Round three of the 2023 F1 world championship takes place in Melbourne, Australia this weekend.
The race around Albert Park is always one that is looked forward to, with the Aussies getting their annual fix of F1 racing up close in the opening stages of each season.
This year, it looks as though Red Bull are going to be the clear favourites for victory after two one-two finishes in the first two Grands Prix of the campaign but, of course, the likes of Aston Martin, Ferrari, and Mercedes will be eager to try and reel them in.
It’s almost time to go racing Down Under once more then so here are five of the biggest talking points to look out for this weekend…
Can Red Bull improve their Australian GP form?
Red Bull actually have a poor record around Albert Park. The team has only won there once since its arrival on the grid and that was over ten years ago now, with Sebastian Vettel taking victory in 2011.
Since then, of course, Mercedes were the dominant force for a considerable amount of time and last year Ferrari and Charles Leclerc were in charge, with Max Verstappen suffering a second retirement in three races at the start of the campaign.
They’ll be looking for something a little more serene this time around.
Who’ll be best of the rest this weekend?
The way things are at the start of the 2023 season means that many expect Red Bull to be on top wherever we are, and then it’s up to those behind them to battle it out for the rest of the top positions.
So far, Aston Martin have been arguably the best of the rest with Fernando Alonso earning two podiums, whilst Mercedes and Ferrari are also there or thereabouts in terms of the mix behind the Bulls.
All three teams want to be challenging Red Bull in the near future, but first they need to establish themselves as the outright second-best team on the grid.
How will Oscar Piastri fare on home soil?
Piastri gets to race an F1 car in front of his home fans for the first time and it’ll be a special weekend for him.
The McLaren has obviously had a few issues to start with this season but Piastri has done well with what is available to him and he’ll be determined to try and get some points this weekend on home turf.
He impressed in Saudi Arabia with some good qualifying pace before doing all he could in the race and he’ll be cheered on as the only Aussie on the grid this weekend with Daniel Ricciardo’s absence in mind.
A fourth DRS zone to add excitement?
We nearly had a fourth DRS zone for the first time in a race at the 2022 edition of this Grand Prix but eventually the idea was canned.
However, the plan is to bring four DRS zones into play this weekend in Australia, again for the first time in F1’s history, and it’ll be fascinating to see how that changes up the dynamic.
Albert Park has been made a lot quicker with recent re-profiling of different corners, which we saw in 2022, and so we could be in for a rapid race this weekend.
Could weather mix things up?
There’s a chance of rain over the Grand Prix weekend.
Practice in particular looks at risk of wet weather whilst there is also a chance in qualifying that we get rain, though the race is currently set to be dry as things stand.
Looking at images from the track, it certainly looks as though there’s not been lots and lots of sunshine so far this week in Melbourne, and so maybe we’ll see the weather have a say on the fortunes of the 20 drivers this weekend.
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