Many of the teams on the grid are eager to put the first race of the season behind them and are hoping for a better time in Malaysia. Ferrari and tyre partner Bridgestone blew rivals off the track at Melbourne with their performance, leaving other competitors looking rather grim-faced. However, Ferrari may face stronger challenges at Sepang and the Michelin teams are keeping their fingers crossed for hot weather.
Williams finished fourth and fifth at the weekend and chief operations engineer Sam Michael believes Malaysia will show improvement: "The car has been good, the last couple of months of testing have been good, but obviously it's not quick enough," he said after Melbourne. "But things can turn around quickly and the worst thing you can do is give up. There's no doubt that in hotter conditions we perform better and hopefully Malaysia will bring that."
McLaren had a dismal time of things in Australia but David Coulthard, who finished eighth, is not giving up. He thinks Sepang will be better, although it may be another few races before McLaren really get going. "I like Malaysia, it's a fast challenging track and an enjoyable place to be," he commented. "I think we'll be more competitive there but its going to be a few races before we take the big step forward."
McLaren boss Ron Dennis cited tyre differences as a major factor at Melbourne: "It was a race which reflects a significant differential between one tyre manufacturer and another," he remarked.
Renault's Fernando Alonso was surprised by his third place finish in Australia but thinks the team can match the performance in Malaysia, after a good result there in 2003. "Last year, we were on the front row and scored a podium, so what reason is there to think we can't again this year?" said the Spaniard. "Our car is very well balanced, the engine powerful and solid. I think the Michelin tyres will be very competitive in a fortnight."
Michael Schumacher expects the second race of the season, where Ferrari has not always been strong, to give a clearer picture of the team's performance level compared to rivals. "As it is not optimum for us in Malaysia that shows us where we're going to be," he said. "If we can compete there then we are going to be looking very strong, but if we hang in behind then it maybe will be more tough."