Andrew Jordan gets it sideways at Paddock Hill Bend

BTCC


Andrew Jordan gets it sideways at Paddock Hill Bend

PIRTEK RACING’S ANDREW JORDAN ENJOYED A STELLAR START TO HIS TITLE DEFENCE AFTER SCORING LIGHTS-TO-FLAG VICTORIES IN THE OPENING TWO ROUNDS OF THE 2014 DUNLOP MSA BRITISH TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP AT BRANDS HATCH.

The reigning champion didn’t have it all his own way, however, as the eBay Motors BMW of Colin Turkington took the honours in the final thrilling encounter at the legendary Kent circuit.
 
Two podiums for MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save driver Jason Plato and promising results for Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal on the debut of the Honda Civic Tourer mean just nine points separate five drivers after the opening weekend.
 
Starting from pole position in races one and two, Jordan fended off separate challenges in each from two former champions. Plato’s MG6 kept the Honda Civic honest in the season opener, whilst Shedden’s Tourer latched on to Jordan’s title-winning Pirtek car in the second contest.
 
Despite growing pressure in each race, Jordan produced mature drives in both to take the wins and put himself in an early lead of the standings.
 
Neal claimed the first ever BTCC podium for an ‘estate’ style car when he hauled his all-new machine to third place in race one, whilst Ulsterman Turkington made the rostrum in the next race with a hard-fought third place.
 
2009 champion Turkington enjoyed an even better end to the weekend when he passed his BMW team-mates Rob Collard and Nick Foster to a claim popular victory in the final contest.
 
It was a BMW 1-2-3 off the line as the rear-wheel drive cars blasted their way down to Paddock Hill Bend for the first time in race three. Rob Collard led from Nick Foster initially but Turkington eventually put both to the sword with separate moves, the final being a clever manoeuvre through Clearways and down the Brabham Straight.
 
Old adversaries Neal and Plato eventually hustled their respective Honda and MG machines past Turkington’s two team-mates to complete the podium positions, ending an exciting opening day of the tin top season. Plato set the fastest lap of the race along the way, but couldn’t quite manage to pass Neal’s Honda.
 
Further down the order there were contrasting results for the two returning champions in Alain Menu and Fabrizio Giovanardi.
 
Swiss driver Menu closed out the event on a real high as he piloted his VW CC from 16th on the grid to take fifth at the finish, much to the delight of the tens of thousands of spectators present. Menu benefitted late on in the contest by being on the standard compound Dunlop tyre whilst most of his rivals were on the faster-degrading soft rubber. Giovanardi could only manage a weekend’s best of ninth place on his debut for the Airwaves Racing Ford Focus team.
 
Britain’s biggest and best championship now rolls on to Donington Park where the next three rounds take place over the Easter weekend (19/20 April).
 
Andrew Jordan said: “This is what we do it for – to win. I knew I had the pace to stay in front as long as I didn’t make any mistakes. It’s another cracking result and one of the harder wins I’ve had to work for. Race three was really hard work – I didn’t have anything to fight with really. Although we didn’t have the set-up in the final one, races one and two were spot on! To put it on pole, take race one and then race two with full weight on – I’m really pleased!”
 
Matt Neal said: “It’s the first time an estate car has scored a podium in the BTCC! We’ve really peppered the top step of the podium today but not quite made it there. To get three podiums from the Tourer in its first weekend is fantastic though – both Flash and I were up there in all three races, which is what we wanted to do this weekend. I’m over the moon with how today has gone. It was so exciting and close right the way to the last corner!”
 
Colin Turkington said: “I’m absolutely stoked after that win. I was a bit nervous at the start of race three with both of my team-mates up there, but I made a clean getaway and immediately knew the pace was in the car for the win. It switched on almost straight away and was brilliant to drive – I knew I had to strike early on but had to be really careful. The team has done so much work over the winter to make the car faster and it’s great to see all three eBay Motors BMWs at the front – let’s hope it continues!”
 
Gordon Shedden said: “It was really really close. Around here it’s really easy to follow but super difficult to actually make a pass! There aren’t that many overtaking opportunities without being quite aggressive. Knowing how my luck has been over the last six years when I’ve had an uncanny knack of scoring no points I said to myself ‘just get it to the end and score some points’. This is day one with our new Honda Civic Tourer and we can be on the podium! Everyone else had better watch out as the year goes on.”
 
