When Formula One heads to Albert Park Circuit in Melbourne, Australia each year for the season opener, we’re always wondering how many cars actually will finish the race. And this year, that number could be even lower than usual.
Many people might not realize Albert Park, though not lined with Armco barriers and buildings, is a temporary street circuit that runs through Melbourne’s equivalent of Central Park. It’s a fast and narrow track lined mostly with grass, rather than runoff areas. As a result, it’s produced plenty of accidents in the past, with the two biggest ones happening at the same corner exactly 20 years apart.
In 2016, Fernando Alonso was following the Haas of Esteban Gutierrez when he misjudged where Gutierrez would brake for Turn 3, hit the back of his car and rolled end-over-end into the gravel trap. Martin Brundle’s wreck in 1996 was nearly identical, with his Jordan flying over the back of David Coulthard’s McLaren.
The high speeds, tight confines and small margin for error have always made it tough for drivers to have clean races at Albert Park; many of them don’t even make it out of Turn 1 unscathed. However, with F1’s new cars, those speeds will be higher in the corners, the track will seem even narrower and the margin of error will be even smaller.
That, in and of itself, already sounds like the recipe for a crash-filled race. So, considering Sunday’s Grand Prix will be the first time drivers go wheel-to-wheel in the wider cars, we almost certainly will see mistakes made, and carbon fiber fly.
Thumbnail photo via Red Bull Content Pool
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