Momentum? In our last episode, Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg had won the Formula One Championship by five points over his teammate, Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton won the season ending race in Abu Dhabi handily, despite trying to slow down the field so those behind the Mercedes duo might overtake, which they did not. Oh, and then one week later, Rosberg stunned the Formula One world by retiring as champion.
Needs A Good Run? Everyone, it’s the season opener. But no one needs a good run more than McLaren Honda, who has poured hundreds of millions into a racing program with not much to show for it.
Sentimental Favorite? Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo, who is Australia’s only active F1 driver, and is popular in his home country.
“I enjoy Albert Park. It changes a lot during the weekend. It’s not a permanent circuit, so the grip is changing a lot. The race start is quite late, but it’s one of my favorite Grand Prix. It’s not an easy track to get on with. It’s very hard on fuel consumption as well. For the first race of the season, it’s going to be interesting.” Romain Grosjean, Swiss-born French driver, driving for a nominally American race team, Haas Formula One.
“It’s always good to be back on home soil and enjoy a bit of sunshine after winter testing. My home race is awesome in so many ways but it’s also super busy and full on, the week for me starts on Monday and doesn’t stop until Sunday night. It’s nice that there’s so much media attention at the start of the season and everyone is super excited to see how I go. I try and attend as many events as I can but I’m still there to do a job.” Daniel Ricciardo, Australian Red Bull Racing driver.
“It’s the dawn of a new era – in more ways than one. This is the first time that Formula One has changed the rules to make the cars faster. We have new management looking at how we take the sport forward. And, in our team, we have seen some significant changes of personnel over the winter. It’s been a busy few months, no doubt. But an extremely exciting time, too. The target with these new regulations was to make this generation of F1 cars the quickest in the history of the sport. And looking at the results from testing, we’re well on the way to achieving that. It’s something that’s never been done before and that’s a radical change. We’ve even made them look more spectacular.” Mercedes-Benz Director of Motorsport Toto Wolff.
“Mercedes do not have a No 1, or a No 2 driver, so it is up to me to perform. As long as I do my job, which is to perform on the level where the car should be, we are all good and I know I can do it. I am very excited about going up against Lewis. He is a three-time world champion and a great reference point. Everybody knows exactly how good he is as a driver. It is great to be a team-mate of Lewis and I hope we can have a strong year in this era of Formula 1. In testing we managed to work well together and there was a good team spirit. I see no reason why it should not continue like that.” Incoming driver Mercedes driver Valterri Bottas.