he 2012 FIA Formula One World Championship gets underway in Melbourne next week with the season-opening Australian Grand Prix. Hosted at the beautiful Albert Park for the 17th consecutive year, the 5.303 km street circuit is located south of Melbourne city centre, and uses public roads surrounding the man-made Albert Park lake.
• From 2002 - 2011, the winner of the Australian Grand Prix has gone on to become World Champion seven times
• DRS can be used over 56% of the lap distance in qualifying, a total of 2970 metres
• The Safety Car has been deployed in six of the last ten Australian Grands Prix on a total of 15 occasions
• Mercedes-Benz power has won three of the last four Australian Grands Prix (2008, 2009, 2010)
For Ross, “the build-up to the start of a new season is always an exciting time, no matter how many times you have experienced it, and everyone at the team is looking forward to the action getting underway in Melbourne next week.
We are well prepared, both at the factory and on track, as a result of our structured development and testing plan, and I am confident that we are in a good position. How this translates to our performance relative to the competition is, of course, the key question and it will be interesting to see how it all shapes out next weekend.
My thanks to all of the team at Brackley and Brixworth for their hard work and dedication over the winter months and I hope we will be able to reward them with a strong season. Melbourne has always been one of the atmospheric races on the calendar, and certainly one of my favourite cities to visit, so I look forward to a good week ahead.”
Norbert reminds that, amazingly, “It's only a little over 100 days since Formula One was in Brazil for the final race of the 2011 season, but now we are ready for the 2012 season to begin and to get back to what we love best: going motor racing. Starting the third season with our Silver Arrows works team, we think we are better prepared than the two years before, which indicates that our learning process is heading in the right direction.
The Mercedes F1 W03 has run reliably since its first run on 16 February, completed 4,450 km during pre-season testing, and achieved an average daily testing mileage of 472 km: this equates to an average of more than one and a half Grand Prix distances during each of the nine test days. Nico and Michael are both excited about the new season and highly motivated, while our team members back at base in Brackley and Brixworth and on track are working extremely hard to deliver both performance and reliability at the opening race. The whole team has done a good job in both areas this winter.
After testing, we know we have a solid basis to work from and a good platform for development. Understandably, there is much speculation about the pecking order of the new season, and finally we will get a first answer on Saturday afternoon during qualifying in Melbourne, when everybody has to put their cards on the table.
Before the first race of this long season, I would like to thank all our team members who have worked so hard and with dedication during the past months, with our clear target which is making the next step in improving our performance compared to our competitors. We aim to show that we have taken this step forward as the first part of a continuous process of improvement.”