'Drive to Survive' season 5 | Image: Netflix

Your Unofficial Guide to the 2023 Australian F1 Grand Prix

After last year’s triumphant (albeit delayed) return to the track, the Australian Formula 1 (F1) Grand Prix is heading back to Melbourne in its traditional timeslot. Held from March 30 – April 2 2023, the prized event on the domestic sporting calendar sees the biggest names in F1 descend on the Albert Park racetrack for an all-out asphalt assault on one of the most iconic street circuits in the world. This year could prove to be the biggest in recent memory, with a host of side stories set to play out over the blockbuster weekend. New local hopeful Oscar Piastri is out to prove why he’s the new Daniel Ricciardo, Ferrari has high hopes pinned on young gun Charles Leclerc and the jostle at the top between two-time defending champion Max Verstappen and seven-time winner Lewis Hamilton is only just beginning. Strap yourselves in, the 2023 Australian F1 Grand Prix is going to be explosive.

Dppi images
Image: DPPI Images

The Rivalries

After a massive season that saw Red Bull’s Max Verstappen secure his second title in succession, the 2023 edition looks to be even juicier. The Ferrari duo of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz will be looking to capitalise on last year’s strong start, taking the fight firmly to Verstappen. Better still, the open nature of the field isn’t just great for fans, either, it makes for great business. When Ferrari is flying, sales go up, broadcast ratings increase and the whole system swells, so it’s as good a time as any for the Italian marque to fire up. Elsewhere, however, there are problems.

Seven-time driver’s champion Lewis Hamilton has already expressed disappointment in his new Mercedes team car, revealing that he knew they were in trouble before he even set foot on the track. The team, which has brought the Brit much success over the years, opted to reutilise the zero sidepod approach from last year, a move that has left many (including Hamilton) perplexed.

“We probably won’t hit the ground straightaway at the front, but we should be there or thereabouts,” he explained to RacingNews365 ahead of the season-opener in Bahrain. “It’s a bit of a shock when that wasn’t obviously the case. I knew that we weren’t in the right place. When I saw the car for the first time, it looked still so much different to those from our competitors.

“It’s always nerve-racking in that moment, but it looks nice, but I honestly don’t care what colour it is as long as it is quick, and hopefully we will mould it into a winning car at some stage,” he continued.  “You don’t all of a sudden lose the ability to build great cars, it’s just we’re not where we need to be and where we want to be and we’ve just got to keep working on it.”

Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso | Image: F1.com
Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso | Image: F1.com

In Jeddah, the opening race of the season, Red Bull’s Verstappen and teammate Sergio Pérez finished 1-2, firming themselves as the ones to beat this year. From the opening lap, the Dutch prodigy took control and while Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc managed to sneak into second place early, his night was cut short due to engine failure on lap 41. Impressively, new Aston Martin recruit Fernando Alonso proved why the British racing team was so eager to get him behind the wheel, notching up an admirable third-place finish. For the Australian Grand Prix, victory could well be in his future.

For years, Aston Martin has lagged behind the pack, struggling to keep up with its cross-town and international rivals. The 2023 season appears to be a change of pace, following two years of engine rebuilds and car modifications. Even Lance Stroll, who is still recovering from a debilitating injury, managed to carve out an impressive showing in Bahrain, finishing in eighth place. As a relative unknown, Aston Martin remains one of the most interesting prospects in F1 and Alonso is certainly the man to lead its future.

2023 F1 Driver Standings

New McLaren Racing driver Oscar Piastri | Image: F1.com
New McLaren Racing driver Oscar Piastri | Image: F1.com

The New Aussie Hope

For all the 2023 F1 season’s new cars, regulations and rules, some things never change – namely, the drama surrounding McLaren. After a spiteful and messy break-up between the papaya livery and Aussie favourite Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren has sought refuge in a 21-year-old Victorian named Oscar Piastri.

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While last year’s event served as somewhat of a homecoming for Ricciardo, it’s unlikely Piastri will receive the same warm welcome. His journey from Alpine F1 to McLaren didn’t come without contention, with the move effectively forcing the underperforming Ricciardo out of his seat. As one of the most-loved drivers on the grid, fans took more than a little offence to Ricciardo’s absence and placed the blame, somewhat unfairly, on Piastri.

