It seems strange to arrive in Australia with the first two races of the
year already under our belts. For the last ten years, Melbourne has hosted
the curtain raiser to each new season. But this year’s Commonwealth Games,
which only came to an end with an impressive closing ceremony on
Sunday, followed by a big celebratory street parade on Monday, meant that the
familiar whine of Formula 1 cars had to give way to the grunt of human
endeavour and our annual pilgrimage to Albert Park was delayed until

Normally, Ralf and Jarno would have stayed on this side of the world
after the last race in Malaysia and taken a few days to put in some training in the more comfortable early autumn conditions in Australia after the tropical heat of Sepang. But they were anxious to get to grips with helping to solve the problems that hampered our tart to the season and both drivers flew back to Europe to get straight on with more tyre esting at the Circuit Paul Ricard in France. Ricardo and Olivier were also in
action with the Brazilian completing 339 laps in three days. He said the results were encouraging. Everybody is now determined to get the best out of this weekend at our third long-distance race in a row.

Neighbourly Hosts
Melbourne is one of the most popular races on the calendar. The city, in the state of Victoria, has hosted the Australian round of the Formula 1 world championship since 1996. “It’s a fantastic venue and the atmosphere is always great,” says Jarno. Last year, the Italian qualified on the front row alongside Giancarlo Fisichella on pole. He’s not expecting a similar performance this year. “Given our problems with warming up our tyres in Bahrain, the cooler weather here could be difficult for us, but we’ll use the weekend to understand more about making our car work with the

But Mike Gascoyne, technical director chassis, is confident our season is back on track. “The Malaysian Grand Prix was a big improvement on Bahrain because we were able to get more heat into our tyres. Obviously we’ll have cooler conditions in Australia, so we’ll e keeping a close eye on getting the tyres to work, but I’m sure we now have a better idea how to do that.”

The solution seems to be using a softer compound Bridgestone tyre.
And Ralf says his race pace in Malaysia makes him optimistic. “I set a fastest lap that was on a par with Jenson Button, who finished on the podium, and with the McLarens. Hopefully, we will be challenging for podiums ourselves soon.” The engine failure that uined Ralf’s qualifying session at Sepang, when he reached the 10-car run-off but was unable to take any further part in the proceedings, has been traced to a small shaft
that drives the oil pump. Luca Marmorini, technical director engine, said it was an unusual fault. “We are not worried because it is not something that should happen again,” he explained. “When the shaft broke the engine stayed at full revs for several seconds without any oil. You can imagine what it was like inside!”


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