Friday, March 14, 2014

AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX 2014

We're finally here! After that long winter, all the changes to the regulations, new engines, new everything, we're finally going to have the cars run on the track in anger on a race weekend. Welcome back Australia!

The Australian Grand Prix is a motor race held annually in Australia. The Grand Prix is the oldest surviving motor racing competition held in Australia having been held 77 times since it was first run at Phillip Island in 1928. Since 1985 the race has been a round of the FIA Formula One World Championship and is currently held at the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit at Albert Park in Melbourne. Prior to its inclusion in the World Championship it was held at a multitude of venues in every state of Australia. It was a centrepiece of the Tasman Series between 1964 and 1972 and was a round of the Australian Drivers' Championship on many occasions between 1957 and 1983. It became part of the Formula One World Championship in 1985 and was held at the Adelaide Street Circuit in Adelaide, South Australia from that year to 1995, before moving to Melbourne in 1996.

The Australian Grand Prix is the first round of the Championship, having been the first race of each year, excluding 2006 and 2010, since the event moved to Melbourne. During its years in Adelaide, the Australian Grand Prix was the final round of the Championship, replacing the Portuguese Grand Prix in that respect. As the final round of the season, the Grand Prix hosted a handful of memorable races, most notably the 1986 and 1994 races which saw the 1986 and 1994 World Drivers' Championships decided.

Australian driver Lex Davison and German driver Michael Schumacher are the most successful drivers in the 84-year history of the event taking four wins each; while McLaren has been the most successful constructor with twelve victories, its success stretching back into the pre-Formula One history of the race—its first win being in 1970. Frenchman Alain Prost is the only driver to win the Australian Grand Prix in both non-championship and World Championship formats, having won the race in 1982, 1986, and again in 1988.

A trip Into The Unknown

After a winter in which they have coped with a huge rule change, introducing complex hybrid turbo engines, the F1 teams arrive in Melbourne less well prepared for the first race than at any time in recent memory. Only Mercedes and Williams can be said to have achieved the 5,000km target mileage in the three winter tests, while Ferrari were not far off with 500km less.

Others, like Red Bull (1,700km) and their fellow Renault powered teams including last year’s Melbourne winners Lotus, are underprepared and will find Melbourne a struggle this year.

Track Characteristics

Track length : 5.303 kilometres
Race distance : 58 laps (307.574 kilometres)
Corners :  16 corners in total, none particularly fast
Aerodynamic setup : Medium/high downforce
Top speed : 318km/h (with Drag Reduction System on rear wing) – 308km/h without
Full throttle : 64% of the lap
Total fuel permitted for race distance : 100 kilos
Time spent braking : 13% of the lap
Braking zones : 8
Brake wear : High
Time needed for a pit stop : 23 seconds
Pit lane length : 280 metres
Fuel effect (cost in lap time per 10kg of fuel carried) : 0.34 seconds

DRS

DRS sectors will be the same as those used in 2013. Activation One is 762m before Turn One, Activation Two is 510m before Turn Three. They share a single detection point, located 13m before Turn 14.


Weather Forecast

The teams will be anxious for as much dry running as possible in order to maximise their opportunity to conduct more testing with their new cars. On Friday at least, they should be spared any rain. The two 90-minute practice sessions should see very warm conditions, with temperatures almost reaching 30C. It will be overcast to begin with but the sun should break through the clouds in time for second practice.

Saturday is looking a bit trickier. The temperatures will remain high but the wind will pick up, reaching up to 45kph, and is likely to bring some showers with it. At present the indication is these will not fall during qualifying, but as that’s still almost two days away that is certainly subject to change.

Race day is expected to bring another change with considerably lower temperatures – only just making it above 20C. This will come as a relief to anyone concerned about cooling problems with the new V6 turbos during the 58-lap race.

Melbourne weather data HERE.

Tyres

Pirelli tyre choice for Melbourne: Soft and Medium.

The tyres this season are quite different from last year’s in that they are more durable. This is to deal with the greatly increased torque from the hybrid turbo engines, which causes wheelspin. Pirelli’s objective was to make all four tyres in the range one step harder than last year. So the choice of soft and medium means that the option tyre (the soft) is two steps harder than Pirelli’s option tyre last year, which was supersoft.
The performance difference between the two compounds this year will be around 1.2 to 1.5 seconds per lap, which will mean that teams will seek to spend as little time on the medium as possible.

Safety Car

The chance of a safety car at Albert Park is 60%, although there have been safety cars in four of the last six years. The average number of safety car interventions for the race is 1.7 (in 2006 there were four).

This will be one of the most exciting and unpredictable race in years as we really have no idea who will be fast but more importantly reliable enough to finish this race and get points. Having a DNF here is really not what any team wants.

If you enjoyed this posting, please do share it with your network so more people can enjoy it as well. Also, check out my t-shirt design for Lewis Hamilton fans below (designs for other teams and drivers also available), click on image.


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