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Coming into the first race of the season, Piastri was under pressure to perform and sadly, endured what can only be described as a nightmare start. The 21-year-old young gun began the Bahrain GP 18th on the grid and while he showed glimpses early, he suffered catastrophic engine failure on lap 15 while attempting to change his steering wheel.

“Looks like he has some sort of electrical issue, gearbox related issue on track, which I think was electronic related,” McLaren CEO Zak Brown said. “We changed steering wheels but that doesn’t seem to have done the trick so we’ll have to diagnose what it is.”

For Piastri, it was a less-than-desirable start to the season, but for Ricciardo fans, it felt almost like vindication. For two seasons, the Honey-Badger argued his run of engine failures and DNFs were the result of an underdone McLaren car. Seeing a fellow Aussie struggle under the same circumstances feels oddly fitting.

Ricciardo will be in attendance for the 2023 Australian F1 Grand Prix, however, this year it will be in a very different position. The shoey-loving Australian has taken up a role as a backup driver for Red Bull, where he’s likely to spend most of his time behind the wheel of a simulator, a far stretch from taking out the Italian Grand Prix back in 2021. Needless to say, it’s good to see him back in the driver’s suit, even if his time in an actual car is limited.

“For me, the ability to contribute to and be surrounded by the best team in F1 is hugely appealing, whilst also giving me some time to recharge and refocus,” Ricciardo said upon the announcement. “I can’t wait to be with the team and support them with simulator work, testing sessions and commercial activities. Let’s go!”

The Track

The 2022 Australian Grand Prix saw a raft of changes introduced to the Albert Park Circuit and much of those remain in 2023, there are some new elements. As per last year, the track has been altered in line with F1’s plans to enhance competitive and exciting racing, adding some major upgrades to certain aspects of the much-loved circuit. The corners, for example, have been widened to allow for greater speed through key points, which F1 has indicated will lead to the fastest lap times ever seen in Melbourne. The racing body suggested that the upgrade, Albert Park’s first major overhaul since 1996, could see lap times cut by up to five seconds.

Specifically, the turn-one bottleneck has been widened by 2.5m, opening the opportunity for more wheel-to-wheel battles for position throughout the lap. At turn 11, the 150km/h right-hand corner now sits at more of a right angle, with the extra width enabling drivers to slide down the inside and take an unassuming competitor by surprise. The slow-speed chicane abutting the golf course section has also been removed around turn 10, meaning cars will now approach speeds of around 330km/h.

“These changes are in the direction of what we want. Better races, more battles – the changes are going to push us towards that,” Ricciardo said back in 2021 when the changes were announced. “With these cars, the changes should help a lot, but from 2022, if next year promises everything it does with being able to follow the car in front and the racing to be enhanced, then coming to a circuit like Albert Park with these changes should make a pretty amazing spectacle.”

1 albert park circuit
Image: Pirelli

What’s Different in 2023?

Aside from the complete track overhaul, the 2023 Australian Grand Prix also marks the first time local fans will be able to catch a glimpse of the new Formula 1 cars up close. The new season saw a suite of new regulations roll into effect, significantly altering the way drivers interact with the car and tackle the tarmac. Here are the big changes:

  • Ride Height – After several teams encountered issues last year, the F1 has adopted new aerodynamics rules, designed to improve floor-based flexibility. As per the F1, four additional changes will come into play this year:
    • Floor edges have been raised by 15mm
    • Diffuser throat height has been raised
    • Diffuser edge stiffness has been increased
    • Additional sensor has been mandated to monitor porpoising.
  • Roll Hoops – One of the safety-focused updates for 2023, stronger roll hoops have been implemented across the board. This comes in light of Zhou Guanyu’s fiery crash at last year’s British Grand Prix. The new technical regulations mandate that a rounded top is required on the roll hoop. According to the F1, this will “reduce the chance of it digging into the ground during an accident”.
  • Minimum Weight Reduction – For 2023, the cars are getting lighter. The F1 has reduced the minimum car weight to 796kg, meaning teams are able to shave off a further a 2kg where possible.
  • Mirrors – Finally, the rear-view mirrors on F1’s 2023-spec cars have been updated. Now, the width of the reflective surface is 200mm, up from just 150mm in 2022.

