky in 2001 when he was struck by a wheel and killed. An incident between Ralf Schumacher and Jaques Villenueve sent the offending object through a gap in the fence, also injuring a spectator.
Daniel Ricciardo will be looking for a great result this weekend even if the odds are stacked against him. Although finishing on the podium in 2014 he was disqualified due to fuel irregularities which means no Australian has ever officially finished on the podium at his home race. That said Mark Webber's 5th place in a Minardi back in 2002 surely felt like a win!
|Good times for Webber and Minardi in 2002|