Mattia Binotto says it is their duty, as part of a global sport such as Formula One, to try to put a smile on people’s faces in difficult times because of the threat of coronavirus after they managed to escape quarantine a quarter of Italy’s population.
Despite the quarantine in Italy, which houses about 16 million people, Ferrari has managed to travel to Melbourne for the first race of the season, and Binotto and his team are eagerly awaiting the moment to find out the results of their work over the winter.
“After a long winter working on building and developing our car, the time has come to get a first indication of our performance level and how effective are the improvements we have introduced over the past few months,” said Binotto.
“We know that the opposition is strong, but we also know that it is the start of a long season where development rate, reliability, and our operational effectiveness will be key.”
“We are gearing up to tackle all these challenges as a united team, conscious of the progress that needs to be made and proud of the support of our fans worldwide.”
“At what is a difficult time for Italy and the world as a whole, as part of a global sport, it is our obligation to try and put a smile on people’s faces as they prepare to watch the first race of the season with the same sense of anticipation as ourselves.”
Ferrari drivers Vettel and Leclerc explained why the Albert Park track is one of the most challenging on the Formula One calendar, where the first race of the season has been held since 1996 with the exception of 2006 and 2010 when it was hosted by Bahrain.
“Say Melbourne and three things come to mind: sunshine, a buzzing atmosphere and bumps,” said Vettel who won in Australia in 2011 with Red Bull and in 2017 and 2018 with Ferrari.
“Sunshine, because the weather is usually nice when we race there; the buzzing atmosphere because this city is full of life, making it a pleasure to start the season here, and the bumps because every year we know that the Albert Park track is going to be very bumpy.”
“In fact, it’s that characteristic which makes this track a real technical challenge and that’s probably the reason we drivers like it so much.”
“The first race of the season is always special and I think it will allow us to get a better idea than we had in testing as to what the hierarchy is between the teams.”
Leclerc also highlighted the biggest challenges on the Albert Park track.
“If I had to sum up Melbourne in three words, they would be, beautiful, tricky and fun,” said Leclerc.
“Beautiful refers to the city that is vibrant and has a young population that makes it even more lively.”
“The track is definitely exciting, because it’s a street circuit and I’ve always loved racing between the walls, although it also has some very fast sections. However, it is also definitely tricky because, especially at the start of the weekend, the surface is dirty and doesn’t provide the same grip level you’d find at a permanent track.”
“The characteristics of the Albert Park track make it unforgiving and any mistake can come at a high price, so when you’re in the cockpit, you have to be fully focused all the time.”
STATS (after 2019)
|Wins||Michael Schumacher (4)||McLaren (11)||Mercedes (11)|
|Pole positions||Lewis Hamilton (8)||McLaren (10)||Mercedes (12)|
|Fastest laps||Kimi Räikkönen (6)||Ferrari (9)||Ferrari and Mercedes (9)|
|Podium places||Lewis Hamilton (9)||McLaren (26)||Mercedes (30)|
|Front row||Lewis Hamilton (9)||McLaren (22)||Mercedes (22)|
|Races led||Lewis Hamilton (8)||McLaren (21)||Mercedes (21)|
|Kilometers led||Michael Schumacher (1190)||McLaren (3010)||Mercedes (3341)|
|Points||Lewis Hamilton (164)||Ferrari (386.5)||Mercedes (580)|