Lotus Renault GP new recruit Nick Heidfeld explains how he has settled into the team and talks about his hopes ahead of the F1 2011 season opener in Australia.

Q:
Nick, the first race is upon us. Are you excited?

Nick Heidfeld:
I always enjoy coming to Australia. It's my favourite place to travel to on the calendar because the people are relaxed and there's always a warm atmosphere.

Q:
You've been with the team just over a month. How have you found things?

Nick Heidfeld:
Right from the first test I have tried to push the car in the right direction and I've really enjoyed working with the team. I can have more input here than I was used to in other teams because everybody is very open and interested in what I have to say.

Q:
What sort of winter have you had?

Nick Heidfeld:
You always have to put things in perspective when talking about testing. I think we have a quick car, but like every team on the grid we have had a few issues to cope with during the tests, especially in terms of reliability. This said, we've been able to develop some very promising elements.

Q:
Have you been able to judge the competitiveness of the R31?

Nick Heidfeld:
We have an idea of where we stand, but nobody knows exactly. I think we have good performance in the car and, if everything is working well, I hope we can fight for podiums from the start of the season.

Q:
People say that a nice looking car can't be slow...

Nick Heidfeld:
Well, the answer to this one is in the question. The car is gorgeous. I know this is very subjective, but you have to see the R31 for real.

Q:
You've contributed to the Pirelli testing last year. Will it help you this season?

Nick Heidfeld:
Not at all. I can't even remember what we did then (big smile)

Q:
What can we expect in Melbourne?

Nick Heidfeld:
There are lots of unknowns, especially because it's the first time we will race with the new adjustable rear wing, KERS and Pirelli tyres. I believe the tyres will have the biggest impact and will make the strategy quite exciting. I expect to see a lot more pit stops than in the past - at least three per race - and I believe the pit stop windows will be narrower. That's because when the tyres degrade and lose performance, you have no choice but to pit, otherwise you lose too much time.