When: Friday 25 to Sunday 27 March, 2011
Where: Albert Park, Melbourne
Round: 1 of 19
Rubens Barrichello: Everyone is doubly excited about the first race as we should already have been racing by now. It was great to get more time at home with the kids but I want to get started and can’t wait to see the red lights go out in Melbourne and for the season to be officially underway. It is always an exciting moment when everyone lines up on the grid with no points on the board. I always fantasise a little about what could be, but I keep my feet on the ground and focus on the race ahead. I am absolutely looking forward to getting to Australia.
Pastor Maldonado: I feel more than ready to start my first season in Formula One. I have never been to Melbourne before but we’ve done a good amount of testing which will add to the time I have spent learning the circuit in our simulator. I am now just looking forward to going racing. It will be a very exciting moment. My aim this weekend is to get a solid finish, and to score some points.
Sam Michael, Technical Director: Melbourne is a typical street circuit. It will be interesting to go there for the first time with Pirelli tyres, although there should be less stress on the tyres there than there has been at some of the higher speed test tracks we have been to so far. Albert Park evolves over the course of the weekend because the circuit is made up of predominantly public roads. This means that the track is slippery at the start of the weekend, but grip levels improve as rubber is put down on the racing line, largely done through all the practice sessions which help to clear oil and contaminants from the surface.
The FW33 is fully prepared for the first race of the season. Regarding the aero package, we have all the parts that we ran on the final days of testing in Barcelona, plus a few additional changes that we will test on Friday. The main focus over the course of the first few races is, of course, performance, but also to ensure that the car is reliable. We will also find out where we sit in the order. Overall, we are just looking forward to getting out there and going racing again!
From Cosworth’s perspective: As a circuit, Albert Park is very enjoyable, flowing and quite straight-forward on engine demands. It is a street race, though, which usually means a lot of debris on the track, such as rubbish or leaves, and that can have an adverse effect on the cooling systems as the race progresses. The race is high fuel consumption per kilometre which means that cars run one of the highest fuel loads of the season to compensate. Wet weather and safety car incidents, both of which are quite common in the Australian Grand Prix, can help manage fuel consumption and safety car periods can often dictate race strategy.
You could risk running lighter on fuel on the off chance that a safety car appears but if it fails to materialise there is a downside of having to run 'lean' for the entire race. On an engine severity scale, Albert Park is about middle of the range but the fact that it is the first race of the season means that this race will be the first time that the KERS-adapted CA2011k engine is run in anger over a full race weekend.
From Pirelli’s perspective: Here we are, at the start of what is a brand new adventure for us and all the teams. We’re very much looking forward to it, even though Australia is going to be somewhat different to the conditions we have experienced in official testing, with a more abrasive surface and higher temperatures. Despite that, we’ve seen that a number of teams already have a clear idea of the different strategies possible and Williams is certainly one of those. It’s obvious that there’s a lot of experience within the team, which will be a very useful resource.