It’s the first time that the paddock has returned since the chaos of 2020 when Covid caused the race to be cancelled just hours before the cars were due on track for Friday practice.
Since then, the track layout has been altered to increase overtaking opportunities, which will also be boosted thanks to a record four DRS zones. There’s a new surface too, plus a wider pitlane to cope with the latest 2022 cars.
Last time the race was held in 2019, Valtteri Bottas took victory. That may be beyond the Alfa Romeo driver this year but he can dream of finishing ahead of his former team-mate Lewis Hamilton again, after outqualifying the troubled Mercedes in Saudi Arabia.
Can Mercedes turn its season around? Will the track changes deliver a classic? And can anyone challenge Ferrari or Red Bull?
Here is how to watch this weekend’s Australian GP for the answers.
Race and qualifying times
Tune in live, or catch the highlights: here’s when you’ll need your TV or device ready for the key sessions. Times are GMT.
Live Saturday, 7am
Highlights Saturday, 11am
Live Sunday, 6am
Highlights Sunday, 3.05pm
How many laps is the Australian GP?
The 2022 Australian GP, held on the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne, is 58 laps long. The changes have shortened the track slightly — by 0.024km/0.016 miles — to 5.279km (3.28 miles) and features four DRS zones, the first of its kind. There is a 10% chance of rain this weekend, with highs of 23, 26 and 26 degrees celsius on Friday, Saturday and Sunday respectively.
Where to watch
All sessions will be live on Sky Sports F1, including pre- and post-race coverage. If you miss the live coverage, Channel 4 will be broadcasting the highlights of the qualifying and race sessions after both have finished.
Both Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event will start coverage of the race at 4.30am. Highlights on Channel 4 will start at 3.05pm on Sunday afternoon.
Sky Sports F1 – Live
Friday FP1 – 3.30am | FP2 – 6.45am
Saturday FP3 – 3.45am | Qualifying – 6am
Sunday Race – 5.55am
Channel 4 – Highlights
Saturday Qualifying – 11am
Sunday Race – 3.05pm
How to stream
Each session is covered on NowTV, and you can stay up-to-date with the action regardless of your location. The app can be downloaded on mobile and tablet devices. Weekend passes are also available which give you access to all the live sessions including pre- and post-race coverage.
Who will win?
On current form, it’s difficult to see the winner coming from outside Ferrari or Red Bull. Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen have dominated the headlines after their battles in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, but don’t rule out Jeddah polesitter Sergio Perez. Carlos Sainz will be hoping that he’s closed the gap to team-mate Leclerc after struggling with the car in Bahrain but improving in the second race.
The changes to Albert Park are likely to bring a similar average speed to Saudi Arabia, where Ferrari and Red Bull were closely matched, culminating in the cat-and-mouse battle for superiority around the start/finish DRS zone. Albert Park’s four DRS zones allow a variety of tactical approaches — expect them all to be tested.
Mercedes’ hopes of competitiveness rest on solving its porpoising problem. This has forced the team to increase the car’s ride height, resulting in the loss of downforce. Upgrades are expected for Melbourne, but Mercedes has warned that a complete fix could take longer.
If it finds itself mired in the midfield again, then there will be no shortage of challengers. Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso showed off Alpine’s raciness in Saudi Arabia with an intense intra-team battle, Kevin Magnussen has been earning points in the competitive Haas, and McLaren looks to be recovering from a miserable start to the season — although probably not soon enough for Daniel Ricciardo in his home race.
2022 Australian GP session times
(All times GMT)
Free practice 1 4am – 5am
Free practice 2 7am – 8am
Free practice 3 4am – 5am
Qualifying 7am – 8am
Race 6am – 8am