New starting grid layout for Gen3 Supercars at AGP
Friday 24th March, 2023 - 4:11pm
The Repco Supercars Championship field will utilise an alternate starting grid layout for next week’s Beaurepaires Melbourne SuperSprint at the Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix.
While Supercars will use the standard grid boxes, pole position will in fact correspond to fourth position for the Formula 1 field at Albert Park.
Further Supplementary Regulation 1.2.1 states, “The grid will be a 1×1 formation with pole position for Supercars on the right-hand side (in the F1 position 4th place). The first three (3) F1 grid positions will be left vacant.”
The reason for the change is visibility, noting that this year’s AGP will be the first for the Gen3 race cars.
The Chevrolet Camaro in particular features a smaller ‘greenhouse’ than the Gen2 cars did, which has created challenges for drivers as they adjust to the visibility available from the cockpit.
Changes were made to rules regarding windscreen markings after feedback during pre-season shakedowns/testing, with the surname reduced in size and moved from the driver’s side to be adjacent to the competition number on the passenger side.
However, where the light gantry is particularly high, the roofline may still obstruct vision for those who qualify at/near the front of the field, as Supercars has foreseen in the case of Albert Park.
It is not the first time that changes have been made at the Melbourne street circuit in order to ensure that drivers can see the lights at the start of the race.
When the halo was introduced to F1 in 2018, the gantry was dropped and the repeater lights on drivers’ left shifted forward of the start line for the benefit of whomever qualified on or close to pole position.
In the Supercars case, though, the repeater lights are not necessarily so useful given the ducting on the passenger side window.
There is, of course, a further practical effect of moving the pole-sitter to the fourth grid box, being that they will now start on what is the inside line for the first corner of the race.
Notwithstanding that is also the dirtier side of the circuit, it tends to be advantageous for the pole-sitter due to shorter run around Turn 1 on cold tyres, and they will also have the benefit of the traditional F1 grid stagger at Albert Park.
The Further Supplementary Regulations for the Melbourne SuperSprint also prescribe special pit lane markings in order to address double stacking issues.
Teams will have to mark out a line to guide a driver who is stacking so that they do not block the fast lane.
Further Supplementary Regulations 5.4.2 and 220.127.116.11 read, collectively, “For the purpose of a visual guide to the Driver during ‘double-stacking’ and to ensure the Fastlane is kept clear for transiting Cars, an additional line of race tape must be affixed along the length of the Pit Bay.
“The outside edge of the race tape marking the ‘double stack’ line is required to be 1.2m from the outside edge of the race tape marking the Pit Bay.”
Albert Park’s is one of the tighter pit lanes which the Supercars field uses, given it has its own section away from the F1 garages.
Supercars practice starts on Thursday morning, with the first race of the weekend, that being Race 3 of the season, that afternoon, and a race each also on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
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