Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Jordan Rally stage guides - Thursday

In contrast to most rounds of the World Championship, the Jordan Rally gets underway early, with a full day of competition on Thursday, when drivers would usually be tackling the pre-event Shakedown.

Day one in Jordan starts at 1100hrs, when the first car will drive over the start ramp amid the spectacular Roman ruins of Jerash. Ahead lie 95.70 competitive kilometres arranged over seven special stages.

In the morning, crews will tackle a loop of four consecutive stages in the countryside north of the Dead Sea Service Park, before heading back there for a 30-minute service. In the afternoon crews will repeat three of the stages before a 45-minute end of day service.

Here are our stage notes for Thursday's stages. Under the summaries you'll find our list of essential website links to help you follow the rally via our live results service.

SS1: Rumman Forest. 15.34km
The start in Jerash has brought the picturesque northern forest stage of Rumman into play, and it’s the only new stage of this year's rally. Rumman (Arabic for pomegranate) is completely different to the other stages of the event, because it runs through a lush pine forest. It starts off with a downhill section on a chalk road which is covered in a fine dust for the first five kilometres. Soon after it levels off to become narrow and twisty as it snakes between the trees. Between 5km and 9km the gravel gets deeper, but the tight and technical character remains right until the end. In places this stage looks like one from Rally Cyprus.

SS2/SS5: Wadi Shueib. 8.65km
Run in the opposite direction in 2008, the event’s shortest stage runs along the side of a valley and will present a tough mental and physical challenge to the drivers as they pass through sea level towards the lowest point on earth. It’s not a place to make a mistake either, because almost the whole section has a steep drop on the right-hand side. There's lots of gravel pretty much everywhere, so the first cars will have a good deal of sweeping to do. The stage begins with a steep uphill section, and then follows the contours of the hillside before dropping down into the valley for the finish.

SS3/SS6: Mahes. 20.44km
This is the second longest stage of the rally and has some very big drops by the roadside in places. It starts tight and twisty with a steep climb along a high ridge with lots of gravel on the hard-packed surface. The narrow road snakes along the side of the hill with a big drop on the right. After about 4km it drops downhill, with lots of tight, cambered corners until it reaches the bottom of the valley at the midpoint. From there on it’s an undulating piece of road that is open and quick along the top of a ridge line. Sometimes it’s uphill, sometimes downhill but there’s always lots of gravel so it could be slippery. The stage ends alongside a huge dam.

SS4/SS7: Mount Nebo - 11.09km
A location famed by Biblical stories where Moses looked out over the Holy Land. It is now the location of an ancient church which attracts 100,000 visitors annually. The stage starts twisty and fast with a short downhill sequence of hairpins before crossing a concrete bridge with a harsh compression. From there it gets faster, with good grip and lots of good cuts to help the cars stay on the road at speed. There are a couple of blind crests at 2.4km and 4.6km. From 7km there’s a tight twisty downhill section and a lot more gravel on the road and some big rocks on the outside of the corners. There’s a quarry nearby and a lot of sand has been carried onto the stage. From the 7km point to the end the road is fast and scary - the road runs along the side of a hill with a big drop into a gorge on the right-hand side. It’s flowing and fast all the way to the end.

Source: WRC

WRC Pirelli driver blog - Kimi Räikkönen

Blog one: Thursday 31 March.

"Okay, so I never thought that a rally could be like holidays, but I have to say that so far here in Jordan it’s been pretty nice.

After the shakedown I had a bit of a chance to relax on the terrace at the hotel and look at the view over the Dead Sea. It’s such a hectic life that it’s nice to empty your head sometimes and think of nothing much. And what’s the point of going to all these different places if you don’t take the time to look at them occasionally? My life used to be a blur of airports and circuits and hotels but I’m determined to enjoy myself this year.

Jordan is a completely new experience for me, but that’s normal as more or less everything this year is new to me. Let’s just say that the whole atmosphere and way of working here is quite different to Formula One, but the challenges are even bigger for me.

I was thinking about that this morning when I drove the shakedown: I still have so few kilometres in the Citroen C4 WRC; basically a couple of hundred and that’s it. And now I’m starting a gravel rally that even the real experts say is quite tough. So I think it’s going to be an interesting few days. The main thing is to learn: you don’t suddenly find a load of time from out of nowhere in this game.

I have to say that I really like the world of rallying so far. It’s impossible to compare it to Formula One as it would be like comparing a square to a triangle, but everything seems just a bit more relaxed and friendly. Everyone has been very welcoming, but there’s still room for me to be myself.

The shakedown this morning was quite rough, but I think we could see some parts of the rally that are like this too, so it was good preparation. For me the main thing is going to be reaching the finish, as on an event that is as specialised as this one, you really need to see every stage. We had a good recce, although it was a bit warm as the air conditioning wasn’t working in the recce car. Strangely, it was actually cooler in the rally car at shakedown - as you have a huge air scoop in the roof that gives you a pretty good supply of cool air once you’re moving.

I’m still at the stage where there’s more time to come out of me than anything else. But if it all comes together - and even up to now, there have been a few moments where that has started to happen - I’d like to set a few decent times. Wish me luck..."

Source: WRC -

Kimi Räikkönen after Shakedown in Jordan Rally 2010

Source: Youtube


After the shakedown on Wednesday morning Räikkönen speculated about his return in a few words. Kimi doesn't deny but he also doesn't admit that his rallying career would be only one year long.

- I don't know, I have a contract for this season. After that I have nothing. This is not the time to decide upon it. I have many options, a lot depends on what I want myself.

The decisions are made later this year and the decision is only Räikkönen's.

- It's my own decision and my own feeling. I have no reason to tell anything more. I guess you find out when it's time for it. There's no hurry, it's still a long way to next year.

Courtesy: Nicole

Citroen trio quickest in Jordan Shakedown

Defending World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb was the fastest driver at the pre-event shakedown for the Jordan Rally earlier today, with fellow C4 World Rally Car drivers Petter Solberg and Dani Sordo locking out the top three times.

The four-hour test took place on a 2.3km stage, located 7.5km north of the Dead Sea Service Park. Weather conditions were dry and sunny throughout with a temperature peaking at 30 degrees Celsius.

Loeb drove the stage five times, setting his best time on the third pass, and matching it on the fourth. "Everything went okay, but the road wasn't very representative of the ones we saw on the recce," Loeb told "Today's road was fast and there was a lot of grip, while the proper stages are much more twisty and slippery. All we did today was check that everything was okay with the car.

" Loeb's team-mate Dani Sordo and Citroen privateer Petter Solberg set the same second-fastest time, one-tenth slower than Loeb. "We tried a lot of different things during the session because I haven't done any testing before the rally," said Petter. "I expect conditions will be much looser on the rally but the main thing is that we're up there with the best, and one tenth from Seb is nothing, you know?"

BP Ford Abu Dhabi Team drivers Jari-Matti Latvala and Mikko Hirvonen were fourth and fifth fastest.

