Grand Prix 2022 Australian Grand Prix Practice, Qualifying & Race Discussion

The Artist.....

Champion Elect
Since it's not already posted, I thought I'd step on someone's toes and post an initial discussion for the 2022 Australian Grand Prix.

The GP circus' last visit to Australia was a somewhat abortive affair. A new, zoonotic disease, that we all thought would disappear very soon was beginning to spread in countries across the world back in 2020. This disease, at the time known as Coronavirus, was alleged to have originated in the Wuhan province, having jumped species, either from bats or from Pangolins. However, this is not the place for discussing the origins of the virus, we'll do that when we get to the 2022 Chinese Grand Prix discussion.
There is no Chinese Grand Prix in 2022
What do you mean there's no Chinese Grand Prix? When did that happen? Vietnam?
There's no Vietnamese GP either
Oh, so we're going to Imola and to (checks notes) drive around the car park of the Miami Dolphins' football rugby kicky throwy sport with lots of body armour instead. I guess we won't be discussing the origins of coronavirus after all.

Returning to the Australian GP. Back in 2020, the Australian GP was all set to go ahead. The teams had all been shipped out to Melbourne, crowds were ready to come into the circuit, then just before free practice was due to take place, a McLaren employee was confirmed to have tested positive for Coronavirus, and the decision was made to close the circuit, and cancel the event. If one employee from McLaren could be carrying the virus, anyone could be, and the Grand Prix could turn into a super-spreader event
But wait. The GP was due to be held on the 15th March 2020. Cheltenham Festival was running at the same time in the UK. And the UK had a higher coronavirus infection level. Surely that was deeply irresponsible.
You might think that, but only our government is due to be answerable for that.

A year later, and the GP was due to return to Melbourne in 2021, with the race due to take place on March 21st. Unsurprisingly, with increasing COVID-19 levels, the race was delayed until November 2021...
Wait a minute, I thought that this virus was called coronavirus. When did it become COVID?
It became COVID-19 to distinguish it between all of the other coronavirus', and with the -19 suffix to say that it was first detected in 2019

What, there are other coronavirus'. We're doomed! Doomed I tell ye!
Stop distracting me, I'm getting back to the preview.

The November 2021 date was still too early for the GP to return, and unsurprisingly, the race was cancelled.

So, we're going to have our first race in Melbourne since 2019, and whilst we've been away, there have finally been changes to the circuit. First of all, the entire circuit has been re-surfaced for the first time since the first race in 1996, and modifications have been made to a number of corners, firstly to widen the track to allow cars to race side-by-side and to try to avoid accidents, and hopefully to increase overtaking. The most visual of these changes will be through turns 9/10/11 and 12. Essentially, the braking zone in turn 9 has been removed, and cars will now go flat out from turn 8 all the way to the old turn 11, then brake for a super-fast chicane, followed by a flat out blast to a re-profiled turn 13.

But wait, cars are being set up to follow each other very closely all the way to the old turn 11. Surely they've slowed that corner down for safety?
What happens if something goes wrong? They're going to be braking from about 200 mph to about 130... There's scope for a lot of differential in speed there, particularly if a driver makes a mistake... Is no-one worried about an aeroplane style accident?
We have been going to Melbourne for 25 years now, and this will be the 25th running of the Australian GP in Melbourne. Before the circus moved to Melbourne, Adelaide had held the closing race of the season, that became memorable for three runnings of the race:

1986: And colossally that's Mansell
Nigel Mansell only needed to finish 3rd to win his first world championship. However, a couple of laps earlier, Rosberg's McLaren had suffered a tyre failure, although at the time, he thought that his engine had failed.
Down the Jack Brabham straight, he pulled out to overtake a lapped car, pushed the turbo button, and BOOM!!! His tyre exploded in a shower of sparks. Williams immediately called Piquet in to the pits for a new set of tyres, handing the 1986 world championship to Prost.

1989: Rain-sodden #1
Still smarting from his disqualification in Japan, that handed Prost his 3rd championship, Senna was out to prove a point. McLaren still planned to appeal, but held out little hope.

Senna was in a class of his own, on a completely rain-soaked track. After lap 1, Prost pulled his car in to retire, as he didn't want to risk his life driving a car in such dangerous conditions. The race organisers agreed and stopped the race. 30 minutes later, with the conditions no better, the race was re-started, this time without the diminutive Frenchman.

Senna raced away at the front, and was in a commanding lead, when he came up behind Martin Brundle's (lapped) Brabham. The first the viewers knew that anything was wrong was seeing Senna's McLaren doing its best impression of a Robin Reliant, but in the replay, it was obvious what had happened. Out of the spray, suddenly we saw a flash of red-and-white, and bang, Senna's car ploughed into the rear-facing camera on Brundle's Brabham. Both cars were out in a flash.

Through the chaos came Terry Boutsen, for his second wet-weather win of the season.

1991 Rain-sodden #2
If 1989 was wet, 1991 was just as bad, if not worse. This goes down, as the shortest race in history.
Wait a minute, wasn't Spa 2021 shorter? They only managed 2 laps behind the safety car.
This goes down, as the shortest race in history. With 14 laps of frenetic racing, cars were spinning out, and hitting the wall on the Jack Brabham straight. At one time, there were 2 wrecks on the right, 2 wrecks on the left, and cars going at racing speed down the straight. On about lap 11, Mansell pulled out of Senna's slipstream to overtake, to see yellow flags and a Dallara directly in his path.

