What history tells us: Australian Grand Prix trends over the last 10 years

Natasha Henry
Kimi Raikkonen navigates the Albert Park track during Australian Grand Prix qualification - AAP

Melbourne’s Albert Park has long been a staple of the Formula One racing calendar, and has seen several world champions up on the podium at Australia’s street circuit.

Traditionally the opening race of the season, it is a well supported start to the tour with an average of 100,000 regularly filling the stands in the hope that the rain stays away.

Outside of the temperamental weather, one of the main factors are its notorious corners and their ability to ruin drivers and teams afternoons.

Daniel Ricciardo became the latest star to fall foul of the circuit when he crashed out in the third qualifying session of his home race.  After finishing fifth in his previous run-out. Instead he will start in tenth place, two rows behind teenage teammate Max Verstappen who ended Saturday in fifth.

The Australian admitted he was shocked to end up in the barriers as he looked to join his teammate in the top six.

Australian GP Talking Points | David Coulthard

After the crash, he said: “I'm fine physically - emotionally I'm obviously a little disappointed. It happens. I have to try and have a bit of perspective: at least it didn't happen in Q1.

"We made a big step in Q2, it was looking alright, but then the [first lap] in Q3 was a little messy and Turn 14 just caught me out, caught me by surprise.

"I went in, the rear broke away, and unfortunately there wasn't a way of catching it or saving it..."

The 27-year-old became the second driver to to fall foul of the turns after Jolyon Palmer’s second practice on Friday ended early.

The Red Bull driver should think himself lucky it may only have been his gearbox, there have been several clashes at his home track with car’s unable to stay with the racing lines. Most notably the collision between Rubens Barrichello and Ralf Schumacher in 2002.

Lewis Hamilton led Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas in qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix Credit: AAP

The variation in lap times and results in the Australian Grand Prix doesn’t appear to be just about the track itself; with engines, specifically the alterations of its weight and the drivers themselves all key to results.

When Kimi Raikkonen took the fastest lap in 2007 with a time of 1:25.235 it coincide with the change to a 2.4 litre engine from the previous 3L.

In the six years following that race, the fast lap times increased by just over four seconds to Raikonnen time of 1:29.187 in 2013.

Although the first year of the eco-friendly 1.6L saw Nico Rosberg achieve a time of 1:32.478; last year’s fastest lap was set by Ricciardo with 1:28.997.

With this season’s cars said to be far lighter and Lewis Hamilton claiming pole with a time of 1:22.188, you can expect Sunday’s quickest time to be somewhere in between the two, possibly in the 1:26 region because the race time regularly manages to be slower than the qualifying time when it comes to Albert Park.

Over the last decade there has been at least two seconds between the best qualification and lap time. But the reverse of that was true in 2014 when Lewish Hamilton took pole with a time of 1:44.231 before Rosberg set a fastest lap of 1:32.478.

If the rumours are true then this season cars are set up to thrive at the Australian circuit on a track that has 16 turns, and requires a driver who can handle streets that require someone who can handle their engine, throttle and breaks well.

It remains to be seen if Hamilton will claim another win at the circuit, but it is a race often full of drama and more will be expected on Sunday.  

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