Australia preview quotes - Force India, Renault, Red Bull & more 13 Mar 2013
After months of preparation and weeks of testing, it is almost time for the 11 teams and 22 drivers that make up the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship to show just what they can do. Those involved look ahead to the season-opener - the 2013 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix at Melbournes picturesque Albert Park circuit...
Paul di Resta, Force India
2012 Qualifying - 15th, 2012 Race - 10th
"Its been a very positive winter probably the best winter I can remember while I have been with the team and Ive done as much preparation as I can both on and off the track. Its my third year as a race driver and Ive got the same team around me so I think that consistency will be very important this year. I think its only when we get to Melbourne that we will understand where we are compared to the other teams. You can look at the laptimes in testing, but everybody is focussed on their own programme so you cant make any assumptions. What we can say is that were determined to push on from where we finished last season and the target for Melbourne has to be reaching Q3 and racing for points."
Adrian Sutil, Force India
2012 Qualifying - n/a, 2012 Race - n/a
"2012 was an interesting year because I experienced life away from Formula One and in many ways it has given me a new perspective. I think it helped me grow as a person and I feel mentally stronger as a result. I feel fresh and energized, and ready for the season. When I was back in the car for the first time in Barcelona it felt natural almost as if I had never been away. I was back on the pace and able to push hard straight away. Ive only spent three days in the car during testing, but already Im feeling very comfortable. Its very driveable and the balance is good. There is still a lot I need to understand, especially in terms of the tyres, but were in a good place already. Its difficult to set a goal for this weekend, but my target for the season is to improve on my 2011 performance and aim for some podiums. So we need to start the year well, aim high and take our chances."
Vijay Mallya, Force India team principal
"Im really looking forward to the start of the season. Weve picked up points in Melbourne for the past couple of seasons so thats a clear objective for this coming weekend. Last year we had some of our best performances on street circuits, so Im optimistic we can perform well on the streets of Albert Park.I am very happy about our driver line-up and I am particularly delighted to welcome Adrian back to the team. Over the winter we thought long and hard about the decision, but Im sure we have made the right choice. Adrian is very quick and has a great history with the team - he has been with us from the very start and is truly part of the family. Everyone was impressed by his performance during winter testing in Barcelona: he was able to deliver great pace right away. Paul has matured into a very good driver and in his third season with us we are confident he will deliver the results his talent warrants. He has gelled with the team perfectly and following a strong winter he is well prepared for a great season. Adrian and Paul make up the driver pairing that brought us to our best-ever Championship result in 2011 and there is no reason why we cant have a similar result this year. The VJM06 has shown excellent reliability in winter testing. The rules havent changed much from 2012 and everyone in the team is confident we can pick up where we left off at the end of last season. The first race of the season on a track like Melbourne is always a lottery; if any of the front runners stumble, we will be ready to pounce."
Remi Taffin, Renault Sport F1 head of track operations
"Australia will be a stern test for everyone. The average speed round the circuit is towards the top of the table, particularly the quick section at the back that requires good top end speed. The corners are however medium speed so the circuit characteristic and resultant engine requirements will be similar to Valencia, with good driveability and responsiveness through the whole rev range required. These short bursts of acceleration greatly increase fuel consumption while placing the internals under intense pressure. Albert Park actually has one of the highest consumption rates per kilometre, so the starting fuel load is one of the heaviest of the year. With the added challenge of the low grip, delivering good stability and response will really make a difference to the overall lap time. This short winter break has actually been one of the busiest we have had in a long time. With this being the last season of the V8 engines, we are progressively migrating across to develop the V6 power unit. Naturally this puts the onus on providing a turnkey V8 service trackside and at the factory. With this in mind, we have worked hard to completely optimise our service and reliability. What we will see in 2013 is actually an evolution of the structures and changes put in place last year. This then allows us to be responsive enough to incorporate and positively influence developments throughout the year. Even with this being the final year of the V8s there are still areas to exploit and it is our aim to maximise every opportunity we have. We feel comfortable going into the season; weve covered a lot of miles with each of our teams and are looking forward to a positive and successful year for everyone."
