Melbourne comes alive whenever Formula 1 comes to the city. Re-discover the mighty Australian Grand Prix Circuit, with information on the track, the history behind it, the changes made in recent years, and who has won there.
The Australian Grand Prix is a firm favourite with fans and drivers alike. The Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit has seen many a contest, and with it being the former opening race of the season, it is fondly looked forward to every year.
With the Australian GP fast approaching, we thought we would explore the Australian Grand Prix Circuit and bring you the information on the track, from its history to its winners.
About the Australian Grand Prix Circuit
The Australian Grand Prix is held at the Albert Park Circuit. It is located in Albert Park, Melbourne, and despite having the looks of a regular circuit, it is in fact a street circuit.
Albert Park is an inner suburb of the city, just 2.5 miles south of Melbourne’s Business District, and holds a population of 6,044. But when the F1 comes to town, that population rises by roughly 125,000.
The circuit encompasses Albert Park Lake, a small man-altered lake, and the entire track consists of normally public roads.
The track consists of 16 corners, with a mad four DRS zones across the lap, something which will be tried out again this year (more on that later).
A lap of the circuit takes just under a minute and a half to complete, with Charles Leclerc taking the new lap record after the changes with a lap time of 1:20.260.
However, it isn’t a street circuit in the same vein as Monaco, which is tight and has no overtaking spots. The Albert Park Circuit features enough medium and high-speed sections to promote closer racing and manoeuvres.
The Australian GP has been held there since 1996, and when the decision was made to hold the race at Albert Park, the roads that were to be used were rebuilt to ensure consistency and smoothness.
Drivers have lauded the circuit, saying the consistent placement of corners allows them to learn the circuit more easily than that of some other circuits, and thus allows them to push harder and achieve competitive times.
The amenities around the circuit - including an aquatic centre, golf course, and Lakeside Stadium - have restricted access during the race weekend. This fact has caused dissent within the community, however for the most part the event is reasonably popular in the city and country as a whole.
Grandstand, fencing and other necessary infrastructure is setup about two months before the Grand Prix, and taken down within six months of the end of it.
As mentioned, the Grand Prix can bring in around 125,000 spectators a day. In 2022, the GP drew a record crowd of 419,114 across the weekend, including 128,294 on race day.
The current contract for the Australian Grand Prix to be kept at the circuit will run until 2035, with a contract extension announced in June 2022.
New for 2023 will be the addition of the Formula 2 and 3 categories during the race weekend.
Australian Grand Prix Circuit History
The first running of the Australian Grand Prix at the Albert Park Circuit was in 1996. Prior to racing at Albert Park, the Australian Grand Prix was held at another street circuit in Adelaide.
The first Australian Grand Prix at the Adelaide Street Circuit was held in 1985 and was won by Keke Rosberg. Adelaide hosted the Grand Prix 11 times before it moved to Melbourne.
Albert Park Circuit will be celebrating its 70th birthday this year, with the circuit first opening in 1953. It hosted six race meetings between 1953 and 1959, although none were official Formula 1 events.
The first running of the Grand Prix at Albert Park instantly caught the attention of fans, with Jordan’s Martin Brundle being sent flying into the air in an enormous accident during the first sector of the first lap.
Remarkably, he was absolutely fine and even ran back to the pits to get the spare car in time for the restart. Fellow Englishman Damon Hill went on to win the race.
One of the most memorable moments in the circuit GP history came in 2002 when countryman Mark Webber finished fifth on his F1 debut in an underpowered and underfunded Minardi car. He stood proud on the podium after the race, despite not finishing on the podium.
2007 saw a then-rookie and future all-time great Lewis Hamilton finish on the podium in his debut race, marking the first time this achievement had been done in 11 years.
The Albert Park Circuit had been the opening round of the season in 20 of its 25 runnings and was still the season opener up into the 2020 season.
The 2020 season, due to start in Melbourne, saw the whole F1 circus show up at the circuit, only to be postponed and later cancelled just hours before practice as many members in the paddock tested positive for COVID (the race was scheduled for 15th March).
Between 1996 and 2019, the circuit remained unchanged. However, after the Grand Prix was not present for the 2020 and 2021 seasons due to COVID, changes were made to improve the circuit.
Australian Grand Prix Circuit Changes
The changes to the Albert Park Circuit came in 2021 and were made to promote faster racing, especially with the new regulations set to come into effect the following year.
There were only two major changes amongst other general modifications. The biggest change was the removal of the existing chicane at turns 9 and 10. This allows for a much faster back section where the fourth DRS zone was introduced (it's the third DRS zone but it was the most recent one to be added).
Turn six was widened by 7.5 metres, while turns 1, 3, 13, and 15 were all also widened in attempts to promote more overtaking.
Taking out the chicane at turns 9 and 10 and making the run out of turn 8 round to turn 11 means the drivers don’t lift off for this entire section.
As such, F1 trialled adding a new DRS zone in this section. It was run for the first time at the 2022 Australian Grand Prix during first practice, but after the drivers complained it was too fast it was taken away.
It will be run again this year, however, with the thought that the drivers are now more accustomed to the new cars and thus more able to handle the fourth zone.
Updated Australian Grand Prix Circuit Map
The Australian Grand Prix Circuit is an iconic one, with an instantly recognisable layout. Here is a look at the updated Australian Grand Prix Circuit track map:
Australian Grand Prix winners
The Australian Grand Prix at the Albert Park Circuit has seen 14 different winners. F1 legend Michael Schumacher is the most successful driver at the circuit, having won there four times, including three consecutive from 2000-2002.
Here is the full list of winners at the circuit:
- Michael Schumacher - 4 wins (2000, 2001, 2002, 2004)
- Sebastian Vettel - 3 wins (2011, 2017, 2018)
- Jenson Button - 3 wins (2009, 2010, 2012)
- Lewis Hamilton - 2 wins (2008, 2015)
- Kimi Raikkonen - 2 wins (2007, 2013)
- David Coulthard - 2 wins (1997, 2003)
- Nico Rosberg - 2 wins (2014, 2016)
- Charles Leclerc - 1 win (2022)
- Valtteri Bottas - 1 win (2019)
- Fernando Alonso - 1 win (2006)
- Giancarlo Fisichella - 1 win (2005)
- Eddie Irvine - 1 win (1999)
- Mika Hakkinen - 1 win (1998)
- Damon Hill - 1 win (1996)
The Australian Grand Prix is always a must-watch affair, not just for the exciting on-track action but for the love and energy from the Australian fans that brings with it an incredible atmosphere during the weekend.
You can imagine then what it would be like being there in person. It's a race like no other, in a beautiful city where the sun is almost always shining, and the mood is always bright.
If you’re interested in attending the 2023 Australian Grand Prix, be sure to check out Seat Unique so you can see what hospitality packages are available for the race, and give yourself a truly unforgettable race experience.Buy Australian Grand Prix hospitality