|Kubica, Button and Massa on the podium|
He finished off the podium, but Fernando Alonso is still leading the championship on Sunday night after a thrilling Australian grand prix. The win is Button's first for McLaren, and the eighth of his career
Rendering 'Bore-rain' stories to history, the dark and drizzly skies contributed to an exciting Melbourne race, but it was a decidedly bad event for the previously dominant Red Bulls.
Local hero Mark Webber had a scruffy race to ninth and had to apologize to Lewis Hamilton for a late collision, while Sebastian Vettel once again had reliability trouble from the lead.
|Massa (R) and Alonso (L) could only muster 3rd and 4th for Ferrari this time|
A spark plug had been his foil two weeks ago, while in Australia he skidded into the gravel with a brake failure.
Among his first comments to the German-speaking press was the well-known curse "Scheisse", while to the English reporters Vettel said the frustration "breaks my balls".
"It's nobody's fault, but we need to get on top of it and make sure that we see the checkered flag in Malaysia," the 22-year-old added.
Also unhappy was McLaren's Hamilton, who while his winning teammate Jenson Button made an excellent early strategy call to pit for slicks, was heard on the radio to criticize the decisions made for him.
"The strategy was not right," said the Briton. "Everyone else in front of me did one stop and I did two."
Team boss Martin Whitmarsh acknowledged that McLaren "made a team call which disadvantaged" 25-year-old Hamilton.
Michael Schumacher was hit by Fernando Alonso in the first corner and was forced to pit for a new nose, resuming the race at the back of the field.
This was a fantastic and very interesting Formula 1 race and a lesson to those who seem to want to change the rules of the sport every five minutes.
Just two weeks after the global condemnation of the processional season opener in Bahrain, Australia's Albert Park on Sunday hosted a thrilling second round of the 2010 world championship.
Ahead of the Malaysian race in just a few days, F1 team bosses had organized to meet to discuss the apparent rules crisis, with rafts of proposals on the table to ward off the problems of Bahrain-type boredom.
But although the occasionally drizzling skies played their role in the exciting race, Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost said the 58-laps in Melbourne were "a lesson to those who seem to want to change the rules every five minutes".
Michael Schumacher finished a disappointing tenth in Australia due to an early wing change and a long scrap with Jaime Alguersuari.
But he had been initially critical of the new rules formula in Bahrain, and after the Australian race commented: "For the fans it was a great race after a little bit of criticism, quite rightly, for the first race.
"But here, today, I think we made up for it a little bit," added the seven time world champion.
As darkness fell at Albert Park on Sunday night, Christian Horner would not confirm that brake failure pitched pole sitter and race leader Sebastian Vettel out of the Australian grand prix.
After the spark plug problem in Bahrain, German Vettel, 22, initially told his team over the radio - and then reporters in the paddock - that he thought his left-front brake disc had failed.
But team boss Horner would not confirm the problem.
"Sebastian unfortunately retired with what looks like a wheel related issue, which certainly cost him a comfortable race win today," said the Briton.
Horner also told German 'Sky' television that Vettel's "had a problem with the left front wheel".
"We do not yet understand exactly what happened," he added.
"It's very frustrating, but we have a very fast car and we must solve the problem before next week (in Malaysia)."
"I had no worries about the front wing, but a few corners later it went off and got stuck under the car. At first I had no idea what had happened. I had no control anymore," he said.
And Mark Webber was formally reprimanded by the stewards for running into Lewis Hamilton towards the end of the race.
Meanwhile, Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi - who already had two front wing failures at Albert Park - confirmed that his third wing failure on the first lap seems to have been the result of earlier contact.
The Japanese took out Williams' Nico Hulkenberg in the heavy shunt that followed.
