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Australia preview quotes - Ferrari, Renault, Virgin & more 23 Mar 2011

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, 23 March 2011 Nick Heidfeld (GER) Lotus Renault GP.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, 23 March 2011 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Team Lotus.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, 23 March 2011 Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes GP.
Formula One Testing, Day 3, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, 10 March 2011 Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber.
Formula One Testing, Day 2, Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, 9 March 2011

The 2011 FIA Formula One World Championship finally gets underway in Australia next weekend, with all 12 teams eager to discover how their new cars stack up against the competition. There’s new rules, new tyres and more, but one thing that remains reassuringly consistent is the warm welcome guaranteed for the paddock at Melbourne’s Albert Park…

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari
2010 Qualifying - 3rd, 2010 Race - 4th

“Finally, the moment has arrived! I was so impatient to get to the first race and the postponement of the Bahrain Grand Prix made the wait even longer. Yes, it did give the engineers more time to prepare and it meant the work could be done with less haste, but for us drivers, and I think the same applies to all my colleagues, the desire to go racing again is very strong.

“It was a very busy winter. We have covered so many kilometres in testing and have shown that we have reached a good level of reliability, which is always important. There are reasons to be optimistic, even if we cannot really be sure where we are compared to the others. At the last test, in Barcelona, we introduced a significant number of updates and here in Melbourne we have also brought a newer version of the front wing. We will see if it delivers the expected results, even if I think we will need three or four races to get a clear picture of the situation.

“I won here in 2006 and made it to the podium a further three teams, so let’s hope we can repeat that. It was here ten years ago, that I first set out on the Formula One path. I have spent twenty six of my twenty nine years behind a steering wheel, controlling four wheels and ten of those, the best of them, have been spent in the blue riband category. I never would have thought that things would have turned out this way and I have achieved so much more than I had hoped for when I was little. Now I want to continue and for a long time too, trying to have even better years in the future!”

Felipe Massa, Ferrari
2010 Qualifying - 5th, 2010 Race - 3rd

“It’s time to go! I’m ready to race and I think the whole team is well prepared after doing so many laps over all the days of winter testing, even more than we had planned in the end. The car appears to be reliable, but this is not enough on its own as the car needs to be quick too. For the moment, reliability has been good and I don’t think we can complain about performance, but we won’t have a clear picture until all the teams are together on track in Melbourne.

“I’m happy to be starting the season in Australia, although I am also disappointed not to be going to Bahrain from a racing point of view. I really liked going there, as the track seemed to suit me very well and also the team, because Ferrari has won so many races there. But, when you build an F1 car, you build it to be good at every track, so wherever the championship starts you have to go there thinking of the victory and I will be concentrating on doing my best in Melbourne, even if the Albert Park circuit has not been a very successful venue for me, or a lucky one, as I’ve had a few accidents there.

“Last year was better as I got my best ever result here finishing third on the podium. I hope this time we can have a great start to the season in Australia and I am optimistic about our chances, based on the reliability we have shown so far and I can’t wait for us to measure up against the other teams and see where we stand.”

Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari team principal
“The atmosphere in the team is good and everyone is keen to get to work in Melbourne, to see where we are compared to the other teams. So far, we have done a lot of testing through four test sessions in Spain in February and early March but this will be the chance to see where our base line puts us. There were fifteen days of winter testing in total. I am by nature very cautious so in assessing how we went during these days, I have to take into account how we worked through our programme, as well as looking at what the other teams did and because we do not know exactly what the others were doing in testing, I have to remain cautious in rating our own work.

“I see both our drivers very very motivated for different reasons. Fernando has done a fantastic winter in terms of preparation and testing and is looking forward to getting to Melbourne, because after an incredible second half to last year, he wants to cancel out what happened at the last race in Abu Dhabi. Felipe is now very strong mentally and he is looking forward to what will be a very important season for him.”

