FIA press release
Drivers - Charles Pic (Marussia), Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus), Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso), Jenson Button (McLaren), Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull), Mark Webber (Red Bull).
Q: Charles, it's looking like a pretty tough initiation for you into Formula One with no testing of the new car, brand new car tomorrow. Tell us what your thoughts are.
Charles Pic: Yes, we have had not so much driving but we made an ad day in Silverstone for the shakedown and everything went fine. So looking forward to tomorrow and hopefully it will be dry to have some kilometres.
Q: Charles, how important has it been to have the mileage in the old car?
CP: Yeah, very important. I made two days in Barcelona. We were able to make many laps so it was just great for me. It was very, very helpful.
Q: Was it a big step up from GP2 to Formula One?
CP: Yes, of course, you have much more things to do and you have to understand in a very short space of time.
Q: Kimi, welcome back. How much has Kimi changed in the two years that you've been doing WRC? And how much has your driving changed during that time?
Kimi Raikkonen: Oh, I don't know really. I don't think a lot, a little bit older, that's all. It's the same really.
Q: Has it been good to be back in a Formula One car again?
KR: Yeah, it was nice. It really hasn't changed a lot, the car feels pretty similar, the tyres are slightly different but I was expecting to have more difficulties with them but they seem pretty good, especially when they are new - but of course they will wear out a bit faster but it's been nice to drive.
Q: We've seen pretty good pace from you and Romain Grosjean your team-mate, how real is that pace?
KR: We could probably have gone a bit faster if we wanted but I don't know what the others are doing. The car feels good, the lap time at least in testing was OK - whether it's enough we will see over the weekend and over the next races but so far it has been OK.
Q: Daniel, obviously your home race, how big is this race? Was your first Formula One race bigger or is this it?
Daniel Ricciardo: I think the first one last year in Silverstone was still pretty hectic. I think not having the preparation as I have at the start of this year probably made it a bit more intense. I've had a lot of media attention the last couple of days but I think the on-track stuff was, or will be, more intense in Silverstone. But yeah, I understand what Mark means about the attention here. It's pretty full-on but it's been nice, really supportive. And hopefully I'll just get out on track and do a good job over the weekend.
Q: You're obviously with a new team with Scuderia Toro Rosso and in testing it looked as if it's pretty good, certainly the first test looked pretty good, perhaps less so since then. What are your feelings about the team?
DR: It's a good opportunity for me this year, it's progress from last year and we'll be fighting further up the grid. I think it's hard to know where we are. From what I see the top teams are still going to be more or less the top teams or at least the top two or three but the midfield does seem a bit more tight. So yeah, I think everyone showed signs of potential but until Saturday qualifying and Sunday racing we probably won't know where we all really stand. But I think realistically we're still in the group we were in last year but it does seem like it's closed up. So there's probably more opportunity to leapfrog a few.
Q: Mark, your 11th Australian Grand Prix - just to remind you if you didn't know - and also of course you were the winner of the last grand prix as well, though it was some time ago, how are you feeling coming into this one?
Mark Webber: Good, yeah! We had a pretty good winter, the team worked incredibly hard so we need to see how it's going to unveil this weekend obviously, and then Malaysia is just around the corner, so we have two big races, we're going to get a really good snapshot of the performances of the cars, and we feel like we've done pretty well but we have McLaren and Ferrari and Lotus and Mercedes, lots of good guys doing well so it's going to be very exciting and difficult to see who's going to do the business until we get going.
Q: As an honest opinion, is it nervousness or excitement or apprehension - how do you start a new season like this?
MW: Probably a little bit of all of that. I think there's a little bit of rust in all the teams, obviously we haven't raced for a while so you're looking at pit stops and strategy and drivers because we haven't competed for a while. So, that's always interesting to get on top of that at the first grand prix. I think we're all just looking forward to getting our helmets on and getting on with it now. Obviously we've been talking about it for nine weeks now, about who's doing what and we're just sick of talking about it and want to get out there and get on with it.
Q: Sebastian, a previous winner here and twice on pole. How much emphasis has there been in testing on qualifying pace? We get the feeling that we haven't seen qualifying pace in testing and yet I would have thought for you it was very important last year in the races that you won.
Sebastian Vettel: I think, no doubt, qualifying is always very important. It's usually easier when you start from the front so yeah, I think generally as the other drivers said already it was difficult to read testing one hundred per cent - so we've got a feeling: first of all it's important to have a good feeling about yourself, about the car, how you feel in the car. We were quite happy with that, surely it didn't always go to plan but overall we can be happy and as I said it's unknown at this stage what is going to happen. It's good to finally be here and only a couple of days before we really find out.
Q: When is going to be the first indication? Very often people say 'you won't know until Melbourne' and then we get to Melbourne and they say 'wait until qualifying' or then it's the race. When exactly is it?
SV: It's the same again. I think nothing has changed to be honest. Now, we say after qualifying we will know a bit more and surely then you need to see. This is the first race, there are many more to come. This track is very different to, let's say, a 'normal' race track, such as the track we have been to a couple of weeks ago in Barcelona. So, tomorrow we will not know that much more regarding the pace. Surely the guys who will be on top will be the ones to beat. Again, we will give you the same answers. You don't know about fuel etc. Really, we have to wait until Saturday and then it's the first couple of races that will show you a trend. Sooner than that is really not possible.
Q: Quite a lot has been made about you chasing a third title. Have you thought about that at all?
SV: I'm here to win the championship, so that's the target. Whether it's the third or not wouldn't make a difference. Well, it would but… it would be a nice thing but as I said the reason we're here is to race and to win and the season is long, so there are a lot of races to come.
Q: Jenson, like Sebastian and Kimi you've won here before, you've had two wins actually. You made your debut here as well. What are your feelings about the Australian Grand Prix?
Jenson Button: First of all, I think it's exciting for us all to start a new season. You do all the hard work over the winter of testing and what have you, and I think we all get very excited about coming to the first race in Melbourne. It's the perfect place to start the F1 season. It's good to be here. I've always enjoyed driving around Albert Park from the first time I drove here, and there have been a couple of special occasions for me, in '09 and 2010. It's nice to be back and nice to come here having had a good winter as well. The last couple of years have been a little bit tricky for us over the winter but this winter everything seems to have gone to plan. It's difficult to know where we stand, as everyone has said, but I'm happy with what we've done.
Q: And at least you're going to hit the ground running at the start?
JB: We hope so, yes. You know, everyone always says it's important to get points on the board at the start of the year. We all know that, it's not a new thing.
Q: What do you think about having two DRS zones here this year?
JB: I think it's great. If you have a good DRS system it's good for you and ours is pretty good. You always think that if you're quick enough you don't want DRS because you're leading the race but if you're a little bit further back in the pack it's good to have two zones. Whether it's going to make much of a difference I don't know. The one DRS zone here (last year) was… some of us complained that it wasn't good enough to overtake but I think it was the right amount. It made overtaking tricky, which is what it should be, but it gave you the opportunity. So we'll have to wait and see what the two zones do.