Jason Plato said: “We were the quickest car on the soft tyres in the last race that’s for sure. I didn’t have weight on which helped me pick my way through the field, but it was great racing – really great! I actually wanted to have a go for the lead, but Matt knows how to drive a wide line and he does it very well. I like racing through the field like that – it’s good fun!”
 

2014 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Brands Hatch Indy – Race 1
 
1.    Andrew Jordan    (Pirtek Racing): 24 Laps
2.    Jason PLATO    (MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save): +0.536
3.    Matt NEAL   (Honda Yuasa Racing): +9.396
4.    Gordon SHEDDEN    (Honda Yuasa Racing): +9.806
5.    Rob AUSTIN    (Exocet Racing): +10.156
6.    Rob COLLARD (eBay Motors): +13.133

Race 2

1.    Andrew JORDAN    (Pirtek Racing): 27 Laps
2.    Gordon SHEDDEN    (Honda Yuasa Racing): +0.505
3.    Colin TURKINGTON     (eBay Motors): +0.709
4.    Matt NEAL   (Honda Yuasa Racing): +1.742
5.    Nick FOSTER    (eBay Motors): +2.094
6.    Rob COLLARD (eBay Motors): +2.519

Race 3

1.    Colin TURKINGTON     (eBay Motors): 27 Laps
2.    Matt NEAL   (Honda Yuasa Racing): +1.114
3.    Jason PLATO    (MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save): +1.446
4.    Robert COLLARD    (eBay Motors): +2.432
5.    Alain MENU    (Chrome Edition Restart Racing): +2.660
6.    Gordon SHEDDEN    (Honda Yuasa Racing): +3.378

Malaysia GP podium 2014

Formula 1


Malaysia GP podium 2014

LEWIS HAMILTON SAILS TO MALAYSIAN GP VICTORY-

Lewis Hamilton took a lights-to-flag victory at the 2014 PETRONAS Malaysian Grand Prix, with Nico Rosberg completing the first one-two finish for the Mercedes Silver Arrows since Juan Manuel Fangio and Piero Taruffi at the 1955 Italian Grand Prix.

- Lewis claimed his 23rd Formula One career victory and his second for MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS today at Sepang
- He took the chequered flag with an advantage of 17 seconds and set the fastest lap of the race on lap 52 
- Lewis stopped on laps 15 and 33 for medium tyres, switching to the hard compound at his final stop on lap 51
- Finishing in second place, Nico achieved his 13th Formula One career podium and his 11th for the team
- He followed the same tyre strategy as Lewis, stopping on laps 14, 32 and 50 
- Lewis’ victory was the 15th for the Silver Arrows in Formula One and the 101st for Mercedes-Benz power

Lewis Hamilton

I’m incredibly happy today. This is my first win in Malaysia after eight attempts and to do it for our PETRONAS family in their home country makes it even more special. It’s all down to the team. They have done a fantastic job and I have to say a huge thank you to everyone here at the track and back at our factories who have been pushing non-stop to get the car where it is. The race was tougher than it perhaps looked today and the conditions here always make it a great challenge. But I was able to look after the car, the tyres and the fuel and still keep a bit of pace in hand which made my job that little bit easier. It´s great to see Mercedes leading the championship but we know that we have to make these early races pay. Anything can happen as we saw in Australia, so this is an important result for us. One-two finishes don´t happen very often and this is a real achievement for the team. Finally, I would like to offer this victory in tribute to all those affected by the tragedy of MH370. A special mention also goes to my step-mum Linda for her 50th birthday tomorrow!

Nico Rosberg

This is an incredible day for our team and for Mercedes-Benz. Everyone back at our factories in Brackley and Brixworth, and all employees of Mercedes-Benz, can feel very proud today. For the first time in the modern Silver Arrows era, we have achieved a one-two finish which is an incredible result. The team did a phenomenal job over the winter and my thanks once again for that. I also want to thank our partners PETRONAS. They have given our team so much support, along with the best products for our power unit, so we are proud to be associated with them and I hope they enjoy the celebrations today. I had a great start again, even though it was tight with Sebastian. It was very close at the wall and I just closed the eyes, went for the gap and did it. Later I was able to control the pace and to defend my position against Seb but Lewis was out of my reach, so congratulations to him for his win. I really look forward now to next weekend in Bahrain.

