Finally, the moment has arrived! I was so impatient to get to the first race and the postponement of the Bahrain Grand Prix made the wait even longer. Yes, it did give the engineers more time to prepare and it meant the work could be done with less haste, but for us drivers, and I think the same applies to all my colleagues, the desire to go racing again is very strong.
It was a very busy winter. After Abu Dhabi, there was not much time to get upset about how the 2010 championship ended. Immediately it was time to role up our sleeves and work on the development of the tyres and on the new car, without thinking too much about what happened. That mishap actually motivated us even more and I am sure that actually, it has made us stronger now. Ferrari is synonymous with passion for racing and all of us are determined to fight back and go for victory.
We have covered so many kilometres in testing and have shown that we have reached a good level of reliability, which is always important. There are reasons to be optimistic, even if we cannot really be sure where we are compared to the others. At the last test, in Barcelona, we introduced a significant number of updates and here in Melbourne we have also brought a newer version of the front wing. We will see if it delivers the expected results, even if I think we will need three or four races to get a clear picture of the situation.
There are so many new things this year, from the moveable rear wing to the return of KERS and especially, the new tyres in the shape of the Pirellis. From what we saw in testing, their degradation is much higher than compared to the Bridgestones: therefore we will see more pit stops and the strategy will be the key to the final result. Qualifying will now be less important, given that an increase in pit stops will add uncertainty to the way the races turn out: our pit stop guys will definitely have more work to do!
These past weeks, there has been a lot of talk about the possible difficulty of managing all the controls we have in the car, especially on the steering wheel. Quite frankly, I don’t think there will be any problems, at least on the safety front. When all is said and done, we are professional drivers and we have to be capable of adapting to any situation. Even when it comes to running the moveable rear wing, I don’t think there will be problems. It seems like a good idea to me, but obviously it is too early to say if it will really make overtaking easier and lead to more excitement. We will start to get an idea this Sunday afternoon.
I arrived in Melbourne on Monday evening, after a very long journey, the longest of the year. I am happy to be starting the season here, because without wishing to take anything away from Bahrain, for many years this was the first race and the atmosphere here is particularly nice and everything feels very familiar, while the racing is usually full of incident and uncertainty, with the safety car usually playing its part. I won here in 2006 and made it to the podium a further three teams, so let’s hope we can repeat that.
It was here ten years ago, that I first set out on the Formula 1 path. I have spent twenty six of my twenty nine years behind a steering wheel, controlling four wheels and ten of those, the best of them, have been spent in the blue riband category. I never would have thought that things would have turned out this way and I have achieved so much more than I had hoped for when I was little. Now I want to continue and for a long time too, trying to have even better years in the future!