PADDOCK CHINWAG - Stories to talk about ahead of the 2022 Australian Grand Prix
Written by Michael Golovach, edited by Haneen Abbas
Formula 1 finally returns to Melbourne after a 2-year absence. Challenging times throughout the covid pandemic didn't allow fans to enjoy the breath-taking spectacle of F1 around the Albert Park circuit, but fortunately this year, we can sit back and roar for our favorite drivers and teams as they race for the glory under the shine of Australian sun.
Renovated and resurfaced track should offer more close battles, faster lap times and increased top speed. In addition, this weekend we are going to see record-breaking 4 DRS (Drag Reduction System) zones, which only build up more buzz and excitement before the lights go out.
We might witness the continuation of the thrilling title fight between Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen in Melbourne, on which Red Bull team boss Christian Horner commented via Sky Sports F1: "There's a respect between the two of them and the sample of the first two races has been really exciting."
Helmut Marko has said "This year, Leclerc is in top form. (compared to Carlos Sainz). So it will be a situation like ours, where there is a very clear number one driver."
Carlos himself didn't get a real chance to fight for victories so far this year. What he said on Beyond The Grid Podcast: “My dream in F1 is first to win a race, obviously then - a championship. I will keep chasing that, I'm not saying it will happen, but it's what I wake up every morning, what I go to sleep with in my head every day.” Considering Ferrari’s performance this year, his ambitions and goals might come true.
Talking about Ferrari, their president John Elkann is happy with what the team has achieved by now, commenting: "With Charles and Carlos, the Scuderia has the best pair of drivers, who have started the season well."
Mattia Binotto has added that earlier (in 2017 and 2018) Ferrari has lost a bit of ground, but since then, they have improved their technologies, and crucially - they are much better prepared. Keeping in mind that Scuderia managed to clinch a stunning one-two in Bahrain, combined with the win and third place in Saudi, Mattia is confident that the team is "in a very solid position at the moment."
McLaren - the squad which didn't start the new era in Formula 1 well, struggling in the past few races. Team Principal, Andreas Seidl, has stated that "other teams did a better job than us over the winter. That's why we are where we are." The current plan for Papaya is "to use the frustration, switch it to energy to strike back as quick as possible."
Last but not least, Kevin Magnussen's surprising return to Formula 1 in 2022, partnered by Haas, evolved really well, as he danced in Q3 under the lights of Bahrain desert and took the chequered flag in P5, bringing first points to himself and for the team after pointless 2021 season. Team Boss Guenther Steiner also was amazed by his performance, shouting on the radio "It’s a Viking comeback!"
Kevin is really happy about the VF22, saying "Haas built a hell of a car this year, and if we are lucky, we might get a podium at some point."
Finally, we are welcoming Mick Schumacher back on track after his horrible crash in Saudi and Sebastien Vettel, who has now fully recovered from covid. “It feels a bit like arriving late to school” - he says. “Starting my season in Australia is something I’ve done before, of course, and it’s also great that Formula 1 is returning after a difficult couple of years.