How would you summarise the opening day here in Melbourne?
We had a difficult start to the first session with only Nico able to complete any useful running. However, these kinds of problems are part of the game with new technology. The team did a good job to prepare for Free Practice Two and we recovered well in the second session. Overall, I think we saw a lot more laps today, from a lot more cars, than many people had expected. That made it a good day for this new era of Formula One.
How satisfying was it to see the two Silver Arrows at the front of the pack this afternoon?
If you just look at Free Practice Two and analyse that, it was quite satisfying. Over a single lap the pace was good and our long runs looked strong as well. But we saw how quickly things can fall away. In Free Practice One, Lewis went out and after just half a lap the car had stopped. You need to be very careful. It’s enough to have just a small problem for your race or qualifying session to be over.
With both drivers so close in performance, have team orders been discussed?
Yes, we have had those conversations and I think it’s important to do so. Our drivers are not only very fast but also very intelligent. They have known each other for quite a long time and have been team-mates before back in their karting days. They treat each other in a very fair way. We went through some of the scenarios and I think we’re in a good place.
The sound of the new Power Unit has received a mixed reception so far: do you see this as an issue?
If we were here purely to make an impressive sounding engine then we would go back to the V10 or V12 format. This is modern technology: downsizing is the motto and I think we need to accept that the formula has changed. These cars will be quicker than the previous era in a few races and we’re going to get used to the sound, so I’m sure next year people will not notice the difference.
What are your thoughts on the double points debate?
When this concept was decided upon, we didn’t place too much emphasis on it as we didn’t think it would cause such drama. It’s clear that we have to support the commercial rights holder and if the TV audience is dropping, I think we have an obligation to listen. There has been some negative reaction to the idea and this was perhaps not what we expected but nothing has changed since then. The last race remains as a double points round so we’ll see what happens next year.