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Race information - Australia 2016 // The first race of the season brings triple tyre choices

Published by Christine

It's here! At long last the season has come to greet us, bringing with it an opening round in the sunny parks of Melbourne. Granted, the off-season was a shorter one than usual but the build up to this weekend's action in Australia has whet our appetite for a return to the racing action. Fresh faces are on the grid, new teams and new colours litter the paddock, and there are a host of questions that need answering now that the 2016 season is getting underway.

Event schedule

It's the first race so we should start to get a feel for where the teams are compared to each other. Pre-season testing gave us our first glimpse but you never really know until the cars are racing in anger. Mercedes appear to be bullet-proof as they aid Lewis Hamilton to defend his consecutive world championships, but Ferrari don't seem to be quite so far behind as they were before.

New team Haas are hoping to spice up the midfield, whilst McLaren are just hoping they won't be quite so near the rear of the field as they were in 2015. Renault have brought back their works team, and their striking yellow livery, but have lost both their drivers from last year so are starting afresh in every way.

Session timetable
DateDaySessionTimeLocal time
18 MarFridayFree Practice 101:30
GMT +00:00
12:30
GMT +11:00
Free Practice 205:30
GMT +00:00
16:30
GMT +11:00
19 MarSaturdayFree Practice 303:00
GMT +00:00
14:00
GMT +11:00
Qualifying06:00
GMT +00:00
17:00
GMT +11:00
20 MarSundayGrand Prix05:00
GMT +00:00
16:00
GMT +11:00

Support racing for this event includes Australian GT, Porsche Carrera Cup and V8 Supercars.

Expected conditions

Despite my earlier mention of the sunny parks in Australia, there's actually talk of rain as we build up to the race on Sunday. As if the new style of qualifying and the change in tyre regulations wasn't going to be challenging enough, teams may well have to deal with inclement conditions as well. Things should brighten up on race day, with temperatures hotting up as the weekend draws to a conclusion.

Breezy and cooler with rain

Melbourne, Friday

18℃

  • Low 12℃
  • Humidity 59%

Breezy and cooler with rain

Scattered showers

Melbourne, Saturday

18℃

  • Low 10℃
  • Humidity 58%

Scattered showers

Mostly sunny and pleasant

Melbourne, Sunday

23℃

  • Low 10℃
  • Humidity 52%

Mostly sunny and pleasant

Track information

The Australian Grand Prix has become a classic for providing chaotic and mixed up racing - in part because teams are bringing new cars to the grid for the first time and there are many unknowns as they rev up those fresh engines. It's also down to the difficult circuit, however, with the twisting layout offering few high speed corners and the park surface throwing up its own challenges.

Albert Park circuit map
DRS zones
DRS detection 113m before turn 14
DRS activation 1762m before turn 1
DRS activation 2510m before turn 3

The first corner is notoriously tricky (and immensely exciting!) with a ninety degree right-hander sending cars off on their lap. A tight but pleasant straight follows as drivers wind their way through some more rights and lefts to round the north-western end of the lake. Just when things are starting to feel more smooth, however, Clark corner tightens the track up again, to provide slow and potentially costly access to the following sweeping arc flowing between the trees and the water's edge.

Heading to the opposite end of the lake, drivers head back round some more ninety degree bends before the final corner, Prost, where it's easy to make a mistake on the kerbs and mess up the long home straight that follows.

Circuit history

Circuit information
CircuitAlbert Park
LocationMelbourne
CountryAustralia
TimezoneGMT +11:00
Race debut1996
Laps58
Length5.303 km
Distance307.574 km
Line offset0.000 km

This year will see Albert Park hosting the Australian Grand Prix for the 21st time, of 32 races overall. The race has been at the head of the calendar for most of its tenure, and has been the scene of many a fantastic debut or a disappointing start. This year, we've got three rookie drivers and two that have been out of the sport for a full season, so there's plenty of potential for stardom or silliness!

This year, the DRS zones are exactly the same as they were in 2015, but the track has seen a few tweaks including resurfacing, some tyre barrier straightening, plus an extension of the kerbing in that final tricky turn 16.

Last year, the weekend was absolutely dominated by Mercedes and if we're honest, we not expecting much different in 2016 - but Nico and Lewis have one win apiece for the Silver Arrows in Australia - who can make it two?

Results for the 2015 Australian Grand Prix
SessionDriverTeamTime
Free Practice 1Nico RosbergMercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team1:29.557
Free Practice 2Nico RosbergMercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team1:27.697
Free Practice 3Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team1:27.867
QualifyingLewis HamiltonMercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team1:26.327
Grand PrixLewis HamiltonMercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team1:31:54.067
Fastest lapLewis HamiltonMercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team1:30.945

Tyre compounds

If there was a tyre regulation in place, then for 2016 it has changed. Pirelli have added a brand new compound - the ultrasoft purple tyre. Teams have to select their tyres months in advance, and they now have the choice between three compounds rather than just the two. There's also a specific compound for qualifying that is dictated by Pirelli but qualifying itself has a new style that is likely to burn through rubber more quickly than ever before!

As with many things, there are more questions than answers at this point in the season, but for now we can see the number of sets of each compound selected by each driver and make some interesting comparisons. Clearly the softer compounds are favoured more than the medium tyre, with most drivers opting for 1 or 2 sets of the white striped rubber.

However, Manor have gone for a more even strategy with both their drivers bringing four each of the medium and softs, and then only five of the super-softs. Teammates have more often than not gone for the same choices, although Hamilton has gone for one set of softs more than Rosberg, and Grosjean weighted his selection towards the softs more than Gutiérrez.

Selected tyre sets per driver
Medium tyreSoft tyreSupersoft tyre
Lewis Hamilton166
Nico Rosberg256
Sebastian Vettel256
Kimi Räikkönen256
Valtteri Bottas157
Felipe Massa157
Daniel Ricciardo247
Daniil Kvyat247
Nico Hülkenberg256
Sergio Pérez256
Kevin Magnussen157
Jolyon Palmer157
Max Verstappen247
Carlos Sainz247
Marcus Ericsson166
Felipe Nasr256
Fernando Alonso157
Jenson Button157
Pascal Wehrlein445
Rio Haryanto445
Romain Grosjean157
Esteban Gutiérrez247

Press conference schedule

Official press conferences are organised by the FIA and happen four times during the weekend. The qualifying and post race press conferences will take place after the television unilateral interviews.

Press Conference Schedule
DayAttendeeRepresenting
ThursdayEsteban GutiérrezHaas F1 Team
Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team
Rio HaryantoManor Racing MRT
Jolyon PalmerRenault Sport F1 Team
Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing
Sebastian VettelScuderia Ferrari
FridayCyril AbiteboulRenault Sport F1 Team
Maurizio ArrivabeneScuderia Ferrari
Éric BoullierMcLaren Honda
Gene HaasHaas F1 Team
Christian HornerRed Bull Racing
Toto WolffMercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team
SaturdayThree fastest drivers
SundayFirst three finishing drivers

Race stewards

The FIA stewarding process includes a former F1 driver to offer added insight. These stewards are overseeing the weekend's action.

FIA stewards
NamePosition
Martin DonnellyFormula One driver 1989-1990, demonstrates in the Lotus 102 at various events, owner of Donnelly Track Academy.
Gerd EnnserMember of the DSMB's Executive Committee for Automobile Sport, and a Formula One and DTM steward.
Vincenzo SpanoPresident of the Sporting Commission of the Automobile and Touring Club of Venezuela.

All content in the series Australia 2016