After a dismal time of it in 2013, the spirit at Williams Martini Racing could hardly be any more different coming into the brand new world championship season, which gets underway this weekend in Melbourne, Australia.

"There's always a great anticipation when we arrive in Australia," said the team's Chief Test and Support Engineer Rod Nelson. "It will be the best measure so far of where we line up against the opposition.

Williams last won this race in 1996 and the team hopes to kick off its new partnership with Mercedes-Benz HPP with another strong result, and if their startling form in the pre-season test sessions is anything to go by then they have a very good chance of exactly that.

"It's a new season and a new challenge, not just for me but for everyone. We will finally get to see where every team's performance is," said Valtteri Bottas, who is starting his second year with the team.

Bottas and his new team mate Felipe Massa are both big fans of the traditional venue for the F1 season opener.

"I am really looking forward to going to Melbourne, it's a very nice track with a great atmosphere," said the Finn. "I really enjoy the track and I can't wait to get racing again."

"I love Melbourne, it's a fantastic place and a really good atmosphere," agreed Massa, who is joining Williams after eight years at Ferrari. "The people there really love racing and F1 and so are always really welcoming towards us.

"I am really looking forward to racing there this year and having a good start to the season," he added. "I like the track and it's quite a challenging circuit."

The challenges that Massa and Bottas will face were expanded upon by Nelson.

"It's a street track so we expect a large increase in grip through the weekend as the Pirelli rubber goes down, and as we often see at other temporary tracks it's also quite bumpy," the engineer explained. "There's a high probability of a safety car in the race - usually it's about 50 per cent chance around here.

"The weather can also be quite changeable here as it's the end of the Australian summer, and with the circuit being less than 1 km from the sea this can have a large effect," he added. "The race also starts late in the afternoon so visibility can become an issue for the drivers as the sun goes down.

"All in all, it's a good place to kick the season off and we are very much looking forward to it," Nelson summed up.



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