Monday, November 28, 2005

My pilgrimage to an F1 GP circuit

Every year, the Australian F1 Grand Prix is held in Albert Park, just south of the Melbourne city centre. I recently came to the conclusion that if I did not even give the circuit a peek in my 2.5 years here, it will be a great loss of opportunity.

After my usual Sunday marketing routine, I took a tram to Albert Park. The lake in the middle of the circuit is huge. A rough estimate on Google Earth shows that it is about 1.79 kilometres at its widest distance.

When I arrived, I was rather lost and wandered around aimlessly, not knowing where exactly on the circuit I was at. I later found a map of the park facilities, and pin pointed my location at the end of Sector 1. I had actually arrived at the lake between Turn 2 and Turn 3, and randomly elected turn left instead of turning right (which would have brought me along the main straight and the paddock building).

From Turn 2, I walked along the edge of the lake first, until I arrived at Turn 9, before taking a few photographs and turning back to follow the race track back to Turn 5 and then catching a tram to the train station for my next destination.

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Here’s an overview of Albert Park, with the circuit highlighted in blue, the turn numbers marked in red, sector boundaries in green and my path in yellow. Google Earth says the lake’s widest length is 1.79 kilometres, and my route was 3.03 kilometres.

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The end of Sector 2, between Turns 10 and 11
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This is the end of the second sector. The speed limit reads 50 km/h. During races, F1 cars scream through this portion at speeds well over 260km/h, and just after the yellow sign, would be travelling at about 288 km/h.

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The view of the city centre from Turn 10. It’s quite a view, with water, trees, city skyline, and the sky.

As I was walking from Turn 10 towards Turn 7, I saw a black swan. I don’t know what the fuss about swans is; this is ugly. Regardless, I crouched down to take a macro shot of it. The bastard moved, not away, but actually waved its head inquiringly closer to the lens, screwing up my focus. This image is uncropped- the bird was really this close. 2 inches from the lens, I would guess.

Apex of Turn 6
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I arrived at Turn 6, and to my great excitement, I saw the kerbs! Their red-white colour had been painted over with a grassy green paint, but they were definitely there. The rumble strips with their saw-toothed profile at the exit of Turn 6 were visible across the road too.

Exit rumble strip at Turn 5
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From Turn 6, I followed the circuit to Turn 5, where I got up close and personal with the exit rumble strips. From here, I turned away from the circuit to take a tram to the train station to my next destination.

More photographs soon.