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Australian GP: Thursday Press Conference

NEWS STORY
26/03/2009

Gentlemen, what are your feelings going into the new season?
Jenson Button: I have not slept that much this week, I must say. It is great to be here to start with for me. It is great to be here in Melbourne for the first race. That was the first goal. It is nice to be here and secondly we are in a much better position than most people thought, so it is nice to be here starting the season on a positive note.

Is it a massive excitement. Your father says he is having to take tranquilizers.
JB: I think a bottle of red normally does it. My father does talk a lot. He is very excited at the moment. I don't know, it is difficult. For everyone else they have been testing for quite a bit of the winter, but for us it has been condensed down to the last two weeks. We have been flat out with testing and simulator work, so it has all been quite busy the last couple of weeks. As I said it is good to be here and it is good to see the team with a very positive attitude. We have gone through a very hard time this winter but they have stayed strong and we've proved it with the reliability in testing and getting the car out.

Sebastian, for you a new team as well?
Sebastian Vettel: Yeah, a slightly new team. Obviously looking forward to the season. We had quite a strong winter, I'd say with a lot of work going on. I think our car looks very nice but we have to prove it is one of the best on the circuit still, but let's see. Right now for everyone it is the same situation as you don't know exactly where you are, it is a bit of guessing right now, but we focus on ourselves. I think we are in a good position, so we will see but definitely looking forward.

Felipe, a certain amount of unfinished business, I suspect, is your way of looking at the new season.
Felipe Massa: Well, it depends. We finished the business last year with one point behind but we finished. Now we need to start another one from zero. I hope with a very competitive car like we had last year, but maybe slightly more reliable and a very efficient team. That was what we were doing in the winter, trying to work 100 per cent in every detail, not to lose any point, so I hope.

Is it excitement or anxiety?
FM: What happened in last year's championship is finished. Everybody starts from zero now. We have 20 drivers fighting, so until the point that you see maybe you have two, three, five or more fighting for the championship. Now everybody is in the same position. For sure, some people are a bit more competitive. Some people are not, depends. But everybody starts from zero. We need to take everything we learned in the past, but we need to work very hard because we know the championship is long and everybody is in the same boat now.

Robert, your feelings coming into the new season?
Robert Kubica: As always the winter has been very important to try and analyze and to get knowledge about the new components on the car as the regulation change has been quite big. There was a lot to understand, tyres, aerodynamics, KERS. Yeah, looking forward. Finally we will get a clearer picture where we are compared to our competitors and we will see.

Are you excited about the new season?
RK: Yes, as always. It is a new season and like I said it is always good after a six month break to start again. Testing is important but the races are what we like.

There have been changes in the regulations with KERS and other things like slick tyres. What are the things that have affected you most as drivers, personally? Sebastian, perhaps you can start?
SV: Regarding the wide front wing we will see in turn one on Sunday. Other than that I think the biggest change was going to slick tyres and reducing the aerodynamics. Obviously driving is still very similar. If you look at the outside shape of the car you are surprised that it is that closed from the inside from a feeling's point of view, so not a lot has changed turning left. The car still turns left, so that is important. But I think there is a bit less grip all around, a bit less stability, so you just have less grip, less stability. But I think everyone gets used to it quite quickly. As regards the slick tyres I would say we all have some knowledge, some fresher and some maybe a bit longer ago but it should not be a problem. They seemed to be quite easy to handle but it is always the tyres. They make the contact to the ground, so we will see.

JB: For me it has been the tyres. I really like the way the tyres work compared to the grooves, especially the front of the car, as obviously the surface area is more affected at the front than the rear going from grooves to slicks. I am enjoying driving the tyres. As soon as I drove them last year I found a benefit that suits my style a bit more, so I am happy with that change. Aerodynamically it is obviously different but we have gained so much grip having slick tyres in a way it balances itself out.

RK: As Jenson and Sebastian mentioned, tyres and aerodynamics. I found the grip level quite balanced. Of course through some mid-speed range corners you get more from the slick tyres and in the other corners you are a bit slower because of the aerodynamic loss. But all in all I think lap time is quite similar and as Jenson mentioned the front tyres are quite powerful. KERS was a big topic during the winter and we will see.

How much are you able to notice the KERS benefit and equally the difference with the movable front wing?
RK: I think the front wing we didn't play with at all, very little during the winter. Of course it depends from car to car as you can adjust one flap, so it will have a bigger or smaller influence depending on the cars. That's not a big topic to really discuss.

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