Prodrive Racing (Australia) will get its first taste of the new Dunlop super soft tyre in race conditions at the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix with the format allowing the team to establish a setup direction ahead of the next championship event.
Despite briefly experiencing the super soft tyre at the team’s pre-season test day at Sydney Motorsport Park, Cameron Waters believes there is still much to learn about the tyre’s characteristics on fast, flowing circuits such as Albert Park.
Waters says the Australian Grand Prix plays an important part in the team’s season, allowing drivers to cement what they learnt about their cars at the season-opening Clipsal 500.
Mark Winterbottom’s number 5 FG X Ford will trial an added safety feature at the Grand Prix with additional leg protection fitted to the cabin for the event. The team plans to implement the extra protection across all cars over the coming events.
Chaz Mostert believes this year’s new four-part qualifying format will provide extra entertainment for viewers and play a large part in the weekend’s results, with the four individual sessions expected to produce a variety of starting positions for drivers across the weekend.
Jason Bright has switched chassis for this year’s Albert Park race, having moved to Mark Winterbottom’s championship-winning chassis in the season’s three-week break. The team’s new recruit will use the Albert Park weekend to further build his knowledge of his new car, team and tyres.
Mark Winterbottom – #5 The Bottle-O PRA Ford:
“It’ll be great to use the Dunlop super soft tyre at the Grand Prix and see if we’re competitive and see where we’re at. The setups and the direction you take from the Grand Prix actually leads into Tassie quite well so it’s always been a good event to see where you’re at in terms of performance and setup changes. Hopefully we’ll have a good weekend. We’ll be debuting the extra leg protection for our team which will be nice. It’s more confined and feels a little bit different too after sitting in the car at the workshop but obviously it’s something that we need so it’s good that we’ve decided to try it and hopefully we implement it in the series and it’s a success.”
Cameron Waters – #6 Monster Energy PRA Ford:
“I’m pretty excited to get to the Grand Prix. It’s a bit of a different weekend for us obviously being a support act but it’s still cool to be on the Formula 1 stage and be racing in in our home town. I went okay there last year but had a bit of a problem in one of the races which hurt the weekend but now with the new format with the four qualifying sessions you can qualify well for every race. Hopefully our cars are good; we’ve been working hard so I think I can keep that momentum going from Adelaide. It’s hard to know what the new tyre will do. I didn’t really get to run on the super soft compound at the Sydney Motorsport Park test so it’ll be a little bit new for me but it will be a good chance to have a hit out on it and see what it needs.”
Chaz Mostert – #55 Supercheap Auto PRA Ford:
“It’s awesome to be able to race on such a world-class circuit. They prep that track for the Formula 1 stars from around the world. It’s great to be a support category for those guys and put some action-packed sprint races on. It’s a good opportunity for us to try some wacky things with the car and try and get some more pace out of it. It’ll be awesome to be able to get down there and support our man Dan Ricciardo as well so I’m looking forward to the whole weekend.”
Jason Bright – #56 MEGA Bulk Fuels PRA Ford:
“I’m looking forward to the Grand Prix. We had a pretty good finish to Adelaide, I was pretty happy with how the Sunday went there so it gives us a chance to play with the car a little bit more. Obviously there are a few changes for us this weekend with a different chassis and a few other changes but I think it’s a good chance for us to feel all of that out before we head to the next round of the championship.”
Tim Edwards – Team Principal:
“We’ll be looking to learn a lot more about the super soft tyre at the Grand Prix as that’s the tyre we’ll be using in Tasmania. It’s a good step forward to have the additional leg protection in car five this weekend. It’s something we’re definitely looking to implement on all cars in the near future. The Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix is a fantastic event, it’s great to be able to support the Formula 1 guys and at the same time be able to showcase what an exciting category Supercars is.”
EVENT NAME: Australian Grand Prix
DATE: 23 – 26 March
LOCATION: Melbourne, Victoria
EVENT NUMBER: Non-championship
FORMAT: Thursday – 1 x 30-minute practice, 4 x 10-minute qualifying; Friday – 2 x 13-lap races; Saturday – 1 x 13-lap race, Sunday – 1 x 13-lap race
CIRCUIT: Albert Park
DESCRIPTION: The home of the Australian round of the Formula One World Championship since 1996, the Albert Park circuit is a public road during the year, but you couldn’t find a more purpose-built temporary racing circuit anywhere in the world. With top speeds exceeding 250kph and a number hard braking tight turns, the circuit has a tendency to produce entertaining races.
TRACK RECORD: 1m55.96s – Craig Lowndes, 2011
PRA BEST RESULT: 1st – Mark Winterbottom, 2009, 2012 & 2015 (x7)