Nick Heidfeld, Renault
2010 Qualifying - n/a, 2010 Race - n/a

“I always enjoy coming to Australia. It’s my favourite place to travel to on the calendar because the people are relaxed and there’s always a warm atmosphere. I think we have a quick car, but like every team on the grid we have had a few issues to cope with during the tests, especially in terms of reliability. We have an idea of where we stand, but nobody knows exactly. I think we have good performance in the car and everything is working well. I hope we can fight for podiums from the start of the season.”

Vitaly Petrov, Renault
2010 Qualifying - 18th, 2010 Race - DNF

“It’s a good place to start the year. The fans are crazy about F1, the grandstands are full and it’s clear that the country loves the race. I feel much better prepared. I have experience, I know the team ver well and I understand more about Formula One. The R31 is certainly a big step forward. I think our solutions are good and I believe we can be competitive. The guys have down a great car with this car. It’s strong, aggressive and innovative. We believe we are closer to the front than we were last season.”

Eric Boullier, Renault team principal
“I feel excited. We had a tough winter with a lot of unfortunate and unexpected news but we have reacted quickly and we are ready for the season. We have done an enormous amount of work over the last few weeks to really understand this car and get the performance from it. What I can say is that we are clearly in better shape in terms of ultimate performance compared to last year, which was our target. The R31 is very different from anything the team has produced before and we’re very proud of that.”

James Allison, Renault technical director
“I’m pleased that we achieved what we set out to achieve, which was to assess all the new elements of the car and get through the pre-season test programme. But I won’t be fully content until we’ve actually demonstrated in racing conditions that everything is working properly, the car is reliable and we get to the flag showing good pace.”

Timo Glock, Virgin
2010 Qualifying - 10th, 2010 Race - DNF

“The Australian Grand Prix is one of the best races on the calendar and Melbourne is an incredible place to start the season. I can’t wait to get out on track and be racing again. This will be the first chance we get to truly weigh up the competition and I think it is going to be quite interesting for all of the teams.

“Albert Park is a challenging track to get on top of. Because it’s a street circuit it takes a while to rubber in and there is very little grip on Friday. It’s quite a stop-start circuit so brake wear can be a factor. It is also quite bumpy and because the weather can change so quickly at this time of year the track conditions can vary with each session. I think the combination of this circuit together with the surprises we expect to see anyhow should make for an incredible season opener.

“The last three weeks have been less than ideal as I lost a lot of crucial track time. I spent a lot of time over the winter getting ahead of the curve with my fitness though and now I am thankful for that as I haven’t suffered as much as I could have. I’ve been doing a lot of cycling in particular and I’m pretty pleased with where I’m at, all things considered.”

Jerome D’Ambrosio, Virgin
2010 Qualifying - n/a, 2010 Race - n/a

“Now that it’s just around the corner, I’m really starting to get excited about the first race in Melbourne. It’s kind of strange because I’ve been driving for the team since September last year and after four Friday free practice sessions and five tests since that time, I still have my F1 debut to look forward to. It’s been pretty busy until now but it has started to hit home and I’m really looking forward to it. Sunday will be a big day for me.

“I’ve had the best preparation I can imagine with so much running in all of the pre-season tests. I’ve also spent plenty of time in the simulator to prepare for Albert Park specifically. I’ve also spent the weeks since the last test in Barcelona really consolidating my fitness and I’m ready to start racing now. I’ve never been to Melbourne but I’ve heard great things, so I can’t wait to see it for myself.”

John Booth, Virgin team principal
“It’s very exciting to be heading to Australia this week to begin our preparations for the first race of the season. It is disappointing for all that Bahrain was postponed but all the signs are that this was the right decision. The fact is that had we raced in Bahrain last weekend, we would have been a man down in the cockpit as Timo would still have been recovering from his appendectomy. Thankfully he’ll be fighting fit for next weekend, so the last minute change to the calendar has worked in our favour.