Jenson Button (1st)
“What a fantastic weekend! From the first lap here, I felt comfortable in the car. Qualifying was good – we weren’t on the pace of the front guys, we were five or six tenths off - but our race pace was better. And in these tricky conditions, I think we made some very good calls and we came away with a victory. You might say we were lucky in some ways, but I think we just made the right calls - and that’s so important nowadays. It’s not just about speed, it’s about making the right calls, being consistent and conserving the car. It was a necessary move to pit for slicks. I was struggling for grip on the inters, and the rears were destroying themselves very quickly, so we figured it must be time for dries. As I drove down the pitlane, I could see it was soaking wet and I feared it was a massive mistake on my part. When I left the pits, I went off the circuit and just thought, ‘Oh no!’ But I got to grips with it pretty quickly, and soon started to feel really good in the car. I caught up behind Sebastian [Vettel], I conserved the tires, I built a useful gap and I want to say a massive thank-you to the whole Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team: they’ve done a brilliant job. To not only be on the podium, but to be on the top step, after just two races, is amazing. It’s crucial to get the big points when perhaps we don’t have the out-and-out pace: these are really important points to us. Now we’ve really got to get our heads down and hopefully turn up in Malaysia next week with an even better car. This victory means so much to me. A Grand Prix win in a McLaren. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Right now, I just want to run around and scream. It’s just the most amazing experience.”
Lewis Hamilton (6th)
“This was probably one of the drives of my life. Okay, it’s possible that the decision to make a second tire stop wasn’t the right one, but my team are a brilliant bunch of guys and they usually get it spot-on. I guess things can’t always pan out right every time, but that’s motor racing. It was disappointing to taken out by Mark Webber, but I hear he apologized for it after the race so I appreciate that. I’m happy with the job I did - I drove my heart out today and the car felt good. Could Jenson and I have had a one-two today? Maybe, yes, but you can’t say for sure. One thing I can say for sure, though, is that he drove a great race. Congratulations to him for an excellent first win for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes - it’s a good feeling! As for me, I’ll just keep fighting. It’s the only way I know.”
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
"This afternoon’s race was an absolutely perfect showcase for Formula One, and amply demonstrates that this sport will always surprise, thrill and enthrall us in many, many ways. For the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team, it was an afternoon of two fantastic, albeit contrasting, performances. Jenson’s was a drive truly worthy of a world champion. First, he showed extreme tactical acuity and supreme strategic responsibility by personally electing to make the early call from intermediate to dry tires, a move that moved him ahead of the pack and laid the foundation for this victory. Second, he drove with incredible intelligence and impressive maturity to maintain a consistent gap at the front, altering his car’s settings in order to best look after the tires during the extremely long second stint. It was, in all ways, a faultless victory. Lewis’s race was in real contrast to Jenson’s, but no less brilliant for it. After starting 11th, he once again showed the grit, determination, passion and bravery that has made him one of the most exciting racing drivers in the world. In less than an hour this afternoon, I think it’s fair to say that he almost single-handedly debunked the much-touted recent theory that Formula One has become boring. On the contrary, he entertained millions of people around the world with a series of audacious and thrilling overtaking maneuvers. While we concede that, with hindsight, it’s possible that we may have been better served by calling Lewis’s tire strategy differently, we’re enormously encouraged by his never-give-up attitude and his ever-exciting talent. So we leave Albert Park hugely encouraged by the pace we were able to demonstrate, and we head to Malaysia keen to maintain that momentum. Finally, I also think it’s worth praising the extremely valuable contribution of ExxonMobil in this race: their engineers and chemists have done a fantastic job over the winter to provide us with a set of fuel and lubricants that really set the standard in Formula One; their performance, efficiency and reliability played a crucial role in our victory today.”"
Robert Kubica (2nd)
"Second place today is a fantastic result for the team after all the hard work we have done over the winter. It was a difficult race to call in terms of strategy and I pitted to change my intermediates for slicks as soon as we saw Button's pace. I managed to jump Massa in the pits and I came out ahead of Button, but it was my first lap on slicks so I could not hold him off. I thought I would pit again later in the race, but the team said we didn't need to if I could look after the tires until the end of the race. I tried to take care of them as much as I could, which wasn't easy because I had Hamilton behind me and then Massa, but in the end my tires lasted and we managed to get this great result. We have put in so much hard work this winter, and we know there is still a long way to go before we are really competitive with the fastest teams, but this is a brilliant boost for everybody in the team."
Vitaly Petrov (DNF)
"I made a good start to gain eight places and enjoyed the first few laps in the wet when I was inside the top ten. We made a change to slick tires at the same time as most of the field, but when I was on the slicks I got caught out in the braking zone for turn three and got stuck in the gravel. I'm very disappointed because I think I could have scored points today. Still, this is a great day for the team and Robert's second place shows the potential of the car."
