The Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix takes place this weekend, we catch up with McLaren drivers Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne ahead of the face in Melbourne on Sunday.
Fernando Alonso: “The start of a new season always gives us a range of feelings – great excitement to be racing again, and the sense of the unknown as we go into a formula with a brand-new set of regulations.
"We don’t yet know where everyone stands as testing was a proving ground for the teams more than ever before, and it’ll be interesting to see how quickly teams show their hand over the course of the weekend.
“I’m incredibly motivated for 2017 and I can’t wait to see what kind of racing this new shake-up of the sport will bring.
"We already know the sport is a lot more physical and the cars are more challenging to drive – from a driver’s point of view this is exactly what we were looking for in the new regulations, and I really hope this will translate to good battles on track.
"After a difficult two weeks of testing we’re prepared to face a difficult weekend in Melbourne. We’ll do our best with what we have and there’s a lot of hard work and collaboration happening within the team, but the lack of time before the first race means you have fewer options for big changes.
"The first step will be to work on reliability before we can make any assumptions or predictions about performance, and we will try to enjoy the weekend as much as we can."
Stoffel Vandoorne: "Since my position as full-time racing driver for McLaren-Honda was confirmed back in September, it feels like the Australian Grand Prix weekend has been a long time coming.
"It’s a great feeling knowing that I’m about to start my full first season in Formula 1 and it’s a dream I’ve been working towards for my entire racing career.
"I’m looking forward to stepping into the MCL32 cockpit on Friday morning and I feel totally ready for the challenge ahead.
"I’ve prepared very well over the winter, worked a lot on my training and in particular my strength and endurance, and I’m incredibly motivated to work hard with the team to make improvements step by step.
"I’ll be pushing hard as always and I’m looking forward to getting back into the car.
"In terms of performance, I’m not setting myself any particular targets, other than to keep my head down, learn a lot from the team and from Fernando, and do my best.
"I know the guys and girls at McLaren and Honda very well, and I feel very much part of the family, so there’s no sense of nervousness about starting my first full season as a Formula 1 driver.
"It’s my first time in Australia so I’ll be soaking up the atmosphere, enjoying the buzz of the first race of the season, and we’ll see how the weekend unfolds from there."
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