F1 News, Views and Reviews

2009 ING Australian Grand Prix Preview

The start of the new season is upon us, the weeks of testing, early morning starts and all down to those few seconds as the 20 cars line up on the grid, pulses racing, the heat exhuding from the Bridgestone slick tyres, seconds feel like hours, the V8’s groan as they fire up to the top of their rev ranges…..BANG…..the lights go out and its a complete free for all as the cars race down to the first corner.

With all the new technical regulations this season, who knows what will happen but I for one cannot wait for the garage doors to open and the cars to start putting in laps.  You can throw the form book out of the window, no-one knows what will happen.

The Track

The circuit is a street based one, around Albert Park and lake area not far from central Melbourne. It never really feels like a street track, but every year it takes weeks of preparations to get the place ready for racing.  It has been flattened out in 2006, and with fast lines it is regarded as an easy circuit by the drivers.  It is a notoriously difficult place to overtake, but creates a good spectacle as the first race of the season.

The future of the track as the host of the Australian Grand Prix was in doubt, but the circuit is now confirmed to be hosting the race until 2015, but the owners do not want it turned into a night race event like Singapore.

A lap of the track

Flat out down the main straight, one of the few places to really get the throttle down.  Brake hard into the first corner, a hard right, tap the apex on the inside before throwing the car back over to the left.  Grip that apex for a little longer before the car pulls onto the outside, maybe even touching the grass a little as you put the power down before turn 3.  Hard on the brakes here, flipping the paddles down the gears, before a tiny speed burst and again hard on the brakes for turn 4, power out of the corner hard hitting the apex on the outside, watch not to unbalance the car as it is a little raised.  Pull the car back to the left, feather the throttle through turn 5.  Turns 6 and 7 require a little brakes and then a throttle feather before unleshing the V8 again before hard braking into turns 9, which is similar to turn 4.  Curved exit on 10 makes it easier to put the power down – watch the wall on the outside the scene of many tyre scuffs over the seasons.  Flat through 11 and 12, this is harder now the car has less downforce on it than previously.  As you head to turn 13, get the car as far left as possible, dab the brakes and throw the car on to just tap the apex.  Same for 14.  As you exit 14, look for the tiny apex on the left and then push the car back over to the right for turn 15, hard on the brakes about 60mph through here, watch the pitlane entrance, swing the car into the straight and flat out over the line.

Enjoy a lap with Michael Schumacher in the Ferrari F2004

Pre-Event Thoughts

Giancarlo Fisichella [ITA], Force India: “I was quite optimistic for the season after the first test, but I am not so excited now because unfortunately the car came late and we haven’t tested enough. Mechanically the car looks alright, with the engine and gearbox running very well, but we need downforce.

We are struggling with the grip, so for the first four races away from Europe I think we are going to struggle like last year. But hopefully when we come back in Barcelona we will have KERS and a new package, I hope it is a good step forward. The midfield may be a little bit difficult, but we will see.

Fernando Alonso [ESP], Renault: “We finished last year strongly and we want to start the new season fighting for podiums and race wins.  We will go to Melbourne aiming to win but knowing that we will have a real fight on our hands.”

Timo Glock [DEU], Toyota: “It would be great to be on the podium or even win the first race – it would be a dream. I just try and do 100 per cent. I want to come out of this weekend with the same feeling that we had over the tests – that we are in a strong position and that we have a good potential to develop the car over the year.”

Felipe Massa [BRA], Ferrari: “We are ready to start the championship and I hope we will be as competitive as in the previous years.”

Pre-Event Photos

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