Melbourne has been established as the opening Grand Prix of the season since supremo Ron Walker won the race from Adelaide in 1996.
Melbourne has been established as the opening Grand Prix of the season since supremo Ron Walker won the race from Adelaide in 1996. If Adelaide was popular then Melbourne soon proved even more so. A party atmosphere and early-season optimism combine with an excellent temporary circuit around the lake in Albert Park. First suggested in 1934, the circuit hosted the Australian GP twice during the 1950s. Unlike other such venues, it is fast and wide, allowing for good racing, and it is only a short tram ride from downtown Melbourne. It was here that Jacques Villeneuve almost won on his GP debut in 1996, and David Coulthard controversially ceded victory to McLaren team-mate Mika Hakkinen in 1998. Tragedy struck Melbourne in 2001 when debris from Villeneuve’s somersaulting car killed marshal Graham Beveridge. The race was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 (when a revised layout was originally due to be adopted) due to the coronavirus pandemic.