The 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship is officially about to get underway at Australia’s Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, with Williams Martini Racing eager to hit the track after poor weather conditions during pre-season testing in Spain limited the team’s running.
The first race of the year is always exciting, not least due to the mixed testing conditions all teams endured, but also with new cars and drivers lining-up on the grid. Williams’ new recruit Sergey Sirotkin makes his Formula One race debut in Australia alongside Lance Stroll, who enters his second-year in Formula One following a strong first season with Williams which included a podium finish. The Australian fans always turn out in force for the season-opener, and their passion and enthusiasm never ceases to add to the spectacle.
For Australia, Pirelli has made available the soft, supersoft and ultrasoft tyres.
Paddy Lowe: We are all very excited to go back to Melbourne for the first race of the season. There are lots of new things this season with a new car, driver line-up, people, regulations and a range of new tyre compounds which I’m sure will make events interesting. The first race is always very special. It is good to get out of the European winter and to the pleasant climate in Melbourne with the enthusiastic crowds. Importantly, there is always a state of tension around where everyone will end up pace-wise with the first qualifying session being the most interesting hour of the F1 season, where we get the first exam results following our year-long build up to put together the FW41. We are excited to see Lance and Sergey in their first race as teammates, and it looks like there will be some close competition as all the teams appear to have done a fantastic job over the winter. And whilst that might make
things difficult for the teams, it is great for the fans, so above all else, we hope to put on a great show for everyone in Australia.
Lance Stroll: Australia is always a good Grand Prix and I am looking forward to getting back there. It is the start of the season, there is always a great atmosphere, the fans really get into it and you are right there in Melbourne. I shall be excited to turn up. The track itself is bumpy and technical, as well as being narrow, but it is a pleasure to drive and I think we all enjoy going there.
Sergey Sirotkin: It’s the Australian Grand Prix – it’s my first race in Formula One, my first race with Williams, and my first race in Australia. It’s very exciting and I’m really looking forward to getting there, to start work and to get closer to the lights going out. Looking back at my career, I have always been a racing guy and I’ve always liked the competition, pushing the limits of myself as well as the limits of others. To win in this environment is the biggest dream you can imagine, so I’m really looking forward to this challenge, to put more pressure on myself and to deliver. It’s going to be interesting!