Sebastian Vettel 

“We have certainly made a good step forwards, but we still have a lot of work to do. It’s great to get a podium finish today. Considering where we were, not even two months ago, I think this weekend is a massive step in the right direction. It’s a shame we didn’t finish with both cars, but it’s good to see the car is quick and we need the laps; for now it’s important to collect points. The guys are pushing back in the factory and at Renault – it’s been a massive job from them – and we’ll try to be up there very soon again. It was a shame to lose a place at the start, but third was our maximum position today, so I’m very happy with that. It’s a shame for Daniel with what happened, he drove really well.”

Malaysia GP Quali podium 2014

Formula 1


Malaysia GP Quali podium 2014

2014 MALAYSIAN GRAND PRIX – QUALIFYING

Lewis Hamilton qualified on pole position, Sebastian Vettel took second and Nico Rosberg in third place after a closely contested qualifying session for the 2014 PETRONAS Malaysian Grand Prix. Heavy downpours at the Sepang International Circuit delayed the start of the session by 50 minutes, with wet conditions remaining throughout.

Lewis Hamilton

I’m really happy with our result today. It was a very close session and I’m relieved to come away with pole position as it was pretty tense towards the end. The lap was far from being my optimum: I should have been able to eke out a little more time but thankfully it wasn´t needed. Conditions were incredibly difficult and it would have been so easy to get it wrong today. At times towards the end it was almost impossible to see if anyone was behind me. The team have done a great job once again, we have a great car, and we now have to convert this performance tomorrow.

Sebastian Vettel

“My heartbeat was rising very quickly in Q1 when we realised there was an issue. We came in and restarted the car, which seemed to solve the problem and after that it was fine. It was good to go out and get another feel for the car in the wet conditions. Q3 was not perfect; I would have loved to have had a second go – on my first attempt I felt there was a little bit of time to gain here and there. It was very close, maybe too close, as if you look at the margin it was possible to go faster, but then if Lewis would have had another chance he would have improved also so, would should, could, at the end of the day it’s good to be on the front row and it should be the good side of the grid for tomorrow – it depends on how our start is, but I’m happy with the result.”

Nico Rosberg

I didn´t feel very comfortable on the extreme wet tyres at the end of Q3, especially on the brakes, but I was still able to improve enough to claim third from Fernando which was the positive for me. We’ve definitely improved the way we manage the sessions since Australia, so I was the last car to cross the line, but unfortunately the track didn’t really improve. It will definitely be a difficult ýand eventful race as the weather is predicted to be the same again, but that will give me opportunities to gain some positions. I’m looking forward to the race and I want to get the best out of it, like we did in Melbourne.

Mercedes AMG Friday practice Malaysia 2014

Formula 1


Mercedes AMG Friday practice Malaysia 2014

2014 MALAYSIAN GRAND PRIX PRACTICE- MERCEDES AMG ON TOP–

The first practice sessions for the PETRONAS Malaysian Grand Prix took place today in the heat of the Sepang circuit.

- Nico and Lewis completed a total of precisely 100 laps during today’s two practice sessions, just short of the 105 laps completed last year on Friday
- Lewis ran his Melbourne Power Unit all day, following the resolution of the problem with the ignition system that caused his misfire in Australia
- The top six cars in the second session were covered by just 0.203s – equivalent to just 12 metres or two and a half car lengths

Nico Rosberg

It was crazy conditions out there. In the very, very warm temperatures, it’s a huge challenge to get everything right. The cars are on the edge and the tyre degradation was higher than expected today – we are sliding a bit more this year, perhaps because of the reduced downforce levels. We are still having some small issues and therefore we were not able to maximize everything today. The quickest teams seem to be closer together than in Australia, so we still have work to do overnight to improve our level of performance.

