1. Success for Schumi in Australia
Michael Schumacher, who remains in a coma despite showing small and encouraging signs following a skiing accident late last year, is the most successful F1 driver around the Albert Park Circuit with four race wins (2000, 2001, 2002 and 2004). The most successful driver on the current grid is Jenson Button, with three wins (2009, 2010 and 2012).
2. McLaren and Ferrari: Melbourne masters
McLaren and Ferrari have won two-thirds of the 18 F1 races held in Melbourne, with six each. Jenson Button’s 2012 victory was the last one for McLaren, with the ‘Iceman’ Kimi Raikkonen taking the last Scuderia win down under in 2007.
3. 290,000 hours
That number is the total man hours it takes to construct the 3.12-mile track between January and March. It isn’t a permanent venue, using public roads that run around the Albert Park Lake.
4. The track can split a car in half…
The stop/start nature of the circuit can often cause first lap mayhem. This was no more evident than at the first Australian Grand Prix to be held at the Albert Park Circuit in 1996. In the braking zone for the slow turn three, Martin Brundle was launched over the McLaren of David Coulthard.
The Brit barrel rolled into the gravel, causing the car to break in two. The race was eventually restarted (with Brundle running back to the pits to compete in the spare car) and was won by Damon Hill.
5. …and can make F1 drivers fly
The 2002 F1 season got off to a flying start – quite literally – after Ralf Schumacher was launched over the top of Rubens Barrichello’s Ferrari at turn one. The Brazilian had moved to the middle of the track in the braking zone, which caught the Williams driver out. The spectacular crash sparked chaos behind, with eight cars being eliminated and several others suffering damage.
Transporting the F1 cars and teams to the paddock in Australia takes months of planning. Incredibly, it takes six Boeing 747 freighters and 35 shipping containers to ship the sport down under for the season opener.
7. Unlucky Hulk
Nico Hulkenberg’s history at the Australian Grand Prix is, quite frankly, terrible. Despite competing in three race weekends at the Albert Park Circuit, he has failed to complete a single racing lap. The German was taken out of his first F1 race in 2010 by Kamui Kobayashi (who had a front wing failure), he was hit at turn one in 2012 and failed to even start last year’s race due to a fuel system failure. He will be hoping for better luck in 2014.
8. Starting off on the right foot
Since the venue for the race was moved from Adelaide to Melbourne for 1996, it has been won eleven times by the eventual victor of that year’s drivers’ championship. However, this has only occurred once in the last four years: Sebastian Vettel in 2011.
9. Home race
Australia debuted on the F1 calendar in 1985. Since then, just four Australians have raced on home turf with a best result of fourth place thanks to Mark Webber in 2012. New Red Bull recruit Daniel Ricciardo will be looking to change that this weekend, but it looks unlikely following the team’s terrible pre-season.
10. Blink and you’ll miss it
The 1991 Australian Grand Prix holds the record for being the shortest ever Formula 1 race. Held at its previous home in Adelaide, it was stopped after 16 laps due to torrential rain. Results were taken from lap 14, with Ayrton Senna winning for McLaren. The official race time was just 24 minutes.