Despite this being a very difficult time in Italy and indeed in the rest of the world, because of concerns about the spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19), the Formula 1 World Championship will start as planned in Australia and Scuderia Ferrari, the only team to have taken part in every year of the series, will be there. The 71st season of the Formula 1 World Championship gets underway at Melbourne’s Albert Park Circuit on Sunday 15 March. The venue has been the scene of the opening round on 22 occasions and this will be the 25 Australian GP to be held here. With a further eleven races in Adelaide from 1985 to 1995, it means this will be the 36th running of this race.
Nine wins. Scuderia Ferrari has nine wins to its name in Australia, the first courtesy of Gerhard Berger in Adelaide in 1987, the last back in 2018 with Sebastian Vettel. The Maranello squad also has a further 16 podium finishes, eight second places and eight thirds. A Ferrari has started from pole six times and set the fastest race lap on nine occasions.
Three DRS zones. The 5.303 kilometre-long track features 16 corners and the race distance is 58 laps. Albert Park is a street circuit, therefore the grip level gradually improves, the more running the cars do, thus rubbering-in the surface. There are three DRS zones: the main straight and the sections between turns 2 and 3 and 12 and 13.
Sebastian Vettel #5
“Say Melbourne and three things come to mind: sunshine, a buzzing atmosphere and bumps. Sunshine, because the weather is usually nice when we race there; the buzzing atmosphere because this city is full of life, making it a pleasure to start the season here, and the bumps because every year we know that the Albert Park track is going to be very bumpy.
In fact, it’s that characteristic which makes this track a real technical challenge and that’s probably the reason we drivers like it so much. The first race of the season is always special and I think it will allow us to get a better idea than we had in testing as to what the hierarchy is between the teams.”
Charles Leclerc #16
“If I had to sum up Melbourne in three words, they would be, beautiful, tricky and fun. Beautiful refers to the city that is vibrant and has a young population that makes it even more lively.
The track is definitely exciting, because it’s a street circuit and I’ve always loved racing between the walls, although it also has some very fast sections. However, it is also definitely tricky because, especially at the start of the weekend, the surface is dirty and doesn’t provide the same grip level you’d find at a permanent track.
The characteristics of the Albert Park track make it unforgiving and any mistake can come at a high price, so when you’re in the cockpit, you have to be fully focused all the time.”
Mattia Binotto Team Principal
"After a long winter working on building and developing our car, the time has come to get a first indication of our performance level and how effective are the improvements we have introduced over the past few months.
We know that the opposition is strong, but we also know that it is the start of a long season where development rate, reliability, and our operational effectiveness will be key. We are gearing up to tackle all these challenges as a united team, conscious of the progress that needs to be made and proud of the support of our fans worldwide.
At what is a difficult time for Italy and the world as a whole, as part of a global sport, it is our obligation to try and put a smile on people’s faces as they prepare to watch the first race of the season with the same sense of anticipation as ourselves."
Last week in the team
The team returned from the second pre-season test with plenty of data. In our Maranello headquarters, the engineers began preparations for the Australian Grand prix, adding to the data base of information prior to one of the most complicated races of the season. The most obvious difficulty is the fact this is the first race and so there are no solid reference points for one’s own performance or that of the others. Then there’s the track itself, being a street circuit and therefore dirty from normal road traffic and also very bumpy.
GP contested 991
Seasons in F1 71
Debut Monaco 1950 (Alberto Ascari 2nd; Raymond Sommer 4th; Luigi Villoresi ret.)
Wins 238 (24.01%)
Pole positions 228 (23%)
Fastest laps 254 (25.63%)
Podiums 770 (77.69%)
FERRARI STATS AUSTRALIAN GP
GP contested 36
Debut 1985 (Stefan Johansson 5th; Michele Alboreto ret.)
Wins 9 (25%)
Pole positions 6 (16,66%)
Fastest laps 9 (25%)
Podiums 25 (69,44%)
Facts & Figures
1 – Eddie Irvine scored his first F1 win in Melbourne in the 1999 Australian Grand Prix at the wheel of a Ferrari F399. The Northern Irish driver took a further three wins that year, in Austria, Germany and Malaysia, making a major contribution to the team winning the Constructor’s title that year.
3 – The 2007 Australian GP podium featured three drivers having their first outing with a new team. Kimi Raikkonen won for Scuderia Ferrari, followed home by Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, on their debuts for McLaren.
4 – Michael Schumacher’s run of four wins in Australia, in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2004, all with Scuderia Ferrari is a Formula 1 record. Australian driver Lex Davison did the same in non-championship races in 1954, 1957, 1958 and 1961.
16 – The number of drivers who have started an Australian GP counting towards the Formula 1 world championship at the wheel of a Ferrari.
1957 – The year of a maiden victory for Ferrari in the Australian Grand Prix, albeit a non-championship race, won by local drivers Lex Davison and Bill Patterson at the wheel of a 628 F1. The race was run on the perimeter roads of Caversham military airfield in Western Australia.
This week in our history
10/3 In 2017, John Surtees passed away at the age of 83. He was the only man to win the world titles in the 500cc motorcycle class and in Formula 1, the latter with Ferrari in 1964. Born in Tatsfield, England, he took part in 30 GP with the Scuderia, taking four wins and four poles, as well as 13 podium finishes and six fastest laps. He also won many times with the Maranello team in sports car races, including the 1963 Sebring 12 Hours.
11/3 The day of Arturo Merzario’s birth in 1943. The Italian raced in Formula 1 eleven times with Scuderia Ferrari in 1972 and 1973 and, at the wheel of a 312P, helped the Maranello team win the World Championship for Makes (Sports Prototypes) for the final time in 1972.
12/3 In 1947, Enzo Ferrari fired up the engine on the 125 S for the first time, the first engine ever to power a Ferrari. In 2017, this date was chosen by the company as the starting point for commemoration of it’s 70th year.
13/3 In 1977, Enzo Ferrari handed over the position of company president to Nicola Tufarelli, while taking on the role of honorary president.
14/3 In 2010, Fernando Alonso’s time with Scuderia Ferrari got off to the best possible start. The Spaniard won on his debut with the team in the Bahrain Grand Prix, the opening round of the season and the only time the race was held on the 6.299 kilometre Endurance version of the Sakhir track.
15/3 In 2015, Sebastian Vettel joined Scuderia Ferrari. The German started the Australian GP from fourth on the grid and finished third. He won second time out for the team, two weeks later in Malaysia.