Albert Park in Melbourne, Australia is the traditional opening race of the Formula 1 calendar, and it is no different in F1 2018. As the first track you race at in career mode it is a chance to test your mettle and see where you need to improve the car for the season to come.
The track itself is very challenging. The barriers are not too far away, and with only one true straight you need to focus on conserving momentum more than anything else. You need to guide the car smoothly through the chicanes and leave it late on the brakes if you ever want to make an overtake stick. Speaking of which, overtaking chances are few and far between around Albert Park. The semi-street circuit is narrow, with too many switch-back opportunities and not enough straights to create clean opportunities. Instead, you’ll have to be bold and brave if you are to gain places.
Let’s take a tour of Albert Park and see just where the best overtaking places are.
While turn 1 looks tempting, it is a fourth-gear left-right chicane with a short braking zone. You can pass there, but the best spot is turn 3. There is a DRS zone leading down to it, and it is a very slow right hander with long enough until turn 4 to reduce the chance of them getting you back right away. If you can dummy your opponent into going defensive into turn 1 he will be a sitting duck on the run up to turn 3, at which point you can pull out of the slip stream and get a move done up the inside or even around the outside.
Otherwise known as Ascari, turn 13 is a slow right hander after a lengthy straight. In 2018 a DRS zone was added to this straight, increasing overtaking chances into the corner and making it a viable place for a dive up the inside. Ascari leads into the slow, one-line, final complex of corners too, meaning there is no chance for them to get you back. There isn't a lot of runoff space if you get this move wrong, but it is the last place in the lap that you can make a pass, and if you have looked after your tyres and use all the tools at your disposal (rich revs + overtake mode) then you can get it done and move up the standings.
Melbourne is otherwise a single-line track. You can maybe make a dive up the inside of turn 9, but it will completely compromise your run out of 10 and you will lose considerable time. There are also some tricky corners around Albert Park that will catch you out if you aren't careful. Let’s take a look at the trickiest corners around Melbourne.
This chicane was a doddle in previous F1 games, but in F1 2018 it is a very tricky prospect. Not only is it very easy to get corner cutting warnings through this chicane, there is also a high chance of spinning out as you try to straighten the car out on exit. Because this chicane leads down to Ascari and a solid overtaking point you can’t back off it in a race either. You have to carry momentum through the corner or risk losing a place, but push too hard and you'll get out onto the grass on the exit and find yourself in the wall very quickly.
You're braking after the 50 yard board and letting the car roll into the left-hander in fifth-gear. Once you straighten out get on the gas and up to sixth gear. Don't yank the steering through the right-hander or you'll spin out in a hurry. Get the front-right tyre inside the kerb and let it then drift out on exit, using all of the space but keeping the tyres off the grass.
The penultimate corner around Albert Park is notoriously tricky. It is far tighter than it looks, and also requires you to quickly switch back to the left for entry to the final corner. A poor line or going too deep into turn 15 will lose you time all the way down to turn 1 and end up costing you massively in a race or qualifying.
This comes out of the right-hander turn 14, so get yourself all the way over to the right side of the track before you start braking. Hammer the brakes and get it slowed all the way down and rotate it through. There is a kerb on the outside which tempts you into carrying too much speed through the corner, but if you use it you'll never get yourself in position for turn 16. Get the car rotated and immediately back across to the left so you can maximise apex speed for turn 16 and carry more momentum down the pit straight.
Albert Park requires more downforce than you think, so start with relatively high wing angles and then lower them as you practice until you find the balance between straight line speed and cornering grip. Be sure to move the weight ballast and brake balance rearward as that will help rotate the car through the slower corners. You can find our full setup HERE, but your particular driving style may require some tweaks to our setup, especially if you are harsh on your tyres.