After a ceremonial start in the historic city of Jerash on Thursday morning, the opening stage of the rally, the 15.34km Rumman Forest, gets underway on 1128hrs. Follow this link to find out how to follow the rally LIVE and FREE here on

Here are the Shakedown times of the WRC drivers:

1. LOEB. Citroen C4 WRC. 1:13.4
=2. SORDO. Citroen C4 WRC. 1:13.5
=2. P. SOLBERG. Citroen C4 WRC. 1:13.5
4. LATVALA. Ford Focus RS WRC 09. 1:13.7
5. HIRVONEN. Ford Focus RS WRC 09. 1:13.8
6. OGIER. Citroen C4 WRC. 1:13.9
7. VILLAGRA. Ford Focus RS WRC 08. 1:15.1
8. WILSON. Ford Focus RS WRC 08. 1:15.2
9. H.SOLBERG. Ford Focus RS WRC 08. 1:15.3
10. RAIKKONEN. Citroen C4 WRC. 1:16.2

Source: WRC
Courtesy: _TaniaS_

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher after the 2010 Australian GP

Source: Youtube

Fernando Alonso interview after the race - Australia 2010

Source: YouTube

Fernando Alonso faces test threatening Ferrari harmony

By Mark Hughes

Fernando Alonso believes he could have won the Australian Grand Prix - even after his first corner incident with Jenson Button had put him to the back.

In the event his charge towards the front was halted at fourth place, any further progress stymied by being stuck behind team-mate Felipe Massa.

With Ferrari unwilling at this early stage in the season to ask one of its drivers to make way for the other, it created a situation in which Alonso might have fallen into conflict with his new team for the first time.

How he handles this will be a crucial test for him; Alonso has a history of not coping well with this sort of situation.

At Indianapolis in 2006 he was at odds with his Renault team when team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella was running ahead of him, insiders telling of him screaming over the radio to move 'Fisi' aside.

An almost identical situation arose a year later at the same venue, with McLaren when Lewis Hamilton was running ahead of him and Alonso felt he was being held up.

In between times, he was publically critical of Renault in the aftermath of China 2006 when the team did not prevent Fisichella from taking advantage of Alonso's tyre problems.

He made a now infamous speech in which he talked of "feeling alone" in the team. Whereas the Indianapolis '06 incident had been contained within Renault at the time, this was the first public appearance of a previously unsuspected chink in the champion's armour.

It was a chink that was prised open at McLaren by Hamilton's speed.

Alonso's failure to gel at McLaren, and his ill-judged attempts at using the team's difficulty with governing body the FIA as 'spy-gate' unfolded to get internal championship priority, led to him being dropped after just one year of what was originally a long-term contract.

This in turn led to two pretty barren years with Renault in 2008 and 2009.

Having finally got himself back into a car worthy of his talent, he surely knows he cannot allow himself the indulgence of risking team unity over a relatively minor point.

Interestingly, however, Sunday's situation in Melbourne created the exact sort of circumstances that have in the past led to just that - i.e. his team's attempts at equality apparently compromising their chances of beating the opposition.

During his first race for McLaren at the same venue three years ago, he felt it would have been more logical for the team to have given him strategic preference rather than "waste" a set of fresh tyres just to beat his team-mate in qualifying and thereby earn preference.

This, he reasoned, denied him use of fresh tyres when they might have been needed the following day when fighting Ferrari.

He tends to assume dominance within the team and the only time this expectation has not been met, it triggered his 'glitch'.

Can Alonso assume dominance within Ferrari and if not will the same glitch be revealed?
At McLaren Hamilton was sufficiently competitive throughout the season that Alonso could not dominate.

At Bahrain two weeks ago Alonso beat Massa in the race, but was out-qualified by him.
But at Melbourne Alonso was much the faster driver in qualifying - and by a margin of 0.7 seconds, which is huge by F1 team-mate standards. However, too much should not be read into that at this stage.

There was a very specific explanation for the size of the gap between them on Saturday and it was to do with tyre temperatures.

In the cool conditions of qualifying the tyres were right on the knife-edge of not reaching the temperature threshold at which they suddenly 'switch on' - around 100C.

If a driver could somehow get to that threshold he would suddenly have a huge advantage over one who could not, and that is what we saw at Melbourne. No matter what Massa tried, he could not emulate Alonso's ability to generate tyre heat during the out-lap from the pits.

There may be qualifying days where this again becomes a problem for Massa but it is unlikely to happen often. It was a specific mismatch of tyre compound to weather conditions on the day.
There is as yet no underlying evidence that Alonso will be able to consistently beat Massa and thereby form a natural hierarchy between them.

He is a psychologically complex man so it is going to be fascinating seeing if he can learn from past errors.

Source: BBC Sports

Pleased and proud of this start to the season

It’s been an incredible start to the season. Both in Bahrain and then again in Australia this weekend just gone, we showed we are competitive at the highest level and we can only be pleased and proud of what we have done so far, not just at the track, but also back at the factory over the winter. The F10 has proved to be very good, even on a semi-street circuit like Albert Park. It’s an easy car to drive, something I was aware of right from the very first test in Valencia and it is reasonably easy to find a good set-up for any type of track. On top of that, it is very consistent, in that its handling doesn’t change much between qualifying and the race. That should be a very important factor over the course of the year, as there is a world of difference between trying to do a quick time with a minimum fuel load on Saturday afternoon and starting the race with a full tank on Sunday. Add in the factor that the car is not too hard on its tyres – yesterday, both Felipe and I did 50 laps on the same set of soft tyres – and that completes the package. I’m not too sure exactly where we are compared to the others, but one thing’s for sure, we’ve definitely got off on the right foot.

I definitely didn’t think I’d be leading the championship after two races and this situation is way more than I had expected. In Melbourne, we made the most of a situation which, after the first corner, seemed to be compromised. We managed to increase our lead over those we reckon to be our main competition in the fight for the title. But there’s no time to relax, because in a few days time we will once again be on track for the Malaysian Grand Prix. The race is held on what is definitely one of my very favourite circuits: there are all sorts of corners and it’s a real joy to drive a Formula 1 car in Sepang, because you can really push it to the limit. I can’t wait to be racing in Malaysia for the first time at the wheel of a Ferrari. Our target? That’s easy, to carry on doing what we have done in the first two races. It won’t be easy, but we must trust in our ability to get the job done.

Source: Fernando's blog -

Lewis Hamilton interview after the race - Australia 2010

Source: YouTube

Monday, March 29, 2010

Oz minister: Hamilton 'a dickhead' for risking lives

The Lewis Hamilton 'over-exuberant driving' row refuses to die down even now the Australian Grand Prix has been and gone, with Mark Webber springing to his McLaren-Mercedes rival's defence and Victoria roads minister Tim Pallas conversely labelling the former F1 World Champion 'a dickhead'

In an extraordinary twist, Lewis Hamiton has been labelled 'a dickhead' for having 'put people's lives at risk' with the 'over-exuberant driving' that brought the former F1 World Champion to the attention of Australian police on Friday evening – as Red Bull Racing rival Mark Webber waded into the row by calling his homeland 'a nanny state'.

Hamilton was stopped by police following free practice in Melbourne last week, for performing a smoky 'burn-out' in his new silver Mercedes sportscar not far from the city's Albert Park circuit. The 25-year-old McLaren-Mercedes star was admonished for his driving – for which he later issued a public apology – and had his car temporarily impounded, and will likely later face a fine for his actions.