“Whilst it’s impossible to predict how any of the teams will fare once we all take to the track next Friday in the first real barometer of competitive performance, what I do know is this - as a racing operation we’re like night and day compared with 12 months ago. Last year we pushed too soon on car performance and it cost us in reliability terms as a result. This year we head to Melbourne with 4642kms of pre-season testing mileage under our belts and a much more reliable baseline to develop from.

“We fully expect the first few races to be challenging in terms of outright pace, but I’m comfortable that prioritising reliability and strategy will help our big picture and we’ll be in a much better place for the rest of the season. I’m looking forward to a more straightforward week of preparation leading up to the first race and to planning our opening race strategy in rather more calm circumstances than last year. Albert Park is a fantastic circuit that has produced some truly memorable racing and I hope we can do ourselves justice there.”

Adrian Sutil, Force India
2010 Qualifying - 21st, 2010 Race - DNF

“I hope that I will be able to finish the race as last year the gearbox let us down. It is always a good feeling to finish the first race, as you then know that the season has really started. It was a crazy race in Australia last year when the rain came in; I think only ten cars made it to finish. This is also why I think it is so important to finish the race in Melbourne - there are usually points to be won if you see the chequered flag.”

Paul Di Resta, Force India
2010 Qualifying - n/a, 2010 Race - n/a

“I am very excited obviously, but it is a strange feeling as the first race was cancelled and everything was prepared for that. But the last few weeks have been pretty seamless and I am fully prepared for the race in Australia. I enjoyed the track last year and Melbourne is a great city.

“I am open minded and will be concentrating on performance, getting the best out of the car on the Friday and Saturday to see what areas we need to improve as a team for the race. As for my personal expectations I am going to be realistic and gauge how it goes over the weekend and focus on the job in hand.”

Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India chairman and team principal
“2010 was an exceptional year for the team, 68 points overall, seventh in the championship with only teams who had previously won world titles ahead of us, which demonstrated we are still on target to achieve our goals. And this year there is even more to be optimistic about.

“We have an experienced technical team that have the ingenuity, flexibility and drive to adapt to the new wave of rule changes, and we also have the tools and resources in our partnerships with McLaren Applied Technologies and Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines to aim even higher. Andrew Green, our new technical director, is responsible for the VJM04 and it has shown some promising signs during pre-season testing.

“We have race drivers who are hungry to take the next steps in their careers, whether that be points, podiums or wins. Paul proved his mettle in DTM and for the team last year, making valuable contribution to the development of the VJM04 with his simulation work. Nico (Hulkenberg) joins as test and reserve driver having taken pole position in Brazil in his rookie season in 2010 and we are glad to start our long-term relationship together. Adrian scored 47 points for the team last year and finished just outside the top ten. He is one of the most consistent young drivers and we are very pleased that he is with us for a fifth consecutive race season.”

Narain Karthikeyan, HRT
2010 Qualifying - n/a, 2010 Race - n/a

“My first ever race in Formula One was here in Melbourne back in 2005 so it’s always a great feeling to be back. Even though it was disappointing to not be able to drive the new car in Barcelona, I’m sure the car is a significant step forward from last year’s. It certainly looks the business, we just have to wait until Friday morning in Melbourne to put it all into practice. I think Albert Park will be a great place to start off with the new F111 since it’s not a very demanding track. For a new and unproven car such as ours, I think that reliability is something we need to work on before we can start to extract the maximum performance, so I believe that if both cars finish the race, we will have had a satisfying weekend. Once Tonio (Liuzzi) and I have driven the car in Melbourne, we will both have a better understanding of what to expect for the rest of 2011

“I have been very upset and disturbed by the news reports coming out of Japan over the past week. I raced in Formula Nippon in Japan in 2002 and made many friends there. I have spoken to some of them, and fortunately they are ok. My heartfelt sympathies go out to all the families affected by this tragedy. They are all in our hearts and minds.”

