Please note that this race has been cancelled.
The 2020 Formula One Grand Prix season gets underway this weekend. The first race of the new decade will take place at Albert Park Circuit in Melbourne, Australia on Sunday. All drivers will be hoping to get their 2020 campaigns off to a flying start, but who will come out on top in the eagerly anticipated first Grand Prix of the year?
Naturally, current champion Lewis Hamilton heads to Australia as the favourite with the bookies. The Brit had a stunning season in 2019, winning a staggering 11 of the 21 rounds, including the last one in Abu Dhabi back in December. Hamilton had to settle for second place in Melbourne last year, but can the six-time world champion go one better this time around and finish with the gold medal?
As is often the case with a new season in Formula One, there are new rules, new drivers and plenty to look forward to over several months of world-class racing. The Australian fans love their F1, so Melbourne is a fantastic place to start, even if the shadow of coronavirus is hanging over the sport to a certain degree. The race will take place over 58 laps, with 16 turns and a distance of almost 3.3 miles per lap. We should be in for a fascinating first event at Albert Park Circuit.
|1/22||Australia||Albert Park Circuit||330km / 58 Laps|
|Date||Start Time||Finish Time||Forecast Conditions||TV Coverage|
|Practice 1||Fri 13th March||01:00||02:30||Wet / 28°||–|
|Practice 2||Fri 13th March||05:00||06:30||Wet / 28°||–|
|Practice 3||Sat 14th March||03:00||04:00||Wet / 17°||–|
|Qualifying||Sat 14th March||06:00||07:00||Wet / 17°||Sky F1|
|Race||Sun 15th March||05:10||07:10||Dry / 18°||Sky F1|
Last Season’s Result (2019)
Back in March last year, the first race of 2019 was won by Mercedes man Valtteri Bottas. The Finn got off to a flying start, finishing ahead of teammate Hamilton and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who picked up the bronze medal. The race winner began from second spot on the grid, with Hamilton on pole. Bottas made a superb start, taking the lead in turn one and not looking back.
Elsewhere, Ferrari duo Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc finished in fourth and fifth place respectively. Romain Grosjean and Carlos Sainz retired along with local favourite Daniel Ricciardo, who was involved in a lap one incident with Sergio Perez. It was a bad day for Australian driver Ricciardo but a race to remember for Mercedes, especially Bottas, who also picked up a bonus point for the fastest lap.
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||4||15|
|8||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||9||4|
|9||Lance Stroll||Racing Point||16||2|
|10||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||15||1|
Analysis: Drivers Looking to Impress in Melbourne
Plenty of hope, expectation and optimism is in the air ahead of a new Formula One season. Everyone will be hoping to impress in Melbourne, and the first race of the year is always a captivating battle. Can either Red Bull or Ferrari close the gap, or will Mercedes have another dominant year in F1? As expected, Hamilton is the favourite to win yet another world crown, but will the brilliant Brit have it all his own way this year?
Mercedes To Come Out on Top
Before an engine has roared this season, Mercedes are odds-on to be the winning team in 2020. They have a superb partnership in the shape of Bottas and Hamilton, who will certainly take some stopping this year. Red Bull have also been tipped to have a good season, while Ferrari are the other of the big three.
The Albert Park Circuit is a terrific track, and we could be in for plenty of thrills and spills in race one. Mercedes have won four of the last six Australian Grands Prix, winning in 2014, 2015 and 2016 before getting back to winning ways in Melbourne a year ago. The team are priced at 4/9 to make a winning start to the season down under and it hard to look past them.
Flying Start for Hamilton
Hamilton dominated Formula One last season, winning over half of the races. The Stevenage-born star was virtually unstoppable in the first half of 2019, picking up seven victories in the opening 10 rounds. Hamilton also won four in a row, coming out on top in successive Grands Prix in Spain, Monaco, Canada and France. The British ace, who has won two Australian Grands Prix, will be gunning for a hat-trick of victories in Melbourne at the weekend. Our money is going on the Hamilton win, which is nicely priced at evens.
Leclerc to Build on Superb First Season at Ferrari
Leclerc had a fine season at Ferrari last year, really stepping up to the plate in his first campaign with the famous Italian team. The Monaco man finished fifth in Australia last March. The youngster also picked up race wins in Belgium and Italy. Big things are expected of Leclerc this season, and we fancy the 22-year-old to finish in the top three (5/4) at Albert Park Circuit on Sunday.
