August 25, 2021


Eds Smart

Flashback: Albert Park Circuit Modifications & Resurfacing – Building the Formula 1® Australian Grand Prix Wearing Course.

This article is written in reflection of a moment in our Journey from back in November 2020.

Let’s begin with some background.

For the past three years, iEDM has been working as part of the team on modifications to the Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit in Melbourne.

iEDM have been the engineering project manager for the project since September 2019. I have been acting as one of the project managers in Melbourne since March 2020, working under our Manager of Engineering and Construction – Michael Gardner. As a young project manager, it has been an amazing experience to be involved in such a critical Government project with some very important stakeholders.

We are currently about halfway through the work and I have personally already learnt so many lessons I will take with me onto the next project.

We surpassed some major milestones – laying an F1® trial mix (asphalt) and receiving approval to conduct the civil works for the circuit modifications.

The project has been consistently challenged by various changes on the back of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Victorian lockdown and the postponement of the 2021 Formula 1® Australian Grand Prix but as a project team we remain resilient and positive - we are finally here and happy to be progressing further.

Each time the project changes, there is a massive push from the entire team. In collaboration with the Client and the Contractors, we have achieved some great results, re-shaping the project to achieve the desired outcomes. A special shout out to the team at Parks Victoria – without their consultation, support and assistance we would not have been able to reach any of these milestones. 

The entire iEDM & AGPC engine room have put in some serious effort to get this project to where it is right now and it’s exciting to see us hitting these milestones.

Paving Trial

Below is a snapshot of some key components of the paving trial.

To meet the requirements of the Hart Consult International specification for an F1® race track asphalt wearing course, Downer Group is required to make modifications to their Asphalt plant in Bayswater. The Production & Paving Trial to progress the F1 mix design, included the changeover of screens (big sieves) to achieve different gradings (sizes of aggregates) which was required for the spec.

This Plant Shutdown consisted of what was meant to be a five day shut down as per the below program:

  • Day 1 – Screen changeover
  • Day 2 – Screen changeover
  • Day 3 – Production Trial
  • Day 4 – Paving Trial
  • Day 5 – Screen change-back

Due to issues with the bespoke size aggregate screens fitting the asphalt plant and refinement of the mix design with a secondary production trial the below program reflects the actual shutdown:

  • Day 1 – Screen changeover
  • Day 2 – Screen changeover
  • Day 3 – Screen changeover
  • Day 4 – Production Trial
  • Day 5 – Production Trial
  • Day 6 – Paving Trial / Screen change-back

The plant performed a Production Trial on Day 4 of the shutdown. A Production Trial is where a series of proposed test asphalt mix designs with slight variances are produced in the asphalt plant and samples of the mix are taken to the laboratory to perform ‘mad-scientist’ like testing & reporting.

The review of the initial Production Trial results showed some further development with asphalt mix aggregate as well as grading was required to reduce void content and ensure adequate compaction when laid. As a result, it was agreed an additional day of testing was required to refine the mix design to ensure tangible outcomes were achieved from the Albert Park paving trial.

The following 24 hours knocked off the last remaining hairs Michael Gardner had on his head but after the second day of Production Trials, the Downer Group Technical Team and Dr Rainer Hart were satisfied with the mix coming from the plant to proceed to Paving Trial.

The outcome gave us the wearing course mat below which was laid in the Turn 15 runoff at Albert Park.

Photos taken on November 2020
All in all, a great success, we learned a lot about the mix in this context and surpassed a major step towards the final outcome of the Formula 1® Australian Grand Prix Wearing Course. 

We now enter another critical phase of the project and it's all hands on deck to ensure the project is a success.