Webber, though – like many F1 fans – has argued that the whole incident has been blown entirely out of proportion and if anything is an indictment of the world that we live in today, and the New South Wales native revealed that since returning Down Under from Europe for his home grand prix, he had spent much of his time 'dodging the ridiculous speeding and parking [rules] and all the nanny-state country that we have here in Australia' that 'pisses him off'.

“It's a great country,” the 33-year-old conceded, according to Melbourne newspaper The Age, “but we've got to be responsible for our actions and it's certainly a bloody nanny-state when it comes to what we can do, as Lewis has found out very quickly. I think we've got to read an instruction booklet when we get out of bed as to what we can do and what we can't do, put a yellow vest on and all that sort of stuff. It's certainly changed since I left, and this isn't going to bring me back.”

However, Webber's comments have not been received well by the local authorities, particularly given the fact that an entire family was killed by a speeding car thief last week in his hometown of Queanbeyan near Canberra – and that five people were killed on Victoria roads over the weekend, meaning the annual death toll is currently on-course to be the highest it has been for five years, with 78 fatalities so far this year compared to 67 at the same stage in 2009.

The state government has recently launched a new road safety campaign bluntly entitled 'Don't be a dickhead' – and roads minister Tim Pallas suggests that is precisely what Hamilton was on Friday night.

“Okay, I'll say it – he's a dickhead,” he told radio station 3AW “I think what Mark Webber has done has been totally irresponsible, but he didn't display the behaviour that Lewis Hamilton did, and that put people lives at risk.”

“We've got probably one of the best road safety records in the world, but every day we're getting a fatal,” added top Victoria traffic officer Deputy Commissioner Ken Lay, who contended that Webber and Hamilton should act as better role models for young drivers who perhaps look up to them given their public profile. “I make no apology for our approach in targeting aggressive driving.

“I think there are probably a few Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber fans alive today because of our 'nanny-state' approach... I think Mark needs to take a bit of responsibility for the road safety message. I'd much prefer Mark to be talking about keeping the speeding and the hooning on the race track and being a bit sensible on our roads.”

Victoria Premier John Brumby has made a point of underlining that the rules are there for good reason to protect lives – what appears to sadly be at present a losing battle, and speaking to The Age, transport accident commission minister Tim Holding concurred, reasoning: “I don't think anyone who has lost a loved one because of road trauma would think Victoria's anti-hoon laws are too harsh.”


Vettel: I'd struggle to say no to a Ferrari offer

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel admits it would be 'special' to drive for the Scuderia, as 'the Ferrari legend speaks for itself'.

Sebastian Vettel has conceded that he would love to drive for Ferrari one day - and that it would be difficult to reject the Maranello-based outfit, if they came knocking.

Vettel is currently one of F1's hottest properties, and looked set to win both the F1 2010 opener in Bahrain and the Australian Grand Prix last weekend, until mechanical gremlins intervened on both occasions.

Although the German is under contract with Red Bull Racing - having inked a new deal at the end of August last year that will see him stay with the Milton Keynes-based outfit until at least the end of 2011, he added that the allure of racing for the Prancing Horse was something few drivers could resist.

"Right now I feel super-comfortable with Red Bull," he told German news agency, SID. "[But] the Ferrari legend speaks for itself.

"I think for every driver, it would be something special to go there, but for me I still have a few years in front of me."

Vettel meanwhile was extremely frustrated at the end of Sunday's race at Albert Park: "It is massively infuriating and in my mind I'm using the 's' word," he continued in an interview with the official F1 website.

"To be honest, at this very moment I would like nothing more but to go home - but life goes on. It gives a certain satisfaction to know that from my side I couldn't have made anything different or better and I think until the moment when the trouble started we'd done a great job.

"We have a very fast car - that is a fact. We just have to make sure that we see the chequered flag [in Malaysia next weekend]. It is only the second race so there is no need to get too nervous. We just have to see that we have a good car at hand for the second half of the season."



The German Bild am Sonntag -magazine is busy pushing Kimi Räikkönen back into the F1-circus.

Bild am Sonntag manages to push in fresh F1-rumours in a convenient time. Räikkönen's rally career has started in a coughing way and Webber managed to make a classic blunder in Australia GP.

Riku Kuvaja doesn't listen to the claim.

- Rumours. This is a genre where there has always been and will always be a lot of rumours, Kuvaja said to Iltalehti.

- We are focusing on rally with all we got. When something new appears we will inform.

According to Kuvaja Räikkönen doesn't have the interest to follow all the rumours about him.

- He doesn't read them. Kimi has lived in the same rumour mill for ten years already.

Courtesy: Nicole


Kimi Raikkonen willl be one of the many visitors to the Dead Sea this year...but it's no holiday for him and Kaj Lindstrom

There are actually no hidden bodies in the Dead Sea, close to Amman in Jordan: the venue for round three of Kimi Raikkonen's World Rally Championship assault with Red Bull. Instead, the name comes from the fact that the water is made up of 33% salt, making it impossible for nature to stay alive for very long.

Tourism though is very much alive. The Dead Sea is now a busy holiday resort, with people flocking to sit up on water that makes them more buoyant than Elvis Presley in a rubber ring. This week though, the holidaymakers' peace will be interrupted by the noise of rally cars. It's time to stop floating and pay attention.

Many sporting events lay claim to record-breaking superlatives, but the Jordan Rally is the only motorsport competition in the world held below sea level - pending the formation of a submarine Grand Prix series, at least.

Rally Jordan could not be a greater contrast to Kimi's last event in Mexico, which was held at around 2800 metres in altitude. Nonetheless, Kimi is looking to adopt exactly the same tactic on only the eighth-ever rally he has contested in his life this week. With dust, gravel, and sand, the terrain Jordan is as unfamiliar to Kimi as eating sheeps' eyes: a notorious delicacy of the Middle East.

Kimi gave a hint of what he is capable of with a fifth-fastest time on stage four of Rally Mexico but he is looking to build up to speed as the Jordan Rally goes on.

"For sure, it's another huge challenge for me but I'm getting used to that now!" said Kimi. "I've done some testing which helps, but obviously Jordan will be a completely new set of conditions and we will need a bit of time to get used to them. Each of the three rallies we have done so far is massively different, but this is part of rallying; you have to be quick everywhere on all the various surfaces. Of all the events we have tried, this is the territory that is probably the most unfamiliar so far, so it's going to be an interesting adventure and the main idea is obviously to get to the end. I'm looking forward to it: I'm feeling good and I'm ready to go."

Jordan is also one of the few rallies that Kimi's experienced co-driver Kaj Lindstrom - the veteran of 64 WRC events - has never competed on before. "That's true, but you just treat every rally in the same way and get on with your job," said Kaj. "It does mean that it's going to be very important for us to get through all the stages and make good pace notes. That's one area where Kimi has improved a lot so far this year and it's getting better and better all the time. So I think we'll have a good time; and we'll make sure that we avoid any camels..."

Source: Rally Buzz

Australian GP - Interview with Stefano Domenicali

"We can be satisfied with this result. At the end of an incident packed race we managed to get one driver onto the podium and the other who had been last after the first corner into fourth spot"

Source: ferrariworld

Kimi Jordan preview: THE DESERT IS CALLING

in Finnish
Let's see what we have ahead of us now. We are going to a new place again and to a new country where I have never been before. It's the first place where Kaitsu hasn't raced either.

