It’s been just over 15 weeks since we sealed up the last container in Abu Dhabi and called time on the 2018 season, but in the long, dark vacuum that is the F1 off season those three months have felt like an eternity.
Now, though, the long wait is over, the new season is almost upon us and to say everyone is fired up would be the understatement of the century.
Why? Well we’re bringing an exciting new driver pairing to the grid, we’re embarking on our first season with Honda as power unit partner and we’re heading to one of the world’s loveliest cities to stack up two weeks of testing success in Barcelona against our rivals for the first time in anger this season. It doesn’t get much better than that, as Max and Pierre confirm…
How are you feeling ahead of the new season?
I always look forward to going to Australia and I’m ready to start racing again. Even though the season starts earlier this year, it still felt like a long winter. Melbourne is an interesting weekend, as it’s the first race of the season and nobody really knows where they stand, especially with the regulation changes and us with our new power unit.
The track in Melbourne presents a very particular challenge – it’s semi-permanent, tight and twisting, and it’s notoriously difficult to overtake there. Despite all that, is it one you enjoy?
Albert Park is an interesting track, it’s actually quite bumpy and has a lot of fast corners, so it’s fun when you have a well-balanced car there. It’s true it’s not the easiest circuit to overtake on, as the straights aren’t quite long enough which makes it hard to set-up a pass, but it’s always possible.
Are you pleased with the RB15 and the progress the Team made in Barcelona?
If we look at our longer runs from testing, our performance seems pretty promising and we hope to be competitive from the beginning of the year. Overall, I think we have a pretty good package, but we won’t know where we are until we get into the race weekend and see if we have closed the gap to Mercedes and Ferrari.
It’s been a long winter for fans, but also everyone in F1, but particularly for you, as you get set to make your debut with the team. Are you eager to get going?
The race in Melbourne will be my first with the Team, so of course I’m really excited to get this new season started. It’s only my second full season in Formula One and there are a lot of things to learn this year, which makes it even more challenging. I’ve prepared myself well all winter for this first race and first season with the Team. It’s going to be a special weekend for me wearing Aston Martin Red Bull Racing colours.
You’ve only had one outing in Melbourne before, with Toro Rosso last season; do you know much about the city?
I really loved it when I went there for the first time last year. It has an amazing atmosphere, I don’t know if it’s because it’s the first race of the year, but there’s something special about it and the people are really relaxed and joyful. Everybody at the track is super positive and excited about the start of the new season and the paddock has a good vibe.