Impressed by Caterham’s determination to succeed, Kamui Kobayashi and Marcus Ericsson head to Melbourne eager for a good start to the season…
Marcus Ericsson: “Honestly, I cannot wait for it all to start in Australia. It will be my first ever F1 race weekend as a race driver and I’m so excited about my debut season in F1 starting, and in Australia, a country with a lot of F1 history and seriously passionate fans, that’s just going to be cool. I’ve been working for this chance since I started racing, and now it’s finally coming true, thanks to all the people who’ve supported me, and to the team for giving me this chance.
“We’ve done everything we can to prepare, but, honestly, I don’t think you can ever prepare for what it’ll feel like in the car, sitting on the grid as the lights go out in my debut race – however, that feeling will go very quickly and I know I’m ready to race.
“The pre-season tests were tough, but at the end of them we’d got through most of what we planned, so there shouldn’t be too many surprises in Melbourne. By the end of the tests our reliability was best of the Renault teams and we ran through a race sim, including the formation lap procedure, starts and pitstops, so with the mileage we completed in both Bahrain tests, we’re as ready as we can be. I’ve also been back at the factory since leaving Bahrain and been driving the Melbourne track on the sim which means it’ll only take a lap or two for me to get up to speed when we’re there.
“Since the tests finished there’s been a lot of talk about what’ll happen in Australia, but until we’re actually on track it’s impossible to predict what might happen. We weren’t able to do full performance runs on either of the last two days – for me because it was my first ever lap on supersofts and I know how much more I will get out of them with more experience, and for Kamui because a clutch issue problem stopped him before he could have a go at supersoft runs – so I think the first time we’ll really see where we are on pace compared to the other teams will be in quali. What we do know is that in the race itself fuel and energy management strategies are going to be critical, so I’m glad we were able to work on them with Renault as much as we did in the tests. It might well be confusing for the fans, a bit watching driver manage tyres was for the first half of last year, but it will all be clear when the chequered flag falls.”
Kamui Kobayashi: “We start the season in Melbourne and I’m excited about getting back to racing F1 cars again! Last time I raced in Melbourne (in 2012 with Sauber) I was sixth and while I don’t think that’s a realistic target for us this year, I think the race will be very interesting. There could be reliability problems for lots of teams, us as well obviously, but by the end of the tests our reliability was ok, certainly better than a few other teams, and that could be very important on Sunday in Melbourne.
“Obviously for me this is my first race back, and I’m really pleased it’s with Caterham. I guarantee that they are working as hard as anyone else to have a good year in 2014 and I’ve been very impressed with how determined they are to succeed. They have a very good base to work from in Leafield, so there’s no reason we can’t have a good year, particularly with what we have planned to improve the car as the season goes on.
“We still don’t know exactly where we are on performance, partly because you never do in tests because you don’t know what everyone else is doing, but also because we didn’t really have a chance to do a proper quali sim in Bahrain. We have some new parts coming to Australia, including some revisions to the front wing, so we’ll be working on them on Friday and Saturday morning and know more about where we are when qualifying’s finished on Saturday.”