Due to the cramped conditions in the Albert Park pitlane for this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, the pitlane speed limit has been reduced from the standard 100km/h to a much more restricted 60km/h. The announcement was made to teams during the first practice session in Melbourne earlier, where BBC Radio 5live and BBC Red Button service commentators David Croft and Anthony Davidson made note of the squeeze it was to fit twelve teams into the pitlane.
Originally for 2010, it had been hoped for thirteen teams to be taking part in the world championship – something that is still hoped for during the 2011 campaign. However, even with the slightly reduced number of twelve, Albert Park officials still had a tough job fitting everybody in. It has been clarified that each team has three boxes of equal size, although some of the teams do have to accommodate a staircase that is used to access upper portions of the stands above.
During the first practice session, it was obvious that Lucas Di Grassi had trouble actually exiting his garage, having to shunt back and forth with the aid of his team to clear the pit wall. Due to the limited lock on Formula One cars and the lack of space either side, some it would appear, are having difficulties. And Virgin Racing have further worries to consider aside from the steering lock of their cars.
It is understood that the FIA’s safety delegate, Charlie Whiting has called for the change in speed limit in the pitlane although it isn’t expected to have much of an effect during the grand prix on Sunday, with all teams having to endure the same restriction.
Compared with Bahrain only two weeks previous, it is clear to see the difference between a purpose constructed racing facility like Sakhir and a semi-permanent circuit like Albert Park. Many years ago when upwards of thirteen teams raced, Monaco used to house some of the back-end teams away from the pitlane in what can only be described as a car park. While these teams were giving space during the sessions to operate, it certainly made for more troublesome operations during the times in between. It isn’t likely that this will be repeated, but already we are seeing the effects of entertaining more squads in the sport.