Q. Vitaly, we’re getting the season underway in Melbourne. Do you enjoy this race?
Vitaly Petrov: It’s a good place to start the year and I really enjoyed my first visit last year. The fans are crazy about F1, the grandstands are full and it’s clear that the country loves the race.
Q. How different do you feel at the start of your second season compared with 12 months ago?
VP: I think I’m a very different person. I have more experience; I know the team very well, and I understand more about Formula 1. Even just knowing all the circuits makes things a lot easier. I feel much better prepared.
Q. What are your feelings now the winter testing is over?
VP: We learned a lot during the winter. The R31 is certainly a big step forward, but at the same time we have to cope with the new tyres, which have a massive impact on the performance. With these tyres there is more movement and they are more aggresive than what we were used to in the past because of degredation.
Q. Do you feel well prepared for the first race?
VP: You always want more time to test. If you give us another week, we will use it, especially because we have so many new things on the car this year. I had my first experience of KERS over the winter and the adjustable rear-wing, which is something new for everyone. I think our solutions are good and I believe we can be competitive.
Q. Will the drivers be more busy during races?
VP: “Multitasking” will be the word of the year. Playing with all the steering wheel dials at 300km/h will be, I guess, like answering to three Blackberry messages while making fried eggs and doing your shoe laces… all at the same time. We’ll see how it goes.
Q. What is a realistic goal for the start of the season?
VP: The guys have done a great job with the car. It’s strong, aggressive and innovative, and we will add lots of new things during the season. I don’t want to say where we will finish because nobody really knows, we believe we are closer to the front than we were last season. Probably by the second or third race we will start to really understand.