Eric Boullier, Renault team principal
"The second place today is a fantastic result for Robert and the whole team in Enstone and Viry. We worked really hard over the winter and we can be very proud of this result. Although we still need to improve the car, this podium gives us all a lot of motivation to keep pushing. Robert drove a perfect race, looking after the car and fighting hard. I also have to say a big well done to the mechanics, who did an excellent job to get Robert out ahead of Massa in the pits, which was crucial for the final outcome of the race. It was a disappointing end to the race for Vitaly, but he is still learning about F1. His start was very strong, and with his strategy he could have been challenging for points."
Alan Permane, Renault chief race engineer
"Robert drove a brilliant race today. He made a good start on the intermediate tires and I think we stopped to fit slicks at pretty much the ideal time. After that he drove and excellent race and managed his tires perfectly to bring the car home in second place. Unfortunately Vitaly's race ended early as he got caught out in the damp conditions, but he has another weekend under his belt and will look to bounce back in Malaysia next weekend, where we will have some more new aero updates on the car."
Remi Taffin, Renault head of engine operations
"Today's result is excellent and we must dedicate it to the mechanics who have worked so hard over the last few weeks, and, of course, to Robert Kubica who delivered an exceptional performance. Without him we would not have been able to get this result. We're not yet at the level of the leading teams, but we will continue working hard to get there."
Felipe Massa (3rd)
"I am very happy with this result, for myself and for the team. Given everything that happened, rain at the start, the safety car, the switch to slick tires when the track was still very slippery - we did a great job. These points are very important for the classification: I have never been very lucky here and in the past, I have often struggled in the early part of the season. The key to getting on the podium was the start. I managed not to spin the wheels, while other drivers struggled for grip and I managed to move up to second. Then I lost some places in the early stages, when I had a few problems with grip, but thanks to the strategy, I then managed to make up some. I was able to close on Kubica but I never had a real chance of passing him, while behind me Fernando got very close on more than one occasion, making the most of a few errors. I think the spectators in the grandstands and in front of their TV screens had fun today: you could hardly call it boring!”
Fernando Alonso (4th)
“I am pleased with this result. I got an awful start, because I had wheel spin on a white line and was last after the first corner following a collision with two other cars, so to finish fourth is very significant, especially given what happened to some other drivers, meaning we have increased our lead over some of our closest rivals in the title fight. Thanks to the strategy, we managed to get this result. The car was perfect and we were able to run a very long stint with the soft tires. When I found myself behind Felipe, maybe I could have gone a bit quicker, but we know it’s very hard to pass in Formula one and between team-mates, one should not take any unnecessary risks. If we had managed to get past Kubica, then it might have been a different story, but it wasn’t possible, apart from the fact I also had to defend my position against Hamilton and Webber, who were on fresher tires than us. For sure, after an exciting and action packed race like this, I don’t think we’ll hear much more talk about boring races!”
Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari team principal
"We can be satisfied with this result. At the end of an incident packed race we managed to get one driver onto the podium and the other - who had been last after the first corner - into fourth spot. Fernando staged a fantastic climb through the field and might have got an even better result, but we know overtaking is always difficult, especially when it involves cars with similar performance levels. He was perfect when defending his position against Hamilton in the closing stages. Felipe got a really good start which formed the basis of his final result: he had a difficult weekend and I am sure this second consecutive podium is pleasing for him. Reliability however is the key factor, as we saw again today. In terms of the championship, today’s result is very positive: those who are our strongest competitors at the moment picked up just a few points and even when compared to other drivers, we have extended our lead. Now we must remain focused and prepare as well as possible for the next week’s race in Malaysia, where we will again find different conditions to those we have experienced in the first two Grands Prix.”
Chris Dyer, Ferrari chief engineer
“Before the race, we had hoped for a better result, but after what happened at the start and the first corner, with Fernando relegated to the back of the pack, we have to be happy with taking home a third and a fourth place. We opted to run just one set of dry tires and that proved to be the right decision. If we had pitted a second time, we would definitely have lost a few places, while staying out on track, we knew our pursuers would catch us in the closing stages and then it would be a case of defending position which is exactly what happened, with a positive outcome. After two races, we are leading both championships and that means we can look forward with confidence to the rest of the season.”
