The 2012 AUSTRALIAN Grand Prix is a Formula One scheduled to be held on March 2012 at the Albert Park Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
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The Formula One world may be set for an unusual start to the season, after two years in which Red Bull domination of the opening races could be taken for granted. That’s the view of several teams, and tyre supplier Pirelli, whose rubber will be even softer this year and thus will demand an even smoother style from the drivers to avoid pushing it too far, too soon.
Many engineers admit that they are still finding their way with the tyre wear. Pirelli have brought their medium and soft compounds to Australia, and retained the four different coloured sidewalls - red (super soft), yellow (soft), white (medium) and silver (hard) - but modified the markings to ease differentiation between them. The colour bands and lettering are larger, and the silver on the hard tyres is darker to differentiate it from the medium.
The weather here in Melbourne may also create challenges of its own, with showers or even thunderstorms expected to remain a possibility throughout the weekend.
Throw in the belief in some quarters that Kimi Raikkonen and Lotus could be the dark horses, and that Mercedes have the race pace to match McLaren, and it’s not difficult to see that 2012 could be a lot less predictable - at least in its early stages.
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Formula 1 Australian Event Times
Event Day Start - Finish
Sat 17 March 2012
Practice 3 14:00 - 15:00
Sun 18 March 2012
Meanwhile, Raikkonen said: "You need a car with good traction and everything from testing says that the E20 has good traction so that will help us. Strong turn-in and stable braking help too, and those areas also feel good with the car so we are well placed.
At Mercedes, team principal Ross Brawn said having six world champions on the grid for the first time can only add to the excitement. “It’s great for Formula One to have so many world champions. It’s the quality of the field and the fact that the cars look like they are going to be close this year. It’s going to be a really exciting season and it could be one of the best seasons we have seen for a number of years, so I am quite looking forward to a very challenging season. I am expecting the tightest start to a season that we have seen for a number of years."
Meanwhile, as both Red Bull and McLaren remain ominously confident, Fernando Alonso has urged Ferrari to maintain an even strain after their testing difficulties.
The midfield looks set to be even tighter than at the back end of 2011, with Force India, Sauber, Toro Rosso and Williams having all enjoyed encouraging pre-season tests. Melbourne should also tell us whether Caterham - now KERS-equipped - have taken a big enough step forward to latch on to that pack. For backmarkers HRT and Marussia, however, Albert Park will be largely a test run, after neither team managed to ready their 2012 cars in time for the pre-season sessions.
Melbourne’s 5.303 kilometre (3.295 mile) circuit has had some minor safety changes since 2011 and also gets an extra DRS zone. The zone on the start-finish straight remains, joined by a second on the subsequent straight between Turns 2 and 3. Both share a single detection point, just prior to Turn 14.