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Track changes for Albert Park circuit 19 Nov 2003

The cars pull away from the dummy grid
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Race Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, 9 March 2003

The Australian Grand Prix looks set to become a three-stop race next season after organisers announced small but significant changes to Melbourne's Albert Park circuit.

The pit-lane entry is to be straightened, and thus substantially shortened. This, in combination with the new, higher pit-lane speed limit (100 kph) announced by the FIA for 2004, should cut around three to five seconds off the length of a pit stop.

This will have strong implications for race strategies. In 2003 the vast majority of teams chose to make two pit stops in the 58-lap event. However, the changes, which have already been approved by the FIA and the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport, mean a three-stopper may well become the fastest option.

Race organisers also announced that a new, additional grandstand will be built on the Albert Park circuit's main straight for 2004. It will be named after 1998 and 1999 world champion Mika Hakkinen.

The 2004 Australian Grand Prix, the opening round of the new season, will take place on March 7.