Sports‎ > ‎

Drivers Look Ahead To 2014 Season Before Sunday's Australian Grand Prix

posted 13 Mar 2014, 05:41 by Mpelembe   [ updated 13 Mar 2014, 05:42 ]

2013 F1 Champion Sebastian Vettel says Red Bull's preparation for upcoming Australian Grand Prix has not been ideal.

MELBOURNEAUSTRALIA (MARCH 13, 2014) (FOM) -  Red Bull are not in the best position in terms of preparation for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, reigning champion Sebastian Vettel said on Thursday (March 13).

The gadget spec URL could not be found
Vettel, bidding for a fifth consecutive title, comes into Sunday's (March 16) race at Albert Park with his team scrambling to come to grips with the new hybrid turbo era in Formula One.

Red Bull, one of four teams using the troubled Renault power unit, was unable to finish a race simulation for either Vettel or his new Australian team mate Daniel Ricciardo, and badly lagged rivals Mercedes and Ferrari in terms of mileage.

"I think our pre-season testing, our preparation, hasn't been ideal but, yes, we are probably not in the best position for this race but I think it's a different story when we think about the Championship - it's a long way to go, I think two years back Fernando was on the grid with 1.5 seconds to pole position and he was very close to beat us for the title at the very last race," he said.

"So, anything can happen, that's why this race is important, just as any other one but there is a lot of races this year."

Red Bull's struggles to adapt to the new V6 engine have given rival teams hope of ending their four-year stranglehold on the constructors' and drivers' championships, or at a minimum end the German's run of nine consecutive race victories.

The prospect of seeing Sebastian Vettel beaten for the first time since last July is just one of the many novelties Sunday's season-opening Australian Formula One Grand Prix promises to deliver.

Just how much trouble Vettel's Red Bull team might be in is one of the questions waiting for an answer as the sport's unpredictable new turbo era whooshes into action atMelbourne's Albert Park circuit.

The quadruple world champion won the last nine races of 2013 but the 26-year-old German spent much of his time during the pre-season tests in Spain and Bahrainwatching the car being worked on in the garage.

Red Bull are braced for a reality check as they and partners Renault work against the clock to fix the troublesome 1.6 litre V6 hybrid turbo engine and its complicated new energy recovery systems.

After an occasionally tempestuous five years with the plain-spoken Mark Webber, Vettel has a younger Australian team mate in the garage in Ricciardo, who graduated from sister team Toro Rosso.

Riciardo, who makes his Red Bull debut in his home country, said that he was very excited to get out on the track after a busy week of media appearences.

"We are all a bit unsure how good our cars are you know? Speaking for all the drivers, I think we are all just curious and hanging out to get on the track this weekend and see where everyone stands and get a clearer picture. I've had a busy week leading up to the race so I'm probably more excited than anyone else right now to get in the car," he said.

Many of the more experienced drivers, such as former champions Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, addressed the problems posed by the new technical regulations this year.

"The car itself, and the technology Formula One brought this year is a little bit complex to everyone and we are learning and developing the car every day that we work on it so, as I said, its a little bit of a new situation for everybody and we just need to put everything together, maximise what we have, and see where we are," said Alonso.

Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have sounded quietly confident about a car that is sleeker than many of its 'ugly' new-look rivals.

"Yes, I mean, it's very technical this year so everyone's in the same boat - we're obviously always trying to find where the advantages can be between two drivers and from race to race I think you will see one time he is ahead, one time I am ahead, same as all of last year but, obviously, the goal is to be ahead all the time," said 2008 champion Hamilton.

Former Ferrari driver, Felipe Massa, who now drives for the new-look Williams Martini Racing, a British team, highlighted the cultural differences between racing for Italian and British teams.

"The Italians - they cannot talk without, you know, shaking the hands, you know, and I am like that because I am from Brazil as well so for sure it is a big change for me - I am trying to learn quickly you know everything and changing some names that they - understanding the way they talk as well because I never lived in England so its also new for me but its nice, pretty, its a nice experience as well you know, but definitely the mentality is pretty different," said the Brazilian.

New Mclaren driver, Dane Kevin Magnussen, is one of three drivers who will make their Formula One debuts on Sunday, along with Caterham's Marcus Ericsson and Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat. Magussen says it is a dream come true to finally race in F1.

"It is a dream come true and every day is fantastic at the moment - I am sure it will keep staying like that. But I am just really excited to be here - its been a long winter since signing and I really have been looking forward to this weekend," he said.

The Australian Grand Prix is the traditional curtain-raiser for the season and was won last year by Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen, who is now racing for Ferrari.