Adelaide F1: A Look Back

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October 25, 2021

The afternoon of November 12, 1995 was the last time a Formula 1 car raced around the Adelaide Street Circuit.

It also marked the end of an era for Australian motorsport – and the beginning of a new one. takes a look back at the Adelaide F1 Grand Prix.

Get the gist in 30 seconds
  • The 1995 Australian F1 GP was, like most F1 races, filled with action, including a serious crash, fierce competition and a Jon Bon Jovi concert.
  • Adelaide F1 races were held from 1985 to 1995.
  • Being in November, the race weekend saw extreme heat and torrential rain. The event also set many records, such as the shortest F1 race, a record which lasted until 2021.
  • 1999 marked the beginning of the V8 Supercar era.
  • In 2008, at the peak of the Clipsal 500’s popularity, the event drew in a crowd of over 291,000 people.
  • In October, 2021, the permanent section of the historic Adelaide track was saved by one vote.
Snapshot: The 1995 Adelaide F1 race

Winner: Damon Hill, UK
Laps: 81 (306 km)
Track length: 3.780 km

Notable events: last F1 race ever to feature a V12-power car. In qualifying, Finnish driver, Mika Häkkinen, suffered a serious crash which required an emergency operation to allow him to breathe. Luckily, he survived and came back to race again the next season.

Jon Bon Jovi performed at the post-race concert.

Adelaide F1

The Adelaide F1 round was the final race in the F1 season, hence being at the end of the year in November.

In 1995, the F1 calendar consisted of 17 races, in 2022, however, the calendar has grown to 23 rounds.

The first Adelaide F1 race was held in 1985. It was also the first Australia GP to be part of the FIA Formula One World Championship. F1 races in Adelaide lasted for 11 years (11 races) before the event moved to Melbourne in 1996.

1985 Adelaide F1 poster(Promotional poster for the first Australian Grand Prix in Adelaide in 1985. Source:

The Adelaide Street Circuit was a hall of famer in the racing world as its close proximity to the CBD meant crowds were huge. The track itself was made up of some permanent sections within Adelaide’s parklands and some temporary sections of city streets cordoned off during races.

This meant large grass areas of parks for displays, food/drink and merchandise outlets and other attractions. The city’s hotels, pubs and restaurants were literally next door to western part of the track.

1993 adl race(Looking down the pit straight during the 1993 Adelaide F1 GP)

2021 adl f1 grid(Not so glamorous: pit straight in October, 2021. Now a COVID testing facility, located under the white marquee)

The Adelaide circuit featured a series of right-angled turns and fast straights with minimal room for error, which made it a challenging and entertaining race.

The 1995 Adelaide F1 race saw 210,000 attendees, a record number which stood until the year 2000 when the Indianapolis race in the US drew 250,000 spectators.

adelaide track(Adelaide Street Circuit map)

The Adelaide F1 weekend provided more than just a car race

During the event, spectators were treated to a host of events, including support races.

The support races, not unlike in other F1 events, saw the best of V8 Supercar racing, celebrity races, Formula Ford and even drag racing on the long straight of the track.

Other non-vehicle events included military jet flyovers, parachute displays, concerts and a general party atmosphere within Adelaide.

Being in November, the weather also played a part in the event. For example, the first Adelaide F1 GP, in 1985, saw temperatures reach 35 °C, extremely tough when kitted up in a racing suit, fighting an F1 car for 2 hours. 

 stagcnr 1985(Stag Corner, a section of the temporary part of the track during an F1 race)

2021 stagcnr(Stag Corner in 2021)

The 1991 Adelaide F1 race was, until 2021, the shortest race in F1 history, lasting only 24 minutes and 34 seconds due to torrential rain. In 2021, the Belgian GP lasted less than three and a half minutes, also due to rain.

Major events during the Adelaide F1 era
Year What happened…

Racing legend Niki Lauda’s final F1 race

Winner: Keke Rosberg (Finland)


Last Formula 1 race for Australian racing champion, Alan Jones

Winner: Nelson Piquet (Brazil)


Ayrton Senna disqualified for oversized brake ducts

Winner: Gerhard Berger (Austria)


Last race featuring turbocharged cars until 2014

Winner: Alain Prost (France)


Almost cancelled due to bad weather, only 8 drivers actually completed the race

Winner: Thierry Boutsen (Belgium)


First Australian F1 GP for Aussie driver, David Brabham (son of world champion, Jack Brabham)

Winner: Nelson Piquet (Brazil)


Shortest race in F1 history (24 min, 34 sec) until 2021

Winner: Ayrton Senna (Brazil)


Infamous collision between Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell knocking both drivers out of the race

Winner: Gerhard Berger (Austria)


Top drivers, Senna and Prost, began mending their infamous rivalry when race winner, Senna, invited Prost on the podium. Senna surprised everyone by appearing on stage during the post-race concert featuring Tina Turner.

Winner: Ayrton Senna (Brazil)


Until 2020, was the last F1 race to involve more cars than places on the starting grid. Michael Schumacher did not finish the race but still won the championship

Winner: Nigel Mansell (UK)


Last ever Adelaide F1 race and largest number of attendees at an F1 race until 2000

Winner: Damon Hill (UK)

Super car era

“It was also the largest crowd for a domestic motorsport event in Australia, a record still standing today.”

After Formula 1 moved to Melbourne, the V8 Supercars took over the track, albeit a shortened version, from 1999 to 2020.

However, 1999 wasn’t the first time V8 Supercars had traversed the Adelaide Street Circuit. They made up part of the support races during the F1 years (1985-1995), but were categorised as Group 3A Touring Cars.

Referred to as the “Clipsal 500” (Clipsal was a major sponsor), the event was held in February or early March. The ‘500’ part referred to two 250 km races.

Sadly, due to the COVID pandemic and rising costs, South Australian officials announced the end of the Supercars in Adelaide in October, 2020.

In 2008, at the peak of the Clipsal 500’s popularity, the event drew in a crowd of over 291,000 people, beating even the last Adelaide F1 GP’s record. It was also the largest crowd for a domestic motorsport event in Australia, a record still standing today.

Notable racing legends that have graced the Adelaide Street Circuit
  • Michael Schumacher
  • Niki Lauda
  • Nigel Mansell
  • David Coulthard
  • Alain Prost
  • Damon Hill
  • Craig Lowndes 
  • Mark Skaife
  • Garth Tander
  • Jamie Whincup

And of course, Ayrton Senna.

There are many more.

Senna adelaide f1(Ayrton Senna at the 1993 Adelaide F1 race, which he won)


“The motion succeeded by only one vote.”

The Adelaide Street Circuit was almost, but not quite, destroyed in recent weeks. Since motorsports ended in 2020, there’s been mounting pressure to demolish the permanent section of the track within Adelaide’s parklands.

The plan aimed to make way for more green space, something most cities crave.

However, in mid October this year, the Adelaide City Council voted to investigate a heritage listing of the permanent part of the track. The motion succeeded by only one vote.

End of an era

As so many Adelaidians (and F1 fans worldwide) say, “it was awesome”. The F1 race in Adelaide boosted the country’s international reputation, especially being the pre-internet days and being the first ever F1 World Championship race held in Australia.

1995 adl race podium(November 12, 1995: The final F1 podium at Adelaide with winner Damon Hill (centre). Source:

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