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2013 Australian Grand Prix Preview

Mar 14, 2013, 3:38 PM EDT

Jenson Button AP

Since 1996, Formula One has made its annual visit to Melbourne towards the beginning of the season, and the Australian Grand Prix has acted as the curtain-raiser for fifteen of the last seventeen F1 seasons. The warm and humid climate acts as a complete opposite to winter testing, with the race the first real chance for drivers and teams to get to grips with their 2013 machinery under race conditions. Although many believe it’s not how you start a season but how you finish, just twice since the turn of the century has the eventual world champion not finished on the podium at the opening round.

Albert Park is a challenge for the drivers, as the street circuit gives their cars a true shakedown for the season to come. Jenson Button holds the best record at the Australian Grand Prix of the current drivers, with three wins in the past four years. Besides Button, Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton have also all claimed wins at the race – all five drivers are world champions.

A large number of retirements is not uncommon in Australia. Drivers can sometimes be caught out by the tight and twisty nature of the circuit, which means that a safety car is likely (four in 2006), and this will be taken into account by the teams when formulating their strategies. Due to the tight turn one, a good grid position is crucial in Melbourne to avoid getting caught up in any accidents off the start.

Predicting a winner at the start of any season is largely guess-work, but Jenson Button’s success in Australia makes him an early favorite. Tire wear is particularly high at the track, and with the new tires even more aggressive for 2013, conservative drivers such as Button, Sergio Perez and Romain Grosjean will be in with a good chance of scoring highly. This race may also present the best chance of the season for Marussia and Caterham to score some points due to the high rate of attrition, but the front runners must also pay heed to the first rule in Formula One: to finish first, first you have to finish.

Track: Albert Park, Melbourne (5.3km)
Laps: 58
Corners: 16
Lap Record: Michael Schumacher 1:24.125 (2004)
Tire Compounds: Super-Soft (Option); Medium (Prime)
2012 Winner: Jenson Button (McLaren)
2012 Pole Position: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
2012 Fastest Lap: Jenson Button – 1:29.187
DRS Zones: Main straight (T16 to T1); T2 to T3

Friday – Free Practice 1: 12:30pm local/21:30pm ET
Friday – Free Practice 2: 16:30pm local/1:30am ET
Saturday – Free Practice 3: 14:00pm local/11:00pm ET
Saturday – Qualifying: 17:00pm local/2:00am ET
Sunday – Race: 17:00pm local time, 2am ET

  1. purplesectornet - Mar 14, 2013 at 3:59 PM

    I always find it amusing that every year I hear through the grapevine the race is in jeopardy and that it is not wanted by the locals, yet we still have it every year don’t we?

    • apexassassin - Mar 14, 2013 at 8:26 PM

      It’s all about money and renewing the contracts. Bernie just manipulates the media to suit his purposes. Local politicians do the same. He did the same with Austin and NJ. Money talks though and he did offer Melbourne a huge extension if they agree to have alternating day and night races which would be cool, imo.

  2. apexassassin - Mar 14, 2013 at 8:28 PM

    Too bad FP1 isn’t being shown LIVE and FP3 is being ignored…

    1 hour until it all begins and we hear the v8’s for the first time in their final season of service! Savor it people!

  3. jg167 - Mar 15, 2013 at 2:33 AM

    NBC is leaving the timing and scoring list up throughout the broadcast (except for replays) and it is not all the way at the left edge but too far toward the center which I find very annoying. When showing the camera that is just above the drivers head, the front left tire is completely obscured.

    • jimclark12 - Mar 15, 2013 at 7:32 PM

      I just signed up to make the same comment.. Sure hope it isn’t there for qualifying and the race… I know they have to work out bugs.. But how long does it take to move that over a little bit? Is this the first time these engineers have broadcasted a race?

      Hey guys… This isn’t Nascar.. We, the viewers don’t need our screen filled with bling.

  4. jkrule48 - Mar 15, 2013 at 4:15 PM

    Where can I view Free Practice 3?

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