Time has flown by and the 1999 FIA Formula One World Championship season will kick off in Melbourne on 5th March. With the number of test days being reduced for 1999, the teams have had tight and demanding deadlines to work towards in order to be ready for the Australian Grand Prix.
The Winfield WilliamsF1 team is hoping for a much more competitive season in 1999 after the disappointments of 1998.
Alex Zanardi's first race after his return to Formula One is at a track that he has never raced at before as the Australian Grand Prix only moved to Melbourne in 1996. Nevertheless he is looking forward to the new season.
"I'm quite confident," he says. "I believe that, due to the work we've been doing over the winter, I can go home with a smile on my face. I guess once I've done the first lap of the circuit I will get even more confident - or less. I like Australia. I'm looking forward to going there and hopefully not just to enjoy the weather and the beauty of the country but also to have a good result. That would be a good way to start the season."
Ralf Schumacher has raced around Albert Park before on two occasions whilst driving for the Jordan team but with little luck so far In 1997, he retired due to a technical failure and in 1998 he went off on the second lap after an accident with Stewart's Jan Magnussen.
"For all of us Melbourne is one of the most exciting Grands Prix of the year," says the young German. It's the first race therefore the first chance to find out how well we have operated during the winter in comparison to the other teams. This year, it is also my first race for the Winfield WilliamsF1 team and I hope to have more luck than I did during the last two Australian Grands Prix when I didn't see the chequered flag."