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull
2012 Qualifying - 6th, 2012 Race - 2nd
"I like the beach and Melbourne is a great place to be. There's a nice vibe to the city and the food in the restaurants is always good - I like the track there too. Australia is an amazing country - it's great that you can see animals you'd only otherwise see in zoos, such as kangaroos and koalas; and the nature they have there is impressive with the outback. It's such a shame that I only get to see a small amount of the country - but each year I see a bit more, which I always enjoy. After testing it's good that now we finally get to go racing."
Mark Webber, Red Bull
2012 Qualifying - 5th, 2012 Race - 4th
"I've been on the podiums at most tracks around the world and have won at quite a few circuits and Melbourne is one which I would like to add to that. I really enjoy driving at the track, the atmosphere is fantastic. In general the people of Australia love the Grand Prix and are excited to have a world class event there. I'm proud when we go there with F1 as an industry and that we put on such a great event. Of course I want to go there and perform well, so I'll be focusing on myself to get the job done. The champagne will taste a little bit better in Melbourne if I get on the podium there."
Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus
2012 Qualifying - 18th, 2012 Race - 7th
Australia is a nice place even though its a long way from Europe. The circuit itself is not the most difficult on the calendar. It was good to score a point on my first time at Albert Park, and the podiums and race win in 2007 obviously made me happy. The circuit hasnt changed at all so Im confident I know which way it goes Its always difficult to say for the first race of the year. Its not a full time race track so the weekend starts pretty slippery. The weather can be a bit of a surprise sometimes and well also learn how we compare to the other teams. You need a car with good traction and the E21 feels better in this area than the E20 which wasnt a bad car itself. Strong turn-in and stable braking help too, and those areas also feel good with the car so we are well placed. Id like to start the season strongly and hopefully run the first races better than we did last year. We dont know exactly what to expect so well try to do the best we can; we should have a reasonable start to the season.
Romain Grosjean, Lotus
2012 Qualifying - 3rd, 2012 Race - DNF
Im really looking forward to the 2013 season; its been a good winter for us and we achieved quite a bit of what we wanted to do, even if the conditions were not always easy. Were ready for Albert Park, its one of my favourite Grand Prix circuits, so it will be good to get there, start the season and do the best that we can. Where do I hope to be in Australia? Ive been thinking about this quite a lot, but I really have no answer until we get to qualifying in Melbourne. Of course, we always want to be at the front; thats the aim, and well do the best that the car can do. As long as I perform to my best then I will be happy.
Eric Boullier, Lotus team principal
We can take quite a bit of confidence following pre-season testing. We didnt complete as many laps as we wanted and we did experience a few glitches both technical and physical, but despite this we were able to work through most of the items in our itinerary. We are confident that we have made a step forward compared to last year. I believe we have kept the main strength of the car from last year, which was very conservative on tyre wear and degradation, and weve proved our capability to deliver one lap pace which is important for qualifying.
James Allison, Lotus technical director
Right after three tests in a row you feel quite tired as its almost like three consecutive Grands Prix. Were a little frustrated about the amount of time we lost out on track, but were also excited, optimistic and looking forward to taking the car to Melbourne and seeing what we can do with it. I think that from right back in Jerez it was clear that there are a number of quick teams out there. I think it was also clear from the first test that we have the potential to be one of them and the evidence of our running so far hasnt done anything to dispel that. Well be in the hunt for podiums and very much looking for race wins. A good Albert Park would be a first row grid place from qualifying and a podium in the race. Its certainly possible.
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
2012 Qualifying - 1st, 2012 Race - 3rd
It's the start of a new season and the beginning of a new adventure for me with Mercedes AMG Petronas. I can't wait to get to Melbourne, get out on track and find out where we stand. The Australian Grand Prix is always an exciting race: the teams don't know how they compare in terms of performance, the fans are fantastic and, with big changes to the tyres again this year, we just don't know what will happen in the race. I love the circuit. It's a street track with a really bumpy surface so you try and put as much downforce on the car as possible and it really puts the drivers to the test. We had a good, reliable car during winter testing so that's the positive we can take with us into the weekend but we know that in terms of performance, everything begins again from zero in Friday practice. So let's get Down Under, get racing and see how things turn out.
