Vodafone McLaren Mercedes new driver line-up for the 2008 season, Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen, will make their race debut as teammates in Australia next weekend. The Australian Grand Prix will take place in Melbourne for the 13th consecutive time. It is also the 12th occasion the race has opened the new season, with the 2006 race moving to an April date due to the Commonwealth Games. Lewis Hamilton is already looking forward to the first race of the new season.
“I generally don’t ever demand or have expectations of myself or anyone else, I am more focused on targets. Obviously the targets for the team and for myself are to win as many races as possible, improve on my performance from last year, finish all the races and for the team it is to win the Constructors’ Championship as well. My motivation is even higher than last year, but in a slightly different way. I would say last year was an uncontrollable determination and excitement and just not really knowing what was coming up, just going into the deep blue. Now I know what to expect, I know about my preparations so I am storing energy. To some people it might appear that I am quieter or something along those lines, but I am saving all this energy for the first race, and I cannot wait to get out there.”In the shorter term, what is your aim for the Australian Grand Prix?
“We need to go there with total confidence in the car, which I have and to get off to a really good start, it needs to be the best start possible. So I am going there with the aim of winning the race, and we will all work hard to try and achieve that.”You had a sensational start to the 2007 season at Albert Park last year, what is the outstanding memory of the race for you?
“I think the first corner has to be one of the best memories for sure, I will never forget that moment. Also finishing on the podium for the first time and only just finishing third, so close behind second position. It was my first race and all the expectation was riding on my shoulders from everyone else, but I just focused my targets and got a great result.”What are your feelings about the MP4-23 prior to its competitive debut?
“I feel very positive about it, I think we have made some mega steps forward and the reliability is even better. The car feels stronger than last year, and despite the removal of areas such as traction control, it is also very similar in certain ways. I think we have come a really long way already before the first Grand Prix, and I am confident we will be able to compete with the other teams”