Vitantonio Liuzzi, HRT
2010 Qualifying - 13th, 2010 Race - 7th

“I’m feeling quite positive coming into the Australian Grand Prix. It’s a special grand prix where the Aussie fans always prove their love for motorsport and Formula One in particular, it would be a real shame if Melbourne decides to quit F1. Albert Park is a track I like, specially the first three corners where it is difficult to overtake but not impossible, you have to be impeccable in that section in order to do a good lap. It’s difficult to predict how the car will respond here since we didn’t get to test it in Barcelona, but I’m sure the areas we concentrated on developing will prove to be a significant improvement from last year’s car. The aim for the weekend is to come away with a clear picture of the car, making sure that all the new regulation items work well. If both cars make it to the chequered flag at the end with good pace and reliability then the weekend will have been a great success. Hopefully in this 2011 season we will take a giant leap forward and set some solid bases for the future.

“This is a terrible thing for the Japanese population. I am shocked. I cannot watch TV anymore. I feel so sorry for all my friends there, but I am sure that they will come out of this situation stronger than ever. Hopefully they will be able to recover and limit the damage. They are a strong population and I am sure they will react soon because they have incomparable dignity and hopefully all the other nations will help in every way possible because this kind of event should make the world unite.”

Colin Kolles, HRT team principal
“Albert Park is one of my favourite venues on the calendar. We will run our new car for the first time on Friday and hopefully there won’t be too many surprises. We are confident that our package is better, quicker and more reliable than last year’s. We have definitely taken a step forward.

“What has happened in Japan is terrible. I would like to express that I was very shocked with what occurred. Japan is one of my favourite countries and I have a huge amount of respect for Japanese people and their culture. I am sure they will overcome this terrible situation.”

Heikki Kovalainen, Lotus
2010 Qualifying - 19th, 2010 Race - 13th

"As Melbourne is now the start of the season it will be very exciting. The Australian fans are great people and the city always has a carnival atmosphere because the race is right in the middle of town. The track itself is a semi-street circuit so it's tricky. It evolves a lot throughout the weekend as the rubber builds up and traction and grip improves. On Friday morning it's always very slippery and you need to bear that in mind when you're setting the car up. If you have some balance problems in the first session it's better not to worry about it too much as you just need to get a feel for the downforce levels, gear ratios and the tyres. By the third session on Saturday morning the track really starts to come into its own. In qualifying it improves every lap and the grip level gets better as people put more rubber down - it can be hard on the tyres as well so you need to look after them. It's a difficult track to overtake on and whether we get an opportunity to make the moveable wing really work for us there is still open to question. Whatever happens I'm really excited about getting back to racing and with the steps forward we have taken this year I think we're going to have a really good year."

Jarno Trulli, Lotus
2010 Qualifying - 20th, 2010 Race - DNF

(On DRS (Drag Reduction System), aka moveable rear wing): "People sometimes ask me what the acceleration of a Formula One car is like, and the only way I can describe it is that it's like driving a rocket - now we have a rocket that suddenly takes another leap forward when it's already at full speed! It was a strange feeling the first time we used the moveable rear wing, because you suddenly have about 15% less drag and therefore a lot more speed. The more you use the wing the more you get used to it and its effect on the car's behaviour. We can use it wherever we like in practice and qualifying but in the races it'll only be when we're within one second of the car ahead and in the designated area so I think it will have a big part to play strategically. We'll see how it improves the actual racing, but I hope it will make a difference."

Tony Fernandes, Lotus team principal
"I cannot wait to get back to racing. This is a very important season for Team Lotus as we are no longer a new team - we achieved what we set out to in 2010 but now it's effectively a clean sheet - an entirely new car, a fully fledged race team and factory and much higher aspirations. Now comes the next phase of the hard work - time to prove that our pre-season promise can help us take the next step forward in the amazing story that is Team Lotus."

Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director
“This is the moment that we’ve been building up to for more than a year now and it’s very exciting for all of us. Our tyres this year are designed to be different to what we have seen before in Formula One, but I think all the teams have managed to gather some useful information about them in testing. We’re aiming for between two and three pit stops in Australia, which in some ways is against our company DNA as our road car tyres are designed to be as durable as possible. But Formula One is a very different case, because our remit from the teams and promoter was to provide entertainment. With that in mind, we’re just keen to get going now and it will be fascinating to see exactly how the drivers and teams are going to use our tyres to employ different strategies during the race. We’ve noticed a few differences between the teams already in testing, and it’s going to be very interesting to find out exactly how that translates into a race situation.”

Mark Webber, Red Bull
2010 Qualifying - 2nd, 2010 Race - 9th

“As an Australian I'm looking forward to Melbourne being the first race. We've done a huge amount of testing and a lot of work has gone into the cars - now we'll put them through their paces at Albert Park and lots of questions will be answered. It's going to be an eventful weekend, especially as the weather can be a bit hit and miss. We'll learn a lot about the tyres, which will play a key role. I hope I can improve my luck there, as it hasn't been incredible since since my first GP in '02. I hope to get my best result and there's every indication we can do that. This is the best winter we've had - let's hope we can carry it on into this event.”

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull
2010 Qualifying - 1st, 2010 Race - DNF

“We know what it feels like to start the season in Australia, it's a special place with a special track - It's one of the few cities that lives Formula One for the week, so I'm looking forward to it. It has been an exciting winter and the time around Christmas was important to calm down, but since February we have been back in the rhythm. It's nice to look back at last year and at what we achieved but we're all looking forward now and focusing on the new car and season. It all starts from zero again; we're excited, we've had enough of testing now and we want to go racing again."

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
2010 Qualifying - 11th, 2010 Race - 6th

“It’s felt like a very long winter. I started the new season feeling fitter and more positive than ever and I’ve maintained that enthusiasm and momentum despite a somewhat difficult few weeks of winter tests. We can’t hide the fact that testing has been tougher than we expected: our test mileage hasn’t been as high as that of our rivals, nor have we had the outright pace of the fastest cars. Still, I have a good feeling with MP4-26: I like driving our car, I think it will look after its tyres quite well and I understand that we’ll be making further performance steps ahead of this opening race.

“Nevertheless, we know we go to Melbourne ready for battle: some teams are extremely well prepared - both from a pace and reliability point of view - but that can sometimes count for little in the unpredictable and somewhat chaotic opening races where it’s equally vital just to take points home. I strongly believe that, while our preparations haven’t gone as smoothly as we’d have liked, I get the impression that we’ll be arriving in Melbourne with everything finally meshing together - and that makes me really excited.”

Jenson Button, McLaren
2010 Qualifying - 4th, 2010 Race - 1st

“In the past, I’d always travelled to Melbourne full of positive energy and enthusiasm. But, at the moment, my heart is with the people of Japan as they struggle to come to terms with the scope of the terrible devastation and loss of life wreaked by last week’s earthquake and tsunami. While the prospect of a Formula One race seems to pale in the face of such a disaster, there have been occasions before when the healing power of sport can actually be beneficial; an escape for people. So I go to Melbourne this weekend resolving to not only try my best, but also to salute the brave people, and my many friends, throughout Japan.

“Albert Park has been good to me: I’ve won there for the past two seasons; it’s a great circuit for racing, it always seems to create unpredictable races and, perhaps because it’s habitually at the start of the season when a precise pecking order has yet to be established, we often see fast cars running out of sequence - and the excitement that that brings. With the added issue of multiple tyre stops, it could be a very exciting and unpredictable race weekend. I’m regularly being asked if I can make it three wins in a row this year. On paper that might not look likely, but, seriously, who knows? I most definitely wouldn’t rule it out.”

Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
“Over the winter, we set ourselves some extremely ambitious performance targets for MP4-26. Vodafone McLaren Mercedes are an uncompromising team and, as with every car we build, we tend to push development to the limit. In some cases, we’ve pushed over those limits, and the resulting lack of mileage has invariably eaten into our pre-season preparation.

“However, it’s called testing for a reason - and testing MP4-26 beyond its limit has, in some ways, been highly instructive. In actual fact, we’ve gathered a huge amount of useful data about the car, its handling characteristics and its management of the tyres. So while we’ve further fine-tuned the package for Melbourne, we’ve once again set ourselves some extremely tough targets for this opening race weekend.

“So, do I think our testing pace is representative of the pace we’ll show in Australia? No. Do I think we head into the weekend as race favourites? Unfortunately, no. But do I feel that we have the capacity to surprise a few people and be competitive? Very much so. As with everything we do at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, we never give up: we’re fighters - that’s the spirit that has won us 20 world championships in the past and which makes us a team you can never under-estimate.”

Michael Schumacher, Mercedes GP
2010 Qualifying - 7th, 2010 Race - 10th

"Australia has always been one of the highlights on the Formula One calendar in all my years of competing. It is the atmosphere which makes Albert Park so special, and when you see all of the fans having fun, that just gives you a great feeling of how motorsport can be. I am lucky enough to have a lot of good memories from Melbourne: it's a venue where I have won four times and those races will always be very special. I'm sure it will be a great weekend, and an exciting season-opener. I'm looking forward to getting to the paddock on Thursday.

"We are well prepared. All of the hard work over the winter will start to come together over the first few races and then we will know more about the position we are in, and what still needs to be achieved as Formula One never stands still of course. I feel very 'at home' with the team after one year of working together and this experience has really benefited our pre-season preparations."

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes GP
2010 Qualifying - 6th, 2010 Race - 5th

"I love visiting Australia and Melbourne is one of the most chilled-out cities on the calendar so it's a cool venue for the first race of the season. I'm travelling out early to get acclimatised to the time zone and am looking forward to training by the beach and relaxing in St Kilda in the evenings. The Australian fans are so enthusiastic which is great to see and it makes the atmosphere around Albert Park very special. The circuit holds some great memories for me from achieving my first podium here in 2008, and I have finished in the points in the last four races.

"We're in good shape. The team and car have progressed a lot over the winter, we're pleased with the performance from our upgrades and the car is handling well. Our aim is to make a good step forward from last season and I am confident that we will be able to achieve this."

Ross Brawn, Mercedes GP team principal
"This year marks our second season as Mercedes GP Petronas, and the team has made real progress over this period. With the support of Daimler, Aabar and our team partners, we are gaining strength from being a single entity and building the team that we want for the future.

"Our pre-season programme has gone as well as we could have wanted. However, as always, the first race will be the real measure of where we are in terms of competitiveness. Everyone is eagerly waiting to see how the grid shakes out in Melbourne, and wherever we find ourselves, we will respond accordingly. Our ability to react strongly has improved considerably over the past twelve months and we have a robust development plan in place for the season. 2011 will be the second season with our drivers, Michael and Nico, and this continuity, together with our well-established relationships, has enabled both the drivers and team to prepare well for the challenges ahead.

"I believe that we can expect a very exciting season in 2011. The strategic battle is going to be fascinating with the Pirelli tyres, combined with the new adjustable rear wing and the return of KERS, increasing the challenges for the teams and drivers, and hopefully providing lots of track action for the fans.

"The Australian Grand Prix is always a fantastic motorsport weekend, and with the added excitement of being the first race of the season this year, we are all looking forward to the racing starting again next week."

Norbert Haug, Vice-President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"It has been an intensive winter for Mercedes GP Petronas. We covered more than 5700 km during a total of 15 test days, which is the equivalent of more than 18 Grand Prix distances. The final test in Barcelona with our planned technical updates saw us take a step forward which is a tribute to the dedication and hard work of our whole team. There are still a lot of question marks about how the racing will unfold in 2011 with the new Pirelli tyres, the adjustable rear wing and the reintroduction of KERS. These are demanding challenges for the drivers, and Michael and Nico have done a good job mastering the new systems and understanding how to get the most out of the tyres.

