(Formula One on Twitter)
For the first time since 2019, Formula One will race at Albert Park for the Australian Grand Prix. Many things have changed since that time in 2020 when the entire world shutdown from the COVID-19 pandemic. Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen became World Champions, a new car has been introduced, and Charles Leclerc no longer wears banana suits in quarantine. With 2022 already having two races in its belt with the closest racing we have seen in decades, a trip down under has all the hype in the world to be a very exciting race. Below is everything you need to know for the 2022 Australian Grand Prix
Track Changes: Albert Park has undergone massive changes in preparation to the Australian Grand Prix. Starting with its pit lane. In 2019, Albert Park had one of the narrowest pit lanes on the circuit with one of the slowest pit lane speeds at 37 miles per hour. Entering 2022, the pit lane has been widened and the speed has been increased to 49 miles per hour (80 kp/h). On track, Albert Park has widened turns and removed some altogether. The inside lane of Turn One has been winded by 8.2 feet, 13 feet inside Turn Four, 24 feet inside Turn Six, and 11 feet inside Turn 15. The changes at turns 1 and 3 are more in line to create more overtaking opportunities as they are both corners that are preceded by DRS straights. Turns One and Three received some slight banking on the inside of the corner to open up more passing opportunities. Turn Six on the other hand has been opened up more. The previous apex speed through six was around 93 miles per hour. Since the reprofiling of the corner, apex speeds will now be around 136 miles per hour. Now, turn six will lead in to a long, winding 'S' down Lakeside Drive which adds a fourth DRS zone down the backstretch. Turn 11 has been reprofiled as well with a longer braking straight which leads into a tighter radius turn. Overall, the track has lowered lap-times by an estimated 5 second difference and increased the average speed per lap to 156 miles per hour.
Event History: Formula One has raced in Australia since 1985 when the series raced at the Adelaide Street Circuit from 1985 to 1995, and a one-off return in 2000. From 1996, due to some behind the scenes politics and capital exchange, the Australian Grand Prix has been hosted in Albert Park. Michael Schumacher leads all drivers with the most wins at four. The only active drivers to win in Melbourne are Sebastian Vettel (3), Lewis Hamilton (2), Fernando Alonso (1), and Valtteri Bottas (1). Schumacher also laid down the fastest lap in Australian GP history during the 2004 event with a blistering lap of 1:24.125.
2019 Race Recap: Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas started 1-2 for the 2019 season opening race at Melbourne and out braked Hamilton into turn one and never looked back in route to a victory. Hamilton finished second and Verstappen rounded out the podium. Bottas became the first driver to win a bonus point for the fastest lap of the race since Maurice Trinrignant at the 1959 United States Grand Prix at Sebring.
Driver Lineup: Four-time F1 champion Sebastian Vettel is returning to Aston Martin Racing after a bout with COVID that kept him out of the first two races of the 2022 season.
2022 Prediction: With DRS seeming too powerful in the 2022 season, it would be safe to say that Red Bull and Max Verstappen would be the team to beat as the showed that the had the aerodynamic advantage the past two weeks to keep up with the Ferrari engine program. Expect both teams to be battling it out for the win. With Mercedes getting aerodynamic upgrades in time for Albert Park, the could contend for a nice mid-points finish as the seem too far back from Red Bull and Ferrari. I predict Verstappen picks up his second win of the season and Kevin Magnussen from Haas F1 gets a podium finish to round out a fantastic weekend of racing.
Championship Standings: (Top 3)
Charles Leclerc - 45 Points
Carlos Sainz - 33 Points
Max Verstappen - 25 Points
Constructors Standings: (Top 3)
Ferrari - 78
Mercedes - 38
Red Bull - 37
Tire Compounds: Hard: C1/Soft: C5
Thursday: Mostly Sunny, high of 74
Friday: Mostly Sunny, high of 74
Saturday: Mostly Sunny, high of 78
Sunday: Mostly Sunny, high of 80
TV Schedule: (All time EST)
FP1 - Thursday, April 7th - 10:55 P.M. - ESPNEWS
FP2 - Friday, April 8th - 1:55 A.M. - ESPN2
FP3 - Friday, April 8th - 10:55 P.M - ESPN2
Qualifying - Saturday, April 9th - 1:55 A.M.
Australian Grand Prix - Sunday, April 9th - 12:55 A.M.
For more Formula One news, results, and opinion stay right here on Racing Refresh.
Follow me on Twitter @TheCollinBest