2016 Track Preview; Australian Grand Prix, Melbourne

15 March 2016

As we head to Melbourne for the Australian Grand Prix this weekend for the first race of the 2016 season, there are brand new tyre rules that are among the most revolutionary in recent history that allow the teams get more choice, which should lead to more variation and at least two pit stops per race.

Alongside this, it is also the twentieth anniversary of the race being in Albert Park having switched from Adelaide in 1996 and it has become a firm favourite with fans, teams and the drivers.

The Albert Park circuit in Melbourne is a street circuit, making it especially ‘green’ and dirty at the start of the weekend. The circuit is all about acceleration and braking: the longitudinal forces are greater than the lateral ones. With their being lots of slow corners, the emphasis is on mechanical grip and high downforce.

For example, you have Turn 8 which is a fast right-hander) like the long left-hander between Clark and Waite grandstands.

The asphalt is reasonably smooth, so tyre wear and degradation is comparatively low. But I should mention that the left-rear tyre is worked hardest and that is the one the drivers have to look after. With the weather being always unpredictable: there’s been bright sunshine and torrential rain in the past and this could play a factor in the outcome of the first race of the season.

Here are the facts and figures going into this race weekend in Albert Park

•Albert Park has hosted the Grand Prix in Australia since 1996

•Laps: 58.

•Track length: 5.303 km.

•Tyre allocation: Medium (white), Soft (yellow) and Supersoft (red).

•DRS Zones: Two with one detection point (Pit Straight and between Turns Two and Three).

•Driver steward: TBA.

•Lap record: Michael Schumacher – 1:24.125 (Ferrari; 2004).

•2015 pole: Lewis Hamilton – 1:26.327 (Mercedes).

•Michael Schumacher is the most successful driver at the track with four wins

•Jenson Button is the most successful driver currently at the track with three wins.

•McLaren is the most successful constructor to win the Grand Prix with twelve wins.

Last Five Winners from the Australian Grand Prix:-
•2011-Sebastian Vettel
•2012-Jenson Button
•2013-Kimi Raikkonen
•2014- Nico Rosberg
•2015- Lewis Hamilton

My five things to look out for this weekend:-

1.Weather- With the weather being unpredictable during the course of the weekend at the Albert Park circuit, we could see the weather playing a part in the weekend once again. With Melbourne hosting some pretty exciting opening races over the past few years such as the 2014 Australian Grand Prix for example, will see yet another unpredictable race once again this year?

2.Tyre performance – With the track being hard on the left tyres due to the characteristics of the Albert Park circuit; alongside the new rules that have been implemented this season, it will be interesting to see how that affects tyre usage this year. Will this impact anyone’s race on Sunday as a result?

3.Performance of Haas F1- With the Haas F1 Team truly impressing me in its approach to Formula One and having a reasonable time in testing (bar a few issues), all eyes will be upon them as they embark on their first Grand Prix this weekend with Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez driving their cars. Will they score points on their F1 debut?

4.Performance of the rookie drivers- With Manor recruiting two rookie drivers of Rio Haryanto and Pascal Wehrlein and Renault recruiting GP2 Champion Jolyon Palmer; all eyes will be upon all three drivers as their make their F1 debuts this weekend. Will any of them manage to score a point?

5.Performance of the Mercedes team- With Mercedes being the firm favourites heading into the season, all eyes will be upon them to see if they will still be as competitive as they were last season. But with Ferrari showing good performance and pace in pre-season testing, has their advantage and stranglehold on the sport been broken?

Sky Sports F1 are showing uninterrupted coverage of every Practice session, Qualifying and race for the Grand Prix (and every race of the season) and Chanel Four also are showing coverage, details for both are below:-

•Sky Sports F1:- Friday (Practice 1 and 2) 1.00am and 5.15am [Replays throughout Friday], Saturday (Practice 3 and Qualifying) 2.45am and 5am [Replays throughout Saturday], Sunday (Race) 3.30am

•*Channel Four*:- Saturday (Qualifying highlights) 12.30pm, Sunday (Race Highlights) 1.30pm

Sarah Jones- @jonesy_laaa