RACE DEBRIEF

    With Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit set for its first major update since racing began at the parkland track back in 1996, McLaren racer Daniel Ricciardo has said that was “happy” to have been consulted on the alterations – with the Australian adding that he was confident the changes would improve racing at the track.

    With the circuit undergoing the first resurfacing of its 25-year existence, seven corners at Albert Park will also be altered ahead of the 2021 Australian Grand Prix on November 19-21, with the chicane at Turn 9-10 removed completely and lap times set to be slashed by around five seconds. And Ricciardo revealed that he’d been part of a group of F1 drivers asked to provide input on the changes.

    REVEALED: The track tweaks set to make Melbourne's Albert Park Circuit 5 seconds a lap quicker in 2021

    “A bunch of us drivers were consulted on the changes and I was happy about that,” said Ricciardo, set to have his first home race as McLaren driver this year. “We were allowed to give our thoughts and input. Not all drivers will be aligned of course, but one thing we can agree on is we want to make Sundays, race day, better.

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    Daniel Ricciardo feels proud that he's been able to input into the reshaping of his home track

    “I had that in mind when I had my input. Widening some of the apexes, creating more of a straight in some places to allow for an opportunity for more slipstreaming… that was the priority, and I’m very confident it’s going to be good.

    “Every street circuit is a challenge,” added Ricciardo, “but Albert Park is pretty fast, which only adds to that. There’s a lot of fourth and fifth-gear corners and it’s pretty narrow at certain parts. It’s been somewhere that had been hard to overtake typically because of that width, and because it’s so fast in these cars, it’s even trickier to follow through the high-speed corner sequences.

    “But changing some of the apexes and creating some more room, allowing more chance to make a diving overtake, or even change your line to get out of the dirty air, I think it’ll really help.”

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    Turn 13 will be widened, and its camber altered, to create alternative racing lines

    Ricciardo added, however, that he’d had mixed feelings about the removal of the Turn 9-10 chicane, and its replacement with a straight and the possibility of an additional DRS zone – Ricciardo citing the sequence as having been one of the track’s big challenges in years past.

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    “Removing Turns 9 and 10 is a compromise,” he said. “Turn 10 was always pretty challenging because you’d be exiting close to the wall – but the last couple of years, the cars are so good now that the traction out of 10 is pretty easy and the wall wasn’t really a threat anymore. The car didn’t run out there as aggressively as it used to.

    “So removing that chicane, you’re now going to have a massive tow out of Turn 6, which is going to be good with the additional DRS zone.”