The F1 season reaches the Australian GP this weekend. The circuit has been unable to host a race for the last two years because of COVID-19 restrictions and this time around, with new regulations in place and a possible change of guard at the front, the race is going to attract a lot of attention.
The Australian GP will also be the first time since the Brazilian GP last season where we don't have a night race. In this piece, we will take a look at why the Australian GP is a must-watch for F1 fans.
#1 Max Verstappen vs Charles Leclerc, Part 3
The action in the first two races of the season has been nothing short of spectacular. What we are witnessing this year is the first occasion in the Turbo-Hybrid era where Mercedes is not the frontrunner. We have Red Bull and Ferrari battling it out at the front. Their cars have their advantages as Red Bull tends to be faster in straightlines, while Ferrari seems to be more aerodynamically efficient in corners. Both Max and Charles have been wheel-to-wheel with each other in the first two races of the season and there is no indication that the same cannot happen at the Australian GP as well.
#2 Australian GP returns after two years
The Australian GP was the first race that was affected by COVID-19. It was this very race that got canceled in 2020 when the teams had even made their way to the country. Having said that, the Albert Park circuit holds historic significance on the calendar. It has been a part of the sport for more than two decades and has witnessed some great action.
With slight modifications to the track, the new generation of cars, and the return of the sport after two years, live viewers and fans can expect a roaring applause once things get underway at Albert Park.
#3 The new layout and 4 DRS zones are going to make things interesting
Albert Park has seen some modifications made to the track before the race. Although no sweeping changes have been introduced, there are some sections of the track that have been made faster. To add to this, the tarmac might be a bit abrasive and could result in multiple pitstops.
However, the biggest change is the introduction of 4 DRS zones on the track. Lest we forget, even in 2019 the track had three DRS zones. However, this time around, F1 comes to the track with an entirely different generation of cars. These cars can follow each other much better and hence, we might see a race where two cars might swap places multiple times during the race.
#4 Mercedes will have a spotlight on it throughout the weekend
The last time a Mercedes was not on pole at Albert Park was in 2013. The German team had maintained a stronghold on the track throughout the Turbo Hybrid era. However, things might be different this year. Mercedes is not the fastest car on the grid. In fact, it's not even the frontrunner.
The team is working hard to understand the novel 'no-sidepod' concept implemented in the car but hasn't had much success so far. Albert Park, with the new layout, has more of a resemblance to Jeddah circuit than ever before and that could mean Mercedes struggling to make in-roads at the front yet again.
#5 The midfield battle will be intense
One thing that hasn't changed since last season is the intensity of the midfield battle. Last season we had McLaren and Ferrari battling it out for P3, and then we had Aston Martin, Alpine and Alpha Tauri battling for P5. This time around, it's a battle between Haas, Alfa Romeo, Alpha Tauri, McLaren, and Alpine for P4.
For now, Alpine holds the advantage and P4 in the Constructors standings but that can change at the Australian GP as the form book is not as rigid as it used to be. Similar to the first two races of the season, fans should watch out for some intense battles in the midfield throughout the weekend.