Formula 1

Melbourne track tweaked for faster 2017 cars

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ByAutoSport
06/01/2017 at 09:38

Melbourne's Albert Park circuit will undergo a number of track revisions ahead of the 2017 Australian Grand Prix, to accommodate the faster new-generation Formula 1 cars.

According to FIA data provided to the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, mid-corner speeds at the track will increase by 20-50km/h at mid-to-high-speed turns, braking points will be 20-30 metres later and lap times will be three to four seconds quicker.

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That has prompted a number of safety-related revisions, with tyre wall reprofiling at Turns 1, 6, and 14, plus over AU$100,000 worth of Tecpro high-speed barriers at Turn 12.

"We took all the information we received from the FIA, and being a temporary circuit we had to manufacture additional tyre buffers and purchase 80 metres worth of the Tecpro barrier," Craig Moca, the track's division manager of infrastructure told Autosport's sister title Motorsport.com.

"That's a big step for us from being an old-school track where we've got tyres and conveyor belts, to having these high-speed barriers."

The Tecpro barrier will be used in an 80-metre stretch on the exit of the quick Turn 11/12 complex, where the 2017 cars are expected to reach around 140mph as they leave the corner - meaning a potential barrier impact speed of 80mph if a driver runs wide.

Elsewhere the focus has been on reprofiling tyre walls, with sections of the Turn 1 and 6 walls doubled in width.

The biggest overhaul is at Turn 14, where the entire run-off area at the end of the braking zone will be doubled from three rows of tyres to six, with tube inserts.

"When I did some research, watching Lewis Hamilton's qualifying on-board footage from 2015, it shows the speeds on approach to those corners, and you can clearly see why the FIA identified those corners," said Moca.

"Because our barriers are so close to the track, it's making sure that we've got enough protection that if a driver does go off track, it can stop without seriously injuring the driver or damaging the car substantially."

Despite the 2017 changes, Moca does not anticipate a widespread move from tyre walls to Tecpro.

"The Tecpro barriers are extremely expensive, so we will stick to using tyres as much as we can," he said.

"It does the same job, and the FIA still says that it is good for the job.

"And our circuit has a very good safety record - a good example of that is Fernando [Alonso's] accident last year. The fantastic thing is he got up and walked away.

"We had everything right; the gravel was the right height, the gravel trap was placed correctly, the tyre buffers were there, the barriers were in the right place...

"The main thing for us as the guys who build the circuit is that he walked away."

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