About the Australian Grand Prix
The Australian Grand Prix is another of the more permanent fixtures in the F1 calendar. The track is fairly unique in that it’s actually held with Albert Park and for most of the year is fully open to the public to walk and cycle around.
It’s one of the more contrasting backgrounds in F1, as you have the lush greenery surrounding it, with the Lake that runs through the middle of the track. With it you can get a look at the Melbourne Central Business District in the backdrop and then the coastal views looking out towards the water as well.
The circuit often hosts the first round of the Grand Prix season, which means it’s highly anticipated and is able to draw huge crowds on the back of it. The track itself is very fast and flowing, with 16 corners in total winding their way around the albert Park lake, alongside a golf course and soccer stadium.
The track is relatively flat and the surface is smooth. The track is also known to be very smooth, which makes it tricky at the start of qualifying and races, until cars are able to get a little more heat into their tyres and in turn, get more grip.
There are 2 DRS zones to speak of, with one running through the start finish line and the second on the run down to turn 3, making these two of the more popular passing points. The weather is usually very good and often is very hot, which means that both cars and drivers need to combat the heat, as well as the track.
The run from the start and into turn 1 sees cars get up to speeds in excess of 300kmph. The first turn is a pretty short apex and the drives move quickly between that and straight into the second corner, carrying high speeds from the exit of turn three, as well.
Into turn four sees one of the biggest breaking zones on the track and often one of the more popular passing points. It’s here where numerous popup grand stands are held and is a popular spot of spectators due to the many incidents and accidents that have occurred during previous Grand Prix races.
Turn 5 sees a short acceleration burst and with it the drivers are conscious to use as much as the circuit as possible and then almost flat again through turn 6 and through the trees into turn 7 and 8. It’s also worth noting that at this point the cars undergo a lot of camber turn, which makes it hard for the drivers to navigate and pulls the cars out of their hands.
The back section of the track sees the drivers able to take this at flat out, providing it it’s dry, but if it’s wet, then you will often see drivers back off a little just to ensure maximum grip. The breaking zone into 9 and 10 is another of the bigger ones on track, with short apex corners for these as well, meaning drivers are keen to get on the throttle as soon as possible.
These are actually big attributes of the race and it’s important the cars are set up heavily on the front axle to allow good turn in for this very reason.
The cars run along the side of the lake and into turns 11 and 12, which is known for being a high speed chicane. This area of the track has been altered quite a bit over the years, but drivers are almost able to fully accelerate through and out of them these days. It’s also one of the most exciting sections for the drivers, due to the speed and grip they are able to achieve.
As the race starts to get to the final corners, turn 13 seems pretty innocuous, but in fact the drivers need to navigate carefully through it as it’s not quite a flat-out corner, so throttle control is key here. 14 is similar corner and it’s this point where drivers decide to risk it all through 15, which is a tight left-handed turn and then through the right hander that sweeps around before accelerating through and across the start finish line.
The track has been about since 1953, which makes it one of the oldest in the calendar at the minute. It was originally on the calendar as both World Championship and non-World Championship event and have seen different configurations run throughout the early years.
Over the years it’s been able to host a number of major racing events, including Supercar Championships, Melbourne 400, Porsche Carrera Cup Australia, Australian GT Championship and the Ferrari Challenge Asia-Pacific, to name just a few.
1993 – SENNA’S FINAL GP VICTORY
The 1993 Australian Grand Prix was to be the final victory in the career of Ayrton Senna. The Grand Prix was actually the final race of the season and following it saw the retirement of Alain Prost, Senna’s great rival retire from the sport.
The race was closely fought, but it was Senna who came out on top, after qualifying on pole and finishing just 9.259 seconds ahead of Prost, with Damon Hill finishing in 3rd place.
2009 – BRAWN’S GP DEBUT
The 2009 GP saw the eventual winner be that of Jenson Button, finishing ahead of team mate, Rubens Barichello in their Brawn-Mercedes car. But, what’s most impressive is that the race was the very first race for the new team in that of Brawn.
They were in fact the first constructor to have won their debut race since that of Mercedes-Benz back in 1954. The season would lead to Button’s first of two World Championship victories in his career.