"It is fantastic to be back with PUMA. When I ran Jordan Grand Prix we had a rock ‘n roll image, and needed something different when it came to team clothing. The guys at PUMA understood this perfectly when we needed this support. They went out of their way to give us a new image. We had the best fun you could imagine together, so when the opportunity came around to work with PUMA again, I thought about it for about half a second before screaming ‘yes’ wholeheartedly.
It is also fantastic to be back in Melbourne – I love the place. As a former team boss I have some very fine memories of it, and in Australia they of course take our BBC broadcasts on Channel 10, so I am still very much in the public eye down here and still have a lot of friends.
Before we arrived here everybody was extremely pessimistic about McLaren’s performance. But they seem to be making a bit of a fight back, and were the talk of the paddock today. However, I still think the teams to beat will be Ferrari and Red Bull, with some of the others like McLaren and Mercedes also getting a look in.
Everybody is saying it will be another Red Bull year, but if you asked me to wager money over the season, it would go straight on Ferrari and Alonso. They make up a super strong team, and have obviously learned from last year.
But the big question hangs over tyres. The way I see it is that the FIA asked Pirelli to make tyres with a shorter life to make races more exciting through more pit stops. So the tyres we have this year are totally different to those supplied previously by Bridgestone, which simply lasted too long.
The Pirellis have a smaller peak performance window before degrading. Drivers will be in and out of the pits often, and we won’t know at what levels the tyres are during the race.
Although the weather is forecast to be dry on Sunday, temperatures should be under 20C. This could play havoc with tyre strategies, particularly as the race starts late in the afternoon when the tarmac has cooled down. So all the ingredients are in place for a very unpredictable grand prix.
Also new is the adjustable rear wing, but I must admit to not being a fan. We have to wait and see. You have to be in the zone before you can use it, and there are just too many question marks about it. But, it’s a new rule and we need to be positive, and give it every chance. It’s easy to be critical, but fingers crossed with the wings, tyres and return of KERS we could be in for a really amazing season.
In my opinion last year was probably the best in the history of Formula 1. All the signs are there this one will be even better, so I am really excited about the new season. We have five world champions on the grid for the opening race for the first time since 1970. We could even crown a new world champion this year, so I think we are in for another bumper season."