Mark Webber (9th)
“My start was tricky with a lot of wheel spin, but I was happy to get away with third. After the safety car, the race was going well. I wanted to get in on the lap that Sebastian pitted to change to dry tires, but obviously whoever’s ahead has the call so I had to do an extra lap on the intermediates, which lost me a lot of time. Leaving the pits I couldn’t get second gear and went wide. I knew I had to make the moves on track. We then decided to pit which worked out okay. At the end of the race we caught the leading guys, but then we had the incident. I apologize to Lewis about that. I lost all down-force in the front of the car when I got close to them, the car lifted and I slid into the back of him. Unfortunately it had looked like a good finish, but it’s still very difficult to follow in these cars. I went down fighting, I wasn’t happy with sixth place and wanted to get a podium, but in the end it was a tough day for the team. We’ll be back.”
Sebastian Vettel (DNF)
“I felt that something was wrong one lap earlier than I went off. I had some sparks coming up from the front left wheel; we didn’t know what it was and so wanted to pit. Then, a couple of corners before, I had huge vibrations building up and as soon as I touched the brakes, I had some sort of failure going in to Turn 13 and ended up in the gravel. There was nothing I could have done, I lost the car and that was it. It’s a shame as I think we had the race in total control at every stage, even though the conditions were difficult. But to win you have to finish. We’re working hard to get on top the reliability issues and we hope to have a solid race and see the checkered flag in Malaysia.”
Christian Horner, Red Bull team principal
“Ultimately an extremely disappointing day. Having been in control of the race, the second in succession, Sebastian unfortunately retired with what looks like a wheel related issue (front left), which certainly cost him a comfortable race win today. It was cruel luck for him for the second year in a row here in Australia. With Mark, at his home GP, he dropped a place at the start, but then was making progress in the damp and tricky conditions. We had to leave him a lap longer than Sebastian to change to dry tires, as he would have lost too much ground pitting immediately behind him. As the circuit went from intermediates to slicks, he made a couple of good passing moves on Massa, but then, unfortunately, he got tangled up with Hamilton for the first time in the race. After everything had settled down and with the position he was running in, we decided we had nothing to lose by putting another set of tires on to let him have a go in the last ten laps, which Rosberg and Hamilton also elected to do. We got Rosberg at the stop but Lewis and Mark got tangled together which resulted in Mark having to pit again for a nose change. Ninth place after starting the race with two cars at the front of the grid is massively disappointing.”
Fabrice Low, Renault principal engineer track support
“What a sad result. The only good thing from today was that we didn’t have any engine problems, but that’s it. It’s a sad day - we had the tool to win the race. We need to tie all our work in all areas together in order to bounce back for the next race. I would like to congratulate Renault for their second place - well done to them.”
Nico Rosberg (5th)
"Fifth place is a good result after a mixed-up race today. I had a bad start in the wet and after that we lacked pace and I struggled with the option tire. The rear degradation was pretty bad so we decided to go for a second stop and get some fresh tires to try to attack the group ahead. Even with the tire advantage, it would have been difficult to pass once we caught up and therefore it was good to make up a couple of places when Mark and Lewis had an incident, so I'm pleased with that. We need to keep on taking the points whilst we improve the car so overall it was a decent weekend."
Michael Schumacher (10th)
"I could have had a good race today so it was a pity that I was hit right after the start. That incident decided my race obviously. But things like that happen and you have to just say 'that's racing'. I had to take the remainder of the race from last position but I have to say that I was still having fun as our pace today was promising and for part of the race, we were going quicker than the top group. It was nice to pick up a point and we can take that good feeling into the next race where we will look forward to another challenge."
Ross Brawn, Mercedes GP team principal
"Nico did a very good job today and pushed hard to get fifth place. He was in a reasonable position halfway through but we began to get concerned about his tires. He had lost a position to Lewis and it looked like Mark would get past so we took the decision to bring him in. As expected with fresh tires, he caught up with the pack towards the end and was able to take advantage of the ensuing incident with the cars ahead. Whether we gained from bringing him in or whether his original tires could have held out is difficult to know. Michael had the first lap incident which made his race very difficult thereafter and he did a very good job to keep at it and score a point. Overall I'm pleased with how the team performed this weekend. We got the most out of the car but clearly need to find some more performance. It's not out of reach and we have a lot to look forward to over the next few races. Congratulations to Jenson on a great performance and victory today."
