Two races down, two trophies in the cabinet, a buzz around the factory and optimism for the year ahead.
After our strong start to the 2023 Formula One season, Team Principal Mike Krack reflects on keeping everyone firmly grounded, managing expectations and preparing for the challenge of Albert Park, which will make demands of Lance, Fernando and the AMR23 very different to those experienced in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, in a revealing interview first shared with I / AM members ahead of Saturday Free Practice in Australia.
This is Mike on…
Keeping feet firmly on the ground
"Two podium finishes in two races is a very nice way to start the year – but we must not get carried away. Let's not forget that 12 months ago, the last time we raced in Melbourne, we had one of our most difficult weekends.
"We've come a long way in a short space of time, and it shows how quickly things can change. If we get too ambitious, or if we lose a little bit of focus, then we don't improve. And in Formula One, if you don't improve, you're going backwards.
"We're a relatively young team but we have a lot of experience, and we know that what we've achieved is the result of hard work. There isn't much need for me to remind everyone to keep their feet on the ground. The media, on the other hand… I've spent a lot of time in the last few weeks asking them to calm down!"
The joy of racing in Albert Park
"The size of the crowd in Albert Park can be a little overwhelming – but in a good way. Last year there were over 400,000 people attending the race weekend and they're expecting more this time around.
"The best thing is that you get to walk to work through all of it. The hotels ring the edge of the park, so everyone walks, and queues up with the fans at the security gates. Everyone's knowledgeable, everyone's very supportive, and you arrive in the paddock energised by all of that enthusiasm."
Why the Australian Grand Prix is a new challenge
"Every circuit we go to is unique – and this is part of the great attraction of Formula One – but Albert Park is very different to the two tracks we've been to so far this year.
"The first thing, obviously, is that we've had two night races combined with daytime practice in a region that is famously hot. Here we've got a daytime race and the forecast is rather cold – below 20°C for all four days.
"On top of this, there is the track itself. It's a little bit of everything. Not Jeddah's high-speed, not Bahrain's long, slow corners – but some low speed, some high speed, some in between and four DRS zones.
"The tyres will behave differently, the cars will behave differently, and we'll be learning plenty of new things."
"We have a few small things to test here, as we continue to learn about the AMR23 – though nothing you would really call an upgrade. We're still trying to identify strengths, weaknesses, where we need to improve, and where we should focus.
"The biggest improvements will come later in the year. We'll have some new parts in Baku, Imola, Montréal, and some at Silverstone but we'll bring each small increment as soon as it's ready, rather than waiting to bundle everything up into big packages. It's an approach that worked well for us last year with the AMR22."
"Having started the season well, we arrived in Melbourne with no reason to believe the car would be suffering any particular deficiencies. The results we had in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia – two very different circuits – give us reason to think we can be a little more confident in our competitive position.
"We had some concerns in Jeddah that happily did not materialise, and as a result of that we're a little more sure of ourselves this weekend."
"Our competitors are strong, and we'll always have to deliver 100 per cent to maintain the position we're in. We've had a good start – but perhaps that's because we understood our package a little sooner than our competition.
"Things may shift around a little over the next few races as everyone starts extracting the maximum from what they have. We need to be aware of this – and if we drop back a position or two, it doesn't mean we've done a bad job."
The importance of finishing
"We have great momentum but it isn't always going to result in a podium, and I don't want to see anyone disappointed if we're coming home fourth, fifth, sixth.
"The important thing – the critical thing – is to keep close to our absolute best and get both cars home in the points. We're competitive at the moment, and we have to make it count: we have to score heavily and everywhere, all the time."
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