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F1 evaluating changes to Melbourne Turn 6 amid driver concerns

Significant changes to the corner where George Russell and Alex Albon crashed during Formula 1's recent 2024 Australian Grand Prix weekend are being considered for next year's event, Autosport understands.

Alex Albon, Williams Racing FW46

Photo by: Williams

The FIA is currently undertaking a review into the first incident, which occurred after Russell was caught out by Fernando Alonso deliberately braking earlier for Albert Park's Turn 6 as part of an attempt by the Aston Martin driver to disrupt the chasing Mercedes racer.

Alonso was penalised for his actions post-race in Melbourne, a decision which has split opinions among F1 drivers at this weekend's event in Japan.

Autosport understands that several possibilities for altering the corner are now being considered for F1's return to Albert Park next year, which follows calls for such a development from the drivers even before this latest high-profile incident at the corner.

Russell's crash followed concerns over the corner's safety coming into focus in 2023 when Albon crashed there, which caused the first of three red flags in last year's Melbourne race.

There were then two major incidents at the spot in F1's recent visit to Australia – when Albon was pitched into the barriers opposite Turn 6 in FP1 after hitting the corner's exit kerbs hard and then when Russell's car nearly rolled following the incident with Alonso.

Turn 6 was among the corners changed as part of the Melbourne event's major re-profiling ahead of its post-pandemic return to the F1 calendar in 2022.

As part of this, the right-hander's racing line was opened up and so made considerably faster before it feeds into a long acceleration zone.

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR24

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR24

Photo by: Mark Horsburgh / Motorsport Images

Options apparently now being considered for changing the corner include a re-profiling to reduce car speeds there, adding an asphalt runoff area to the outside instead of the current gravel trap, or adjusting the barriers behind the corner to try and prevent cars from bouncing back towards the track in the event of another crash.

The idea of changing the corner was brought up during the post-FP2 drivers' meeting in Melbourne this year, with McLaren's Oscar Piastri also suggesting it had already become "a bit of a discussion… not last weekend, but in Melbourne" prior to the 2024 event.

"Maybe there's a couple of things that we could improve there a bit," Piastri added at Suzuka on Thursday.

"We've seen quite a few accidents where cars have kind of been bounced back onto the track, which is something that we've spoken about, and I think it should be addressed.

"Maybe just the angle of the wall or potentially even the speed of the corner. It's obviously quite a quick corner now.

"So, it is something that we have spoken about with the FIA. And we'll see what comes. But yeah, there's probably been now a few too many crashes with cars ending up in the middle of the track to not do something about it."

Piastri's view is shared by many of his peers, although Russell stated, "the corner's amazing, probably one of the best corners on that circuit, so I wouldn't want to see that corner change".

"[But] it's not just that corner," Russell added. "I think all circuits that have the barriers in certain positions, if it's going to propel you back onto the circuit, that's obviously not good.

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

"And we don't want to have big runoffs. We don't want to have [asphalt] runoffs.

"I think everything is correct. Just the position of that wall, even if it's closer to the track but in line with the circuit, at least you wouldn't bounce off into the racing line."

Albon also highlighted the issue of the kerb contributing to his 2024 Melbourne FP1 crash, with the Williams driver explaining how it's "kind of a double-stepped kerb on the exit".

He continued: "And especially as we have these low cars now, everything we touch, we can use the first bit of kerb, but if you go too far across and you hit the second kind of ramp section, it forces the car into the air.

"So, there's two things that could be done better."

Speaking alongside Russell and Albon in the pre-event press conference at Suzuka, Ferrari driver and 2024 Melbourne winner Carlos Sainz said, "that corner needs to be reviewed, which is already something I said in the last driver's briefing".

"But it's not the first time that after a collision, the car comes back into the track. And it's a corner that we're doing 250km/h and it's blind.

"I just don't like the last few incidents that we've seen in this corner, also in other categories. It just doesn't give me a very good feeling.

Press Conference, Alex Albon, Williams Racing

Press Conference, Alex Albon, Williams Racing

Photo by: Motorsport Images

"It's a great corner, don't get me wrong. I love driving in a qualifying lap.

"It's just when it comes to racing, there's been just too many examples of a car coming back onto a track and being very narrow there.

"And I just think it's a corner that needs to be a bit reviewed."

Watch: F1 2024 Japanese Grand Prix Preview - Everything You Need To Know

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