Melbourne is a proud sporting city, playing host to several world-leading events, and few are bigger than Formula 1’s annual visit to the unique surroundings of Albert Park for the Australian Grand Prix.
For a temporary facility and a track made up of public roads and car parks running through parkland, few tracks do F1 better than Albert Park.
Although technically a street circuit, the track is fast and flowing with drivers averaging around 235km/h during a lap, and while it may it lack overtaking points, it has won favour with many a driver.
It can be quite a bumpy circuit, one that doesn’t have much grip at the start of a race weekend, rubbering in as sessions progress, but that all adds to the drama of a venue that has a habit of throwing up the occasional surprise winner.
Although not all the locals are on board, the Australian Grand Prix regularly attracts huge crowds with a record 441,631 spectators attending over the course of the weekend in 2023.
|What||2024 Australian Grand Prix|
|Where||Albert Park, Melbourne|
|How to watch||Sky Sports F1|
Having previously staged motorsport events at Fisherman's Creek, which ran alongside the docks and rubbish dump, Melbourne officials decided they needed far nicer surroundings when trying to wrestle the Australian Grand Prix away from Adelaide.
They settled on Albert Park, which lies just three kilometres from the centre of Melbourne, deciding upon a layout that runs around the outside of the man-made lake in the middle of the park.
The decision to hold a race in Albert Park proved somewhat controversial amongst locals with organisers needing to remove some trees and facilities to make way for the track and its peripherals.
The track was completely revamped before Melbourne staged its first race in 1996, while construction of a two-storey pit lane was also completed.
With it being a park for most of the year before Formula 1 takes over in the lead up to the grand prix, the majority of the facilities are temporary with the pit lane building the only permanent feature.
It takes around four weeks and 290,000 man hours to bring the area up to F1 standards with barriers, grandstands and fencing all needing to be installed.
As part of extensive renovations of the circuit in 2021, which included the removal of two corners, the length of the track was reduced to its current distance of 5.231km.
While it hasn’t lost too much in terms of length, what was one of the longest F1 tracks is now mid-range with the cars taking around 1min 20secs to complete a lap in the current generation of racers.
The Australian Grand Prix switched from Adelaide to Melbourne ahead of the 1996 season and Albert Park has hosted the race ever since.
Albert Park has the distinction of hosting the Australian Grand Prix, a race that had previously been staged at 22 different venues, for the longest period of time and a deal with F1 to keep the race in Melbourne until 2035 will only extend that record.
The race had previously been the season-opener but lost that right to Bahrain in 2021, although it remains one of the early races on the calendar.
Michael Schumacher has won more races than any other F1 driver at Albert Park, enjoying a dominant spell between 2000 and 2004 when he won four out of five races.
Schumacher’s compatriot Sebastian Vettel is next on the list with three wins, while the track has been a happy hunting ground for British drivers with , Jenson Button and David Coulthard all winning twice at Albert Park.
Sergio Perez set a new lap record in the 2023 edition of the Australian Grand Prix, powering his round in a time of 1:20.235 during the race.
Running concurrently on the same weekend as the F1, Albert Park also plays host to F2 and F3, as well as the Porsche Carrera Cup and Supercars Challenge.
The track has previously been used for national-class races, along with the likes of the Ferrari Challenge and Porsche Supercup.
The Australian Grand Prix is usually staged in March during autumn in Australia. That means temperatures are slightly lower, but still around 26C, with very little chance of rainfall.