Williams Martini Racing’s new Chief Technical Officer Paddy Lowe will oversee the team’s first outing of the season this weekend in Australia excited to see how the new regulations for 2017 play out on track.
Lowe, who will see Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll race for the team in 2017, is looking forward to seeing how the extra downforce and mechanical grip the new cars have this year will work in race conditions, with only eight days of testing available before Albert Park.
“It is an exciting time of year for everyone in Formula One including the huge number of fans around the world, as we head to Australia for the first race of the season,” said Lowe.
“This year is particularly exciting as the regulations have changed substantially concerning the bodywork of the cars and the dimensions of the tyres, so we expect to see quicker cars and far more challenging racing for the drivers.”
Lowe is expecting the first qualifying session to be the most intense of the whole season as teams and drivers up and down the grid find out just where they sit in relation to their rivals, with the session the first real indicator of how the season will unfold.
“Coming back to the paddock has that feeling of being “back to school” after our winter away: everybody energised for the new season ahead, meeting friends again and welcoming new faces,” said Lowe.
“I always feel that the first qualifying session of the year is the most intense and interesting hour in the entire Formula One calendar, as that is the point when all the smoke and mirrors of winter testing must stop and the real pace is finally put on the table. It is only then that we will see how the cars and drivers perform and get our first true indication of the season which will unfold.
“The race itself is always eventful with more than the usual degree of incident and car failure as the cars and drivers engage in their first competition of the year. And the spectators bring extra enthusiasm to Albert Park, many of them having come from all over the world to see this first race of the F1 season.”
As well as the new cars, Pirelli will bring the Ultrasoft compound to Australia for the first time, and Lowe expects lap records to tumble, although the combined changes could mean drivers tiring quicker than seen in recent times.
“From a technical point of view, the tyres for this year’s race are not only wider but also softer – having the Ultrasoft in play at Melbourne for the first time – so we will without doubt see some record breaking lap times this weekend and perhaps more evidence of driver fatigue in the race than we have seen in recent years,” added Lowe.
The Australian Grand Prix marks Lowe’s return to Williams after he left Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team at the end of 2016, and he is excited to return to his first Formula 1 team.
“For me personally, I’m very happy to be back at Williams, the team where I started my Formula One career,” admitted Lowe. “We have a very talented group of people here and two great drivers with whom I haven’t worked before, so I’m looking forward to stepping into the paddock with them in Melbourne to start the 2017 season.”