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Driver quotes ahead of opening race

Lewis Hamilton

There is no better place to begin the FIA Formula 1 World Championship than in Australia. The weather is fantastic, the facilities are excellent and the people of Melbourne make us all feel extremely welcome. Most importantly, everyone arrives with an air of enthusiasm and expectation. Despite weeks of winter testing, it’s still difficult to know exactly who has the best package, and finding out over the weekend in Albert Park is always fascinating. Perhaps Vodafone McLaren Mercedes doesn’t come to Melbourne with the same prospects to challenge at the front that we experienced in both 2007 and ’08, but the whole team will be working tirelessly to help us move back to the front.

Robert Kubica

I’m really looking forward to the Australian Grand Prix. I’m happy that the race season will finally get started and all the speculation of the pre-season testing will stop. It will be very interesting to see how competitive the teams really are.
I like street circuits in general, so Albert Park is one of my favourite race tracks. You have to be very precise. That applies to the whole circuit; you need to stay on the clean line. But this year precision will be especially important for the first corner after the start, when we will have our very first fight for position with the bigger 2009 front wings. I’m pretty sure it will be an interesting race. In addition, Melbourne is a very nice city and the people create a truly special atmosphere for all of us in Formula One.

Jarno Trulli

Melbourne is a great place to visit and the Australian Grand Prix is always good fun. As a Formula 1 driver you really want to race so I am pleased the season is starting and we can get on with the competition. I am totally fired up for this season and I am feeling very positive about our chances. The TF109 is the best Toyota I have driven in pre-season testing; it feels stable and gives the driver confidence but more importantly it seems to be pretty quick, even though it’s hard to make too many judgements based on testing. We made a big step last year, proving we can fight for podiums and finish regularly in the top six so I am hoping for another step forward this year. We have more experience now and the team has worked really hard for a long time on the TF109 – we are ready for the season and I am raring to go.

 

Jenson Button

[What are your thoughts ahead of the first race of the 2009 season?] The first race of the season is always an exciting weekend as none of the teams really know where their car is in performance terms until we hit the race track for the first time in competitive conditions. I am a big fan of Melbourne as a city and as the venue for the first race; it’s truly a great place to start the season. The race has a beautiful setting in Albert Park and it is a quick and fun circuit to drive with some very technical corners. I have always enjoyed driving there, particularly in qualifying where you can really get on it and nail a flying lap.
I will be arriving in Melbourne on Saturday to ensure that I have a few days to acclimatise to the time zone. I’ll be doing some fitness work with my physio in preparation for the race weekend, hopefully in the sunshine along the coast. We will also be linking up with some local triathletes to train with them and catching up with my former physio who is now based in Australia and some of the V8 Supercar drivers that he is working with for another intense training session.
I’m really looking forward to getting to Australia and the challenge of getting the best out of our new car over what looks to be a very exciting race weekend.

Timo Glock

 

It’s very exciting to be going to the first race this year because the big changes to the technical regulations for 2009 give Toyota a good opportunity to fight at the front. It’s really hard to predict because you don’t know what other teams are working on in testing but I know our programme and the results we have seen are very encouraging. Testing has gone really well and I have a good feeling for the new car. It’s a different emotion to be starting my second year with Toyota compared to 2008 because now I am much more familiar with the team and I feel I can really start the season strongly. Last year it took a few races to find the right direction for me in terms of set-up but I don’t expect that to be a problem this season. Australia is anyway one of my favourite places to visit so I can’t wait to get to Melbourne and get the season started.

Fernando Alonso

[Fernando, you ended the 2008 season strongly. Can you carry that form into 2009?] That is certainly our intention! We finished in a strong position last year and this year our goal is to fight for the championship. But we have lots of new regulations this year and nobody really knows what will happen when we get to Melbourne. From what we have seen in testing it seems all the teams are very close and so we will certainly have a fight on our hands.
[There has been less testing available this season, but are you pleased with the progress of the R29?] The first test in Portimao was tough as we had some bad luck with the weather, but when we introduced updates at the later tests we quickly improved the car. We’ve learnt how to optimise the set-up and we now have a car that is easy to drive and consistent. What is important now is that we keep improving and developing the car throughout the year.
[Are you excited about the new regulations introduced this season?] Yes, with the KERS and moveable wings the drivers now have more work to do inside the cockpit. During testing I have been working hard to adapt to these new systems so that I can get the most from them in Melbourne. I’m really pleased with the KERS system that we have developed and hopefully this will give us an advantage at the start of the season. I’m not sure if it will make overtaking easier, but it will certainly improve lap times.
[What are your expectations for Melbourne?] In the past Albert Park has been a good track for Renault and so I hope we can have a strong weekend. I think the order of the teams will probably be different from the last few years as we have got used to Ferrari and McLaren dominating, but with the new rules I think there will be lots of cars fighting for the win. Hopefully we will be in that fight.

 

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March 26, 2009 - Posted by | News articles | , , ,

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