Although the tyre nomination for the Australian Grand Prix is the same as last year the compounds are all a step softer in 2018, contributing to the big performance increase already seen in pre-season testing.
With new cars, new drivers, variable weather, and plenty of track evolution, Melbourne is always one of the most unpredictable and eagerly-anticipated races of the year.
The circuit from a tyre point of view
Albert Park is a semi-permanent street circuit that’s not used extensively during the year, so the track can be particularly ‘green’ and slippery at the start of the grand prix weekend. It’s generally made up of short to medium straights, and low to medium speed corners. Traction is key in order to get a good drive out of the many corners onto the short straights.
Lateral forces are not particularly high: total energy going through the tyres is about average. Wear and degradation is on the whole quite low: most cars stopped just once last year, with the most popular strategy – used by the top three – being ultrasoft to soft. Softer compounds this year could mean different rates of wear and degradation, so more pit stops.
There’s a reasonably high chance of a safety car: the 2006 race featured four safety cars. Pit lane time loss is around 25 seconds; there are no major changes to the track since 2017.
Mario Isola - Head Of Car Racing
“Barcelona testing already provided an indication of the step forward in performance taken by the 2018 cars and compounds, and we should see this carried through to the very different conditions in Australia. Exactly what those conditions could be is yet to be seen: the weather at this time of year in Melbourne can vary from cold and wet to very warm. From what we can see so far, this year’s softer compounds should open up the possibility for either one or two pit stops this year, as opposed to one for the majority of drivers last year. As usual at the first grand prix of the season, there are still a number of questions to be answered, but we hope to see an exciting race with tyre strategy playing a key role.”