These changes follow up from last year’s major car design overhaul, which included:

  • Front Wing – The first point of contact for air, the front wing is crucial in directing the flow across the rest of the aerodynamic surfaces. For 2022, this element has been redesigned to house much higher endplates, albeit with far less complex elements. Each car has now removed the gap between the nose and the elements, which is designed to eradicate what’s known as the ‘Y250 vortex’.
  • Rear Wing – Tackling a similar issue, all 2022 F1 cars now feature a two-component curved rear wing that reduces the amount of air spinning off at the corners. While this update is less effective in terms of creating pure downforce, the cars also cop a beam wing for the first time since 2013, which compensates for the loss.
  • Floor – Both the shape and concept of the floor has now changed, with the airflow to be controlled underneath the car via two fully shaped underfloor tunnels. The tunnels create specific small areas for the air to pass through, increasing the performance of the floor compared to 2021.
  • Wheels – Completely different this year, the iconic 13-inch wheels have been replaced by 18-inch rims, complete with low-profile tyres from Pirelli. Additionally, wheel covers have been reintroduced for the first time since 2009.
  • Fuel – One of the biggest changes to the new F1 cars is the introduction of E10 fuel. Previously, F1 teams could use fuel that was made up of 5.75 per cent bio-components, but now, it’s all E10, meaning 10 per cent ethanol.
  • Chassis – Finally, with bigger wheels comes bigger problems and to address this, the F1 has called on teams to improve the chassis. The nose section is now longer to help dissipate energy in a crash and the overall safety measures must see the vehicle able to absorb 48 per cent more energy in the front impact test, and 15 per cent more in the rear.
Albert park circuit
Image: F1.com

What Time Does the F1 Race Start?

As per the extensive race schedule, the Australian Grand Prix will kick off at 3pm on Sunday, April 2. A 58-lap race, the event is expected to last between 90 minutes and two hours, however, the wild start to the opening few rounds has seen safety cars introduced, blowing timeframes out.

This year marks the second time the Australian GP has been bumped out of its regular spot as the season opener, following the implementation of events in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia last year. The move means that the event is now subject to Australia’s often confusing daylight savings stipulations, which means that viewers in Queensland will have to take special notice of the AEST situation. Furthermore, with sunset expected to hit at approximately 6pm, a night-drive wouldn’t necessarily be out of the equation, should mid-race delays impact the race.

Prior to the big day, Formula 1 cars will take to the track twice on Friday for one-hour practice sessions from 1pm and 4pm respectively, with a third practice session to be held at 1pm on Saturday. From there, the long-anticipated qualifying session will take place from 4pm.

2022 australian f1 grand prix complete guide
Image: F1.com

Where to Watch 2023 Australian F1 Grand Prix

The good news for locals wanting to feast their eyes on the 2023 Australian Grand Prix is that there are plenty of options available. The entire weekend is set to be broadcast on Channel 10, the network responsible for airing other motor racing highlights such as Supercars, Porsche Carrera Cup and S5000. Better still, Fox Sports and Kayo will also carry all Formula One sessions, including qualifying and the race.

2023 Australian F1 Grand Prix Schedule

Running from Thursday 30 March to Sunday 2 April, the 2023 Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix will be a massive event with a number of activations. Kicking off with a Porsche Carrera Cup practice, the festivities will launch at 10:30am on Thursday, with the main event scheduled to go live at 3pm on Sunday. Here is a full schedule for the 2023 Australian GP.

