Formula 1

2024 Australian Grand Prix – What the Teams are Saying ahead of the Weekend – Part 1

5 Mins read
Credit: Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

The 2024 FIA Formula 1 World Championship rolls into Albert Park for the Australian Grand Prix this weekend, and everyone will be looking to end the remarkable winning streak of Max Verstappen, who has won nine races in a row including the opening two Grand Prix of the year.

Oracle Red Bull Racing have secured one-two finishes in both the Bahrain and Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, and only the fastest lap point eluded them last time out. 

Heading into the weekend, hear what those from Scuderia Ferrari, the McLaren F1 Team, the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team and the Aston Martin Aramco Formula 1 Team have to say.

#55 – Carlos Sainz Jr. – Scuderia Ferrari

“Since I’ve been in Australia, I’ve made excellent progress, feeling better day by day and I’m ready to get in the car. I also spoke to Alex (Albon) who went through a similar situation two years ago and, although I’m not 100%, I expect to be able to drive.

The doctors who treated me were very good and the operation was the least invasive possible.  After surgery I had to rest and therefore lost some training time, but the lost hours were replaced with physiotherapy sessions. It also meant I wasn’t able to drive in the simulator as planned to prepare for Albert Park. But it’s not a new track and so I believe I can do well.”

#16 – Charles Leclerc – Scuderia Ferrari

“Two years ago here, I had one of the best races of my career, while last year’s was one of the worst. So far, our car is performing consistently and the way the team tackles every session is very sold. As drivers, we feel a sense of confidence around us and I think we have everything we need to do well, so I can’t wait to get out on track here in Albert Park, which is one of my favourite circuits.”

“I think it’s evident we have made a step forward compared to last year, very much in line with the progress made towards the end of last season. The fact that what we are seeing from the car is in line with our expectations means we can be clear about the direction to go in. We are still chasing Red Bull, but we are doing well and the car is consistent and predictable, without any major weak points. Our work can therefore focus on improving our pace, making the most of our package, evolving in the direction we have identified.”

Charles Leclerc is hopeful of a strong weekend in Australia – Credit: Xavi Bonilla / DPPI

#4 – Lando Norris – McLaren F1 Team

“I’m looking forward to going back to the Australian Grand Prix. It’s a fun track and the Australian fans are always an amazing crowd, it’s a great atmosphere to race in.

“Last week I was back in the factory with my engineers to go over the first two races of the season ahead of racing in Melbourne. We’ll put all our learning into practice this weekend and aim to get some more points for the team.”

#81 – Oscar Piastri – McLaren F1 Team

“Australia, my home race! I’m so excited to be racing in front of a home crowd again. There’s no feeling like it. It’s going to be a great race week, and I’m sure that there will be an awesome atmosphere.

“We’ve had a positive start, with a P4 finish in Saudi. I was back in the MTC last week reviewing all the data to see where we can maximise our performance. I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of papaya in the crowd this weekend. Let’s go!”

Oscar Piastri hopes to continue his good form this weekend – Credit: Steven Tee / LAT Images

Toto Wolff – Team Principal & CEO, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team

“We’ve been hard at work since Jeddah building on the learnings from the first two races. It’s encouraging to see the potential in the W15 but there are also clear areas of improvement. We have looked competitive in low and medium speed corners but high-speed has been a weakness so far. We have been working hard to understand why our performance hasn’t reflected our expectations. Improving that is a major focus. We hope to make some initial progress for Melbourne, and that work will guide our development in the weeks ahead. It’s great to feel the energy and determination running through the factories as we work to unlock the potential of the car.

“We left points on the table in both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. We started off each weekend strongly, running our usual practice programmes, but couldn’t deliver on that initial promise. With the chasing pack being so close, maximising the potential of the car each weekend is key. Albert Park gives us another chance to show what we can do. It is a great circuit in a great city, with a passionate and vocal fan base, and we look forward to returning.”

Mike Krack – Team Principal, Aston Martin Aramco Formula 1 Team

“We’ve had a solid start to the season, scoring points in both races.  Some people will compare our results in the first two races to those from last year, when we delivered podiums, but you have to remember some of our competitors were not at the top of their game in the early part of 2023 and we took advantage of this. 

“By the end of last season, we were around fifth fastest, which was a more accurate reflection of the pecking order and after pre-season testing that’s where we expected to be at the start of this season. We’re fifth fastest in race trim and a little faster in Qualifying.

“In Bahrain, we achieved the maximum result given the pace of the car. In Saudi Arabia, we overachieved a little with Fernando’s fantastic drive to secure a top-five finish.   13 points are a good return from the first two rounds, we have plenty of updates in the pipeline, and everyone is working well both at the track and at the AMR Technology Campus.” 

“The first two rounds of the season have confirmed we’ve made a step forward from last year.  For example, in Bahrain Qualifying, we were seven-tenths faster than the year before and in Jeddah Qualifying, we were nine-tenths faster than last year.  We’re constantly learning about AMR24. It’s a quick car, particularly in Qualifying trim, and over the last few weeks we’ve been trying to improve the balance so that Lance and Fernando can get even more performance out of it. 

“Our goal is to close the gap to the front; we are making progress, and we have some small updates for Melbourne, which are part of our continuous development plan throughout the season.  The aim is to pick up where we left off in Jeddah. Qualifying will be important here, in addition to managing the tyres well.  

“Albert Park Circuit is closer to Jeddah than Bahrain in terms of characteristics but that’s not to say we’ll finish fifth again – Fernando produced a mega performance to achieve that result in Saudi Arabia.  We need to keep our feet on the ground and stay focused. We want to finish with both cars in the points.”  

Fernando Alonso has scored points in both of the opening two races – Credit: Zak Mauger / LAT Images
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