Home - The Official Formula 1 Website Skip to content

Australian Grand Prix - driver preview quotes 14 Mar 2007

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, 14 March 2007 Ralf Schumacher (GER) Toyota drives a Toyota 4x4 vehicle.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, 14 March 2007 Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Honda Racing F1 Team at the Pit Stop Tennis Pro Am tournament.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, 13 March 2007 Christijan Albers (NED) Spyker  at the Pit Stop Tennis Pro Am tournament.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, 13 March 2007

After months of preparation, the drivers will find out this weekend whether all their hard work over winter has been worth the effort. Understandably, they can't wait to get started in Melbourne...

Fernando Alonso, McLaren
2006 Qualifying - 3rd, 2006 Race - 1st

“Having spent the winter getting to know my new team and new car, I feel really at home and am very motivated to start racing. I always enjoy Australia, there is a great atmosphere and I am excited to get out there and see where we are compared to the other teams. There are a lot of new things in the sport this season such as new rules, all teams running on Bridgestone Potenzas, drivers changing teams. Everyone is starting from zero and it is going to make things very interesting. Am I going to go out at Albert Park and win my first race with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes? We are certainly going to push hard to try.”

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
2006 Qualifying - NA, 2006 Race - NA

“Taking to the grid in Australia is the end of one journey for me and the start of an even bigger one. I have been working incredibly hard towards this moment over the past few months, testing, physical training, working with the engineers at the McLaren Technology Centre and studying the regulations. I feel I have the experience I need and I definitely feel ready to get out there. This year will be a learning curve for me, Albert Park is one of the seven new tracks I’ll be racing on, but it is not a huge problem more an exciting challenge. I have always enjoyed street circuits, so it is great to start my career in Formula One with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes here.”

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault
2006 Qualifying - 2nd, 2006 Race - 5th

“It's one of my favourite circuits, and I have very good memories after my win there in 2005. It is an interesting track because it's on public roads, so it is changing and evolving throughout the weekend, which is something we must adapt to with the set-up of the car. The R27 is an evolution of the R26 and the R25, both of which were always quick in Melbourne. We have a good baseline, and lots of potential in the car; and we have worked hard this winter to be able to fight with the front-runners at the start of the year. We know that it is quite a low grip circuit in Australia, so we will focus on that area.”

Heikki Kovalainen, Renault
2006 Qualifying - NA, 2006 Race - NA

“I think I started preparing over a year ago, when I joined Renault as third driver! I was able to learn my job in the best conditions, get to know the team, and visit the factories. It was a long apprenticeship, but now I feel completely ready to go to the next level. I can't wait to get to Melbourne! I am expecting a tough race. I am preparing for every possibility, and I know that I will have to push right to the limit. With the team, we will have to find the perfect set-up for the R27 to get maximum potential out of the car.”

Felipe Massa, Ferrari
2006 Qualifying - 15th, 2006 Race - DNF

“The Albert Park circuit is not an easy track layout to start the season. It is a technical circuit but I like it, because I have always been very competitive there, but not very lucky. Twice, I've been involved in accidents at the start in Australia, so hopefully I have got my bad luck for this place out of the way now! Melbourne is a great place to start the season and it's nice that this year it goes back to being the opening race again. I like the country, the city and the people so I'm looking forward to the trip".

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota
2006 Qualifying - 6th, 2006 Race - 3rd

“Melbourne is a great place to be, I really like the city and it is one of my favourites trips of the year. As well as the city, the track is one of the most beautiful streets circuits in the world and I really enjoy driving at Albert Park. Because it is a street circuit, the surface of the track tends to be dirty and that means it is quite low on grip, especially early in the weekend. We have done a lot of work in testing with the new car and I think we have made progress. My first impressions of the car were good and even though testing was difficult sometimes, I hope our car will suit the track and we will have a nice result this weekend.”

Jarno Trulli, Toyota
2006 Qualifying - 9th, 2006 Race - DNF

“Melbourne is a great venue for a Grand Prix and the fans always make sure there is a unique atmosphere. Australia is a special place for me because I made my Grand Prix debut there in 1997. It is great to be going back there for the first race of the season. We have pushed hard over the winter with our testing programme. We had some issues to work on but I am looking forward to this weekend with confidence. A lot of work has been done on the new car and we expect it to be more competitive and more reliable. There are always big question marks as we prepare for the start of a new season because it is so hard to judge things from winter testing, but we have the motivation to succeed and I am optimistic.”

Rubens Barrichello, Honda
2006 Qualifying - 7th, 2006 Race - 16th

“The Australian Grand Prix is always one of my favourite races on the calendar and I enjoy spending time in Melbourne where there is a great atmosphere over the race weekend. I feel totally at home with the Honda team this year so I really expect a better season and I am so motivated to start racing again. I’m also looking forward to being back on Bridgestone tyres for this season, which should be a good thing for me as I have so much experience with Bridgestone. At the Honda team, we have made some significant progress through pre-season testing since the launch of the RA107 but there is still work to do. I have no doubt that with the resources of Honda, we can continue to improve the car throughout the season and we have a lot to look forward to.”

