Albert Park resurfacing could lead to layout changes


Whatever the success - or not - of the new aero regulations, they are unlikely to make much difference at Albert Park this weekend as the new season gets underway.

The Melbourne track is notorious for its lack of overtaking at the best of times and it was the total absence of any worthwhile passes in last year's season opener - combined with Pirelli's revelation in its 2017 statistical summing up that revealed overtaking that year was 50% down on 2016 - that prompted the aero regs overhaul.

At this point, might we ask why Pirelli never released such (overtaking) data at the end of last season, or can we guess?

Anyway, following this weekend's race there will be a track inspection by the FIA's Charlie Whiting to see whether the track requires resurfacing for 2020, and according to the Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO, Andrew Westacott, this would be an ideal opportunity to make some much needed layout tweaks in a bid to improve overtaking opportunities.

"We are going to have a look at elements of the circuit and Formula 1 can look at the circuit from a simulation point of view to see whether there are any tweaks that can be made to improve the racing," Westacott told Speedcafe.

"At the Australian Grand Prix Corporation we never want to sit still," he continued, "so we are using it as an opportunity to have people like Mark Webber, Charlie Whiting and Ross Brawn involved in the process to walk the track and look at a few things. And then in the off-season we can get F1 to have a look a few different considerations but I don't know what they would be at the moment.

"Changes in technical regulations and the cars are on the way," he added, "and the important point I will make is Formula 1 and Ross Brawn have a vision of what they want new spec cars to be and how it is going to evolve. It is absolutely logical for us to look at that evolution and see if we are going to resurface if there are changes can be made to fit in with what F1 is envisaging.

"We are ready to resurface if the drivers, the FIA and Formula 1 think that it is needed," he insisted. "Last year the drivers were absolutely happy with the surface and they said don't touch it.

"If that changes and there are requirements, whether they are safety or improvement, then we act on those in conjunction with the FIA and F1 when Charlie Whiting puts down his track inspection report at the conclusion of the event."

However, Westacott admits that the very nature of the track, which runs around the Albert Park lake, means that any layout changes would be restricted.

"The geometry of our circuit goes around a lake and fixed sports fields and buildings and so on," he said. "The changes, if they are at all warranted, and we will find out after Formula 1 do the work with us, they are likely to be minor in nature. The circuit is the circuit."

Asked how he thinks the new regulations will impact this weekend's event at a circuit notorious for its limits on overtaking, he said: "There is no doubt it will be closely monitored. There is the reduction of aero efficiency you get when you are behind the car in front and there is no doubt the changes that have been made to the cars this year are designed to reduce that reduction of efficiency.

"It is all on the line and we will see what it does to the racing," he concluded.

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Published: 11/03/2019
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