Lewis Hamilton

I’m happy with our progress over the two sessions today and we were able to complete our programme. The car feels good and our focus was on trying to understand the tyres and make sure the balance is right for the weekend. There are areas where we can improve so we’re keeping focused on our own work, rather than being distracted by what the others are doing. It was pretty tough with the temperature and humidity and it’s so important to keep hydrated here. We would love a good result this weekend, particularly as it is the home race for PETRONAS, but it’s impossible to predict what will happen at this stage. It’s one of the trickiest races of the year so we just have to make sure we tick all the boxes and that it all comes together for us.

Toto Wolff

We had an incident-free day but not an easy one, as we worked hard to adapt to the challenging conditions here in Sepang. The high temperatures mean we have to adapt both the cooling package and the set-up of the car to cope and we worked through that programme diligently today. It’s not easy to draw any firm conclusions yet about performance; we will keep working hard overnight and see how we compare tomorrow when it counts.

Paddy Lowe

In first practice, we ran a programme with two different fuel loads while tuning the car to the conditions. Malaysia is one of the hottest races on the calendar and it’s important to do our homework to make sure we are in the right shape for the race. The drivers were reasonably happy with the balance and reported no major issues. This afternoon, we ran both tyres on low fuel, before conducting long runs – first on the option tyre, then changing to the prime, and gathering important information for the race. We didn’t encounter any significant problems today, which allowed us to concentrate fully on the performance and endurance tuning of the car.

ESTORIL

GP3


ESTORIL

GP3 SERIES RETURNS TO ACTION IN ESTORIL-
 
First of three pre-season tests takes place in Portugal
 
The 2014 GP3 Series gets underway tomorrow with the first official two day test session at the Circuito Estoril in Portugal. GP3 enters its fifth season of existence with racing kicking off in Barcelona in May.
 
The paddock welcomes back many familiar faces, along with some new recruits, all eager to follow in the footsteps of our reigning GP3 champion and current Scuderia Toro Rosso Formula 1 driver Daniil Kvyat.
 
Current Team Champions ART Grand Prix have brought in the experienced Alex Fontana and Dino Zamparelli and welcome German rookie Marvin Kirchhofer. Arden International (formally known as MW Arden) line-up with the double race-winning pairing of Robert Visoiu and Patric Niederhauser, whilst British driver Jann Mardenborough will make his debut in the Series.
 
Koiranen GP have signed Jimmy Eriksson and GP3 debutant Santiago Urrutia from Uruguay whilst Carmen Jorda will test for the Finnish outfit this week. Carlin has completed their team for this campaign, retaining Luis Sa Silva with Red Bull Junior Team driver Alex Lynn and Emil Bernstorff joining the British squad.
 
This season Marussia Manor Racing will field a trio of drivers who have all competed in GP3, Patrick Kujala and Ryan Cullen both raced in the 2013 season, along with Dean Stoneman who made a very impressive showing in his one-off appearance in the Abu Dhabi season finale to score a podium.
 
Jenzer Motorsport will be reviewing drivers from the test session before announcing their line-up for the 2014 campaign with GP3’s inaugural race winner Pal Varhaug testing for the Swiss outfit and he will be accompanied by fellow race winner Melville McKee and Adderly Fong.
 
Victor Carbone and Roman De Beer represent Italian outfit Trident this season and will be joined by Nelson Mason.
 
Nick Yelloly has switched to the green and black liveried Status Grand Prix this year, whilst former GP3 driver Richie Stanaway and Mexican Alfonso Celis Jr will test for the team in Portugal.
 
Newcomers to the GP3 Series for the 2014 season, Hilmer Motorsport, will make their official debut at the next test session in Jerez on the 10th – 11th April bringing the total to nine teams.
 
The schedule for Day 1 of the test sees the test commence at 09.00 – 12.00 with a two hour break. The afternoon session will begin at 14.00 and end at 17.00.
 
