Why Supercars still matters to the AGP
Friday 10th November, 2023 - 6:00am
Supercars remains an important part of the Australian Grand Prix despite the juggernaut which Formula 1 has become and the arrival of Formula 2 and Formula 3 at Albert Park.
The most recent staging of the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix featured F2 and F3 for the first time, creating a scheduling headache for organisers given Supercars also nowadays races for championship points at Albert Park.
Racing was thus held on a Thursday for the first time in Australian Touring Car Championship history, while the Friday encounter was cut back from 15 laps to just eight after starting late due to following a crash-littered F3 qualifying session, then seeing two Safety Car periods.
THE FINAL RACE OF THE 2023 REPCO SUPERCARS CHAMPIONSHIP ON ONE OF THE WORLD’S BEST STREET CIRCUITS. GO ALL IN AT THE VAILO ADELAIDE 500, CLICK HERE TO BUY TICKETS
It did, though, feature a compulsory pit stop whereas they are unlikely to be part of the action next year at Albert Park because Supercars will be bumped from the second pit lane by F2.
While that is another tangible sign that it has been relegated to third-string support category status at Albert Park, Supercars remains a key plank of the event, according to new Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO Travis Auld.
“Supercars is the premium race category in this country, and we are still an Australian event; we’re very connected to Australians,” Auld told Speedcafe.
“Interestingly enough, when I’ve spoken to F1 teams and people in the F1 fraternity, I was really surprised [that] one of the first things they talk about is how much they love Supercars.
“They’re such a great part of our event and everything that goes with that, and we have a very strong partnership with Supercars, and we’re determined for that to continue.
“There are some challenges that come about as the F1 categories grow and whatever else, but I think they’ve seen our commitment to try to do everything we can to make it work without compromising the fact that this is their championship.”
That commitment includes efforts which, notwithstanding loss of access to the garages in the secondary pit lane, will likely see the Supercars paddock located in the infield of the Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit.
It had previously been considered likely that teams would have to set up somewhere far away in one of Albert Park’s sporting fields, making for an even greater logistical challenge, and hence the probable solution is something of a reprieve.
The 2024 Australian Grand Prix, which will be held on March 21-24, is yet to be officially confirmed as a stop on next year’s Supercars calendar, although that much is considered a formality.