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes
2012 Qualifying - 6th, 2012 Race - 12th
Melbourne is a great place to kick off the new Formula One season. I really like the city and the Australian fans at the circuit are always fantastic and so supportive. The first Grand Prix is where everyone finds out where they really are and we can judge how well we have done against our competition as the times in winter testing just don't tell the full story. The weather in Melbourne looks very hot at the moment which is going to be a tough challenge as we have no experience with the F1 W04 in those conditions. Tyre degradation will be the biggest issue for everyone so we need to look at that carefully and do a good job in managing it. I'm really looking forward to next weekend and getting the season underway.
Ross Brawn, Mercedes team principal
The start of a new Formula One season is always an intense but exciting time for the team. Our factories in Brackley and Brixworth have been buzzing with activity with both Nico and Lewis visiting to complete their final preparations on the simulator, and the team working to finish the cars, engines and pack the freight for the four flyaway races coming up. The first race is where we can really begin to assess our competitive position and how much of a step forward we have made with our new Silver Arrow. We had a successful pre-season testing programme and personally, I am pleased with the progress we have made, both with the car and in terms of how we operate as a team. However, testing is simply that; racing is a completely different situation and Melbourne will see much higher track temperatures and more varied conditions than we have experienced so far. We're looking forward to the challenge and to the action starting in Melbourne next weekend.
Toto Wolff, Mercedes team executive director
When it comes to starting a new season, it's only facts that count - everything else is simply speculation. The facts are that we had a good winter test programme, completed the second highest mileage of any team and made some good progress. Lewis and Nico are working well together and there is a positive dynamic in the team, from the factory to the track. So we head to Australia well prepared. But we know, too, that we will be running in very different temperatures, on a different track surface and that every team will have to finally lay their cards on the table in qualifying on Saturday. Only then can we have a first indication of where we stand in terms of performance. It may sound clichéd but our goal is simply to perform as well as possible. We know that we must go forward from last season and we are proud to be representing Mercedes-Benz on the global stage. Now we have to live up to that standard.
Pastor Maldonado, Williams
2012 Qualifying - 8th, 2012 Race - 13th
We have been working extremely hard over the winter to improve the performance of the car and we have noticed good potential in the recent tests in Barcelona. Ive been involved with the FW35 build since the start of the project in early 2012, working with the engineers, design office and the technicians in the wind tunnel to push for improvements on all fronts. Obviously we dont know what other teams have done and you can only learn so much during testing, but we expect to be more competitive than last year. I like street circuits so I always enjoy coming to Australia and now I just want to start the season and find out where we stand.
Valtteri Bottas, Williams
2012 Qualifying - n/a, 2012 Race - n/a
We have had a good winter at the factory and the car showed strong reliability and performance during testing. The FW35 feels like a new car in comparison to the FW34, behaving and responding differently around the track to the car I was driving on Friday mornings last year and Im impressed with the improvements the team have made. The winter has seen me preparing hard for the demands of driving a full race which I havent done before in Formula One. However, Ive always done a lot of fitness training and have driven a lot of miles over the past few years with the team, so Im feeling fully prepared. The first Grand Prix of my career is a big thing for me and I cant wait for the lights to go out in Melbourne and see how the FW35 performs against the competition.
Mike Coughlan, Williams technical director
We had a successful winter test and are continuing to look at all the data we gathered. Following this, we have some further aero tests planned for Friday with both drivers in Australia. The results so far have been interesting and so well make our final decision on Friday evening as to what we will run over the weekend. In either case, we feel we have two strong aero packages, each with their own benefits, and so the nature of the circuit and temperatures we find will dictate which package we choose. Melbourne is a high power sensitivity circuit, more so than Spa-Francorchamps which is quite surprising. Ambient temperatures can be very high, fuel consumption is high and there is increased brake wear. The ambient temperatures in Jerez and Barcelona are very different to what we expect to find in Australia, so well be looking very closely at tyre degradation during practice on Friday. Overall, we are very much looking forward to the start of the season as we have confidence in the FW35.