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"A very entertaining race and indeed probably one of the best ever. The rain and the various tire strategies mixed up the field and our drivers showed competitive speed. Better than fifth and tenth positions was possible but Michael was a victim of Button and Alonso coming together in the first corner which required a stop and nose change. Michael stopped three times in total so finishing in tenth position and in the points was the maximum that he could achieve after an excellent drive. Nico did a great job, finishing just over two seconds behind a podium position and in the same league with the fastest. Great job, Nico! We have scored points in all four starts and our speed in Melbourne was much better than in Bahrain. Congratulations to Vodafone McLaren Mercedes and to Jenson Button. Their early tire change was followed by a great and measured drive from Jenson. This was the 69th victory for Mercedes-Benz since Melbourne 1997 and I hope soon we will have a jubilee. Looking to the next race in Malaysia, everybody in the team is very dedicated to catching up and I am sure this will be achieved soon."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (7th)
“Another great race and another great result for the team. It's a confirmation of the pace we showed in Bahrain and the work the team did over the winter. We worked hard all weekend for this seventh place and it's a brilliant result at the end of what was a crazy race. At the beginning of the race on the intermediate tires we were struggling a little and lost a few positions but after I pitted for the dry tires I was able to recover and stay on the race pace. Towards the end of the race the rear tires were going off a lot as I had been on them for a long time, but it was just enough to hold onto the position. I think it was another perfect weekend and now we can look forward to Malaysia.”
Adrian Sutil (DNF)
“We seemed to have a problem with the engine very early on in the race. I was driving on just four cylinders and then lost the power and that was it really. It was a shame as we were looking good after the start. The team looked to try and get me out again after I came into the garage as we were in such a good position and I was the quickest car on the circuit at one stage. We missed out on a big chance here today but what can you do. It's good news for the team that Tonio got some more points and I'll be looking to bring my points on board at the next race.”
Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India chairman and team principal
“What a race we had here today! Thrilling to watch and a delight to see a Force India car in the top ten. Tonio drove a brilliant race, looking after his tires for almost 50 laps, to secure his second points of the season. It was richly deserved for him. Moreover, the result confirms that our pace is there and we are now genuinely in the hunt for points. It is a shame for Adrian as this could have been his race, but we'll look at what went wrong so he can go for his first points of the season in Malaysia.”
Rubens Barrichello (8th)
“It was a good race, but we should have finished in seventh really. We took the chance to change tires when we did and go for it. I thought everyone else would also come in, which is why I went for that route. More points for the team today is positive though. The car is good enough; we will just be picking up more points before we get podiums.”
Nico Hulkenberg (DNF)
“Today was obviously pretty disappointing. I was already in the corner when I was suddenly hit from behind by Kamui Kobayashi. It was quite a big impact. I’m not sure what caused it, but it’s frustrating because I was looking forward to my first race here.”
Sam Michael, Williams technical director
“It was good to get some more points, but we need to bring more performance to the car and to the engine. Doing both is the major part of our development program over the next few races. Rubens drove well through all the conditions he faced today. Unfortunately, Nico was knocked out of the race by another car.”
Jaime Alguersuari (11th)
“I think on the one hand I'm quite happy as I had a long fight with Michael (Schumacher) which was nice. I was under a lot of pressure, but I was able to keep him behind me for many laps until I made a small mistake at Turn 13 with a few laps to go and he managed to pass me. That mistake might have cost me a point, but we have to be happy with the progress we made this weekend, especially as I feel there is still a lot more to come.”
Sebastien Buemi (DNF)
“Today went really badly for me as € was involved in someone else’s accident on the opening lap and I don’t really know how it happened; I guess Kobayashi must have braked really late. I did not get the best of starts but I was still holding position. Then I was hit from behind at Turn Six. It's a very disappointing end to what had looked like a promising weekend with a very real chance to score points at the end of Sunday. But that’s racing and at least we only have to wait a few days to try again in Malaysia.”