Jenson Button, Honda
2006 Qualifying - 1st, 2006 Race - 10th

"Obviously Melbourne is a very special place for me as the circuit where I made my F1 debut. But it's more than just the race track in Albert Park. I love the very special atmosphere of the city, both in its own right and from the sheer buzz involved in being at the first race of the season. The setting of the circuit is also one of the best on the calendar.

“It is very important to get your corner apexes right here. On some circuits braking is the most important thing, but here there are so many chicanes and ess-bends that you have to be very precise and consistent. Everything that you have been working on over the winter needs to come together for the first race of the season, so its about choosing the right race strategy, making sure that the pit crew get everything right and good mechanical reliability.”

Nico Rosberg, Williams
2006 Qualifying - 14th, 2006 Race - DNF

“It’s great that the first race of the year is back in Melbourne again, it always makes for a good start to the season. The crowd is fabulous and so is the atmosphere. As a team, we are determined to move forward this year and bring some consistency to our season so we are hoping and pushing hard for a good start in Australia.

“Australia’s a great country and I would like to be able to see more of it. I stopped over for a couple of days in Sydney on the way to Melbourne for a couple of sponsor commitments for RBS and Lenovo. Sydney is a great city and I’m definitely going to spend some more time there the next time I’m here.

“As a temporary street circuit, Albert Park is in many ways a challenging track. It is bumpy and has plenty of curbs so you have to drive very precisely. It has a stop-go nature about it and often delivers unexpected results.”

Alexander Wurz, Williams
2006 Qualifying - NA, 2006 Race - NA

“Melbourne is certainly one of my favourite places on the calendar because the atmosphere is so special, particularly as it’s the season opener. The track is right in the heart of the city, a city which is so active and full of positive energy. Every team comes here with the highest of hopes - the first race is always exiting because everyone will soon know where they really stand.

“Albert Park is well laid out and is right in the middle of a park in the centre of Melbourne, that fact alone makes it a nice track. The circuit is a mix of a 'real' track with a slight street character. There aren’t any really challenging parts, but that doesn’t mean the lap is easy. To find a good balance, and to be able to follow the constantly changing track conditions, is in fact quite hard. As a driver, it is of course hugely important to find a good rhythm and not be kicked off the circuit by one of its bumps. Overtaking is not that easy, which I guess is normal nowadays with 22 top class drivers on the track.”

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
2006 Qualifying - 8th, 2006 Race - 4th

"Australia is my favourite country on the Formula One calendar to travel to. I flew straight out there with my family from the test in Bahrain to have a look at a few things and get used to the time zone and climate. The Albert Park circuit is nice to drive, but also a demanding one for the drivers. Because it isn't a permanent race track, there isn't much grip at the start of the weekend. So it will help that the cars will spend more time on the track on the Friday, as extra rubber will quickly be laid down on the asphalt. We were pretty quick in testing, but unfortunately not that reliable, so for us the most important thing in the first race of the season will be to get to the finish."

Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber
2006 Qualifying - NA, 2006 Race - NA

"Albert Park is one of my favourite tracks, as it is partly a street circuit. There are also a few run-off areas, and that makes it slightly easier. There isn't much grip, but it is quite bumpy. Conditions improve enormously over the course of the weekend. You have to make changes to the car and understand how it is going to react. I like the circuit a lot, it's a challenge. Tight corners and full-throttle sections follow one after another."

Sebastian Vettel, third driver, BMW Sauber
2006 Qualifying - NA, 2006 Race - NA

"I've never been to Australia and I'm very much looking forward to being in Melbourne with the team and getting out on the track. The circuit certainly looks interesting. The beginning of the season is extremely important - a lot of things are easier if you get off to a good start. We've shown in testing that we definitely have potential, but we've also had one or two difficulties. Like the team as a whole, I'm just pleased that it's finally time to go racing."

Adrian Sutil, Spyker
2006 Qualifying - NA, 2006 Race - NA

"Melbourne will be my first-ever Grand Prix, so there is certainly some excitement and maybe a few nerves - but that's good, at least the adrenaline is going! Over the winter testing period I've been trying hard to get as much mileage as possible so I will be as prepared as I can be for my first race. I've tried to learn from my engineers and understand the car; I want to finish the race and build on a solid performance in future Grands Prix."

Christijan Albers, Spyker
2006 Qualifying - 17th, 2006 Race - 11th

"I've been pleased with the testing so far this year. We might not have done a lot of testing relative to other teams, but we have progressed perhaps more than any other team has done in the same space of time. The car is reliable and the balance is getting better all the time; now we understand the performance of the tyres more, we can really concentrate on getting a good set-up. It's not going to be an easy start to the year - we will have to push to get to the other teams, but that's what we're in Formula One to do. We've got to push ourselves to do the best we can."

More to follow.