2018 Rolex Australian Grand Prix
Albert Park, Melbourne
Lap Distance: 3.296 miles (5.303 km)
Race Lap Record: 1m24.125 (Michael Schumacher, 2004)
Multiple Total Wins
Australian GP World Championship races (Adelaide 1985-1995, Melbourne 1996-current).
4 Michael Schumacher;
3 Jenson Button;
2 Alain Prost, Gerhard Berger, Ayrton Senna, Damon Hill, David Coulthard, Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel;
The Australian GP has a history going back to 1928 but didn’t join the F1 championship trail until 1985. It moved to the current Albert Park circuit in 1996.
Last 5 Wins
2017 Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari;
2016 Nico Rosberg, Mercedes;
2015 Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes;
2014 Nico Rosberg, Mercedes;
2013 Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus-Renault;
Albert Park is a unique place, it is a parkland track running around a lake yet it is in the middle of city suburbs. It is only used for racing once every year so like Monaco the track changes a lot from Friday to Sunday.
There is also a lot of support race action which is great for fans, one of the best of the year. Australian Supercars events are now full points-paying rounds of the championship for the first time so if you are going, expect some action. There are also GT races and more. But for F1 teams it means rubber from other brands gets laid down, so it can take a few laps for the F1 rubber to come back in. This mixes things up and makes it unpredictable.
With this being the opening round and only two short pre-season tests this season, those being colder than usual, the competitive order hasn’t yet been established. If you are looking for an upset the place to find it is in Melbourne.
It also has that tricky, narrow and fast first corner which always catches people out at the start, so even a driver in form may find himself bundled out of the race straight away.
Then again, as I’ve said in my season preview, there is definitely pecking order as we stand right now.
Bookies have a good idea about these things and this is reflected in the odds for the Australian GP where Hamilton is marked as clear favourite. They think the Mercedes dominance will continue for the season. But don’t let that put you off. Anything can happen at Albert Park and we really don’t know how things will settle until race day, so it is worth a punt elsewhere – at those odds I’ve put a cheeky £5 on Ricciardo to win at home! Bottas is also worth a shout. If you like a little flutter there are some good things out there.
Again it’ll likely be a battle between Hamilton and Vettel. Their team-mates will be in the mix. Ricciardo and/or Verstappen will surely be up there. And what might Alonso do, now he has a Renault engine?
If the first race was somewhere like Bahrain, as your race prediction you might write down the testing results and you’d be mostly right. The beauty of Melbourne is that we could be completely wrong!
My Podium Prediction
I hope to write about all F1 rounds for 2018 along with other championships as well, do check back weekly!