The 2012 FIA Formula One World Championship gets underway in Melbourne next week with the season-opening Australian Grand Prix. Hosted at the beautiful Albert Park for the 17th consecutive year, the 5.303 km street circuit is located south of Melbourne city centre, and uses public roads surrounding the man-made Albert Park lake.
Michael Schumacher: "Finally, we can stop trying to read the tea-leaves from testing and actually go racing. Melbourne is a perfect location, and the ideal place to start the season. The city loves Formula One, the fans create a great atmosphere and obviously, as drivers, we feel that too. And because we've already got a buzz about what's to come, it just makes you want to get out there and start driving. During winter testing, we completed lots of miles and built up a really complete set of data, which should put us in a good position for the first race and to develop the car even further in the right direction. We're ready for the 2012 season to begin..."
Nico Rosberg: "I'm really looking forward to the start of the new season in Australia next weekend. I had a perfect winter break with plenty of rest, a good training camp and a successful pre-season test programme where we were able to put a lot of mileage on our F1 W03 car. So we are really ready for the first race. I always love the atmosphere in Melbourne; it's a great city and the fans are fantastic. After all of the hard work, and all of the speculation, it will be really interesting to see where we are on Saturday afternoon after qualifying. Before heading to Australia, I will be in New Zealand for a bike training camp to help me adjust to the time difference and the climate 'Down Under'."
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "The build-up to the start of a new season is always an exciting time, no matter how many times you have experienced it, and everyone at the team is looking forward to the action getting underway in Melbourne next week. We are well prepared, both at the factory and on track, as a result of our structured development and testing plan, and I am confident that we are in a good position. How this translates to our performance relative to the competition is, of course, the key question and it will be interesting to see how it all shapes out next weekend. My thanks to all of the team at Brackley and Brixworth for their hard work and dedication over the winter months and I hope we will be able to reward them with a strong season. Melbourne has always been one of the atmospheric races on the calendar, and certainly one of my favourite cities to visit, so I look forward to a good week ahead."
Norbert Haug, Vice-President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: "It's only a little over 100 days since Formula One was in Brazil for the final race of the 2011 season, but now we are ready for the 2012 season to begin and to get back to what we love best: going motor racing. Starting the third season with our Silver Arrows works team, we think we are better prepared than the two years before, which indicates that our learning process is heading in the right direction. The Mercedes F1 W03 has run reliably since its first run on 16 February, completed 4,450 km during pre-season testing, and achieved an average daily testing mileage of 472 km: this equates to an average of more than one and a half Grand Prix distances during each of the nine test days. Nico and Michael are both excited about the new season and highly motivated, while our team members back at base in Brackley and Brixworth and on track are working extremely hard to deliver both performance and reliability at the opening race. The whole team has done a good job in both areas this winter. After testing, we know we have a solid basis to work from and a good platform for development. Understandably, there is much speculation about the pecking order of the new season, and finally we will get a first answer on Saturday afternoon during qualifying in Melbourne, when everybody has to put their cards on the table. Before the first race of this long season, I would like to thank all our team members who have worked so hard and with dedication during the past months, with our clear target which is making the next step in improving our performance compared to our competitors. We aim to show that we have taken this step forward as the first part of a continuous process of improvement."