We know already that we are in for a really big new challenge again but we just have to get used to it. It's the name of the game in rally. No matter where we go the place is always different from the place where we rallied before.

It's been like this all season. All these three rallies have differed from each other massively. Compared to them Jordan is like from a different world. There you have to learn everything from scratch once again. We can't do more than try our best - and collect as much experience as fast as we can.

In the final games we cannot at least complain that this would be boring. We knew beforehand that this is what rally driving is. New driving surfaces, roads changing just like that and we have to work at full speed all the time.

I haven't regretted for one moment that I took this challenge. Each kilometer with the car is important to me and the more I drive a real rally with the car the better it feels.

Mexico is in the past. It went like it went. We have been learning rally the hard way. Every time we got some other program. But when we have been able to go forward it has felt good.

The car is strong. That much we know. If we can only stay on the track then the equipment will last.

After last rally we took a break and it did good for my body. After that we had the first tests on gravel and now we are going with positive feelings to drive in Jordan's rally.

There's no trees, no mountains. Only sand and dust - and the breaks are somewhere on the Dead Sea's beach. It's 100% sure that making the notes to this rally will be completely different from what I have done elsewhere. They have to be more in place than anywhere else since there are no real landmarks.

That's what this still is, us trying to get into the right rhythm with this equipment on gravel surface so that we wouldn't have to drive with stiff wrists all the time.

My goal is to finish the rally. If it doesn't fall in place then there is no other goal to achieve.

Let's see how fast the lead is taking it and what our ride in that bunch is.

Courtesy: Nicole OF

Mildh: Red Bull is Räikkönen's only option

According to Yle Sports expert Jukka Mildh, Kimi Räikkönen's return to Formula 1 in Red Bull-team would be a natural choice for Räikkönen. If Räikkönen even returns to F1. German Bild-magazine told earlier on Sunday that Räikkönen would be transferring to Red Bull for next season.

Mildh paid a visit to Urheiluruutu [a sports news broadcast] and emphasized that Red Bull would be the only rational team for Räikkönen. And that is only if the Finn even returns to F1.

Mildh highlighted that Red Bull has a competitive car. In addition the team's other driver Mark Webber's contract ends after this season. In the other top teams the contracts continue.

- Red Bull has the fastest car and only a winning car suffices to Räikkönen. Red Bull is like that, Mildh continues.

Red Bull's other driver is German Sebastien Vettel, who has a long-term contract in the team.

Räikkönen drives in WRC with Citroen at the moment but practically the majority of his earnings comes from Red Bull.

- If he has the desire, the negotiations relating to the issue can be arranged in an instant, Mildh says.

At the moment the comeback-rumour is strenghtened by Webber's driving-error on Sunday's Australian GP.

- When the contract is on a pause after this season, Webber didn't do a favor for himself when crashing with Lewis Hamilton, Mildh notes.

Mildh reminds though, that at the moment Räikkönen is serious about rallying. He has no compelling need to return to F1.

- Kimi gets some appropriate distance to the F1-world so he can follow the development of the situation in peace also from his part, Mildh evaluates.

The German Bild-magazine has been right before about the happenings in F1-world. The magazine was the first to report about ia Michael Schumacher's comeback to F1.

Courtesy: Leijona

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday in Melbourne...

Australian GP - Good result for Ferrari in Melbourne

Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro comes away from the Australian Grand Prix with 27 points to its name, thanks to a third place for Felipe Massa and a fourth for Fernando Alonso. This result means that the Maranello team continues to have its drivers in the top two places in the Drivers’ Championship (Fernando first on 37 points and Felipe second with 33) and the team also leads the Constructors’ classification on 70 points.

Stefano Domenicali: “We can be satisfied with this result. At the end of an incident packed race we managed to get one driver onto the podium and the other – who had been last after the first corner – into fourth spot. Fernando staged a fantastic climb through the field and might have got an even better result, but we know overtaking is always difficult, especially when it involves cars with similar performance levels. He was perfect when defending his position against Hamilton in the closing stages. Felipe got a really good start which formed the basis of his final result: he had a difficult weekend and I am sure this second consecutive podium is pleasing for him. Reliability however is the key factor, as we saw again today. In terms of the championship, today’s result is very positive: those who are our strongest competitors at the moment picked up just a few points and even when compared to other drivers, we have extended our lead. Now we must remain focussed and prepare as well as possible for the next week’s race in Malaysia, where we will again find different conditions to those we have experienced in the first two Grands Prix.”

Felipe Massa: “I am very happy with this result, for myself and for the team. Given everything that happened, rain at the start, the safety car, the switch to slick tyres when the track was still very slippery – we did a great job. These points are very important for the classification: I have never been very lucky here and in the past, I have often struggled in the early part of the season. The key to getting on the podium was the start. I managed not to spin the wheels, while other drivers struggled for grip and I managed to move up to second. Then I lost some places in the early stages, when I had a few problems with grip, but thanks to the strategy, I then managed to make up some. I was able to close on Kubica but I never had a real chance of passing him, while behind me Fernando got very close on more than one occasion, making the most of a few errors. I think the spectators in the grandstands and in front of their TV screens had fun today: you could hardly call it boring!”

Fernando Alonso: “I am pleased with this result. I got an awful start, because I had wheel spin on a white line and was last after the first corner following a collision with two other cars, so to finish fourth is very significant, especially given what happened to some other drivers, meaning we have increased our lead over some of our closest rivals in the title fight. Thanks to the strategy, we managed to get this result. The car was perfect and we were able to run a very long stint with the soft tyres. When I found myself behind Felipe, maybe I could have gone a bit quicker, but we know it’s very hard to pass in Formula 1 and between team-mates, one should not take any unnecessary risks. If we had managed to get past Kubica, then it might have been a different story, but it wasn’t possible, apart from the fact I also had to defend my position against Hamilton and Webber, who were on fresher tyres than us. For sure, after an exciting and action packed race like this, I don’t think we’ll hear much more talk about boring races!”

Chris Dyer: “Before the race, we had hoped for a better result, but after what happened at the start and the first corner, with Fernando relegated to the back of the pack, we have to be happy with taking home a third and a fourth place. We opted to run just one set of dry tyres and that proved to be the right decision. If we had pitted a second time, we would definitely have lost a few places, while staying out on track, we knew our pursuers would catch us in the closing stages and then it would be a case of defending position which is exactly what happened, with a positive outcome. After two races, we are leading both championships and that means we can look forward with confidence to the rest of the season.”


Kimi Räikkönen interview from Sportbild

After you left Ferrari you could have signed a contract with McLaren-Mercedes. Why you preferred to drive rally?
No comment. (laughs) Well, I just didn’t get the cockpit I wanted.

Different reasons. I had some offers, not only from McLaren. But I also ever made it clear, that I will only stay in F1, when I get the chance to win races and fight for the championship. When the last door was closed I decided that the rally world championship would be the best option for me. Red Bull and Citroen give me that opportunity. Anytime in my career I wanted to do that anyway, now it just happened earlier.

When did Ferrari tell you that they don’t need you anymore?
Sometime in summer 2009 they told me that they maybe will replace me with Alonso. I don’t think that it was up to my performance on track. Rather some other things lead to Alonso driving there. For example some sponsors were not innocent.

