The 2017 F1 season opens this week with the Australian Grand Prix. Here’s a look at the weekend ahead in stats.
Although many non-championship races have been held in Australia it didn’t join the world championship calendar until 1985. Its original venue, Adelaide, held the season finale for 11 consecutive years until 1995.
Melbourne took over as the race’s home in 1996 and is holding the race for the 22nd time this year, meaning it has now hosted the race twice as many times as Adelaide did. This will be the 20th time the race has opened the world championship, having lost that status to Bahrain in 2006 and 2010.
As the opening race of the year, Melbourne is inevitably looked to for signs of who might enjoy success in the coming season. In its 21 races to date the winner has gone on to take the championship on 13 occasions, a 61.9% hit rate. All four race winners from 2006 to 2009 went on to win the title but since then just three out of seven have, including the last two champions.
Australia has a fairly small crop of F1 drivers but a good one. Only 14 Australians have started at least one race, just eight made it into double figures, but two of those became world champions: Jack Brabham and Alan Jones.
On top of that they have two more race winners: Mark Webber and current star Daniel Ricciardo. However the Australian Grand Prix has never been won by a home driver.
Indeed no Australian driver has officially taken a podium finish in their home race. Ricciardo stood on the podium in 2014 but he was subsequently disqualified. The best result for an Australian at home therefore remains fourth place, which Ricciardo achieved last year and Webber did in 2012.
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The form book
Track data: Albert Park
|Lap length||5.303km (3.295 miles)|
|Grand prix distance||307.574km (191.118 miles)|
|Lap record (race)||1’24.125 (Michael Schumacher, 2004)|
|Fastest lap (any session)||1’23.529 (Sebastian Vettel, 2011, qualifying three)|
|2016 Rate the Race||7.76 out of 10|
|2016 Driver of the Weekend||Romain Grosjean|
Two drivers who between them won five Australian Grands Prix have bowed out of F1 since the last race. Jenson Button was a three-time winner of this race and Nico Rosberg took his second Melbourne victory last year.
That leaves four prior winners on the grid: Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen (two wins each) plus Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso (one). Mercedes have won the last three Australian Grands Prix from pole position and all eyes will be on them on their rivals for any indication the upcoming season may be more competitive.
Five pole positions at this track means Hamilton is just one shy of Ayrton Senna’s record of six Australian Grand Prix pole positions, all of which he scored at Adelaide.
Big things are expected of Ferrari this weekend. Their last success at this track came in 2007 when Kimi Raikkonen won from pole.
However one driver who needs a change of fortune in this race is Daniil Kvyat. Having finished ninth on his debut for Toro Rosso in 2014 he failed to start either of his subsequent two appearances at Australia having moved to Red Bull. Perhaps a return to Toro Rosso will bring him better luck.
The quickest lap seen around Albert Park was in 2011, when Sebastian Vettel set a 1’23.529 in his Red Bull-Renault RB7.
Just 13 cars were still running at the end of lap one in 2015 which is why that race saw so few passes. Last year’s race was more typical.
Here’s how F1 Fanatic readers have rated the Australian Grand Prix in recent years.
Join in Rate the Race when the chequered flag falls at the end of this year’s race. You will need a (free) F1 Fanatic account to participate:
2017 Australian Grand Prix
- Red Bull ran Verstappen’s car without a drinks bottle in Australia
- Renault fix Palmer’s Melbourne problems
- Melbourne win “doesn’t mean much” – Vettel
- Mercedes explain why 2017’s first race had so little passing
- Magnussen retired unnecessarily in Australia