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NEED TO KNOW: The most important facts, stats and trivia ahead of the 2024 Australian Grand Prix

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Formula 1 heads Down Under for the Australian Grand Prix this weekend. Need to Know is your all-in-one guide for the week ahead with statistics, driving pointers, strategy tips and plenty more. You can also keep track of how fans have voted using our popular F1 Play predictor game.

The first two practice sessions will take place on Friday, March 22, followed by final practice and qualifying on Saturday, March 23 and the main event itself, the Australian Grand Prix, on Sunday, March 24.

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Vital statistics

  • First Grand Prix – 1996 (first Australian Grand Prix held at Adelaide in 1985)
  • Track Length – 5.278km
  • Lap record – 1m 20.235s, Sergio Perez, 2023
  • Most pole positions – Lewis Hamilton (8)
  • Most wins – Michael Schumacher (4)
  • Trivia – Almost a third of the field retired on the first lap back in 2002 when eight cars pulled out following a dramatic multi-car collision triggered by Ralf Schumacher’s Williams flying over the back of Rubens Barrichello’s Ferrari
  • Pole run to Turn 1 braking point – 271 metres
  • Overtakes completed in 2023 – 74
  • Safety Car probability – 67%
  • Virtual Safety Car probability – 50%
  • Pit stop time loss – 20.1 seconds (including 2.5s stationary)

FAN VIEW: Max Verstappen has been dominant so far again in 2024, but his advantage in race trim is not quite as big in qualifying. While he has huge F1 Play backing to be fastest over a single lap in Australia, there is at least some support for the flying Ferrari of Charles Leclerc.

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The driver’s verdict

Jolyon Palmer, former Renault F1 driver: I love the circuit. It’s a really good one to find a rhythm. It’s a very atmospheric circuit to drive as well.

It was widened in places for 2022, which just ups the average speed of the place, because it used to be a little bit more stop-start than it is now.

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They’ve taken out the chicane that used to be Turns 9 and 10 and used to funnel the cars, and added a DRS zone – so there are now four DRS zones.

It’s not easy to overtake here, but a real pleasure to drive as you find your rhythm and wind your way around the picturesque Albert Park.

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ONBOARD: Max Verstappen’s 2023 Pirelli Pole Position Award lap at the Australian Grand Prix

Last five Australian Grand Prix pole-sitters

  • 2023 – Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
  • 2022 – Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
  • 2019 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
  • 2018 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
  • 2017 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

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Last five Australian Grand Prix winners

  • 2023 – Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
  • 2022 – Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
  • 2019 – Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
  • 2018 – Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
  • 2017 – Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)

FAN VIEW: Once we get to Sunday in Melbourne, there is zero doubt where F1 Play gamers are going with their picks. Verstappen is polling well over 95% of the vote, with only the aforementioned Leclerc, of his rivals, managing more than 1%.

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Verstappen scored a pole and victory double in Australia last year

Strategy and set-up keys

Bernie Collins, former Aston Martin F1 strategist: One of the tricky elements of Albert Park is that it’s a temporary circuit, so it will tend to be bumpier.

Although it’s not a full street circuit, you can think of it that way, with initial track conditions often challenging and big improvements coming throughout each session as a result.

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From the four DRS zones, one of the detection points is placed just after a corner, coming out of Turn 6, which can make it trickier in terms of overtaking.

If you think about it, getting into DRS range under braking is reasonably easy, given that cars are coming together, but getting into a DRS range under acceleration out of a corner is sometimes difficult, so you need to be able to follow that car in front closely.

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Another crucial element here is that it’s very difficult to react to unforeseen circumstances. If teams have an incident at the event before, or during practice, it makes things tough to manage given that they will be low on spares at this stage of the season.

On top of that, to get anything additional out to Australia is almost impossible – everything has to be done at the track.

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As with Saudi Arabia, Australia is a track position race. And there’s a high risk of a Safety Car; you tend to get a lot of them here, along with the Virtual Safety Car.

FAN VIEW: With F1 Play gamers confidently expecting another Red Bull one-two, with Sergio Perez chasing home Verstappen, it’s the race for third place on the podium which holds most interest. Leclerc is a strong favourite to spray some champagne, followed by team mate Carlos Sainz and McLaren pair Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri.

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Given its street circuit characteristics, track position is vital at Albert Park

Current form

Max Verstappen began his latest F1 title defence in style by following up on victory in the Bahrain season opener with another dominant display a week later in Saudi Arabia, while Red Bull left the Middle East boasting a 100% one-two record.

It means their rivals are already playing catch up in the championship standings as the F1 paddock moves on to Australia, but with 22 rounds of a record-breaking 24-round campaign to follow, there is still plenty of time for them to do so.

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So far, Ferrari have looked most likely to cause an upset, with Charles Leclerc qualifying on the front row at Sakhir and splitting the Red Bulls on the grid at Jeddah, while the Scuderia finished on the podium at both events.

Elsewhere, the likes of Mercedes, McLaren and Aston Martin are pushing hard to understand their new cars and get in the mix for trophies, with the papaya team’s mid-season surge in 2023 a clear example of what can be done from race to race with effective updates.

And, as expected before the season kicked off, the field appears to be closer than ever, with less than 1.5 seconds covering P1 to P20 during Q1 in Saudi Arabia – meaning just a few tenths can take you from the sharp end to the back.

All to play for, then, as we head to another very different track in the early stages of this race around the world...

FAN VIEW: The Aston Martins of Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll are both expected to be in the points in Melbourne, despite the Canadian’s costly mistake in Saudi Arabia which saw him crash out of the race early. Alex Albon of Williams is also coming in for good support via F1 Play as we close in on race weekend.

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Race Highlights: 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Iconic moment

While the Australian Grand Prix now takes place in Melbourne, we are going back to previous venue Adelaide for an unforgettable moment from the event’s history.

A three-way title showdown saw Nigel Mansell, Williams team mate Nelson Piquet and McLaren’s Alain Prost face off, only for the Briton to experience a dramatic tyre failure and flip the situation on its head.

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Relive the chaos with Murray Walker’s classic commentary below.

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Murray Walker's famous commentary of Mansell's tyre blowout at Australia 1986

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