Australian GP closing in on Supercars race format
The Australian Grand Prix Corporation is close to locking down the race format for the first ever points-paying Supercars round at Albert Park.
The Aussie Touring Car series will compete for championship points at next year's Australian GP for the first time, having been resigned to a non-championship round ever since first teaming up with F1 back in the mid-1980s.
While yet to be formally confirmed, it appears that the points-paying round will feature four races in total, two of which will be sprint races without pitstops, while the other two will be races with a compulsory stop.
Qualifying will take place on Thursday, with the grid for each race to be set by a separate session. That could mean the rapid-fire 10-minute heat qualifying format, first used at Albert Park this year, will return.
According to AGPC CEO Andrew Westacott, the likely schedule will then include one race on Friday, a pair of races on Saturday, and a single race in the build-up to the first F1 GP of the season on Sunday.
He also predicts the shorter races will be around the same length as the sprint races used in previous years, lasting half an hour and covering around 70 kilometres.
"The process that we’re going through is that we submit the schedules to Formula 1 in terms of support categories, and there are levels of formalities being signed off for that," Westacott told Motorsport.com.
"What we will have is that we’ll have a race around the middle of the day on Sunday, we’ll have two races on Saturday, and we’ll have a race on Friday, with practice/qualifying on Thursday.
"The final lengths of those, Craig Fletcher, our General Manager of Motorsport, is working through that with Supercars and Formula 1. But there will be a couple that are longer than normal, and a couple that are similar to the [current] race distance, which is about 30 minutes – about 13 laps and 70 kays."
Westacott added that scheduling will be arranged to eliminate the risk of Supercars running into issues with allocated track time, given the rigidity of the F1 timetable.
"We’ll tailor it so there is really good action in the middle of the day and there’s also action towards the end of the day," he said.
"The important thing is that at Supercars events they are the ones that are immovable and everything moves around them. This is a dynamic where we don’t want to stuff around Supercars, and we certainly won’t, so we’ll make sure it fits with enough buffer to be able to work in a professional manner.
"It’s going to be exciting. I know a lot of the Formula 1 guys like watching Supercars while they’re having their lunch in the hospitality units."
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