Nico Hulkenberg, Sauber
2012 Qualifying - 9th, 2012 Race - DNF
Finally the start of the season is coming closer. I left Europe yesterday. Im really looking forward to this race, as Australia is always one of my favorite Grands Prix, and Melbourne has a very special atmosphere, so Im keen to be there. I also like the track which is not a permanent circuit. We are driving around a lake in a park and, especially during the drivers parade, you feel very close to the fans. The track itself is very challenging for the drivers. It has got a lot of bumps and you have to know how best to deal with them. In terms of competitiveness, the final Barcelona test showed we are quite well prepared but still have some homework to do, and that we still have room for improvement in certain areas. But Im confident the baseline is good. Im really looking forward to racing against the usual grid and finally get a clear picture of where everybody stands with regard to performance.
Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber
2012 Qualifying - n/a, 2012 Race - n/a
"Now we have finalised the pre-season testing, I feel very grateful for the work of every team member and the opportunity to get up to speed with the basics of F1. Melbourne will be my first race in F1 and I'm sure it will be very special. Its a track that I dont know, but Im confident I will be able to learn it quickly in the free practice sessions. Competing in a Formula One race is the next step in my career, and thats what I need to focus on. One of the things that I need to do is feel natural and relaxed in my surroundings so I can focus on the most important elements during the weekend. I feel I have a good base for the start of the season, but, of course, I will keep on working as I have areas where I can improve. My goal is to exploit the cars potential and finish consistently within the points."
Tom McCullough, Sauber head of track engineering
We have had a very productive pre-season test programme completing 5,308 km, which is a credit to all those involved with the design, manufacture and operation. Nico and Esteban have quickly settled into their new working environment and have already established strong working relationships within the team, which is very important. You never know exactly where you sit compared to the other teams during winter testing, but importantly the C32 has performed as expected which is encouraging. Melbourne is a typical street circuit with significant track evolution. It is very important to have good braking stability and a car that performs well in the low to medium speed corners. The layout of the track also requires the car to have a good change of direction. It will be interesting to see how the new generation medium and supersoft Pirelli tyres perform at a track with less high-speed corners than our two test tracks. It is important we maximise our full potential from the start of the season, as all the signs are that the grid will continue to be close. Overall the whole team is confident and looking forward to getting out there and starting the 2013 racing season.
Jenson Button, McLaren
2012 Qualifying - 2nd, 2012 Race - 1st
Wow, I cant believe its come around already! It seems like only last week that I was standing on top of the podium in Sao Paulo; I really cant believe that were all getting ready to board flights to Australia. It feels incredible - the time has gone by so quickly. But they say time flies when youre having fun, and Ive had a fantastic winter: Ive never stopped training and working, and I feel incredibly fit and focused ahead of this new season. One of the most fascinating things about Formula One is the way it resets itself each and every winter. Ive seen every side of that: you can have a terrible winter of testing, then turn up at the first race and be competitive; equally, you can look impressive in winter testing and be nowhere in Melbourne. If youre lucky, it all comes together in the tests and you hit the ground running at the first race. That's always the goal. This year, I dont think any team really knows or understands the competitive order. Its been an extremely hard-to-read winter: varying fuel-loads and levels of tyre degradation mean that its hard to accurately predict wholl arrive in Australia with the best-sorted car. But thats part of the game. The start of a new season is always exciting as its the culmination of months of hard work and planning. Ive had some great experiences in Melbourne, having won the race three times, and I love the place. There isnt a better location in the world to be kicking off what will no doubt be a fiercely competitive world championship.
Sergio Perez, McLaren
2012 Qualifying - 17th, 2012 Race - 8th
Its been an incredibly busy winter. Joining Vodafone McLaren Mercedes was always going to be a massively significant step in my career, but I immediately started to appreciate what makes this team such a consistent winning force: the dedication, motivation and attention to detail is like nothing Ive ever experienced before. Of course, for me, there has been the additional challenge of getting to know a new car and new engineering systems, and learning the names and roles of the many people I work closely with in the organisation. But its never stopped being fun and I can already appreciate how useful that learning will be when I arrive in the pit garage in Melbourne to drive the car in a grand prix weekend for the first time. On top of all my acclimatisation, our winter has been extremely busy: theres always a lot of work to do when you make significant changes to the car, and having only 12 days to iron out every single issue is never easy. However, weve had a productive three weeks of testing and were using every available opportunity to further refine the car before Melbourne. For me, arriving in Melbourne as a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver will be an incredible honour. Ive never worked harder over a winter to be ready for the new season, and Im confident Ive done everything within my reach to be ready. Now all Im waiting for is for the red lights to go out next Sunday afternoon!