Franz Tost, Toro Rosso team principal
“This was a fantastic and very interesting Formula One race and a lesson to those who seem to want to change the rules of the sport every five minutes. Unfortunately, Buemi was involved in an opening lap incident with Kobayashi. As for Alguersuari, he did a solid job right from the start of Friday and it was by far the most competitive race weekend of his F1 career. His performance continues to improve with every race and he would have deserved a point today. He also learned an interesting lesson from Michael Schumacher, in that if you lose concentration for just one tenth of a second, he will pass you. Overall, I am quite confident for the forthcoming races, as when compared to our work in Bahrain, the team made a significant step forward here in Melbourne.”
Pedro de la Rosa (12th)
“For a while the race went okay, I managed to stay out of trouble and there was a good chance to get our first points. But, I’m afraid, we underestimated the tire degradation. In the end I really had no rear tires left. For the last 15 laps it was just a question of how to keep the car on the track. I was absolutely helpless when Michael (Schumacher) and Jaime (Alguersuari) came in the end to overtake me.”
Kamui Kobayashi (DNF)
"It looks as if I touched a curb or another car in turn three. Everything was very close and I don’t really remember anything major, but on the data it looks like there was something. I had no worries about the front wing, but a few corners later it went off and got stuck under the car. At first I had no idea what had happened. I had no control anymore.”
Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber head of engineering
“It was a race start under difficult conditions. Kamui most probably had contact with another car and damaged his front wing. As a result the front wing broke in the braking zone of Turn Six, and Kamui went off. Pedro won positions after the start, and we made the change from intermediates to slicks at the right moment. Our strategy was to finish the race with this set of tires, which - looking at the overall result - was the right decision. However, the tires degraded too much, and the lap times were not consistent enough, therefore we lost our chance to finish the race in ninth.”
Peter Sauber, BMW Sauber team principal
“Looking at how the race evolved, it’s a disappointing result. For a third of the race Pedro was able to defend ninth against Rubens Barrichello, but then he lost out, and in the penultimate lap he was also passed by Michael Schumacher and Jaime Alguersuari. Kamui’s race didn’t even last one lap. Following contact with another car his front wing broke, and he went off, unfortunately hitting other competitors.”
Heikki Kovalainen (13th)
“I enjoyed it today, I had good fun out there. Our target was to finish the race and from the start we were quite comfortably ahead of the new teams. When Glock dropped I just focused on keeping up a decent rhythm, not making any mistakes and bringing the car home. It's difficult to say whether a different strategy would have worked better - if we’d stopped once more and put a fresh set of tires on, that might have been better way to go, but our target was to finish the race and we achieved that again. Now we go to Malaysia with a good feeling and we’re all looking forward to that.”
Jarno Trulli (DNF)
“Unfortunately we couldn’t start the race today because we had a hydraulic failure on the grid and, despite the team’s best efforts, we couldn’t fix it in time to make the race. We’ll work now to fix that for Malaysia and I'm looking forward to getting out there and seeing what we can do in Sepang.”
Mike Gascoyne, Lotus chief technical officer
“Obviously a very disappointing start. Jarno had a hydraulic power pack fail on the grid, not something we’ve seen before and we couldn’t get it changed in time. Balancing that was another strong race from Heikki who did really well staying out on the option tire. He made a good start but lost a few places after the accident on the opening lap, but he did a great job to get the car home, keeping us tenth in the championship. And congratulations to Karun Chandhok for getting a finish!”
Tony Fernandes, Lotus team principal
“I guess we’ve got to have had some bad luck at some point and unfortunately it was today. I'm disappointed for Jarno, but Heikki did us proud - three places away from a point, and he was keeping pace with most of the other cars throughout the race. Maybe it would have been nice if three other cars had gone out so we could get a point, but, joking aside, it is good that at this stage of the season we’re already thinking about points. We’re in a nice position for Malaysia. We’re looking forward to going home, and really looking forward to giving our fans something to shout about.”
Timo Glock (DNF)
“The start of the race was okay. After leaving the pit lane I was able to catch up Chandok and some other cars and we had a bit of fun fighting with Michael. The car felt reasonably good in the wet and dry conditions. It was a little busy with all the traffic when we became lapped. So it was a real shame that we had a problem just 15 laps from the end of the race when I started to feel that there was something wrong with the way the car was feeling. I came in and we found a problem which we now know to be a camber shim having worked loose, and this was causing the suspension to move around on the left rear. Had we not had the suspension issue I think we would have been looking good for our first checkered flag. So we have to take the positives and see that in some ways we have made progress, albeit there is still a lot of work ahead.”
