Pit lane changes could spice up Australian GP

Pit lane in Albert Park has been widened by two metres

Changes to the pit lane in Albert Park could see teams opt for different strategies when the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix gets underway in November.

Pit lane at the parklands venue has been widened to the tune of two metres, with officials suggesting that could see the pit lane speed limit increased.

Speed in pit lane has historically been limited to 60km/h due to its narrow confines, but that could now rise to 80km/h.

The increased speed would result in a reduced time loss while traversing the lane, which in turn could open up strategy options for teams.

“Since the track was put down and pit lane was configured back in – I suppose the drawings were done ’94, ’95 for the first race in 1996 – cars have [got] a lot longer,” Andrew Westacott, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, told Speedcafe.com.

“So we’ve widened it by taking a little bit out of the verge on drivers’ right [while on track].

“We’ve widened pit lane by two metres.”

The widening will have a prominent visual effect with pit wall moving to the very edge of the racing surface, in place of the grass verge.

At the start of the 2019 event, Daniel Ricciardo took to the grass verge – albeit beyond the end of the pit wall – which damaged his front wing moments after the race start.

That was the result of unevenness between the grass and an access path, which was addressed ahead of the 2020 event.

With the 2021 event now scheduled for November 18-21, organisers in Melbourne are also looking into whether resurfacing work originally planned for after this year’s event can be rescheduled.

“Now what the deferral and moving back to the event to November does is really allows us to have a good look at taking advantage of this window of time and getting the work done,” Westacott said.

“We always wanted to try and do it post this year’s event.

“Well, it now might be pre this year’s event given that it’s a November event rather than a March event.”

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