It seems like we’ve never been away. Although the season starts later than usual, the work has been non-stop over the winter. Under stable regulations you are not looking to re-invent the wheel and you cannot expect huge development jumps. But looking for small, carefully evaluated steps forward in every area is equally challenging. There is always room for progress and we have found some interesting developments. It gives me great pride to see how the team continues to innovate in exciting ways.
Motivation is crucial to performance and you need to set ambitious targets to keep that drive high. These change from year to year. When I first arrived, it was becoming a front running team. Then, it was winning the title. Then, proving to ourselves that it wasn't a one-off. And now, it’s creating sustainable success – building the team and the organisation as a whole. We’re realistic with ourselves. We know we won’t win every race and every Championship. But we want to be up there fighting for it every year and putting on a great show, so that’s the target.
We expect the competition to be tougher than ever this year. Expectations are high, both internally and externally. But Ferrari look confident and there will likely be other teams involved in the battle. Testing is about clocking mileage and understanding the car, so there is no clear order at this point. But if it were to be this way, that’s something we would enjoy. We are racers and we love a challenge. Having an enemy pumps you up for a battle – and having strong competitors motivates us to push even harder.
This is not a sport where you can relax. The minute you start being complacent you lose out, so you have to keep the energy in the system and we are doing this all the time. Likewise, the drivers need to keep raising their game. They are major competition for each other in the same car, which is not always going to be easy to handle. But with others also in the mix, it will be interesting to see how the dynamic evolves. We’ve shown in the past two seasons that there are no team orders – and this does not change.
Formula One is a sport – but it is also entertainment. Controversy, both on and off track, makes headlines. That’s not a bad thing – it’s part of the world we live in. But we can think about that later. For now, I can’t wait for the flag to drop in Melbourne: let battle commence....