You surely mean Spanish bank Santander, a sponsor of Fernando Alonso. What do you think now of Ferrari?
I had 3 great years there. I achieved my dream to be world champion with Ferrari. It is one of the best teams in F1. There is nothing negative to say about the team.

Which aims do you have for the rally world championship?
If I drive longer, the ultimate aim is certainly to be world champion. Nobody has won both championships in F1 and Rally before. But one after another. First I want to win a rally.

Which title would mean more to you?
To be the best driver around the world is always a great satisfaction, in rally as in F1.

You have a fantastic rival: Sebastian Loeb
He dominates the rally world championship since many years. 6 consecutive years he was world champion, that’s a bit similar to Michael Schumacher in F1. When you dominate your sport for such a long time you are something special. That’s why I can learn a lot from him. He is my benchmark, exactly like he could learn from me a lot in F1.

How much of your excitement for rallies is because you are a Finn and that the sport has a long tradition in your country?
Much. In the past I was driving rally-cross. Also I always liked to drive on snow.

Don’t you miss the power of a F1 engine?
Well, a F1 car is the fastest race car in the world. Everything else can’t be that quick unfortunately.

Do you still have contacts to F1?
Hey, I’m just away for some months now! There are still the same team principals like last year. Apart from those of the new teams I know them all personally.

You have very good connections to Red Bull. What do you think about a F1 comeback as Sebastian Vettel’s team mate?
Who knows? I will make my decision sometime later this year and will check what opportunities I have. Red Bull was very competitive 2009. When I would have a chance to drive a competitive car, that would be very interesting.

Why would you and your friend Sebastian Vettel be a good team?
That you must ask the team. They make the decisions.

What do you answer to critics who say you would not be motivated enough anymore for F1?
I still did try to stay there. That is fact. But it didn’t work. Now I will drive rally for a year. What will come after that has nothing to do with my motivation.

There are voices who say you didn’t do enough with your talent. Are they right?
I could have won 3 world championships in F1. It wasn’t my fault that it didn’t work.

Source: Sportbild
Courtesy: miezicat KRSF

Kimi will find Jordan tough, warns Hirvonen

Kimi Raikkonen must brace himself for a tough Jordan Rally initiation this week, according to factory Ford driver Mikko Hirvonen.

Hirvonen says the Middle East event is the hardest on the world championship calendar for making effective pacenotes due to the variety of flat and undulating stages held on large expanses of featureless terrain.

“When I first did this rally two years ago it was definitely the most hardest for making pacenotes because the speed and character of the roads keeps changing,” said Hirvonen. “Even though there are a few changes [to the stages] this year it will be a lot easier doing the recce because I know what to expect and I’m confident we can improve our notes.”

Raikkonen, who drives a Red Bull-backed Citroen C4 WRC, is embarking on his fourth world championship event in Jordan on the back of a high-speed roll on Rally Mexico earlier this month.

He said: “On an event as specialised as this one it’s vital to cover all the stages because I’m still lacking kilometres in rally conditions.”

Source: Max Rally

Lewis Hamilton Q&A: I drove my heart out

From his poor qualifying position, to a questionable strategy call by McLaren, to Mark Webber’s overly-optimistic passing attempt, Australia hasn’t been Lewis Hamilton’s weekend. Here Hamilton reviews his race and looks ahead to next weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix…

Q: Lewis, can you sum up your last lap?
Lewis Hamilton: It was one of the more unsatisfying races of my life, and unfortunately due to the strategy, I was put further back when finally I got taken out by Mark Webber. I was driving my heart out today and I deserve better than what I ended up with, but for sure I will keep fighting at the next race.

Q: Do you think that you deserved better from the team at the last stop?
LH: Well, I know that the guys always do a fantastic job. It’s just the strategy was not right. Everyone in front of me did one stop and for some reason I did two.

Q: Did you choose to come in? Who told you to do so?
LH: I don’t know, we’ll find out.

Q: You had such a great start…
LH: Yes, I had a great race in general - a really, really great race. The car was good even though I lost a bit of downforce with a bit of damage to the car. But otherwise it was a solid race. Obviously this was not my weekend.

Q: You were right behind Renault’s Robert Kubica, so why did you have to stop?
LH: My tyres were great. We’ve clearly lost a one-two today and a podium for me, as I had the pace to overtake Kubica. But we have to look forward.

Q: You say that the strategy ruined your race, can you be a bit more precise?
LH: Well, I was in P3 and everyone else didn’t stop - but I stopped. I had already stopped once, and my tyres were fine and they would have lasted. Maybe I would have struggled a bit towards the end - but that is what all the other guys did. I was brought in for another stop, even though I would have preferred to stay out, but I didn’t question the decision because I trusted that was the right one. After pitting again I had a 20-second gap to catch up and then I was taken out by Mark. All that wasn’t cool.

Q: What happened with you and Webber?
LH: I would say that Mark’s move was not really looking forward. He didn’t think clearly and took us out. That was it.

Q: How motivated are you for the Malaysia race? Especially given your team mate Jenson Button’s excellent win…
LH: I think this win was great for the team - and congratulations to Jenson - he did a good job. Fingers crossed that the race in Malaysia will be better.


Sebastian Vettel Q&A: Car failure ‘massively infuriating’

It would seem Sebastian Vettel is jinxed. As in Bahrain, Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix saw him dominate the race only to be eliminated by a mechanical problem. He may head to Malaysia safe in the knowledge that he has the fastest car on the grid, but he also knows that missing out on valuable points at this stage of the season could ultimately cost him the title...

Q: Sebastian, somehow it’s a bit like deja vu: as in Bahrain you’ve dominated qualifying and the race only to be taken out by a mechanical failure…
Sebastian Vettel: Well, yes, we had a problem with the brakes of the left front tyre. As I understand it the tyre was not fixed properly and therefore had too much play and damaged the brake disc. It started two laps before - I wanted to pit but the next lap it was improving again so the decision was made to keep me out, and then it was too late…

Q: How did the problem show?
SV: I was sort of flying sparks on the left front wheel - probably this was visible on TV - then I tried to brake cautiously. At one point the tyre locked and that was the end of it.

Q: How frustrating is this when you’re in the lead in already difficult circumstances?
SV: It is massively infuriating and in my mind I’m using the ‘s’ word.

Q: Is it some sort of relief that the next race is already this coming weekend - that the next try for the podium is just around the corner?
SV: To be honest, at this very moment I would like nothing more but to go home - but life goes on. It gives a certain satisfaction to know that from my side I couldn’t have made anything different or better and I think until the moment when the trouble started we’d done a great job.

Q: Doesn’t being the dominant force on the grid make it easier to swallow another setback?
SV: That’s a cold comfort. I would have rather left Melbourne with 50 points on my side instead of 12.

Q: How confident are you heading to Malaysia that there all the bad luck will have disappeared?SV: We have a very fast car - that is a fact. We just have to make sure that we see the chequered flag. But it is only the second race so there is no need to get nervous. We just have to see that we have a good car at hand for the second half of the season.


Raikkonen to partner Vettel at Red Bull in 2011 - report

Kimi Raikkonen is set to replace Red Bull's Mark Webber ahead of the 2011 season.

