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HomeNewsOpinion: Redemption round for Supercars on F1 stage

Opinion: Redemption round for Supercars on F1 stage

THE Repco Supercars Championship’s future at Albert Park is a hot topic, but right now the first order of business is putting on a show on the big stage that Formula 1 brings.

For better or worse, Supercars’ past couple of years at the F1 Australian Grand Prix certainly have not lacked drama.

In 2022, there were the tyre blowouts that caught many off-guard and made for a particularly mixed-up opening race.

More notable was the first impression which Supercars last year made on its international counterparts with its Gen3 product.

Parity, or a lack thereof, triggered debate as Camaro-shod drivers ran riot. So too did complaints of ballooning costs associated with the new cars.

But the main point of concern was fire, and the panic which that sparked.

Nick Percat’s Walkinshaw Andretti United Mustang burst into flames during the Friday race, a fate which was also dealt to James Courtney and his Tickford Racing Mustang the following day.

Such serious incidents in back-to-back days led to talk that Ford drivers/teams may sit out the Sunday race on safety grounds.

That was avoided only after emergency talks which ran late into the Saturday night and produced a series of risk mitigation steps, including dumping the traditional standing start in favour of a rolling start (until a more detailed review could be executed post-round).

All in all, it was clearly not the mark which Supercars hoped its spectacular looking new Mustangs and Camaros would make with Formula 1, Formula 2 and Formula 3 in town – especially at a time when championship owner RACE was keenly exploring other international grands prix opportunities.

This week represents a second chance.

A lot of water has gone under the bridge in the last 12 months to iron out teething issues and shore up the Gen3 competition.

Aero parity is pretty well agreed to be sorted following off-season wind tunnel testing, and engine equalisation efforts have progressed if not finished.

Various parts have been improved, spindles among the most recent modifications, and cars are faster than this time last year.

Action from the 2023 Melbourne SuperSprint. Pic: Ross Gibb

There were glimpses of sensational action in Supercars’ last AGP appearance, with the shortened Friday race particularly providing passages of play whereby Gen3 cars fiercely squabbled around the fast and flowing Albert Park layout.

The removal of compulsory pitstops for this year’s four sprint races means any and all overtaking will have to be done on-track, which could motivate drivers to push the limits even harder.

Regardless of losing the alternate pitlane (so long as it doesn’t rain mid-race), there is still every opportunity for Supercars to right the wrongs of last year and show exactly why it should be a valued staple of the annual AGP going forward.

Redemption round starts today…

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