News and Analysis
Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner branded his team's session-topping debut at Albert Park as "a great start for everyone involved" after seeing all three cars finish in the top ten in Friday's opening practice for the Australian Grand Prix.
The build-up to the Australian Grand Prix will be missing one of its annual popular sideshows this year with the Australian air force deciding to cancel its pre-season ride in a plane for one of the top Formula One drivers.
Kimi Raikkonen: "I am really looking forward to the new season in Australia. Everyone within the team has been working flat-out on the test track and back at base in preparation for 2005. The team is motivated and we are all excited to be getting back to racing. The tests during the pre-season were productive, the speed is there and the car is easy to drive, but it is impossible to say where we are until Australia, what we do know is that it will be an interesting year. The coming weekend will be the first time we will be racing with the new regulations for tyres, engines and qualifying. We will have to take more care of our Michelins, particularly during second qualifying and the early parts of the race, to make sure you don't damage them under braking for example, which can lead to flat spotting a tyre, with the consequence of losing grip. The circuit in Albert Park is quite flowing, with some fast corners and sweeping curves, and it lets you build up a good rhythm. The two best overtaking chances are at the end of the start finish straight and through the left flick of turn 11. The track comprised of closed public roads is dusty and never generates much grip so the tyre wear is low."
Willy Rampf (Technical Director): "It's going to be a very interesting start to the season, because of the new regulations. The new aerodynamic rules are quite drastic, with heavy revisions to the front and rear which have cost everyone quite a lot of downforce and made the cars a little more nervous.
Red Bull have confirmed today the signing of Mark Smith as deputy technical director, and also revealed they have signed Ferrari's software engineer Anton Stipinovich as head of development.
Jenson Button: "The season has come around so quickly but it's great to be heading to Melbourne again. Personally I can't wait to get stuck into what will be a challenging and exciting year for myself and the team. Our success last season is a tough act for us to follow but we have made good progress over the winter and the past couple of tests in particular have given us a much better idea of the car's real potential. It will be very interesting to see how the new regulations pan out on the race track and the new qualifying format is going to be more mentally challenging for all of the drivers. I'm the fittest I have ever been though and have worked really hard over the close season to make sure I go into this season with the best preparation possible.
Mark Webber: "Clearly Melbourne is a very special race for me as I'll be competing in front of my home country. It's always a great experience and the party atmosphere around Albert Park is amazing. I hope we can give the crowd something to cheer about by getting the new season off to a good start. I feel I always drive pretty well at Melbourne, it's a track I quite enjoy, but it's always a tough race in terms of reliability, Â I've had two non-finishes in the last two years but finished fifth in my first race there. I would love to improve upon that result this year.
Heavy rain during most of the day hindered the teams on their third day of work at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia. The Spanish track was wet during the whole session, and there was little work done by the five Formula One teams present.