Round three of the 2023 Formula 1 World Championship takes place this weekend in Melbourne, Australia.
The Australian Grand Prix in its current format takes place at Albert Park Circuit, a street circuit that has been on the F1 calendar since 1996. It received a slightly modified layout last season to speed up corners and improve overtaking. It also got new asphalt.
Seven corners were modified with two removed entirely, bringing the total number of turns down to 14 and shortening the track slightly to 3.28 miles. A difference this year will be an additional fourth DRS zone between between Turn 8 and Turn 9, which could allow the car to reach new top speeds.
Another key change this year will be tire compounds. Pirelli has nominated the C2 as the White hard, the C3 as the Yellow medium, and the C4 as the Red soft. That's a slightly softer combination compared to last year's C2, C3, and C5 compounds.
Albert Park Circuit, home of the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix
Weather can be a mixed bag in Melbourne, but the current forecast calls for mild temperatures and partly cloudy skies for both Saturday's qualifying and Sunday's race. The Australian race will also be the first day race of the season.
At the conclusion of Friday's practice sessions, Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso was the fastest, ahead of Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen.
Going into the weekend, Verstappen leads the 2023 Drivers' Championship with 44 points. Fellow Red Bull driver Sergio Perez is second with 43 points and Alonso is third with 30 points. In the Constructors' Championship, Red Bull leads with 87 points versus an equal 38 points for Aston Martin and Mercedes-Benz AMG. Last season's winner in Australia was Leclerc, driving for Ferrari.