Albert Park was used for a non-Championship Australian GP as early as 1953, the first year the circuit was used. As the name suggests, it was laid out in a park and ran around a lake.
Melbourne boasts that it is the sporting capital of Australia, it has hosted the Olympic games, and city officials and businessmen lured the Australian GP away from Adelaide from 1996.
A medium-fast circuit with some extremely long sweeping curves over its 2.349 miles, Albert Park immediately became as popular as the slower circuit at Adelaide had been. The main difference was that whereas Adelaide had hosted the final race of the year, Melbourne hosted the opening round therefore, 1995-6, two Australian GPs were run consecutively.
The circuit uses sections of road that circle Albert Park Lake, a small man-made lake just south of the Central Business District of Melbourne. The road sections that are used were rebuilt prior to the inaugural event in 1996 to ensure consistency and smoothness. As a result, compared to other circuits that are held on public roads, the Albert Park track has a smooth surface.
The course is considered to be fast and relatively easy to drive, drivers having commented that the consistent placement of corners allows them to easily learn the circuit and achieve competitive times. However, the flat terrain around the lake, coupled with a layout that features few true straights, means that the circuit is not conducive to overtaking or easy spectating unless in possession of a grandstand seat.
Each year, most of the trackside fencing, pedestrian overpasses, grandstands and other motorsport infrastructure are erected approximately a month prior to the Grand Prix weekend and removed within six weeks after the event.
Land around the circuit (including a large aquatic centre, a golf course, a Lakeside Stadium, some restaurants and rowing boathouses) has restricted access during the grand prix weekend, consequently dissent is still prevalent among nearby local residents and users of those facilities, and some still maintain a silent protest against the event.
Nevertheless, the event is reasonably popular in Melbourne and Australia (with a large European population and a general interest in motorsport).
Fast Facts - Provided by the FIA
2018 marked the 34th F1 Australian Grand Prix and the 23rd to be held at Melbourne's Albert Park. The race joined the calendar in 1985, with the first race being held in Adelaide. It moved to Melbourne in 1996.
The most successful driver here is Michael Schumacher, with the German winning four times from 19 attempts. He recorded a hat-tricks of wins from 2000 to 2002 and then won again in 2004 - all for Ferrari. Next on the list is Jenson Button. The Briton won for Brawn GP in 2009 and then scored a brace of victories for McLaren in 2010 and 2012.
Four current drivers have Australian Grand Prix victories to their name, with three scoring a brace of wins, doing so with a different team on each occasion. Kimi Raikkonen won for Ferrari in 2007 and then for Lotus in 2013. Lewis Hamilton won with McLaren in 2008 and with Mercedes in 2015, and Sebastian Vettel won with Red Bull Racing in 2011 and then with Ferrari last year. The only other current driver to have won at Albert Park is Fernando Alonso, who won with Renault all the way back in 2006.
Haas' Kevin Magnussen scored his maiden podium finish at the Australian Grand Prix in 2014. It was the Dane's grand prix debut and he finished second for McLaren, behind winner Nico Rosberg of Mercedes and ahead of third-placed McLaren team-mate Jenson Button.
Seven other drivers made their first podium appearance at the Australian GP: Philippe Streiff (1985) and Gianni Morbidelli (1995) tasted the champagne in Adelaide, while Jacques Villeneuve (1996), Raikkonen (2002), Hamilton (2007), Nico Rosberg (2008) and Vitaly Petrov (2011) all took their maiden podium finishes at Albert Park.
Ayrton Senna and Lewis Hamilton jointly hold the Australian Grand Prix pole position record, with six apiece. All of Senna's were scored in Adelaide, while Hamilton's have all come at Albert Park. The Briton kicked off his record run in 2008 with McLaren and then doubled his Australian tally in 2012, again with McLaren. He has since taken pole four times for Mercedes - in each of the past four years. 2016's effort was Hamilton's 50th career pole and he currently has 72 to his name. Only two other current drivers have been on pole here: Raikkonen in 2007, and Vettel, who has three Melbourne poles to his credit, in 2010, 2011 and 2013.
Hamilton holds the outright record for podium appearances in Australia, with seven. Allied to his pair of wins, he finished second in 2011, 2016 and last year, and took third in 2007 and 2012.
Albert Park will be virgin territory for four drivers this weekend. Reigning F2 champion Charles Leclerc makes his F1 race debut with Sauber, and multiple race-winning former GP2 driver and former Renault reserve driver Sergey Sirotkin starts for Williams. However, while Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley made a total of nine grand prix starts in 2017, neither has raced at this circuit before.