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."

Heikki Kovalainen

"I had a great race in Melbourne last year on my debut for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. It's a track I love -- a circuit that you really have to attack with a lot of enthusiasm if you are to get the best from the car. The fast esses at the back of the circuit are probably the most demanding corners -- getting it just right is a hugely satisfying feeling. Elsewhere, I enjoy the 'back to school' feeling of the new season -- you meet up with everybody, share your stories from the winter and look forward to another good season. Everybody in our team is really motivated and, while we probably won't start the season as favourites, we will work around the clock to get back there."

Martin Whitmarsh, team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

"We go into the start of the 2009 season fully aware that we do not yet have the technical package that will allow our drivers to fight at the front. In Formula 1, there is nowhere to hide: that's what makes our sport so demanding and yet so endlessly fascinating. And as a team that goes grand prix racing with the expectation of winning races and challenging for world championships, we therefore go to Melbourne with realistic expectations. Nonetheless, we begin our season with huge determination to re-assert ourselves at the front and we will not rest for a moment until we have done that. Most importantly, we haven't forgotten how to win."

Norbert Haug, Vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

"Melbourne is the city where -- 12 years ago -- McLaren-Mercedes achieved their first of 58 grand prix wins since then. After a total of four victories at Albert Park, this time it may not be possible to repeat Lewis's success of last year. Considering our test results we will not be as competitive at the season opener as we intend to be, and so I do not expect a qualifying result at the front of the grid. However, we will all work hard to return to the front as soon as possible and in Melbourne everybody in the team is fully motivated to do everything to achieve the best possible result."

Albert Park track facts

Length 5.303 km/3.295 miles
McLaren-Mercedes in Melbourne: four victories. 12 podium finishes.
Race distance 307.574 km/191.110 m
Laps 58
Number of corners 16
Lap record M Schumacher 1m24.125s (2004)
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes in Australia 2008:
- pole position and victory for Lewis
- fastest lap for Heikki (fifth).
2008 fastest lap Heikki Kovalainen 1m27.418s
First Australian GP 1985
First GP in Melbourne 1996

-credit: mclaren