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Track inspection could trigger future Albert Park circuit changes   

Tom Howard

Monday 11th March, 2019 - 6:00am

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Albert Park could undergo changes if the FIA and Formula 1 recommend a resurface

The outcome of a track inspection following this weekend’s Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix could trigger changes to the Albert Park circuit to improve racing.

Race organisers are investigating the possibility of a full circuit resurface which may re-open the door once again for potential alterations to the circuit to boost overtaking.

Albert Park has come in for criticism in recent years due to a dearth of overtaking during the annual F1 season opener. 

Last year’s race, which again featured limited overtaking, prompted F1 to push through aerodynamic changes to the cars for 2019 including the introduction of simpler front and rear wings to allow the cars to follow each other more closely.

The Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC) has previously investigated modifications to the track which has largely been unchanged since it secure the F1 Australian Grand Prix from 1996.

However the AGPC remains open minded to changes and is aware the venue may have to evolve as F1 prepares for its new set of regulations in 2021.

The event is prepared to resurface the entire circuit if recommended following F1 race director and safety delegate Charlie Whiting’s track inspection post-event.

A move to resurface would also provide a convenient window to make track alterations.

“It is likely the circuit might need resurfacing,” Andrew Westacott, AGPC CEO told Speedcafe.com.

“We are going to have a look at elements of the circuit and Formula 1 can look at the circuit from a simulation point of view to see whether there are any tweaks that can be made to improve the racing.

“At the Australian Grand Prix Corporation we never want to sit still so we are using it as an opportunity to have people like Mark Webber, Charlie Whiting and Ross Brawn involved in the process to walk the track and look at few things.

“And then in the off season we can get F1 to have a look a few different considerations but I don’t know what they would be at the moment. 

“Changes in technical regulations and the cars (are on the way) and the important point I will make is Formula 1 and Ross Brawn have a vision of what they want new spec cars to be and how it is going to evolve. 

“It is absolutely logical for us to look at that evolution and see if we are going to resurface if there are changes can be made to fit in with what F1 is envisaging. 

“We are ready to resurface if the drivers, the FIA and Formula 1 think that it is needed. 

“Last year the drivers were absolutely happy with the surface and they said don’t touch it. 

“If that changes and there are requirements, whether they are safety or improvement, then we act on those in conjunction with the FIA and F1 when Charlie Whiting puts down his track inspection report at the conclusion of the event.”

Given the tight confines of the circuit situated around Albert Park Lake, Westacott admits that should any changes occur in the future they would likely be minor.  

“The geometry of our circuit goes around a lake and fixed sports fields and buildings and so on,” he said. 

“The changes, if they are at all warranted, and we will find out after Formula 1 do the work with us, they are likely to be minor in nature. The circuit is the circuit.

Meanwhile, this weekend’s race will be the acid test for F1’s new aerodynamic regulations given the difficulty to overtake at Albert Park.

“There is no doubt it will be closely monitored,” added Westacott.

“There is the reduction of aero efficiency you get when you are behind the car in front and there is no doubt the changes that have been made to the cars this year are designed to reduce that reduction of efficiency.

“It is all on the line and we will see what it does to the racing.”

The Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix will host the season opener from March 14-17.  

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