Australia first hosted a Grand Prix in 1985
(Photo from: www.autoblog.com)
After a four month break Formula 1 is back this weekend at the traditional season opener in Melbourne Australia. Since 1996, Australia has hosted the first race of the season, other than in 2006 and 2010, at the Melbourne street circuit around Albert Park, and is both a driver and fan favourite.
The Australian Grand Prix’s previous location was around the streets of Adelaide, which hosted a Grand Prix from 1985 through to 1995, and recently there has been talk that the Grand Prix may return to this location in the near future.
At both locations the Grand Prix has seen some of Formula 1’s most memorable moments and in recent years, it has seen five different winners from the last seven races.
However it is not just the race which we have to look forward to, but a whole different set of regulations which now dictates the formula. Gone are the ugly large wings and slow tyres and in come smaller wings, which are at an angle, and larger gripier tyres. The most notable difference is the width of the tyres, which have increased by about 25%, as well as the width of the cars, which has increased to 2000mm from 1800mm.
All these changes ensure that we are likely to see some of the fastest laps ever set in F1, with cars expected to go up to five seconds a lap quicker around some circuits.
Other technical changes include teams only being allowed to use four engines throughout the year as well as the minimum weight being upped to 722 Kg with teams being allowed to use an extra 5 Kgs, 105 Kg, to compensate this increase in minimum weight.
A comparison of the differing rules from 2016 to 2017
(Photos from: www.formula1.com)
On a more aesthetic level, one other factor to look out for are the wide ranging liveries that will be seen this season, with many teams changing their colours for the coming season, most notably McLaren who have adopted a predominantly orange look, whereas the most striking new livery must go to Force India who arrive in Melbourne with a completely pink car, following the major sponsorship deal with Europe’s largest water technology company.
Following the eight days of testing at Barcelona during the winter, many believe that Ferrari are the fastest team so far in 2017, with even Lewis Hamilton stating that they are the team to beat.
One driver who will not be on the grid in Melbourne is reining champion Nico Rosberg who stunned the F1 world last year by announcing his retirement from the sport. Valtteri Bottas will take the German’s place, having switched from Williams.
With the new season only a few hours away, the anticipation from fans and teams alike is huge, as F1 goes into its new era. Only time will tell who will come out on top, but we may get a much clearer understanding as we all wake up tomorrow morning.