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.
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.
Now that Lewis has won a world title some of the immense pressure is now lifted. No matter what happens now, he will always be referred to as a world champion. Had he lost last season’s title final, life would be feeling much tougher right now.
It is clear that Hamilton has enormous talent.
When he performs at his best he is one of the best out there, if not the best. However he still has many flaws. He makes silly errors, and can make life hard for himself. The pressure from outside can often get to him, and affect his driving.
In the future if he can cut all these flaws from his game, then more world titles will surely be won. At the moment though it’s looking like it could be a tough season for Lewis.
The Mclaren currently isn’t a front runner. On a positive note this is his key chance to prove the critics wrong. He can prove to them that his early success wasn’t just about having a quick car.
He can prove that he can drive a car further than it deserves to be, like all the greatest drivers in F1’s history. If he achieves that in 2009, his critics will have to start finally taking note.
If he struggles in a difficult car, it will only confirm their suspicions. This season will tell us plenty about Lewis’s ability, even if he is unable to defend his title. Can he battle hard from the midfield to score points? This is one of the most interesting sub plots of the 2009 season.
This is without a doubt a make or break year for Heikki. Last season he underperformed. There is no doubt the talent is there, but he has to seriously up his game. He can’t afford to be threatened by who his team mate is. He has to dig deep, and fight harder than ever before in 2009.
He needs to ensure, that he stakes his claim within the team right from the start of the season. He simply has to make a much better start to the season than he did last year. He can’t let all the momentum run Lewis’s way early on.
He needs to show Mclaren that they have two exceptional drivers, not just one. One thing that may swing in Heikki’s favour is that he has had experience of driving a difficult car (with Renault in 2007).
This may give a Heikki a small advantage over Hamilton. If Heikki doesn’t perform in 2009 his Mclaren career will surely be over. He simply has to give Lewis something to think about. Nothing less will be sufficient.