On the up, Down under?
Sun, sea, surf, sand and Melbourne's sensational Albert Park street circuit. What more could an F1 team ask for?
Race number two of the FIA Formula One World Championship takes the F1 fraternity down under - a mere 10,600 mile hop from Dinnington,
South Yorkshire, to this much-loved metropolis in the state of Victoria, for the 2010 Australian Grand Prix on 26/27/28 March. A 3.295 mile lap bordered by beautifully manicured Albert Park-land and basking in perfect late summer temperatures of around 28o.C - bring it on!
It's all a far cry from the scene of Virgin Racing's debut in the desert two weeks ago. Lucas di Grassi summed up the weekend perfectly when asked if it was likely to be a race the team would always remember. Surrounded by Virgin Racing's trusty team of mechanics, for whom sleep was now just a dim and distant memory, he replied, with a just a small hint of irony, "How could we forget?!"
Race one was a momentous occasion, but one that ultimately ended with disappointment after a positive qualifying debut gave way to the retirement of both cars in the race. The team have been working overtime - just for a change -- to ensure there isn't a repeat of the hydraulic and transmission problems which blighted their weekend. Parking it in the Park is not an option - all Virgin Racing hearts are set on taking the chequered flag.
Timo Glock, Race Driver #24
"Australia is usually a good race. It's a great city and I look forward to it every year. It's one of the best weekends on the Formula One calendar. The track itself is a street course, very different from a race track, and quite special. I got a bird's-eye view of it on Wednesday when I flew over the track in a heli - a bit of fun and a great way to recce the track layout. It's a fantastic circuit and I'm hoping it will bring us good luck.
"We had a tough time in Bahrain but there were some positives too. We learnt some good lessons which can only make us stronger. The main target is to do everything we can to ensure reliability doesn't stop us from making it to the flag. Hopefully we'll get another strong qualy in the bag too."
Lucas di Grassi, Race Driver #25
"I've been to Australia a few times but I've never raced at Albert Park before, so it will be an interesting weekend! Basically, I can't wait to get back in the car again and experience the track. Australia as a destination actually reminds me of Brazil - the weather is nice and the people are warm and friendly. I've been out here for a few days now, acclimatising to the time difference and ensuring I'm relaxed for the weekend ahead. As for the relaxation part, I went surfing with Championship winning surfer Damien Hardman along the Great Ocean Road on Wednesday. I'm a big surfer -- and pretty good, if I say so myself -- so it was fun to head out of the city to catch a few waves before we get down to the serious stuff.
"We're hoping to make a few waves on track this weekend also. We obviously want to build on what we saw in qualifying and reach the finish. I was really pleased with my debut qualifying and race start but obviously I want to carry that through to the race now. I'm looking forward to it."
Nick Wirth, Technical Director
"It was disappointing to end our debut race with two retirements, but we take a lot of encouragement from knowing that our issues are specific and isolated, which means they are easily addressed. No one said the first few races would be easy and Bahrain was gruelling to say the least. But far better to flush out the problems early on and deal with them and that is exactly what we have been doing in the two week gap between these two races. We have some new parts which we hope will provide a robust solution to the new hydraulic problem and transmission issue we experienced in Bahrain.
"Melbourne represents a new and different challenge. This isn't an easy track to contend with because it's a street circuit. It lacks grip on Friday before its starts to rubber in, but the track conditions can change from session to session. The lap is full of stops and starts, so we have to manage the brakes and also the track surface is quite bumpy. All of these factors conspire to make car set-up quite a challenge, but it's one we're looking forward to. We saw some very positive signs in terms of our qualifying and race pace, and the drivers and engineers have done their homework on our Simulators back at Wirth Research, so we are looking to build on the performance level seen in Bahrain and ensure that both cars get to cross the finish line."