A report in Germany's Bild am Sonntag said the return of the Finn to Formula One, to become his friend Sebastian Vettel's teammate, is already being arranged.

Raikkonen, 30, is already under contract to the energy drinks company, having switched from Ferrari to world rallying for 2010 with the Red Bull-funded Citroen Junior Team.

RBR team boss Christian Horner recently admitted that hiring Raikkonen for 2011 is an "interesting idea", and speculation about Webber's expiring contract was re-fired this weekend when Lewis Hamilton tipped the Australian to retire.

Horner said on Saturday: "We are very happy with our drivers. Mark is driving very well, and he is not old, as Michael has demonstrated.

"The average age (of F1 drivers) has dropped, but as long as Mark is motivated, competitive and quick, I don't think that he has any thoughts of stopping just yet."

Vettel told Bild am Sonntag: "Kimi and I are good friends, but in the end I don't care who sits in the other car because I still have to beat him."

He would not confirm that the Raikkonen deal is close to being finalised.

"I don't know what the team is planning. And in the end, it is of course Kimi's decision. He needs to see how he feels."

Source: Motorsport

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Kovalainen: Day With My Trainer

Here is a preview in to a day with my trainer Petri Lehikoinen. He is former alpine skiing team physio and has worked with a lot of other Finnish athletes as well. He is with me now for the 2nd year and he has done an incredible job so far. He doesn't like cameras very much!

Source: OfficialKovalainen

[Photos] Saturday in Melbourne...


Road train of trucks transporst rally traffic north

Amman, Jordan: The astonishing sight of dozens of rally vehicles brought parts of Jordan to a standstill after the World Rally Championship roadshow finally arrived in Jordan today (Saturday).

Following its long journey from Italy to the Red Sea port city of Aqaba, the colourful array of vehicles was unloaded en-masse before being transported to their home for the next seven days on the banks of Jordan’s breathtaking Dead Sea.

To ensure the smooth arrival and to avoid delays, all customs checks will be carried out at the Dead Sea once the vehicles are in place. The road train provided a truly incredible spectacle as it snaked through communities on its 350km journey north.

“The arrival of the boat from Italy has really raised the excitements levels even further here,” said Khaled Zakaria, Jordan Rally clerk of the course. “We can all now look forward to an exciting event starting with the opening ceremony in Jerash on April 1st.”

The world’s top drivers are all set to arrive in Amman tomorrow (Sunday) and will include six-time world champion Sebastien Loeb, 2008 Jordan Rally Champion Mikko Hirvonen, Former F1 Champion Kimi Raikkonen and 2003 world champion Petter Solberg.

It promises to be a mouth-watering three days of furious action which comes to a close with the podium finish inside the Dead Sea Service Park next Saturday afternoon.

The top spectator spots and best places to view the action have all been uploaded onto the official web site at


Australian GP - Alonso pleased, Felipe less so

Third and fifth places: that was the end result for Scuderia Ferrari in qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso will start from third spot on the starting grid, just ahead of his team-mate, Felipe Massa, who posted the fifth fastest time. “We are satisfied with this result,” said Stefano Domenicali. “We knew the Red Bulls were very quick, but we are not far off them. Fernando really drove a great qualifying, getting the most out of the car. Felipe struggled a bit to get the tyres working properly, but all the same he managed to get a good place. Tomorrow’s race looks like being very unpredictable. Traditionally at this track, the safety-car very often plays its part and I don’t think tomorrow’s race will be an exception to this rule. We will therefore need to be ready to deal with any eventuality. Furthermore, there is a question mark over the weather. For our part, we will try and bring home the best result we can: in a long and closely contested championship like this one, the key is to always score points.”

Fernando Alonso: “I am pleased with the way qualifying went. You always want to be on pole, but third place is still a good result. We knew the Red Bulls were very strong, but we are close to them and can count on having a good race pace. Our aim is to get to the finish, not making any mistakes and getting a good result, maybe making it to the podium. Of course I want to fight for the win but it is not worth taking risks as it is too important to bring home points. After yesterday’s free practice, we were not worried because we knew our work had only focussed on being ready for Sunday’s race. Anything can happen here and we must be ready for any eventuality. A new engine? Yes, it brings luck to change it…But joking apart, it was part of our engine management plan to have a new unit for this race.”

Felipe Massa: “Not the qualifying I was expecting, going into this Grand Prix. Ever since the temperature dropped, I have always struggled to find the best way of getting the tyres up to temperature, while yesterday morning for example, when it was hotter, the situation was much better. With today’s temperatures, I had no grip, which is not particularly encouraging. Let’s hope it’s a bit warmer tomorrow. In FP3 I really found it difficult, but come the end of qualifying I still managed to get a reasonable result. It’s definitely not ideal in terms of looking for a win, but all the same, I will try and bring home a good number of points. This race is very tough, partly because, as we have often seen in the past, anything can happen here.”

Chris Dyer: “We are quite pleased with this result, given that we came pretty close to getting the most out of the potential of our package. We still lack a little bit of performance to be ahead of the two Red Bulls, but nevertheless, we are in a good position for tomorrow’s race. After the difficulty in the last free practice session, Felipe did a good job in qualifying, managing to get a good position on the grid. Both cars will be starting from the clean side of the track, which could be an advantage. At the moment, the weather forecast for tomorrow is dry for the race, but we saw both yesterday and today that there is real chance of short showers. We must therefore be ready to deal with this eventuality, as well as making the most of any opportunities that might arise during a race that traditionally seems plenty of action.”


Lewis Hamilton incident police

Source: YouTube

FIA post-qualifying press conference - Australia

Drivers: 1. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull), 1m 23.919s; 2. Mark Webber (Red Bull), 1m 24.035s; 3. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), 1m 24.111s

Q: Sebastian, what a lap. The final sector of it you were hanging it off the edge of the kerbs, you were all over the place. You certainly spoiled the day for the Webber fans here in Melbourne.
Sebastian Vettel: Yeah, I think obviously first of all it is a great result for both of us and for the team. Mark’s home race, so it is a little bit funny remembering last year from Germany, so kind of revenge but it is a long race tomorrow. But coming back to qualifying, I think we did a good step into qualifying with the car, improving it, and the final session was all about ‘does it start to rain or not.’ Everyone went out. We waited a little bit and the first lap was the quickest and just spot on everywhere until I reached the last three corners. I would say turn 14, the fast right hander, I was still on the edge and okay but after that I think I lost a little bit, especially the last corner onto the main straight. It was a very good lap up to that point. I was very happy. I think the result says it all, so looking forward to tomorrow. It is quite good to start at the front. We don’t know how messy it might get tomorrow, safety car, no safety car. There is always a lot happening in Albert Park but it is good to be on pole. The clean side as well, so I am very happy.

Q: Mark, eight one-hundredths of a second down on Sebastian. You lost time in the middle sector there but what did you think of your performance? Are you happy?
Mark Webber: Not really. I would love to be on pole. Second is a good result as Seb said for the team. Both of us are up there which is fantastic. It is a lot better than my qualifying in Bahrain. The lap was pretty decent but for both of us there is always a little bit here and there where you can get a little bit more out of it. In the end I did my best. That’s all I could do. The middle sector, turn six and nine, is always a balancing act to get the entries and exit clean, so overall I would say I would like to be one place further up but Seb did a good job for the team, so very, very close and see how we go tomorrow.