Drivers’ Entry List
CAR
DRIVER
LICENSE
TEAM
1
 Alex Fontana
 SUI
ART Grand Prix
2
 Marvin Kirchhofer
 GER
ART Grand Prix 
3
 Dino Zamparelli
 GBR
 ART Grand Prix
4
 Robert Visoiu
 ROU
 Arden International
5
 Patric Niederhauser
 SUI
 Arden International
6
 Jann Mardenborough
 GBR
 Arden International
7
 Carmen Jorda
 ESP
 Koiranen GP
8
 Jimmy Eriksson
 SWE
 Koiranen GP
9
 Santiago Urrutia
 SWE
 Koiranen GP
10
 Alex Lynn
 GBR
 Carlin
11
 Emil Bernstorff
 GBR
 Carlin
12
 Luis Sa Silva
 MAC
 Carlin
14
 Patrick Kujala
 FIN
 Marussia Manor Racing
15
 Ryan Cullen
 GBR
 Marussia Manor Racing
16
 Dean Stoneman
 GBR
 Marussia Manor Racing
20
 Pal Varhaug
 NOR
 Jenzer Motorsport
21
 Melville McKee
GBR
 Jenzer Motorsport
22
 Adderly Fong
CHN
 Jenzer Motorsport
23
 Victor Carbone
 BRA
 Trident
24
 Roman De Beer
 RSA
 Trident
25
 Nelson Mason
CAN
 Trident
26
 Nick Yelloly
 GBR
 Status Grand Prix
27
 Richie Stanaway
NZL
 Status Grand Prix
28
 Alfonso Celis Jr
 MEX
 Status Grand Prix

 

malaysia-09

Formula 1


malaysia-09

MALAYSIAN GRAND PRIX PREVIEW DRIVER QUOTES–

Daniel Ricciardo: Despite the eventual outcome in Melbourne, I still feel really good about my performance in the race and throughout the weekend. Obviously it would be nice to get the 18 points, but I’m happy that I still stood on the podium and that was a great feeling. I know I did a good job and I can take that with me to the next race in Malaysia. One thing you have to take into account there is the heat. I first drove at Sepang when I was 16 in a four-day Formula BMW test and you couldn’t really say I was prepared for it! ! Until you’ve experienced the heat in the cockpit, it isn’t something you can fully appreciate, no matter what people tell you. I was drinking six litres of fluid a day and I still suffered. It’s something you prepare for better as you come back again and again, though it’s still one of the most physically-challenging races. If you’re not correctly prepared then the last 20 laps of a grand prix will be difficult and the physicality of the race can hit your concentration in those latter stages. And so you train, train and train! The race is back to back with Bahrain. I’m not certain what effect two weeks of pre-season testing there is going to have when we race there. Everyone’s had a bit of a chance to get their set-up dialled in, so that may bring the field closer together. The circuit isn’t one of my favourites, as you can’t get a brilliant flow there, but there are a couple of technical turns to put us drivers and the cars through our paces. The RB10 surprised us in Australia by being more competitive than we thought in the dry and the wet, so let’s see what the next two races brings

Sebastian Vettel: We still have a lot of work to do with the car but it was encouraging to see that our pace was better than expected in Australia – hopefully we can build on that and start collecting some strong points in the next two races. Next stop is Kuala Lumpur, which I like as a city. Downtown can sometimes seem sterile, but then you turn a corner and the streets burst into life with the night markets. Whenever I have time I try to go there and see what they have to offer. Looking to the track, the two overtaking possibilities are the first corner and before the last corner, which in both cases is after a long straight; my favourite corners are five and six. Beside the challenge of the circuit, you have to cope with the tropical heat. We can be driving in humidity of up to 90%, while big thunderstorms in the afternoon are not uncommon. From there we go to Bahrain, where we’ve recently been for winter testing, so it will feel quite familiar and after the high humidity in Malaysia it will be nice to go to dry heat. Because the circuit is in the middle of the desert, sand can be blown up in the wind on to the racing line. The circuit has a nice combination of fast, slow and medium corners and is pretty technical to drive. I also like the rosewater they have instead of champagne!

Romain Grosjean – Heat, humidity and the usual rain storms 

Although clearly not happy with the frustrations of getting his race car where he wants it to be in the shortest possible time, Romain Grosjean is quick to see the positives and potential as Lotus F1 Team heads to the second race of the 2014 season in Sepang, Malaysia, this weekend.

What will be the main challenges at Sepang?