By lap 16,
I thought you said it only lasted 14 laps...
By lap 16, Mansell had hit the wall, Berger had spun out, Senna was wildly gesticulating to the marshals to stop the race, and this time, the marshals listened. Out came the red flag and the race was stopped. Using the countback rule, the stewards counted back 2 laps, so that the result was determined based on the positions at the end of lap 14. Senna, Mansell, Berger, and behind them chaos

Even though 1991 was a demolition derby, it wasn't the race with the highest attrition in Adelaide. That has to go to 1995. Cars dropped out left, right, and centre. David Coulthard was a traditional donut, by crashing into the pitwall, and in the end Damon Hill won by 2 laps from his nearest competitor. Only one car went the full distance, and Pedro Diniz, in a Forti (look it up, kids) finished 7th. Had he finished 6th, the resultant prize money might have been enough to keep Forti going throughout 1996. However, that was not to be!

So, now we're going to Melbourne, surely there's lots of memorable GPs?
1996 was quite memorable. Brundle destroyed his Jordan, and Damon Hill was outqualified by Villeneuve, only being able to overtake when Villeneuve's engine broke an oil line.

Um, 1998 was marked by utter dominance by McLaren, with the cars romping away to a 1/2 finish (although Hakkinen was the pitlane donut, by throwing away the lead to Coulthard by unnecessarily driving through the pits... For some reason, Coulthard handed the lead back.

  • 1999 was Irvine's first victory...
  • 2007 marked the arrival of some driver from Stevenage who overtook his world champion team-mate at the first corner. Whatever happened to him?
  • 2009 marked the debut of the Brawn GP car. Lapping 2 seconds a lap faster than anyone else in testing was not a false-dawn, with Jenson Button winning from pole position in a dominant display. However, this was the race the sowed seeds of discontent with Lewis Hamilton and McLaren. Hamilton was convinced to lie to the stewards that Trulli had overtaken him during the safety car (in fact, Hamilton had been mistakenly told to pull over to let Trulli past, having past Trulli when he fell off the circuit all on his own). Hamilton was disqualified, and Dave Ryan was sacked from McLaren.
  • 2010 was probably the best "race" at Melbourne, with Jenson Button, in his second race for McLaren making a call to move from intermediates to slicks early in the race. His first few corners on the slicks looked like a major error, as he slithered off the track at turn 3, but went on to win the race
Hang on, wasn't Vettel a long way in the lead.
Yes - that 2010 race is often portrayed as a masterclass by Button, but had Vettel's car been reliable (his brakes broke), he would have won the race.

So, we head into the 2022 edition, with Charles Leclerc leading the world drivers championship from Charles (sorry Carlos!) Sainz. With the new rules, and the new circuit, it's likely that there will still be unpredictability up front.

Pirelli, in its infinite wisdom, will be bringing the C2, C3 and C5 tyres to the race, so either, the C2 will be unusable in the race, as drivers can't get heat into it, or the C5 will just burn out in a couple of corners. Either way, it's bound to be another race ruined by tyres.

Alonso will also be taking a new ICE for this race, having broken his engine in the last race.
Alpine said that it wasn't a broken engine. The water-pump (which was an integral part of the engine) broke, and pieces of it went inside the engine, and to repair it, they would need to break the FIA seals. Ergo, not a broken engine. #RenaultLogic.
Australia reminds me of my race thats never was thread. i bet thats a weird read now

the qualifying format we have seen

Mercedes have a new rear wing coming which could be worth over a second a lap. according to reports

In case of insomnia
FB ill be up live for that as i start work at 10am & with the huge man city v liverpool title decider on i wouldnt see it til 7.30pm. as much i like the idea of early morning GPs. great memories but i havent done this since october 2019. i havent missed it 1 bit
this is a mad stat. from lewis point of view. hes taken 7 of the last 8, including the last 6 Australian poles has only won it once in 2015

Just watching Hamilton being interviewed after FP2, he's sounds really down. The managed to make the car worse between FP1 and FP2.
There is no way on this or any other Earth that Mercedes are going to fight their way back into a position where they can challenge for either title this season.

Ferrari, it's all on you :whistle:
One of the things that's been coming out in recent weeks is that some of the porpoising was being caused by cars having floors that had been built quite light, and these were flexing at high speed.

Somehow, the regs got tweaked to allow metal "stays" to be introduced, which stopped the floor-flex, and allowed teams who built their cars effectively too flimsily to get away with running less weight. Of course, the losers here are the teams who built floors which wouldn't flex at speed by building in extra weight to make the floor sturdy... I'd imagine that, come San Marino in a few weeks time, all the teams will have new floors, which are built as flimsily as they can get away with, to reduce weight.

I'm aware of the following teams using stays:
  • Mercedes
  • Ferrari
  • Haas
  • Williams (although it's not doing them much good)
  • Alpha Tauri
  • Alfa Romeo seem to have the most robust stay
McLaren aren't, and Red Bull don't appear to be.
The thing with ground effect aero which teams had to learn in the late 70s was that stiffness of chassis and stability were absolutely crucial for the aero to work effectively. The Lotus 78 was nowhere near stiff enough to handle the downforce it generated. The 79 was better but the Type 80 was appalling.

Patrick Head got it, hence the Williams FW07 being superbly competitive for 3 years.

It seems that there are a lot of teams that need to relearn the ground effect design lessons.

I wonder if anyone has given Gordon Murray a call for a spot of consultancy?
I think until we get back to the 1st European race then we will know if Mercedes have got any hope where everyone brings their upgrades

Off course if neither Ferrari or Red Bull finish then it will not look as bad if Mercs finish to make up the deficit at least
Mercedes are not going to challenge this season.

As I said last year several times, Hamilton should have walked after Abu Dhabi.
but that Mercedes they are saying even the team. are still working it out they dont 100% know yet. they cant run it as low as they'd like & also the back end is really unstable apparently.

Hamilton you would have to be sure will win a race this season surely. as hes had far worse cars than this - 2009 McLaren & worse mercedes - 2013. he still won a race in every season
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