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
In the days leading up to the Australian Grand Prix, its fair to say that every team member of every Formula One team is looking over the precipice, balancing their hopes and fears, their nerves tensed in anticipation for the long slog ahead. Its a tantalising prospect - and its one that keeps everyone who loves our sport coming back for more. At Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, weve faced a challenging few weeks prepping our new MP4-28 for the 2013 season. The often cold and sometimes wet conditions we experienced during pre-season testing in Barcelona and Jerez made it difficult to operate the tyres consistently within their optimal performance window. That issue, combined with a handful of typical testing setbacks, gave us a few headaches, but as ever our engineers and mechanics did extremely well to complete as much useful running as they did. Well done, boys. But it was much the same for all the teams. As a result, anyone who says they already know in what order the cars will line up on the Albert Park starting grid on Sunday March 17th is a soothsayer of rare ability. Indeed, in truth, even after qualifying on Saturday March 16th, no team principal will be genuinely confident of his cars race-spec performance relative to that of his principal opposition until the flag drops and the proverbial stops. In addition to that motor racing truism, its important to remember that our MP4-28 is a new and uncompromising design that we intend to develop aggressively throughout the year. Undoubtedly, it has great potential - and we fly to Melbourne determined to show well and to score points that should establish us in good stead for both the drivers and the constructors world championships. Were still working tirelessly to bring more pace to the MP4-28s performance envelope, and I believe well arrive in Australia in decent shape. Having said that, we at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes never under-estimate our competitors, and were certainly not under-estimating them now. As I say, the MP4-28 is a new and uncompromising design, and I have great confidence that our design, development and engineering teams will work tirelessly to shave tenths off its lap times for Melbourne, and for Sao Paulo, and for everywhere in between.
Charles Pic, Caterham
2012 Qualifying - 22nd, 2012 Race - 15th
Im looking forward to returning to Melbourne, this time for my first race with Caterham F1 Team and I think its going to be a good weekend. Melbourne itself is a very nice city. Its good to go from the end of the cold European winter to the hotter weather of Australia and even though the hours you spend flying mean you arrive feeling a bit destroyed, its the same for everyone and Im feeling good physically and mentally so it wont be an issue. The circuit itself is very cool. Its quick but as its a temporary street circuit the cars run with high downforce and its a good challenge to get a really clean lap in. FP1 is always quiet as the track is very green for the early part of the session, but it evolves a lot over the weekend and you need to time your qualifying lap right to make the most of the rubber thats being laid down. After the tests were definitely ready to start racing. We have a good idea of where were going to start out and I think we have a very interesting season ahead of us. Whatever happens, Im enjoying myself in Caterham and its great to be part of a team that has such an exciting future ahead.
Giedo van der Garde, Caterham
2012 Qualifying - n/a, 2012 Race - n/a
Honestly I cant wait to get started. Melbourne will be my first Grand Prix start and, even though its taken a while to reach this point, Im completely prepared and really looking forward to getting back to racing. Having spent a lot of time with the team last year nothing was new to me when I moved up to the race driver position, but its still a different world, being a race driver rather than a reserve, but Im enjoying every minute. I finished off 2012 with a win in Singapore, and, while were all realistic enough to know were not going to be fighting at that end of the grid, I also know I want to be in the right position to take advantage of anything that comes my way when the lights go out. Over the season, I know Spa is going to be a great race as its so close to home, but for me the most exciting moment of 2013 will be when the lights go out in Melbourne and everything Ive dreamed of for so long comes true. Ive worked hard all winter and in the tests to prepare myself and Im ready, physically and mentally. Before it all gets serious in Australia I also want to take this chance to thank everyone who has helped me reach this stage of my career. McGregor have played a big role in helping me become and F1 driver, so thanks to everyone there, and thank you to all the people at Leafield. Caterham F1 Team is a family, a very cool group of people who have a long-term plan that will come true, and if I can help the whole team achieve its goals then that would be a good way of saying thanks.
