The new Formula 1 season kicks of next week in Australia. The Grand Prix in Melbourne marks the start of an important year for Caterham F1
Team. After two years it's time to challenge the established teams and score a first point. Heikki Kovalainen knows that will be hard. Vitaly Petrov
hopes for some chaos in Albert Park.
Kovalainen: After three pretty solid weeks of testing were heading to Melbourne in good shape. Weve clearly moved on from where we started in 2011, and are a long way ahead of where we were in 2010 but were still all staying very realistic about what we can do this season. Apart from a few issues in the second test, which were all sorted out for T3, our reliability has been good, and both Vitaly and I put in laps that showed we are close to the pace we want to be. But as everyone knows the tests dont really tell you anything about where you are against everyone else, so we wont really know anything until Saturday in Melbourne.
Whatever happens when we get there, I just want it all to start right now. Ive had a great winter, worked hard and am heading into 2012 feeling fitter than ever. Ive made a couple of changes off track that will help me focus even more on my job with the team and with the step forward weve taken with this years car, Im more keen than ever to get out on track and see how weve progressed again this year.
Petrov: Melbourne is obviously somewhere that will always be very special for me. Last year I scored my first F1 podium there and was given a really good welcome by all the Australian fans so Im sure it will be the same again this year. I think its pretty clear we wont be in a position to fight for a podium again but I think the goal will be to push the midfield teams as hard as we can and who knows what could happen.... Usually there are quite a few retirements in Australia, and there are a couple of areas of the track that dont leave any room for error, so I hope were there at the end of the race and able to take advantage of whatevers happened ahead.
It will also be a good weekend for me generally as Im really enjoying life with my new team. Its still early days, but Ive been given a great welcome by everyone and Im starting to build a good relationship with my engineer, so i think we have a good year ahead of us, whatever happens. We spent quite a lot of time in Barcelona looking at how to fine tune the setups specifically for me, and while we do have more work to do in Australia we definitely made some real progress at the last test which puts me in as good a position as we could hope for when we get to Melbourne.
Tony Fernandes, Team Principal: Melbourne 2012 is a very important race for us and one I am possibly more excited about than any race we have participated in our two short years in F1. We shed the new team tag at the start of 2011, but for most of last season we were racing in what felt like no-mans-land. We were comfortably ahead of the two teams that made their debuts at the same time as us in 2010, and for a large part of last year we were what felt like inches away from the teams just ahead. Now it is time for us to take our place as a midfield team, and we have everything in place to do just that. If we do, and find ourselves racing teams like Williams
, Toro Rosso and Sauber
I think that will be an incredible achievement, from a starting point of an empty factory in September 2009 to racing teams who have decades on us in terms of establishment and development. If we are not quite there at the start of the season it will not be for lack of effort, and we will keep fighting all year to bridge the gap to what will be a very tightly packed group of teams just in front.