We’ve been building up to this, the first race of the year, almost since the chequered flag fell in Brazil last season. Winter testing has been completed, teams have all the data they are going to get, and the drivers have made their last minute preparations. Melbourne plays host to the first round of 2012, where we’ll see action, excitement, crashes, and some great racing – but, just as testing before it, the event can’t necessarily be taken as representative of the rest of the season. That takes nothing away from it, though. Albert Park will get 2012 going in the way only Australia can. Full info after the break



Event schedule

This weekend, we’ll see Kimi Räikkönen make his comeback, watch as two new rookies hit the track for the first time, and view Sebastian Vettel’s state of mind as he returns to F1 as a double world champion. There are team name changes to behold, as Renault becomes Lotus, Lotus becomes Caterham and Virgin turns into Marussia. If you can keep track of all the new names, liveries, and driver changes, you’ll be doing well.

Session Timetable
Date Day Session Time (GMT)
16 March Friday Free Practice 1 01:30
Free Practice 2 05:30
17 March Saturday Free Practice 3 03:00
Qualifying 06:00
18 March Sunday Grand Prix 06:00

Support racing for this event includes Group A/C Touring Cars, Renault Challenge, V8 Supercars, and Carrera Cup.

The weather

Looking at the weather from this distance shows what appears to be changeable conditions. Whenever there are clouds over Melbourne, you have the potential for rain. We know the first race can be a crazy one, and if you throw in some precipitation as well, it could be a hectic start to the season.

Friday, 16 March

  • 24℃
  • Low: 13℃
  • Humidity: 68%
  • Mixed sun and showers

Saturday, 17 March

  • 22℃
  • Low: 13℃
  • Humidity: 63%
  • Cloud cover

Sunday, 18 March

  • 24℃
  • Low: 13℃
  • Humidity: 62%
  • Cloudy days

Circuit map

Sidepodcast F1: Story image

The FIA have confirmed they will continue to tweak DRS as this new season begins, hoping to find the ultimate setup at each and every circuit.

DRS Zones
DRS detection 13 metres before Turn 14
DRS activation 1 795 metres before Turn 1
DRS activation 2 510 metres before Turn 3

For Albert Park, they are opting for double DRS, but with just the one activation zone. This hasn’t always produced great overtaking opportunities, but at Australia, we may find it is not so needed anyway.

The circuit

Circuit Data
Name Albert Park
Location Australia
Timezone GMT +1100
First Race 1996
Laps 58
Length 5.303 km
Distance 307.574 km
Start / Finish Offset 0.000 km

After one year stepping up to be the season opener at the last minute, Albert Park returns to its rightful place as the first race on the F1 calendar. With the impromptu track made up of public and park roads, brought together solely for the weekend and then dismantled again, the tarmac is an evolving beast. Tentative drivers hit the track early on Friday and gradually the ground beneath will come to them. By the time the race is on, grip levels should be top notch.

The race is pushed back to the evening local time, and if the event extends the full two hours, the low sun can cause some visibility issues at certain points on the track. Local fans can cheer on both Mark Webber and Daniel Ricciardo this weekend, as both try and impress the home crowd and make it a weekend to remember.

2011 Results
Session Driver Team Time
Free Practice 1 Mark Webber Red Bull 1:26.831
Free Practice 2 Jenson Button McLaren 1:25.854
Free Practice 3 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:24.507
Qualifying Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:23.529
Grand Prix Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:29:30.259
Fastest Lap Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:28.947

Tyre compounds

Sidepodcast F1: Soft and medium compounds

Soft and medium compounds