Lucas di Grassi (DNF)
“The early part of the race was okay for me. The car was behaving quite well at the beginning. Unfortunately, we didn’t time the strategy well to change to slicks but otherwise things were going okay. So it’s a shame that we were hit by another problem - a hydraulic problem - and we had to retire after 26 laps. For sure we will find the problem, fix it and be better for the next race. These are small steps that maybe other people can’t see but they are good steps for us. We are working very hard to improve our situation and I have confidence that we will.”
Nick Wirth, Virgin technical director
“With the fuel pick-up problems we’d seen on Saturday, it was unfortunately necessary for us to break Parc Ferme this morning and convert our fuel system back to the specification that we had tested on Friday, albeit with further modifications. The team did a great job to get that done in time as we weren’t allowed to start that work until midday today. Both cars therefore had to start from the pit lane and we were immediately into a very aggressive fuel-saving strategy, which we’d practiced in the Simulators last week. The drivers and the team coped well with the unusual driving style that this called for, as well as the tricky conditions, and overall they both did a brilliant job for the team today. Lucas’ race ended with an internal hydraulic leak, the cause of which we have yet to identify. We got to 70% distance with Timo and were on target to finish the race fuel-wise when it seems that a rear suspension bracket came loose and allowed some setting shims to eventually fall out, which ended his race. So ultimately we leave here yet to finish our first Grand Prix but with clear signs that our performance is improving.”
John Booth, Virgin team principal
“Today I’d like to applaud the team on a terrific job in the face of a challenging set of circumstances, at the end of a difficult weekend. The start from the pit lane was seamless and the boys were ‘on it’ in our first live pit stops. We got to almost half distance with Lucas and nearly three-quarters of the race with Timo and with the problems we’ve had I am very proud of the way the team have coped. We can go into Malaysia with our heads held high and knowing that things will get better as we get more of the season under our belts.”
Karun Chandhok (14th)
“A great thank to the team. To finish was very difficult today, and all the more satisfying because of that. I dedicate this race result to all the mechanics and engineers who worked so hard since Bahrain, without any pre-season testing. This is a fantastic day for the team and a great step forward. I am proud to have ended our first race. At the start, I could see a big accident developing ahead of me and tried to keep to the inside to avoid trouble. I was able to avoid getting caught up in the aftermath and was in 16th position. I pitted on my 8th lap like the Ferraris and it was comfortable until mid-race where I was 15th. Later I changed tires on my 51st lap, only 7 laps before the end. We achieved the best result we could do today. We have to keep pushing and working and we will manage to finish even higher.”
Bruno Senna (DNF)
“I didn´t intend my second Grand Prix to end with an hydraulic failure, but that´s racing! I made a good start and was in 14th after the big crash in front. It’s fantastic for the team to make it to the finish and we have got a great deal of data to work from for Malaysia. I hope we can finish with two cars next race.”
Colin Kolles, HRT team principal
“This result, having Karun ending up the race in 14th position is a great step forward. We reached the goal with one of the two cars in the finish. I´m sorry for Bruno because he did a good job all weekend. Karun Chandhok drove the team’s first full race and finished in 14th position the first race for the team, what was really fantastic, especially with these difficult conditions. The team did a great job and brought two very competitive cars on the grid. Now we will keep on pushing and just focus on our preparation for Malaysia, where our season will really begin.”
Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone director of motorsport tire development
"This was a great day for tire performance, strategy and racing as we saw interesting action on track and a good illustration of the benefits of tire management. The soft tire was the preferred race tire once the track dried, and this is a reflection of the track and weather conditions suiting the lower temperature working range tire. Jenson Button did a superb job to look after his soft tires for 52 laps for an impressive victory. Robert Kubica also completed a long stint showing good tire management for second place. There was an interesting battle between the one stop strategies of the Ferraris and the two stop strategy of Lewis Hamilton. We are happy with the performance of our intermediate tires which were used to start the race, with these heavy cars, and then performed well as the track dried. Careful tire management meant the soft could last for so long in today's conditions and this provided a showcase of driver tire management skills. The degradation of the soft was less than we would have seen on a fully dry track, and the lap times were quite slow because of this. The hard compound, as used by Rubens Barrichello, also delivered a good performance so we are happy."
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