Q: Fernando, you are a further eight one-hundredths down on Mark. Are you closer to the Red Bulls on race pace, do you think, than you are on qualifying pace?
Fernando Alonso: No idea. We see tomorrow. Qualifying has been good for us. We knew that to beat the Red Bulls was a difficult thing to do here, so we just concentrated to maximise our potential, so third I think is a very good result and the pace has been good in one lap performance, so we are close to them and tomorrow we see. The race is long. We will try to finish the race and hopefully be on the podium again like in Bahrain and keep on scoring points. The race is long and as Sebastian said here will be a very long race with safety cars, accidents, problems, very tough also for the mechanical aspect of the car. First we need to finish the race and then we will see if we were quick enough to fight for the win or not.

Q: Sebastian, you said on the radio at the end that ‘we will show them’. Do you feel you have something to prove and , if so, who is them?
SV: Everyone else. I got the call P1 and Mark P2, so at the end of the day you are a team and the result in Bahrain for both of us, myself and Mark, was probably not as the car is. We have got another chance here. There are lots of races this year but it is quickly said on the radio, things like that. We are all motivated and I am looking forward to tomorrow.

Q: Sebastian, we spoke about the final sector. That was also where both the two Red Bull cars were particularly strong. What was the trick to that?
SV: Nail it! I think that the car has been working well yesterday. I think I was a bit behind Mark in the first two practice sessions and overnight we did a step forward. I think to qualifying again it was another step and then it was pretty much head to head. You were talking about the first run in Q3. We were all the teams in the same situation. We didn’t know if it would start to rain or not. We had the forecast of some drizzle, but you never know how strong that is going to be. It can easily spoil your lap. I think that the first run I had in Q3, the first two sectors were spot on. The third sector was getting a bit messy towards the end, so I lost it a little bit into 15, braking a bit late and I had not so clean an exit onto the main straight, so it wasn’t ideal but still it was enough. For all of us we are trying to push so hard and trying to get every single bit out of the car. Especially here in Melbourne it is very easy to overshoot on entry and therefore have a bad exit or be too patient on entry and therefore having a good exit but having lost the time on the entrance of the corner. It is always a compromise to find. I like the circuit. It is very bumpy, very rough, but you really need to concentrate hard. Being on pole positions is a great achievement from all of us. Mark second, so it is the best possible result for the team, so looking forward to the race.

Q: You have never finished here, but you have only been here twice. What are the major factors in the race going to be? How difficult is the car to drive on the bumps under braking?
SV: Well, I think the main thing is to finish. See the chequered flag this time. Last year we were close, only a couple of laps. But today was qualifying. Similar to Bahrain, Saturday is completely different to Sunday. Now we have a rough idea what is happening on Sunday, meaning that everyone of us will jump into the car with a lot of fuel in the car and it will be totally different. I think it will be even more bumpy and more difficult to control. It is a very long race. You need to focus on your own race, keeping the car on the track and at the same time managing your tyres plus trying to keep the car always on the limit. On top of that Albert Park is well known for any kind of happenings. I remember two years back only seven cars finished, so safety car, accidents, could be quite messy, so the main thing is to have a tidy race and bring the car home. Starting first that‘s where you want to finish as well.

Q: Mark, particularly impressive on the harder tyres in Q2. That must be encouraging even if you are disappointed not to be on pole?
MW: The team has done a great job all weekend. We have been competitive all weekend. We have always been in the top few, so that was not what we expected as we know we have some very good opposition here. But in the end we got the maximum result for the team. Obviously I am not happy with the order but Seb did a great job and both of us pushed each other hard and that is what it’s about at this level. He got one back on me from Germany last year when I got pole from him as he said before, so in the end we had a good battle today and we go again tomorrow. It is a long, long race in terms of safety cars and a lot of the smaller teams with inexperienced drivers are also getting used to this new type of venue compared to Bahrain. It is a different type of track, so I don’t think that we will be finishing in the order in terms of the top 10. I think there will be few changes potentially, so we will see how it goes.

Q: How much did you change from this morning to this afternoon and from yesterday as well?MW: We changed a bit overnight, as much as we could. We got pretty much the optimum out of the car today. It went very well. It is evident that Sebastian and I are trying to find time that is probably not there and we can see that with his last sector in places and my middle sector. All of a sudden you start to look for a lap time which is much more riskier to get and easy to make mistakes. I wasn’t particularly keen on repeating my Bahrain performance. That was a good lap. Just a bee’s dick off pole, but at least I am on the front row and have a good chance to start the race in a good position.

Q: Fernando, apart from everything else you had a new wing on the car today from yesterday. Has that made a big difference? Anything major?
FA: Some, some new parts put in the car. You put it in because you believe it is better. We are talking about hundredths of seconds. Anything is welcome but for this race we didn’t change the car in a way.

Q: You won here in 2006 and you said yesterday you were concentrating on race settings, so is third on the grid a surprise for you?
FA: Not a surprise as I was not expecting any clear order. Yesterday’s times they mean nearly nothing as with the different fuel loads we have this year anyone can have a different preparation for the weekend. Yesterday we were in P15, so we were preparing for the race compared to our competitors maybe a little bit more, so for tomorrow I am confident. But as we all three said already, tomorrow’s race is a very long race with many things that normally happen here. Also there is the weather as it is not so clear that it will be dry, so anything can happen tomorrow. Better to start in the top three, top five, if you want to fight for a podium or a win, so definitely extremely happy with the position in the top three but we know that this is only the start of the weekend and tomorrow is the real job.


Q: (Paolo Ianieri - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Sebastian, in Bahrain you were surrounded by the two Ferraris. Here you have Mark on your side. Which is the better situation?
MW: I think clearly to have Mark here. As Mark said before we were pushing each other hard in qualifying and now we sit here first and second. That is a great achievement. It is better than having two Ferraris up here and only one Red Bull.

Q: Mark, what is your emotion right now? Is it frustration or disappointment?
MW: For sure I have had tougher days in my life, so I will sleep well tonight. It is the competitive instinct that you come here looking to get the maximum and you always want to do a little bit better than what you did. In the end we both showed today that probably that was where the car was as we repeated the lap times a few times. I will be happy in the morning when I wake up. I am in a good position to have a decent race, but this place is incredibly unpredictable come Sunday afternoon. Not only because of the type of circuit it is but because there can be some changeable weather tomorrow afternoon. I am getting happier every minute.

Q: (Carlos Miquel - Diario AS) Fernando, what’s your plan for tomorrow? To wait for the Red Bull Racing battle or to attack your friend Mark Webber?
FA: I will think about it tonight and make a decision tomorrow. No, let’s wait and see. Obviously, the first priority is to finish the race. We need the points. You cannot have a DNF (did not finish) in the second race of the championship because of one stupid mistake. So the first priority is to finish the race and the second priority is to finish in a better position than where you normally started the race. Not if you started on pole, but if you start third you only look ahead of you and there are Mark and Sebastian and hopefully you can have a chance to fight with them. If not, obviously we need to fight to be on the podium, because that would also be a good result, to finish the first two races on the podium. So let’s wait and see and tomorrow we will see how the race develops.

