Date:Thursday March 24 2011
Two-time former World champion Fernando Alonso believes that a new era in Formula One will begin in Australia this weekend.
With a few regulations changes and a new tyre manufacturer for 2011, the emphasis has been to improve the event for the spectators at the track and the world wide Television audiences.
While all the teams have completed hundreds of miles of testing with their new cars (a part from Hispania of course), one of the buzz words for this weekend will be 'unpredictable'.
How the cars will perform against each other is always an intriguing aspect of the sport at this time of the year, but this pre-season is different to any other.
While all the teams and drivers know how the new rear wing works in principle, in reality, no-one knows how it will work as an overtaking aid when it comes to the race.
The re-introduction of KERS, some teams devices are better than others, some teams have struggled with reliability, what will happen when race day finally arrives?
The tyres, deliberately built not to last to force teams into two, three or even four stops, bringing tyre strategy back to Formula One.
'for sure there is a new way of doing the races in terms of strategy, so a new Formula 1 starts here in Melbourne in terms of strategy that we need to learn from here to keep for the coming races,' Alonso said at Thursday press conference.
Alonso now believes that the added variables to an F1 race for the 2011 season will mean that there will be less emphasis on qualifying, as the events on the track during the race will be less predictable.
'We need to be focused and concentrated on the strategy because it can play a big part of the race result. And maybe on the other hand qualifying on Saturday has less value as on Sunday there will be more factors on track.
'The number of laps [that the new tyres can run] is impossible to predict right now, but I think there is not a big problem as it is the same tyres for everyone, After tomorrow's practice we will understand a bit better how the strategy will work on Sunday, I don't have a particular worry for that.
'It is a new tyre compared to last year, a new way of approaching the weekend and the strategy. It is something we have been practising all winter, hopefully okay and hopefully more fun for the spectators.'
Ferrari and Red Bull go into the opening weekend of the 2011 Formula One World Championships as the heavy favourites following their winter testing programme.
A late development from Mercedes suggests that they could well be in the mix on Sunday, while McLaren hope that their as yet untested upgrade will also improve their car to compete.
The wait is nearly over.
Date:Thursday March 24 2011
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