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Melbourne track to undergo changes for 2022 event

NEWS STORY
27/10/2020

Officials in Australia are working with F1 bosses in order to make changes to the Albert Park circuit that will best suit the new generation of ground effect cars following the overhaul of the rules in 2022.

Delayed from 2021 to 2022, due to the global pandemic, the raft of new rules represent one of the biggest overhauls of the regulations in years and a major step, under the sport's new ownership, in (hopefully) levelling the playing field.

With Albert Park widely recognised as one of the more difficult circuits on which to overtake, officials in Australia are working with Ross Brawn and his technical team in a bid to ensure that the circuit - which is likely to host the first race on which the new generation of cars appears - makes the most of the new-look cars.

"What we need to do, and what we have started to do, is work very, very closely with Formula 1," Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO, Andrew Westacott tells Speedcafe.

"Ross Brawn, and Pat Symonds working for Ross, and plenty of others, they're getting more and more technical capability to look at track simulation," he continues. “They know exactly what the technical specifications of the new vehicles are going to be for 2022. And by getting the right input in that you soon can get some really good insights into how the track can evolve to be better for racing.

“It doesn't need widespread changes everywhere," he adds, "it needs a combination of adjustments.

“So if you're going to go and resurface, which we do need to do, then let's resurface with all the right inputs from all the right people. That's what we've started to do.

“The circuit hasn't been resurfaced since it was originally laid in 1995 for the first event in 1996, so it's ageing," he admits. "In some areas it's ageing gracefully, in other areas, like anything, it needs a revamp. The cars are evolving; asphalt mixes are evolving; it will need a resurfacing."

While the resurfacing will be done in time for the 2021 season opener - which is understood to be on 21 March - looking ahead, Westacott appreciates that for 2022 the layout of the Albert Park track will need to be tweaked.

“Now's not the time to be doing that when there's massive restrictions on industry," he says. "What we'll do is evolve the track and look at how it can be tweaked, if you like, to coincide with the evolving and changing aerodynamics and technical specs of the cars, so post-2021, and pre-2022 is looking likely."

The very nature of the park, with its lake, public roads and other public amenities, limits development however, in recent years there has been talk of modifying the chicane at Turn 11/12 in a bid to create a more demanding braking zone, along with tightening the right-hander at Turn 13.

“What you can do, is you can evolve and adjust, and essentially the circuit geometry is the circuit geometry," says Westacott, who refuses to be drawn on specifics.

“It's not like it's a venue out in the middle of a paddock and you have carte blanche opportunity to modify it in whatever way you'd want to. It has to have reviews and considerations of camber, asphalt mix, the abrasiveness of that mix.

"It has to have, and can have subtle adjustments to apexes; some track widths on entry and exit. You don't need terribly much.

“What you want to do, and what we look to do is two things; one, reward aggressive driving by maybe having multiple increase into the apex, and two, penalise poor driving.

“Now, it's limited because of the lake and the building's infrastructure, but preliminary looks that we've had, is we believe we can make adjustments and evolve the circuit in a beneficial manner."

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