Circuit Design: The Architecture Behind the Albert Park Circuit
Written by Isabel Brito, Edited by Ishani Aziz
The Albert Park is one of famed street circuits on the Formula One calendar, located in Melbourne, Australia, and is among the most anticipated street races on the grid. The track was first opened 69 years ago in 1953, and now hosts an array of motorsport events. The circuit has a length of 5.278 Kilometers and contains 14 turns, in comparison to the original track that had 5.027 Kilometers and nine turns.
The Melbourne Circuit uses multiple sections from civilian roads, and was built around the Albert Park, hence its name. Being built around a lake, which was artificially altered to favor the track, the circuit is considered to be one of the smoothest street circuits on the grid. Motorsport-adjacent infrastructure is placed two months before the event, this includes grandstands, trackside fencing, and relevant facilities before the arrival of each team. The installed infrastructure is removed six weeks after the Sunday race.
Throughout the year, the park contains areas of entertainment such as, an aquatic center, a golf course, a Lakeside Stadium, restaurants, and rowing boathouses, all of which have restricted access during the race weekend. Over the years, some have rightly protested this access restriction to public areas. Indeed, this is quite a long time to restrict access to these public facilities. When considering the architecture of a track, it would also be beneficial to take into account these facilities which also suffer financially during this time. The facilities like the golfing course, aquatic center and bowling arena actually have the potential to add to the recreational side of the circuit. Integrating these facilities into the circuit during the pre-race activities could potentially increase revenue, and more importantly, public entertainment. This aspect of the circuit is a lost opportunity, as the restricted facilities may well have improved audience experience and enjoyment of the event.
Moving on to the architectural aspects of the circuit, the Turn 13 that has since been modified during the pandemic has been made slightly harsher, coming out from a DRS zone. This new abrupt turn potentially will produce a hazardous zone for drivers. Although the safety of this modification has been verified by simulation systems, this does not guarantee that the racing action will go smoothly. Nevertheless, the new modifications reduce lap times and track speed, which certainly makes for more exciting racing. The new and improved Melbourne Grand Prix has some exciting aspects that fans can only expect will deliver this weekend!