"Melbourne holds many good memories for Mercedes-Benz, as the venue for our first modern era victory in 1997 with David Coulthard in a McLaren-Mercedes, and Albert Park has the knack of producing exciting races. Making predictions before the first Grand Prix of the season is certainly not what I want to do, but our target is clear from the first race: to improve on the position in which we finished our first season as Mercedes GP Petronas.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our hard-working team members in Brackley, Brixworth and Stuttgart for their relentless efforts since the final chequered flag of last season. The best reward for all of us would be to start the new season in a stronger position compared to 2010."

Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber
2010 Qualifying - 16th, 2010 Race - DNF

“Of course I was very worried about my country and so went to Japan after the Barcelona test. I must say the situation is really, really bad. So many have lost their lives, become homeless, are without food and water in the cold winter, and have lost their loved ones. It is difficult to believe that a scenario worse than in any movie has become reality. We need to stay together and we need help from all over the world. I am worried the whole country could disappear - it is just too awful. Since the earthquake and the tsunami news is getting worse every day, there is nothing positive to look forward to at the moment. I feel I have to do something, I want to help - but in fact there is nothing I can do by myself. I think at least for the time being what I can do is to be focused and fully concentrate on the season’s opening race in Melbourne. Originally I was looking forward to this with great joy. Now what I really want to do is my very best to achieve a good result, which perhaps can at least give the people in Japan a little bit of hope and positive news.”

Sergio Perez, Sauber
2010 Qualifying - n/a, 2010 Race - n/a

“Without a doubt I am also worried about the people in Japan, and I really wish them all the best. At the same time personally a dream is about to come true. I have dreamed for many years of competing in my first Formula One Grand Prix, and now it is going to happen. I am excited and I am very much looking forward to it. It will be a weekend during which I have to adapt quickly to many things - to the circuit, which is new to me, and to all the aspects of a grand prix weekend from free practice to qualifying and the race. I cannot imagine yet how it will be for me when the lights go out on Sunday, but I can’t wait to find that out. I have never been to Australia before. Of course, I have checked the circuit lay-out and other things. I understand it is a tough track, very challenging and not easy to find the limit, so it will be hard.”

James Key, Sauber technical director
“Everyone in the team is looking forward to starting the 2011 season in Melbourne. It’s a good track to go to for the first race. It will be interesting to see on how things develop on what could potentially be a higher track temperature, because this is something none of us have tested yet, and there are still a few unknowns in this respect. We will go with the specification of the car that we finished the Barcelona test with, with some final refinements to it after what we learned from that test.

“The format of the weekend will be somewhat different, given the fact the tyres are little less consistent than those we are used to, so this is something we need to optimize. With regard to the drivers, we’re obviously looking forward to working with Sergio at a F1 race weekend for the first time. He displayed some good progress during winter testing, and we hope we can transfer that directly to the first race weekend where the pressure of course is higher. I’m sure he can manage that. Unlike Sergio, Kamui doesn’t have to learn the track, so it will be more a case of car set up and general performance work for him. Particularly on Friday, it will be important to find the right direction. Considering the events in Japan, we know this will be a very difficult weekend for Kamui, but everybody in the team will give him all possible support.

“With regard to the track, Albert Park is half street circuit with stop start, some chicanes at the beginning and then a few medium to high speed corners in the latter part of the lap. It will be interesting because it tends to be a circuit that is hard on the rear tyres, whereas the ones we have been testing on were harder on the fronts. So the balance of the car could really change in Melbourne, and if the track temperatures are higher we’ll have to watch out for the rear tyres a little more than in testing, but this is part of the process. We go there as well prepared as possible.”

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