Day One: Thursday 30 March

Porsche Carrera CupPractice Session10:30 – 11:00
Supercars ChampionshipFirst Practice Session11:25 – 11:55
Porsche Carrera CupQualifying Session12:30 – 13:00
Supercars ChampionshipSecond Practice Session13:15 – 13:45
Promoter ActivityHistoric 70th Year Celebration Demonstration13:55 – 14:25
Supercars ChampionshipQualifying Session Part 114:45 – 15:00
Supercars ChampionshipQualifying Session Part 215:10 – 15:25
Porsche Carrera CupFirst Race (15 Laps or 35 Mins)16:45 – 17:25
Supercars ChampionshipFirst Race (22 Laps or 45 Mins)17:40 – 18:30

Day Two: Friday 31 March

FIA Formula 3Practice Session08:50 – 09:35
FIA Formula 2Practice Session10:00 – 10:45
FIAF1 Car Presentation11:00 – 12:00
Paddock ClubPaddock Club Pit Lane Walk11:10 – 12:00
Promoter ActivityHistoric 70th Year Celebration Demonstration11:40 – 12:00
FIA Formula 3Qualifying Session14:00 – 14:30
Formula 1Teams Press Conference14:00 – 15:00
Supercars ChampionshipSecond Race (17 Laps or 35 Mins)14:50 – 15:30
FIA Formula 3Press Conference15:30 – 16:00
FIA Formula 2Qualifying Session17:30 – 18:00
Porsche Carrera CupSecond Race (13 Laps or 30 Mins)18:25 – 19:00
Paddock ClubPaddock Club Pit Lane Walk18:30 – 19:15
FIA Formula 2Press Conference19:30 – 20:00

Day Three: Saturday 1 April

Supercars ChampionshipQualifying Session – Part 309:30 – 09:45
Formula 1Team Pit Stop Practice09:40 – 10:10
Supercars ChampionshipQualifying Session – Part 409:55 – 10:10
FIA Formula 3Sprint Race (20 Laps or 40 Mins +1 Lap)11:00 – 11:45
FIA Formula 3Press Conference12:30 – 12:50
Promoter ActivityHistoric 70th Year Celebration Demonstration13:40 – 14:00
FIA Formula 2Sprint Race (23 Laps or 45 Mins +1 Lap)14:25 – 15:15
FIA Formula 2Press Conference15:35 – 16:00
Formula 1Press Conference17:00 – 18:00
Supercars ChampionshipThird Race (14 Laps or 30 Mins)17:25 – 18:00
Porsche Carrera CupThird Race (13 Laps or 30 Mins)18:25 – 19:00
Paddock ClubPaddock Club Pit Lane Walk18:35 – 19:25
F1 ExperiencesF1 Experiences – Grid Walk19:15 – 20:15

Day Four: Sunday 2 April

FIA Formula 3Feature Race (23 Laps or 45 Mins +1 Lap)09:05 – 09:55
Supercars ChampionshipFourth Race (TBC Laps or 30 Mins)10:20 – 10:55
Promoter ActivityHistoric Cars Parade Lap11:00 – 11:15
FIA Formula 2Feature Race (33 Laps or 60 Mins +1 Lap)11:35 – 12:40
FIA Formula 2Press Conference13:00 – 13:30
Formula 1Drivers’ Parade13:00 – 13:30
Paddock ClubPaddock Club Pit Lane Walk13:15 – 14:00
Formula 1National Anthem14:44 – 14:46
FORMULA 1GRAND PRIX (58 LAPS OR 120 MINS)15:00 – 17:00

General FAQs

What time does the Australian F1 Grand Prix race start?

The Australian Grand Prix will kick off at 3pm on Sunday, April 2. The 58-lap race is expected to last between 90 minutes and two hours.

How to watch the Australian Grand Prix

The 2023 Australian Grand Prix weekend will be broadcast on Channel 10. Fox Sports and Kayo will also carry all Formula One sessions, including qualifying and the race.

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Nick Hall

Nick Hall

Nick Hall is an award-winning journalist and the current Editor-in-Chief of Man of Many. With an extensive background in the media industry, he specialises in feature writing, lifestyle and entertainment content. Nick is the reigning Mumbrella Publish Awards ‘Editor of the Year’ and B&T ‘Best of the Best - Journalist’, courtesy of his work with Man of Many.

Prior to working at the men’s lifestyle publication, Nick spent two years as a journalist with Inside Franchise Business, focusing on small business, finance and legal reporting.