The first challenge in Malaysia will be the heat, humidity and usual rain storms at 4pm! For us as a team, the target is to move forwards and improve. The race in Melbourne was basically a good, long test. It wasn’t easy for the guys but I’m happy we did a lot of laps in the race. We gathered some useful data and we will now improve using that data. The aim now is to have a straightforward weekend at Sepang, working through our proper schedule in free practice, then carrying the benefits from that over to qualifying and the race. Sepang is one of my favourite circuits and I’m looking forward to it.

There was a big step up on race day in Australia. Does that give you faith that more progress could follow?

Whenever we solve a problem we make a big step forward, whether it is with set-up, the engine or any other developments. We’ve seen this happen with other teams too. We are feeling greedy at the moment. We want to keep making big progress like in Australia, not just one or two tenths, but big chunks of time and of course better reliability. We’ll prioritise and work as hard as we can to achieve that. The mechanics definitely deserved a rest after Australia though. They worked long hours all weekend and still did some of the fastest pit stops in the race. The guys were excellent and with a work ethic like that there is no reason why we won’t get on top of this car soon and exploit the huge potential of the E22.

How different is the driving experience in a Grand Prix now after the technical changes?

It is not quite as pleasant as before to be honest. There is a lot of energy recovery to deal with and optimise. You cannot drive most of the Grand Prix at 90 per cent as before, sometimes now it is only 30 per cent. We just have to get used to it. When you win you love it and when you retire, you don’t. At the moment it feels a little frustrating as a driver but these are the rules, we will adapt and make the best of them.

We saw quite a bit of drama in Australia, how do you think the season will progress?

It will not be easy for anyone. We have seen some of the favourites going out or having problems and others that we were not expecting to be up there make an impression. It’s a bit unpredictable at the moment and not easy to know where everyone stands. I think Mercedes is looking good, as is McLaren. Our task is to get up there and amongst them.

What did you learn in Australia?

That we still have a lot of work to do! Other than the early finish, the Australian Grand Prix was positive. We learned more about the car in 44 racing laps than during the whole of winter testing! The team has done so much work and each of the changes have been in the right direction. It was looking good in the race and then we had the same problem as Pastor: the MGU-K shaft. But at least there is no mystery about what happened and we are working with Renault Sport F1 to solve the problem.

Overall we are happy with the chassis, the aero balance for the changing fuel load, the driveability of the engine and the fuel economy. Of course there is work to do with energy management and recovery and we know Renault Sport F1 is responding to this. On our side we know more about the set-up and the direction we must go in order to make the car better. Braking for example was not perfect, but that is also to do with the tyres. The new tyres are really hard and their handling characteristics have changed. We are not getting the best out of them yet, but we will. There are plenty of areas for us to play with, but we now have a clear base set-up for Malaysia.

Pastor Maldonado – Whatever it takes 

With his Lotus F1 Team Grand Prix debut completed, Pastor Maldonado looks forward to the challenge of one of the toughest races of the season.

What are your thoughts looking to Sepang?

Sepang is a good track and I really like the challenges it presents us with. It’s very interesting from the car point of view, especially the aerodynamics, but also the tyres because the asphalt is very aggressive. Hopefully this event will go more smoothly for us compared with Australia. We know we need to work very hard to achieve our aims and objectives for the E22. We know where our main focus lies and as a team we are determined to get there.

The weather can be quite interesting at Sepang…

We know the weather at Sepang can change a lot; in fact it is usually either extreme heat or extreme rain, so very tropical and we’ll need to be ready for everything. Also the extreme temperatures are hard on the cars in terms of reliability and from the driving point of view it is quite stressful as well. All round, I would say Sepang is one of the toughest races of the year. We’ll need to be strong in all areas.

How much were you able to learn from your laps in Australia?

A lot. It was the longest stint I’ve done so far and that’s very important for the engineers who can now work through the data and find improvements. Naturally, our immediate priority is to finish the races, but in Formula 1 you never stop searching for more pace as well.

There was a lot of progress made during the Australian Grand Prix. Does that give you faith more progress will follow?

Yes, the whole weekend was pretty incredible. To be honest I’ve never seen anything like it. We started nowhere and we kept on having problems. With these cars, even little problems can take a very long time to fix. Some of the problems are very difficult to diagnose as they are electronic or software related. These all require so much time and focus. The efforts put in by everyone at Lotus F1 Team were amazing. Especially from the mechanics at the track, who worked all day and night, more than 24 hours straight, then still did really fast pit stops in the race. It was inspiring and makes me very proud to be part of this team. The season has not started the way we want, but I know everyone is working tremendously hard to ensure we get the team back to the top end of the grid.