Q: (Luis Fernando - Racing Magazine) Mark, a few days ago, you said it was better to be first or third in qualifying because it would be a bit of a mess to start on the right side of the grid, so can we assume that tomorrow you will be more in a defensive frame of mind than an attacking one? MW: I would still take second over third, obviously. I still have a reasonable position to start the race. It’s very difficult to know how it will unfold until basically the first hundred meters tomorrow. We’re still very, very optimistic. Our starts were good in Bahrain. In the past there has been a bit of a difference from left to right here but we will see what happens. Obviously the Lamborghinis decided to smash into each other on the front straight quite solidly today, so there’s been a bit of a clean-up after that and hopefully the track is clean. It’s always the way; Budapest, Monaco, there are a few tracks and this is one of them where there is a discrepancy from left to right but that’s how it’s always been, so I will see how it goes.

Q: (Mark Fogarty - Auto Action) Mark, perhaps more than ever, the eyes of a nation will be on you tomorrow. How daunting a prospect is that?
MW: Not really, mate, because I know tomorrow’s papers will be wrapping fish and chips on Monday. They’re very fickle and most people down here obviously think that this is the only race of the season. I have a much, much bigger thing in mind, obviously, a good result tomorrow. Of course I’m keen to do well here, but every Grand Prix is a very respectful thing to take part in. I’ve a very good team behind me and whether I’m in Australia, Budapest, Japan we give our best. Every time we get in the car we have to deliver. Today I didn’t feel any pressure at all. I felt like I drove well and I enjoyed it. When the helmet is on, it’s over to me to do the job.

Q: (Livio Oricchio - O Estado de Sao Paulo) Vettel, in the last race on softer tyres, it looks like you had a little bit better performance than Ferrari and when you used hard tyres, it looked Alonso was maybe a little bit better. Considering what you saw in free practice, what can you expect from the race?
SV: Well, I think this is a different circuit here, different tyres as well, soft and hard, but they are both different to Bahrain, so I think, as Fernando has already mentioned, the lap times on Friday weren’t really representative. Everyone is doing whatever he thinks is best for his kind of preparation, either qualifying, something in between, or race. I think we will have a good car in the race. To be honest, I don’t think you have to be a genius if you look at yesterday, we didn’t really focus on qualifying too much. I think it makes us confident for the race and we should have a good car, so Fernando was saying that they have a new front wing on the car, only a couple of hundredths or as Mark said it could be two hundred hundredths. Obviously it’s not that much but everyone is trying to push, trying to improve. I think tomorrow it will be much more about having a tidy race as it is likely that a lot of things happen here: safety cars, as we said already. There’s usually a lot of action at Albert Park. I hope for a boring race and we finish as we start. I’m sorry for you but we didn’t really get the job done in Bahrain, so we will try to do it here.

Q: (Heikki Kulta - Turun Sanomat) I was about to ask how boring it could be; can you promise a more colourful race for the TV spectators?
SV: Well, I think yes, because this circuit has an edge that there is simply more action than probably in Bahrain, so more things happening. The circuit’s not that long, so you might also have more situations lapping cars, lapping groups which can always be a dangerous situation for yourself and for them as well. There’s not a lot of run-off whereas in Bahrain, if you maybe do a mistake you just run wide and you come back. Here it always looks nice on TV but it feels horrible in the car, as I felt yesterday. It’s immediately gravel or something that isn’t that smooth. Yeah, I think we will have more excitement tomorrow just because of the circuit, first of all. Secondly, I think it’s a bit closer here than it was in Bahrain. It’s also a shorter track, so it’s natural, and lastly, as Fernando said, we don’t know the weather yet. There’s usually always sunshine in Australia, so I don’t know what’s wrong this year. You never know what happens. Just a couple of drops on the circuit can make a difference. So you keep the car on the track and try to bring it home. For us, I think the target is clear.

Q: (Paolo Ianieri - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Sebastian, we have seen that the Red Bull is a fast car, but the reliability is probably not at its best. What do you have to do with the team, how have you spoken to them to try to avoid the problems that you had in Bahrain? Are you worried about it?
SV: Well, it’s not fair to say that we are struggling with reliability. In Bahrain, we were obviously a bit unlucky with the failure that we had. A spark plug failure doesn’t really happen too often but it happened in that case. The main thing is that we carried on and we still finished fourth. I think Mark had a solid race in Bahrain. If you look at reliability, I think it was quite boring for him to follow another car for the whole race and not be able to pass, even though he was probably quicker. To come back, I think we have nothing to fear. We have good and strong people on board. If there’s any indication that we might have a weakness here or there, which, to be frank with you, in testing it’s natural, I think, because the car is new because you always have some problems here and there to solve. We solved them and so far we’ve had no issues. In that regard I’m quite confident.

Q: (Dan Knutson - National Speed Sport News) Mark, there are reports in the papers that Sydney will make a bid for this race after the contract expires. But you also say you like it here. What is it about Melbourne that makes it the perfect home for the Australian Grand Prix?
MW: Look, this is not the Melbourne Grand Prix for me, it’s the Australian Grand Prix. We should be proud of having a big event like this in Australia. I know Australia’s very territorial when it comes to separate states and in many ways we are different countries within one but it’s a big country and you can get here to watch the race from any part of Australia if you’re keen. I don’t have a clue where they’re going to run a Grand Prix in Sydney at the moment. Of course it’s a long way away if they’re looking to design something half decent, but there’s nothing wrong with this venue. All the drivers like it. Transport is sensational. Seb says we need to resurface it in places a little bit but we can do that if we have to. You always think it’s greener somewhere else. Adelaide put on a good show and so has this place. We’ve been here for a long time.


Alonso: Podium is a realistic goal

After watching the Red Bulls blitz the competition in qualifying, Fernando Alonso admits that victory in the Australian GP may be out of Ferrari's reach.

Red Bull dominated qualifying at the Albert Park circuit as Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber locked out the front row of the grid. Alonso, though, wasn't too far off, finishing in third place, 0.192s behind pole-sitter Vettel.

Yet Red Bull's qualifying performance, coupled with the pace they displayed in Bahrain, has Alonso admitting that perhaps a podium finish is the best Ferrari can hope for come Sunday evening.

"Qualifying has been good for us," said the Spaniard. "We knew that to beat the Red Bulls was a difficult thing to do here, so we concentrated to maximise our potential, and third was a very good result.

"Tomorrow the race is long, so we'll try to finish the race on the podium like Bahrain, and we want to keep scoring points. There will be a long race, with safety cars, accidents, problems and it will be very tough.

"First we need to finish the race and then see if we are quick to win the race or not."

The double World Champ, who won the season-opening Bahrain GP after Vettel's Red Bull suffered reliability issues, wasn't at all surprised to find Red Bull and Ferrari at the front of the grid.

"It's not a surprise because I was not expecting a clear order," he said. "Yesterday's times mean really nothing because with a different fuel load that we have this year everyone can have different preparation for this weekend.

"Yesterday I was P15, so we were preparing the race compared to our competitors a little bit more. For tomorrow I am confident but as all three said tomorrow's race is a very long race with many things that normally happen here.

"I'm extremely happy with a place in the top three, but this is start of the weekend and tomorrow is the real job."

Source: Planet-F1