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Food For Thought From F1 Presser

EVENT COUNTDOWN

ALBERT PARK

12-15 MARCH 2015

Tim Collings picks the bones out of the first official FIA Press Conference ahead of Sunday’s 2014 Formula 1® Rolex Australian Grand Prix.

Set-piece news conferences are often notoriously lacking in one vital ingredient: news.

Drivers and teams are reluctant to reveal anything to their rivals or start a media feeding frenzy -- especially at the start of a new season.

Despite that there were a few eyebrow-raising moments and some broad grins during Thursday's official talking session ahead of this weekend's season-opener.

Fernando Alonso did the most damage with a typically pungent answer when he was asked to confirm, and discuss, the many and various new parts expected to be seen on his Ferrari this weekend.

His response was brief and to the point: "No."

Informed that a Ferrari team member had been seen with packages that suggested plenty of parts were on their way, he added: "Maybe they found some..."

"Spare parts!" interjected Sebastian Vettel, the defending four-time world champion.

"Food or something," Alonso continued. "The car is exactly the same as it was in Bahrain. No new sponsor. Not anything."

This was a reference to the final pre-season test session after which the cars were packed up and transported home prior to the long flight to Melbourne.

Vettel was the only driver to concede that the car he will drive in Australia will carry new parts. Given his Red Bull team's problems, this was no surprise and barely news.

"I think it will be a very different car," he explained. "Obviously, for us, we had a lot of problems during the test so we didn’t get to test a lot of stuff and we hope we do some more running here – and put the parts on the car that we think are better for overall performance."

Vettel had earlier roused himself to declare he retained undimmed hopes for the title race, if not for this Sunday's contest.

"We're probably not in the best position for this race, but I think it's a different story when we think about the Championship. There's a long way to go.

"Two years back, Fernando was on the grid with 1.5 seconds to pole position, but he was very close to beating us to the title at the very last race. Anything can happen."

As expected, the major issue of the day was reliability and its importance after a dramatic overhaul of the sport's regulations to usher in a new high-tech era.

"Speaking for all the drivers, I think we're just curious and hanging out to get on the track this weekend," said Vettel’s team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, promoted from the Toro Rosso outfit to succeed fellow-Australian Mark Webber at Red Bull.

Unlike his colleagues, the Perth racer was keen to answer his questions as fully as possible.

Which team will win the championship, they were asked.

"I would put my money on Mercedes," he said, having painted himself into a corner. "But try and not count anyone else out..."

The rest either admitted they did not know or played pragmatic games. "I would say Mercedes," said Williams' new man Brazilian Felipe Massa. "And I will say Williams," said Mercedes' man Lewis Hamilton.

"After three or four races, we will know a little bit more," opined the champion, Vettel, leaving Alonso the last word. And without a pause, the Spaniard answered: "I've no idea."

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