The Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit is a street-based circuit around Albert Park Lake, only a couple of kilometres south of central Melbourne. It is used once a year as a racetrack for the Australian Grand Prix and associated support races.
The circuit utilises everyday sections of road that circle Albert Park Lake, a small man-made lake just south of the Central Business District of Melbourne. The road sections that are used were rebuilt prior to the inaugural event in 1996 to ensure consistency and smoothness. As a result, compared to other circuits that are held on public roads, Albert Park is quite smooth as a racing surface and picturesque as there are only a few other places on the Formula 1 calendar where there is a body of water close to a racing track.
As a racing track of interest to drivers, it is considered to be quite fast and relatively easy to drive, with drivers having commented that the consistent placement of corners allows them to easily learn the circuit and achieve competitive times. However, the flat terrain around the lake, coupled with the track design, means that the track is not conducive to overtaking or easy spectating unless in possession of a grandstand seat.
Each year, most of the trackside fencing, pedestrian overpasses, grandstands and other motorsport infrastructure are erected from approximately 3 months prior to the Grand Prix weekend and removed within 6 weeks after the event. Land around the circuit (including a large aquatic centre, a golf course, a football stadium, some restaurants and rowing boathouses) has restricted access during the grand prix weekend. Dissent is still prevalent among nearby local residents and some still maintain a silent protest against the event. Nevertheless, the event is immensely popular in Melbourne and Australia (with a large European population and a general interest in motorsport). Middle Park, the home of South Melbourne FC was demolished in 1994 due to expansion at Albert Park.
On 04 Jul 2008, the official F1 site reported that more than 300,000 people attended the four-day Melbourne Grand Prix. The Grand Prix will continue until at least 2015 after securing a new contract with Formula One Management. There will be no night races in Albert Park but 2009’s event will start at 5pm and expected to take place on March 26-29