Former champ labels Melbourne Supercars weekend “a waste of time”
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Supercars teams and drivers will turn up to the Australian Grand Prix meeting this weekend with little motivation to put it all on the line when they have nothing to gain.
The weekend serves as essentially a test run with championship points not on offer and only a short race scheduled across the three-day event.
A frustrated James Courtney echoed the thoughts of the field as Supercars continues to lobby for bigger slice of the action on Formula One's opening race of the season.
"You can't really get anything out of it," said the Walkinshaw Racing driver. "As for championship points and all that sort of stuff it is a waste of time for us.
"Not a lot really comes out of this weekend. It is a bit disappointing that the races aren't a bit longer and we can't get more out of it."
The only thing that really appeals to teams is the chance to collate some data about the super soft tyre being used at the Albert Park track. Teams will use the super soft in competition for the first time at the next round of the championship at Symmons Plains in Tasmania.
"It is going to be the first time that we get a longer run - although it is only about 12 laps - on super soft tyres," Courtney explained.
"We get to do a bit of running on the new tyre and get a better understanding. We didn't really run the super soft tyre at the test day so we'll be working to get a better understanding of that so when we get to Tasmania we can hit the ground running.
"Every team - not just us - will have a plan on how to understand that new tyre a bit more. Every team will use it as a bit of a test and hopefully we come out of it a bit wiser."
Supercars would like to make the round part of their championship but are not allocated enough track time to hold proper full-length races. There have been further calls this week to try to cut a deal for 2018 and beyond but Courtney isn't optimistic.
"I can't see it happening. It would be awesome if we could have it as a championship round but the trouble with making it a championship round would be getting the time we need to have proper-length races.
"Here [at Albert Park in Melbourne] we are only doing 12-lap races - we are only just warming up after 12 laps.
"Until we can get a decent run at the track and decent length races we can't have it as a championship round."
Courtney, who claimed a third and a fourth place finish at the season-opening Clipsal 500 on the streets of Adelaide, is hopeful that with the off-season structural moves at Formula One maybe there could be some change on the horizon.
"I know the guys are meeting this weekend. With the change of ownership in Formula One maybe that will open up some doors," Courtney said.
"It is frustrating for all the teams that it isn't a championship round," he added.
Australian Grand Prix
• Venue: Albert Park, Melbourne (since 1996).
• Number of laps: 58.
• Circuit length: 5.303km.
• Race distance: 307.574km.
• Lap record: 1min 24.125sec (Michael Schumacher, 2004).
Tomorrow: 2pm-3.30pm practice session one; 6pm-7.30pm practice session two.
Saturday: 4pm-5pm practice session three; 7pm-8pm qualifying.
Sunday: 6pm-8pm race.