What were the positives after Albert Park?

We made clear improvements during the weekend. The team has shown it is ready to do whatever it takes. This is good because my philosophy to racing is the same and I will do whatever it takes as well. Now we can go through the data and improve step-by-step. It is a long season and we need to be positive because we saw one Renault-engined car finish on the podium after the race. So we know our engine can fight for the podium and now we need to work harder than the other teams. This gives us a lot of motivation going forward. Australia was obviously a very disappointing weekend, but if you look at the positives we did more laps than in the pre-season which is quite encouraging as we have more data which is very important for making progress. We had a very negative free practice but we did plenty of laps during the race which is very constructive for the team. It shows that we’ll keep pushing and the hard work will eventually pay off.

What about the car itself?

The E22 has a lot of potential and is feeling better to drive every time we go out. We’ve had a lot of initial issues with the car, but this has been the same up and down the pit lane. I’m impressed every time I look at the packaging of the car and I know that the work going on at Enstone and with Renault Sport F1 will make the E22 into a podium contender very soon indeed.

Nico Hulkenberg: Looking back on Melbourne, did the weekend unfold as you expected?

“I tried to be open-minded going into the race and in reality it was all quite straightforward. It almost felt like a normal race from last year with no major surprises. There were no concerns for us with the fuel management, which was helped by the extra parade lap and the early safety car, and we ran reliably during all the sessions, which is a big positive to take forward.”
 
Now that we’ve had a race weekend, how did you find the car to drive?
“Again it’s not too dissimilar to last year. It’s a bit slower because of the regulations and you feel the loss of downforce compared with 2013. Overtaking also seemed to be quite difficult, unless you are following a car that is really struggling. For example, you could see that Fernando [Alonso] couldn’t really make a move on me.”
 
Were the tyres a bigger factor than you expected in Australia?
“We had issues with front left graining in the race, which we didn’t have all weekend. I think it was due to the cooler temperatures and it cost quite a bit of performance in the first two stints on the soft tyre. On the medium it was pretty good.”
 
Based on what you learned in Melbourne, what kind of championship can we expect this year?
“This year we’ll see bigger jumps and changes in the pecking order during the season. There are still some teams that need to sort out their issues and they will probably become stronger. All teams, including us, will have room for improvement and development is going to be very fast.”
 
What can we expect in Malaysia this weekend?
“Malaysia is going to be a tough challenge with totally different track characteristics and higher temperatures, which always leads to higher tyre degradation. It should be a good test of the new cars because it’s much more open than Melbourne with a nice variation of high and low-speed corners, plus two long straights.” 
Sergio Perez: You were unlucky in Melbourne with a first lap puncture. How would you sum things up?
“It was really a shame. We had a good start and a great first few corners, and we were up to tenth place. Then Gutierrez locked his rears and came from nowhere. I actually saw him in my mirrors, but I was already turning into the corner. Once he hit me I was just a passenger; there was not much I could do, I got a puncture and had to pit.”
 
How did your race unfold after that?
“The safety car helped us and we managed to recover some positions. But the main issue of my race was the time spent behind Adrian [Sutil], which cost me a lot. I think the pace was definitely in the car to score more points, but when you have to fight from the back it puts you in a difficult position.”
 
How would you assess the overall competitiveness of the VJM07?
“I think as a team we are moving in the right direction and there were lots of positives to take away from Australia. It was the first race and we, as everyone else on the grid, are still learning a lot about the new car. We have seen some encouraging signs and collected a lot of data that can be put to use for the next few races, starting in Sepang.”
 
What are your expectations for this coming weekend?
“I believe Malaysia can be a very good race for us. Let’s see how we can perform there. I think Melbourne was a more difficult one for us and with a hotter track and more rear tyre degradation for everyone we can be stronger. I’m counting the days to Malaysia to recover what we couldn’t achieve in Australia. I have good memories of this track and I want to build on my previous results there.”

The Premiere Motorsport Podcast