After a five-month break, the FIA Formula One World Championship swings back into action with the first race of the 2007 season, the Australian Grand Prix. The Spyker Formula One Team goes to the opening race in buoyant mood, after the new driver line-up, chassis and engine proved to be an efficient and reliable package in pre-season testing.
The Australian Grand Prix will mark the race debut of the new Spyker F8-VII, which completed over 6,000km in its pre-season testing programme without any major problems. While the team has realistic expectations of performance relative to the rest of the field, there is every reason to be optimistic for the coming season. With significant aerodynamic updates planned from the second race of the season, the team aims to make steady, but measurable progress, from Australia onwards.
Christijan Albers remains with the team for a second season to give stability and consistency in development and is joined by Grand Prix novice Adrian Sutil, from Germany. With three Friday drives behind him last season, Adrian has continued to equip himself well for his Grand Prix debut by accumulating over 2,400 kilometres in pre-season testing.
Christijan and Adrian are joined this year by a quartet of test drivers; Fairuz Fauzy from Malaysia, Dutchman Giedo van der Garde, Adrian Valles from Spain and Germany's Markus Winkelhock. This time out in Australia, Markus will be the team's reserve driver after getting his first taste of the F8-VII at a final shakedown in Silverstone on Tuesday 6 March.
Colin Kolles, team principal and managing director:
"Seeing a Spyker in the new livery on the grid in Melbourne will make me very proud. In the six months since Spyker came on board, we have signed a brand new engine supplier, one of the most accomplished technical personnel in the paddock and have doubled our aerodynamic resources. The partnership is already working very well; running 6,000km straightaway without issues in testing is a major accomplishment. We hope this reliability will continue into Australia and we can run with the rest of the competition."
Mike Gascoyne, chief technical officer:
"After a long winter of testing and development, it's always exciting to be get out again at the first Grand Prix of the season. From our point of view, testing went very well, the car is reliable and did not demonstrate any mechanical problems, the cooling is well under control and we really can be optimistic about the coming year."
"Performance-wise, we've always said we were going to be at the back of the grid, but we feel we'll be pretty close to the group in front of us now. For Malaysia too we're expecting a significant aero update, so for Australia the goal is to get both cars to the finish and to be as close to the pack in front as possible. With the new developments, hopefully by Malaysia we'll be racing them."
"I've been pleased with the testing so far this year. We might not have done a lot of testing relative to other teams, but we have progressed perhaps more than any other team has done in the same space of time. The car is reliable and the balance is getting better all the time; now we understand the performance of the tyres more, we can really concentrate on getting a good set-up. It's not going to be an easy start to the year - we will have to push to get to the other teams, but that's what we're in Formula 1 to do. We've got to push ourselves to do the best we can."
"Melbourne will be my first-ever Grand Prix, so there is certainly some excitement and maybe a few nerves - but that's good, at least the adrenaline is going! Over the winter testing period I've been trying hard to get as much mileage as possible so I will be as prepared as I can be for my first race. I've tried to learn from my engineers and understand the car; I want to finish the race and build on a solid performance in future Grands Prix."