Cyril Abiteboul, Caterham team principal
Australia will be a proud moment for the whole team. 2013 is our fourth year in F1, the first with our new livery and the first season start since we moved into Leafield. On the surface it may look like were starting 2013 in a similar position to 2012, but inside the team it is very different. We have a base in Oxfordshire in which we now control all elements of the design and production in-house. The wind tunnel we use has been upgraded to meet our exact specifications and is now producing results that turn into definite improvements. We are continuing to improve the efficiencies and working practices within the team so we can compete both on track and as a viable business with a secure long-term future and we are bringing in talented people at all levels to keep pushing us forwards. We also have two new drivers for 2013, Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde. Both are young, determined to succeed and eager to help the team achieve its goals. At the end of 2012 we were a central part of the F1 show, and I have told both drivers to be ready to be part of the show in 2013, maybe not right at the start, but with what we have coming to the car during the season, we can be confident that we are going to attract interest in us, for the right reasons. We have the facilities, we have the people and we have the infrastructure we need to take the next step forwards. We will do that in a calm, measured way, one that is grounded in a realistic view of the highly competitive world in which we operate, but we will do it with the greatest possible level of energy, passion and enthusiasm. It feels like the 2012 season finished only yesterday, but we cannot wait to start racing again!
Jules Bianchi, Marussia
2012 Qualifying - n/a, 2012 Race - n/a
So much has happened over the past couple of weeks that its difficult to get my head around the fact that I am about to begin my Formula One racing career in Melbourne next weekend. I guess excitement is the only emotion Ive had time to experience, there has been so much to do and so many people to meet. Things happen for a reason and I feel confident that we are going to have a very positive season together. There is a nice and positive vibe about the Team and good signs from the work that has been done with the MR02. In the short period of time that I was driving the car in Barcelona last week, I felt very comfortable based on my previous experiences with other F1 cars I have driven, so Im excited to see what we can achieve in the first few races.
Max Chilton, Marussia
2012 Qualifying - n/a, 2012 Race - n/a
I cant wait for Australia and the start of my debut season. The past few weeks of pre-season testing have flown by, but Ive spent a lot of time in the car working on so many different things that I feel totally prepared for what lies ahead now. We gathered a lot of information with the MR02 in Jerez and Barcelona and at every stage it has been possible to see the benefit of all that learning and development. I hope to continue that in the opening races. I think we have a good car for Melbourne but it is vital that we keep pushing forward. Its my first time in Australia, so Im looking forward to the experience of Albert Park and the rest of the city, as Ive heard so many great things about the place and the atmosphere. Its going to be quite a weekend.
John Booth, Marussia team principal
Although certain aspects of our winter were quite challenging, the overwhelming feeling we take into the Australian Grand Prix is great optimism. In many ways we are in our best shape ever as a Team and everyone is thriving on that and looking forward to what we hope will be a positive 19-race journey ahead. Our new package has performed well in pre-season testing, with encouraging signs in terms of performance and reliability. We also have two very exciting young drivers in the car. Whilst they are both F1 rookies, their combined depth of experience rising through the ranks in the junior formulae and in F1-supported young driver programmes leaves them well-placed for their debut season. It is still too early to fully appreciate the progress we have made for 2013, as that wide picture has a habit of revealing itself in Melbourne, but we make the long journey there this weekend feeling confident in our direction.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director
After 12 days of pre-season testing we finally get to go racing with our 2013 compounds. They were developed over the course of the last season in private testing and they are the most focussed and performance-orientated tyres we have ever made. Cold weather conditions during pre-season testing meant that we werent able to showcase them to the best of their abilities, but we are expecting a different story in Albert Park, with two to three pit stops per car. The start of any new season is always a very exciting time and from what we have observed during pre-season testing the field seems to be closer than ever: quite an achievement when you consider that we had seven different winners from the first seven races last year. All the compounds and constructions have changed for 2013, and the drivers should notice a wider working range and a bigger window of peak performance. The performance gaps between the compounds are also larger, which means that teams have a greater opportunity to use strategy to their advantage by exploiting the consequent speed differentials.
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