Melbourne At Last

Not long to go now – all the freight has arrived, the crew are flat out with the garage build, the team hospitality prefabs are up, and the Albert Park paddock is doing its usual impression of a particularly flash, high-tech village fete.

Yes, indeed, we've spent a dark and dull winter pining for the whine of spinning turbos and the whirr of wheelguns, but now we're all set for the start of the 2018 Formula 1 season and we can't wait.

And that goes for the drivers too, though as we find out, for Daniel a return to the peace and quiet of winter might be just what's needed after the craziness of his home grand prix. As for the rest of us, bring it on!

Daniel Ricciardo

Welcome back, Daniel. The 2018 season is upon us at last and as ever it all kicks off with a double dose of intensity for you. Not only is there the task of taking a new car into a new campaign, but you've also got to do it at your home race? No pressure then!
G'day folks. Yep, starting the F1 season in Australia means there is so much hype and so much build up, now with me being the only Australian on the grid there is extra attention, extra questioning and expectation. It's a lot but it's fun, it's cool but it does mean I usually leave that weekend needing 48 hours of pure serenity and quietness.

Last year didn't quite go according to plan. Is there some unfinished business for you at Albert Park?
Yeah, 2017 was a combination of my errors and some misfortune, I crashed in qualifying and then we had a technical issue for the race. We were all putting our hand up saying "my fault" last year so this year is definitely time to get what we deserve in Melbourne, or rather, get what we came for – that sounds better.

Without wanting to tempt fate, the two weeks of testing in Barcelona showed impressive reliability. Are you happy with the new car?
Getting in the RB14 for the first time was really sweet, hearing it fire up and seeing it with the new bodywork gets you excited for the year. The RB14 compared to the RB13 at this stage last year is a lot different – to start with, getting into the car is a lot harder. There is a fair bit of aerodynamic change this year, real enthusiasts will see it straight away and spot the differences, the main one being the shark fins have gone and obviously the addition of the Halo. I can't wait to get the season started, I'm hanging out to get back on the track and these new cars are very fast, looking forward to seeing you all out there!"

Max Verstappen

Max, finally we're off to Melbourne for race one of the 2018 season. How cool is that?
Very. I always enjoy going to Melbourne, I like the country and the temperature, which is always a welcome change compared to Europe at this time of year. The fans are very passionate about racing and especially Formula 1, as it has a great history in Australia. I have only visited Melbourne and Sydney so far. I definitely want to explore the country a bit more as I'm sure I would enjoy much more of it.

What about the team's chances in Australia. It's a temporary facility, kind of a street track if you will. Is that good for us?
Albert Park is not the easiest track to overtake on, we will try our best but the straights are not quite long enough and a lot of the corners leading to the straights are 90 degree turns, and this makes it hard to set-up a pass. Turns 11 and 12 are the fastest corners and really cool to drive, especially in qualifying, with low fuel, in sixth or seventh gear. I think it is about 270 kilometres per hour. The trees around the circuit sometimes make your braking markers hard to spot with shadows, it's quite normal on a street circuit but makes it more challenging for us to get it right. We are hoping to have made a large step forward this year and be competitive from the start, to have a fast car from race one and continue for the rest of the season would be great.