Melbourne's Albert Park is famous for hosting the Formula One Grand Prix each spring, but it has a motor racing history stretching back much further. It is a temporary venue hosted in a city park, as such it is a track that is harsh on cars and drivers due to its bumpy nature and hard braking areas.
Average turn angle indicates the average angle of a circuit’s corners expressed in degrees. The higher the average turn angle, the more acute corners in the circuit configuration and hence the greater propensity for understeer to compromise lap time. At Albert Park, the average turn angle is 85, against a Formula 1 season average of 110, ranking as the circuit with the 3rd lowest average turn angle across the World Championship. As a consequence of the circuit’s physical layout, an understeering car balance will have a relatively less punitive effect on lap time.
The track surface is bumpy, particularly in the braking areas, hard on the brakes and slippery at the start of the race weekend due to the use of public roads, which will take a while to ‘rubber in’.
Cars consequently slide a lot, so soft, potentially vulnerable tyre compounds are best left unused until the track surface has been coated with the grippy rubber residue that comes with usage. The pit lane is short (typical stops are the season’s quickest, at 23-24 seconds from entry to exit), but the best strategic acumen can be undone by Safety Car interruptions… which tend to be quite common.
Albert Park may not have an abundance of long straights, but it is still a stern test of an engine’s performance. It is a short, sharp run from the starting grid to the first corner, with drivers braking hard to negotiate the tight and often actionpacked first corner. The circuit contains a mix of slow to medium speed corners, interlinked with short straights, which presents a challenge for engine cooling due to the reduced air flow at slow speeds. The fastest corners on the track can be found through turns 11 and 12 before the final series of tricky corners that lead back onto the main straight. Although around two-thirds of the lap is spent at full throttle, the engine’s outright power is not as important as the torque required to quickly transition out of the slow-medium speed corners. Melbourne’s weather conditions are notoriously variable, but ambient temperatures of around 25˚C are usual, a more comfortable level for engines. The street nature of the circuit means it is quite “green” at the start of the weekend and “rubbers in” over the three days.
The key sections of track are as follows:
After the quick flick of turn 2, the cars build up to 300kph, but this 90° right hander is taken at 90kph so engine braking on entry is crucial. There also needs to be good engine pickup on the exit, as this immediately leads into a quick leftright flick: if the driver misses the exit the rhythm is compromised. The fuelling at the exit of the T3 is therefore key and there must be appropriate fuel in the combustion chamber to ensure the engine can produce the power needed. It also needs to be ignited quickly so the quantity has to be completely correct.
This double corner is the fastest turn on the circuit, taken at 225kph with the speed largely carried through. After exiting turn 11 there are two quick downshifts to fifth gear, but the driver will still be very aggressive on the throttle application. This sustained momentum, coupled with the left hand turn generates gforces of up to 3.5g through turn 11. That sort of gforce pushes everything to the right for a short duration, including fuel and lubricants. The engine still needs to respond to the driver’s demand, despite this heavy load. It needs to produce a lot of torque aggressively, but still has to be precise in its delivery to go through turn 12 and get back up to speed on the run down to turn 13.
Turns 15 and 16 are linked as an extended chicane but the tendency is to brake too late into 15, which messes up 16. Engineers will work on giving a good balance by delivering the right level of overrun support into 15; ultimately keeping the engine torque stable when the driver is offthrottle and on the brakes. If the overrun support is correct, the rear of the car is stabilized without too much push so the driver does not struggle to turn in. The exit of turn 16 is tricky as the driver is not at full throttle until fourth gear, instead dancing and hovering around in third as he tries to get the power down.
Tyres: The semi permanent nature of the Albert Park circuit gives it a very abrasive surface, leading to high wear rates on the front left tyre.
Full Throttle: 69%
Engine severity: High
Brake Wear: Medium/Hard
Brake cooling necessity: medium / low
Downforce Level: High 8/10
Tyre Usage: Medium
Grip evolution: High
Average Speed: 225kph (140mph)
Kerbs: Smooth / Medium
Ride height setting particularity: None
Lat/Long grip: lateral
Aero efficiency ratio: high
We've teamed with Chassis Sim to provide a reference trace file for Albert Park, Melbourne, using F3-type data (or the closest representative car type).
A data outing is available to download for each of the major circuit variations. Fine tune your own setup before you even set off for the circuit!
You'll need Chassis Sim's programme or similar data analysis software to open these files.
Address: Australian Grand Prix Corporation, PO Box 577, South Melbourne, Victoria 3205, Australia
PH: + 61 (03) 9258 7100
Circuit type: Temporary street course
There have been some ongoing environmental protests about the use of the Albert Park circuit for motor racing. The protesters can be very vocal but pose no threat to circuit users.
Be aware that the City Police can be very hot on exuberant driving in the area of the circuit.
Due to its urban location there are a great number of hotels offering easy access to the track. Some people prefer staying in the centre of town near the Southern Cross or Flinders St stations, but others prefer St Kilda. Travel to the circuit is via tram (free with an F1 pass), inexpensive if you're here for a different weekend.
The circuit is located in Albert Park in downtown Melbourne, Australia. The nearest airport is Melbourne, around 22 minutes by car to the north.
It’s easy to travel to the Grand Prix on Melbourne’s public transport network with trains, trams and buses providing frequent services. There are several tram stops near the Albert Park circuit, which is two kilometres south of the city centre.
If hiring a car, don't forget to pay the automatic motorway toll, and have plenty of coins handy as most inner city parking is metered.