The week started on Tuesday for our boys, with a filming day on the beach to promote team sponsor Casio’s new Edifice watches. This meant it was time to swap their race suits for wetsuits, and for a splash in the water on some paddleboards. While Carlos was in the water he got greeted by a friend, later joking he doesn’t like shark fins.
Moving on to Thursday it was autograph day, the drivers signing photos, hats, shirts, and anything else the public wanted. Neither of the boys had press conference duties this week, so it was learning the final few bits before Friday.
Then here came Friday morning and FP1 and F1 was back for 2017 in our new livery. In first practice the boys took it steady, learning and collecting data for the team, and doing race simulations to find the perfect set-up. At the end Sainz set a 1:26.4s and Kvyat a 1:26.5s being P11 and 12 respectively, completing 49 laps collectively in the process. Then after lunch the afternoon session started and the boys completed 73 laps between them, with Carlos finishing P7 and Daniil P10, finishing Friday with no major issues.
Saturday soon came and there was one final hour of practice, one final chance for the team to make any major changes before the cars are in parc fermé. Finishing off in 8th and 9th our two drivers were split by only a tenth of a second n a close weekend between them, with Carlos always coming ahead so far.
Then it was time for a spot of lunch before qualifying. Both of our drivers sailed through Q1 and Q2 making it into Q3 where we finished P8 and P9, ahead of Ricciardo who span. So with two cars in the top 10 it was time to carry on our record of scoring points here in Australia for the 7th time in 8 years.
Finally Sunday arrived and all our hard work over the past two days came down to keeping it clean and finishing well today. After a second formation lap due to a car pulling up in Ricciardo’s empty grid spot, our boys started from eighth and ninth and made it safely through the first corner in one piece. First in the pits on lap eighteen was Carlos, who was still in eighth, changing to the yellow-walled soft tyre. Daniil didn’t make his pit stop still lap 34 which allowed him to change onto the faster supersoft tyre.
He soon caught up with his teammate, who didn’t make it hard for the Russian to overtake as they were on different strategies. After that, Kvyat was right on the gearbox of Perez in the pink Force India, until he was forced back into the pits on lap 47 to replace an empty air bottle to top up pneumatic valve system. When he rejoined he only lost one position to his teammate and was still in the points in ninth. This is how we finished our first race of the season, with Sainz eighth and Kvyat ninth and both scoring points for the team.