The Australian Grand Prix is always an exciting race and the fans are fantastic. They love their motorsport, so it’s an event that every driver looks forward to. I’m excited about the new season not just as a driver but as a fan. As a fan, you want to see overtaking throughout the field, you want to see different race winners, you want to see the championship go down to the wire… I hope that the changes for this year will make that happen. This is the year you need to watch Formula One! I think we’re as ready as we can be for Melbourne and I’m more fired up than ever. With all the changes within the sport and the hard work that’s been going on within the team, I believe this can be our year to really show what we’re capable of. That’s not to take anything away from our opposition, who will be incredibly tough to beat as always, but I feel like I’m equipped with the tools I need to succeed. I can’t wait to get started.
I always look forward to the season opener. Melbourne is a fantastic city and Australia is an exciting country all round. It’s a great place to start the year and you can always have lots of fun here. The fans are incredibly friendly and laid-back but they are also very enthusiastic and mad about sport. The food is pretty great too! I always fly in a week in advance to get over the jet lag. This year, after completing the final test in Bahrain, I returned to the factory at Brackley for final preparations in the simulator and went straight on to Melbourne from there. Overall, I think our winter testing programme went better than expected. Having said that, the first Grand Prix is the first real opportunity to judge how well we have done against our competition. Pre-season doesn‘t tell the full story, especially this year with the new regulations. I‘m really looking forward to getting the season underway and can’t wait to be back in the car again.
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
The new regulations have been a massive challenge for everybody involved, and the team has been pushing flat out to get the car to where it is now as we approach the first race in Melbourne. While it is true that the quickest car with the quickest drivers will win, reliability will be a key factor. We want to bring both cars to the flag in the best possible position. We now face the ultimate reality check in the first race of this new era for Formula One. The feeling within the team is not one of nerves, however. It is more a sense of relief to finally be unleashing our cars in race conditions. Everybody now just wants to get out there and see where we stand. Expectations are high, both internally and externally. Although we’re not quite where we want to be right now in terms of a complete package, I’m optimistic in that we’ve done everything possible to prepare for the challenges ahead. I think people are going to be pleasantly surprised by the new cars: the noise, the speeds and ultimately the lap times. This is cutting-edge technology - and that’s exactly what Formula One stands for.