ROUND 1 OF 21
The traditional season-opener at the Albert Park Circuit in Melbourne is a fitting place to start the 2016 season. The part street circuit layout provides an interesting challenge for the drivers, with the late start time and setting sun making visibility tricky as the race unfolds. The laid back and knowledgeable Aussie fans always create an electric atmosphere, making this a popular destination for the Formula One circus after a busy winter. Williams has won five times in Australia and after another strong campaign in 2015 the team will be looking to make an impressive start to the season and signal its intent once again.
For Melbourne Pirelli has allocated each driver the supersoft (for use in Q3), the soft and the medium tyre for their dry-weather running. The intermediate and wet tyres are also available. Pirelli have allocated three sets of tyres to each driver, but each driver can now choose their remaining ten sets from the available compounds. Both Felipe and Valtteri have decided to go with one set of the medium compound, five sets of the soft compound and seven sets of the supersoft compound for Melbourne.
Itís always great to get back to Melbourne. Itís a real test for the teams and drivers as they move from winter testing mode into competitive racing. As a circuit, it provides a few engineering challenges. The entry to Turn 1 has been notoriously bumpy in previous seasons, although due to some resurfacing work, it should be smoother this year. The highspeed change of direction through Turns 11 and 12, which require an agile car, coupled with the relatively low grip that improves significantly throughout the weekend, leaves teams chasing a set-up that provides good low-speed grip with high-speed stability. We feel we have a good platform to work from this year and hope we can manage these challenges to achieve a competitive outcome.
Australia is always a nice place to start the season because itís a fantastic country and everybody likes to go there, it is also a race where anything can happen. Iím really looking forward to starting a new season, and I hope we can start well like we did last year. Hopefully our car is competitive straight away, thatís the most important thing. I am pretty optimistic that we can have a good first race and a good season.
Melbourne is a really nice city and I always really enjoy going there. The people are nice and the weather is normally very good. Because itís the first grand prix of the year itís a very exciting time for everyone. I really like the track as well, for me itís one of the best on the whole Formula One calendar. Last year was disappointing for me, because of my back injury, but this year I am looking forward to starting the season with a strong result.