The track layout will be modified ahead to this November’s Australian Grand Prix, the most notable change coming to the Lakeside Drive section of the circuit.
The slow Turn 9/10 complex will be turned into a flowing switchback, which will make the entry to the already quick Turn 11/12 complex even faster.
Turn 13 will then be widened and the outside line re-profiled to positive camber to create multiple racing lines.
There will also be widening work at Turn 6, to provide a faster run onto Lakeside Drive, and Turn 15 to make it harder for drivers to defend in the final sector.
Turns 1 and 3 will also be widened on the inside to create more viable racing lines.
According to Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO Andrew Westacott, the changes were designed based on simulations from Formula 1 and consultation with the likes of AGPC board member Mark Webber, and a number of current Formula 1 drivers.
“The way we’ve approached it very holistic, broad and driven by consultation,” told Motorsport.com.
“The track was put down in 1995 so therefore it’s extremely dated, not only from a surface point of view, but the cars have evolved. The track itself has been subject to, what I’ve called, a level of evolution and review.
“Drivers often say it’s a great city, great crowds, beautiful place to stay, great place to open the season – but the racing can be a bit processional.
“We wanted to provide opportunities to reward brave driving and provide opportunities to penalise sloppy or poor driving.
“The camber of the corners isn’t necessarily conducive to Formula 1 racing in every instance. If there’s a crown in the middle of the road, and Turn 13 is a classic example, it means there’s negative camber on the outside of the corner.
“It makes it more difficult than if it had a five per cent positive camber from driver’s left to driver’s right at the apex.
“To get a real overtaking opportunity the simulations from Formula 1 indicated that by getting a greater level of speed into Turn 13 and changing the geometry of the turn slightly, that might provide a legitimate overtaking opportunity. It also makes Turn 11 and 12 more challenging, which is a wonderful complex that the drivers love.”
Mobilisation of the layout change work will begin on Monday, before the construction starts on March 2.
The work follows an already-complete first phase centred around the widening of pitlane by two metres. It’s hoped that will allow the speed limit to be lifted from 60 to 80 km/h.
A full resurfacing with a more aggressive asphalt, meanwhile, will take place after this November’s race, to complete a full circuit upgrade designed with the new 2022-spec cars in mind.
“Every time there’s a race people talk about tyre degradation and where Melbourne sits, where Bahrain sits, where Sochi sits, where Silverstone sits… and Melbourne pretty much sits smack bang in the middle,” added Westacott. “It’s not the most abrasive, it’s not the smoothest.
“If we’re going to put something down, let’s make it more abrasive. That was an important one.
“We we’re doing is working with the [existing] physical environment and constraints to develop a circuit that’s best positioned to enhance the racing when these 2022-spec cars come into play.”
The 2021 Australian Grand Prix is currently scheduled to take place between November 19-21.