After a long off season, the 2011 FIA Formula 1 World Championship is just over a week away from getting underway in Melbourne, Australia. Albert Park will be the host for the inaugural race of the season where the new regulations and new tyres will offer more overtaking and excitement. Due to the nature of the track, which includes consistent corners and short straights, drivers find it relatively fast and easy to drive. Albert Park will therefore provide the perfect setting for the start of the World Championship. Hispania Racing arrives in Australia eager to see the performance of the new F111 after it was unable to test in Barcelona due to external difficulties. Narain and Tonio step into the car hoping to keep progressing.
However, the joy and excitement of this new World Championship is overshadowed by the tragic events in Japan. Hispania Racing would like to express its condolences and share their support for Japan by sporting a Japanese flag on the car for the whole weekend.
Colin Kolles: “Albert Park is one of my favourite venues on the calendar. We will run our new car for the first time on Friday and hopefully there won’t be too many surprises. We are confident that our package is better, quicker and more reliable than last year’s. We have definitely taken a step forward.”
“What has happened in Japan is terrible. I would like to express that I was very shocked with what occurred. Japan is one of my favourite countries and I have a huge amount of respect for Japanese people and their culture. I am sure they will overcome this terrible situation.”
Narain Karthikeyan: “My first ever race in Formula 1 was here in Melbourne back in 2005 so it’s always a great feeling to be back. Even though it was disappointing to not be able to drive the new car in Barcelona, I’m sure the car is a significant step forward from last year’s. It certainly looks the business, we just have to wait until Friday morning in Melbourne to put it all into practice. I think Albert Park will be a great place to start off with the new F111 since it’s not a very demanding track. For a new and unproven car such as ours, I think that reliability is something we need to work on before we can start to extract the maximum performance, so I believe that if both cars finish the race, we will have had a satisfying weekend. Once Tonio and I have driven the car in Melbourne, we will both have a better understanding of what to expect for the rest of 2011.”“I have been very upset and disturbed by the news reports coming out of Japan over the past week. I raced in Formula Nippon in Japan in 2002 and made many friends there. I have spoken to some of them, and fortunately they are ok. My heartfelt sympathies go out to all the families affected by this tragedy. They are all in our hearts and minds.”
Vitantonio Liuzzi: “I’m feeling quite positive coming into the Australian Grand Prix. It’s a special grand prix where the Aussie fans always prove their love for motorsport and Formula 1 in particular, it would be a real shame if Melbourne decides to quit F1. Albert Park is a track I like, specially the first three corners where it is difficult to overtake but not impossible, you have to be impeccable in that section in order to do a good lap. It’s difficult to predict how the car will respond here since we didn’t get to test it in Barcelona, but I’m sure the areas we concentrated on developing will prove to be a significant improvement from last year’s car. The aim for the weekend is to come away with a clear picture of the car, making sure that all the new regulation items work well. If both cars make it to the checkered flag at the end with good pace and reliability then the weekend will have been a great success. Hopefully in this 2011 season we will take a giant leap forward and set some solid bases for the future.”
“This is a terrible thing for the Japanese population. I am shocked. I cannot watch TV anymore. I feel so sorry for all my friends there, but I am sure that they will come out of this situation stronger than ever. Hopefully they will be able to recover and limit the damage. They are a strong population and I am sure they will react soon because they have incomparable dignity and hopefully all the other nations will help in every way possible because this kind of event should make the world unite.”