Mark Winterbottom is preparing to head into this weekend’s Coates Hire Melbourne 400 with a different approach now there are championship points up for grabs at Albert Park.
Supercars will break new ground this year by contesting a full points scoring round at the Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix having previously been confined to a non-championship affair.
In the past teams have often elected to use the round to test radical set-ups but this weekend will see teams and drivers take a different mindset, according to Winterbottom.
Winterbottom has previously enjoyed success at Albert Park having completed a clean sweep of victories in 2015.
“In the past we’ve used the Grand Prix as sort of a test where we tried out some different or new things, but now that it counts for points we have to take a completely different approach,” said Winterbottom.
“I expect it will be a challenging weekend, whoever rolls of the truck fast will be in the best position, but having the same car for three years there we should have a good idea where we can find speed and hopefully that will play to our advantage.
“We swept the weekend three years ago but haven’t won since, so hopefully we can get back to the front this weekend.”
Winterbottom showed strong pace at the season opening in Adelaide, finishing fifth in Race 1, and was in contention for a podium finish in Race 2, before being handed a controversial drive-through penalty for exceeding track limits.
While the Ford has proven to be strong at the fast and flowing Melbourne street circuit, Winterbottom’s team-mate Chaz Mostert expects the Ford team to face a tough challenge to beat the new Holden ZB Commodores and DJR Team Penske.
The Supercars field will hit the track for the first time on Thursday when practice begins at 1250 local time (AEDT).