Firstly, congratulations to the team at Brackley and Brixworth on an incredible achievement in the delivery of this car. We saw an unprecedented level of reliability during pre-season testing, with over six thousand kilometers completed. That’s almost the same mileage in eight days as we achieved across twelve days last year, demonstrating clear progress in our ability to prepare for a new season. However, it’s still early days, and there are no Championship points for testing.
What’s equally pleasing is to see evidence of continuous innovation. Innovation drives us forward – and it’s clear to see on our car that nobody in the team is resting on their laurels. But while we were pleased with our performance in Barcelona, we have no definite sense of how we measure up relative to the competition. This creates tension – but mainly excitement to see where we stand.
The first qualifying session of the year is, for me, the most exciting hour of the whole Formula One calendar. This is where you get your final exam marks for all the hard work over the many months needed to put together a new car. It’s the first time we see all of the cars and drivers on the limit – gloves off, flat out. Once you get through qualifying and see where you stand, good or bad, a lot of that winter tension is relieved and translated into plans for the future. Whether it’s maintaining a gap or closing on a target ahead, the objective becomes clear.
After an intense winter, the team enjoys arriving in Melbourne. There is a great buzz as the paddock gets back to work, with new kit, some new faces and this year even a new team. We also have some significant new sporting regulations concerning tyre compound choices, driver communications in the race and qualifying format. Put together I am expecting these changes to create far more variation, uncertainty and excitement for the fans, while testing even further the ability of Nico, Lewis and the race team to perform under pressure. We're looking forward to it!