Hino Hot Track: Albert Park with Winterbottom

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 5 Days ago
  • By Supercars.com

Australia's Formula 1 venue since 1996, Albert Park hosts Supercars in the Beaurepaires Melbourne 400 this weekend.

Public road for the rest of the year but bearing little similarity to a street circuit otherwise, its average speed is one of the higher on the calendar at 164km/h.

A 5.3km layout has 16 corners, with drivers to contest four races over the weekend, racing for championship points for the second time.

IRWIN Racing's Mark Winterbottom is your Hino Hot Track guide.

The driving challenge

I like the track, the layout's really good. It's got some high-speed parts and some low-speed parts.

It's kind of technical but ballsy at the same time, you've got to hang it out in some parts so I like the versatility of the track.

A lot of the corners lead onto really long straights, which are probably the ones I'd say you need to be the strongest through.

You want to carry as much corner speed as possible, but at the same time you've got to get good runs out because the straights are so long and a poor exit can hurt you.

The last corner's very important, Turn 11 and 12 over the back's very important, Turn 1 and 2's really important. They all lead onto long straights.

It is hard to muscle a car around there. The car dictates you, so you need it to be handling right to get a good result.

The engineering challenge

That said, car set-up is a hard one to get right.

You don't get a car that's fastest in every sector and every micro-sector because what works at Turn 1 and 2 won't work at Turn 3, or what works at Turn 5 won't work at Turn 8.

It's very disjointed, and with the way you can be good in a spot and then bad in others, it's a very tough track.

You always want the same thing; to brake well, turn well and get on the throttle earlier than the next bloke.

But with 16 corners, you've got to prioritise which ones you want to be really strong at and which ones you want to survive at, and that's the tough part.

In terms of having strengths in certain corners, we all prioritise the track in different ways.

Aerodynamics play more of a role here than at Adelaide, and it's about that drag-over-aero balance.

There's long straights so if you want to take aero off, the straightline speed will be quicker but the compromise is you don't have as much grip for the corners.

Do you pick aerodynamics for corners or pick drag for the straightline speed? It's touch-and-go on which way you go.

That's where there's all those different theories and strategies and often the cars will be separated by less than a tenth of a second, but how you achieve it was completely different.

It's a tough one to pick which side you sit on, but hopefully we get it right with the way we're going.

The event challenge

We get to put our category on the world stage in front of the biggest motorsport category in the world this weekend.

So it's a really cool event for us, and it's one of the more enjoyable ones.

This is the second year we've been racing for points, but it's always been serious..

But now that it's for points, it kind of gives it that extra little bit of credibility that it probably lacked.

We're trying to make the most of it, trying to win the round and get the most points.

You get four cracks at it and I think it's probably the trickiest format that we come up against given it's four races, four qualifying sessions.

There's a lot on the line and you only get one crack in qualifying with those 10-minute sessions, really.

I reckon it's the toughest weekend you have. To win this weekend and get the most points, it would be the hardest to achieve.

There's a lot on the line, a lot of credibility, but to win it, you've earned it, it's one of the hardest ones to win, to get four races right is near impossible.

That is why last year we saw four different winners in four races, it's a tough event.

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