Chinese GP Sunday Press Conference and Quotes
1 - Lewis HAMILTON (McLaren)
2 - Sebastian VETTEL (Red Bull)
3 - Mark WEBBER (Red Bull)
Q: Lewis, you made a gamble to keep back a fresh set of tires. Was it the gamble that paid off for you today?
Lewis HAMILTON: I think today the strategy we came up with going into qualifying definitely helped. I think my new option tire seemed to last a little bit longer than the guys in front but I think it was quite a few things that came together really. The pitstops were fantastic. It was good for us. The guys are always pushing to improve and the car felt great. I was just trying to nurse my tires whilst trying to pick up pace. It was one of the best races I have experienced where guys were out in front of me and I had to do quite a lot of overtaking. But thumbs up to the guys back at the factory and in the garage. They really put their hearts into developing the car and making the car the best it can be every weekend. It feels amazing to be able to bring home the victory for them.
Q: We saw your emotion at the end of the race. We didn’t quite see your emotion at the start of the race. What was going on with your car as you only just made it to the grid and how worried were you that you might not be able to start?
Hamilton: I don’t think worried was coming into my thoughts to be honest. I was in the car nice and early to go out and then we had a problem as the car just would not start. I am still not sure exactly what went on but they had to take a lot of the bodywork off and I knew there was six minutes to go. Then there was two minutes to go but fortunately everything just came together very quickly. The guys did a great job but, of course, for me it is very important to stay as clam as possible as that reflects on all the guys in the garage. I tried to stay positive and they got the car out which was the most important.
Q: Sebastian, beaten off the line by both McLarens but you quickly got the lead back again. Did you feel at any stage that a two stop strategy might have been the wrong choice today?
Sebastian VETTEL: Well I think the start was not the best we had this year On top of that it seems that for some reason the left hand side here is worse than the right hand side, plus the fact that you turn right doesn’t help. But it was not a 100 per cent good start so I lost also the position to Lewis who started behind me. Then it was about being patient. I think we treated the tires better in the first stint and could have stayed out but there is no point doing that as you try to pit earlier. I came to the box and afterwards came out first, which was good. But it was quite a surprise seeing Jenson in front of me when he went into my garage. I just hoped for him to carry on. We had something similar two years ago with the Toro Rosso. I don’t know what attracts people to stop in our garage but fortunately it had no effect. The guys kept their heads cool, we kept going and, as I said, we came out into the lead. Then I think we probably tried too hard staying on two stops so the middle stint ideally should have been a bit longer but in the end you find yourself out there on the hard tire. I saw Lewis coming closer and closer and there was no point really. I tried to defend as much as I could without losing too much time to the guys behind but he found his way past easily. It was a difficult race for us. We did a couple of mistakes, on top of that we had some problems, but still we finished second so I am very, very happy with that. First of all, congratulations to Lewis and to McLaren. They did a very good job and it shows one race, you try something a bit different and if you do mistakes it is natural and there is someone else to beat you. I think it was a good race for us as we can learn a lot today. I am the only one with two stops up here so there is surely something to look into tonight.
Q: Just how difficult was it given the lack of communication you had with the pit-wall in the latter stages?
Vettel: It didn’t make it easier. Usually you exchange information, how the tires are, what the other guys do, what tires they are on and so on. I asked a lot of questions but did not get any answers. We had a problem with communication. On top of that we had some problems with the KERS during the race. It wasn’t a trouble free race. Mark obviously had a good race, very good pace, so the pace was there. It was there all weekend but once we decided to go to two stop you have to be patient, look after your tires and when it doesn’t work it doesn’t work. That’s why I think we missed that one step today.
Q: Mark, after qualifying 18th yesterday you said given your luck on the Saturday you might get hit by a truck. It seems you drove that truck straight the way through the field today. A storming performance from third.
Mark WEBBER: Yeah, it was an interesting grand prix. I think we decided to start on the prime, the hard tire, in the first stint which we know was not the most desired tire for everyone in the field as it doesn’t really have the characteristics of a hard tire in terms of sometimes duration and lots of things like that so got that out of the way. But that was quite tricky actually as even with the guys I was with it was not easy. Everyone was using the DRS at the same time, which we pretty much predicted, because of the type of cars ahead of me and how they qualified. It wasn’t easy to come back through those guys and I had a mistake in turn two on my in-lap, the tires basically did not have much left of them, but I got the car back. We really started from there. When you still see P17 on your board after 15 laps, or whatever it was, you think ‘how is this going to come?’ But then all of a sudden I just felt comfortable with the car. I had a few sets of tires left from after qualifying so that helped a bit. Maybe that is the best way to do it all the time, not even take part in qualifying and just go from there. But all jokes aside I think the guys did an incredible job. Back-to-back races for us and it is clear we have not had the smoothest run with my car, but they haven’t given up and that was a drive for them today and everyone back at the factory. Again congratulations to Lewis. It was good that someone finally, of course Seb is in the same team but he has been on a phenomenal run and we are all here together fighting for victories. Shame McLaren won in a way but also we can’t let Seb get too far away, so it was good day for the racing and good day for us in terms of points for the team.
Q: Lewis, your first grand prix race win of the season and the first non-Red Bull race win of the season. Is this game on in the title now?
Hamilton: I think we have still got a long road ahead of us but we are working very, very hard to close the gap. I think the race pace we are quite similar but in qualifying we still have got a lot of work to do. But I am absolutely overwhelmed. It feels like a long, long time since I was sitting here. Feel very proud and extremely grateful for all the hard work the guys put in and I will continue to push. These guys do a fantastic job and I am looking forward to many, many more great races like this.
Q: Lewis, we were just talking about trying to remain calm in the garage with everyone rushing around wiping up whatever it was on the floor. But you had no idea what it was?
Hamilton: I really didn’t know. The car just wouldn’t start. I was very, very curious. We have had it not start initially several times in the past so I thought it was nothing. But when they kept trying it was becoming more and more of a concern for everyone. I could see everyone was doing their best to find out what the situation was and also fix it so I didn’t want to be asking questions all the time, saying ‘what is going on, what’s going on’ so I just said ‘how long have we got until the pit-lance closes?’ It was six minutes at the time so I could relax really. I think I could relax at the time as I just have real confidence in the guys that they would figure it out. I didn’t think it was going to be too big a problem, but it was right on the limit. I don’t know how long?
Q: Thirty seconds.
Hamilton: Thirty seconds, yeah. As I was driving to the light I was nervous that just as I got to it, it would go red, but fortunately we got out and there was no problem. Then there was a bit of a rush on the grid with the guys but as always they did a professional job, kept their heads cool and thanks to that we are sitting here having won.
Q: Combined with the fact that it has been a car that you have made into a winner in three weeks really from Australia where there were brand new bits on it. In itself, that is phenomenal.
Hamilton: It is and that’s really a true showing of the strength of our team. We came out to Barcelona with the upgrade package we had there and it really wasn’t working and the reliability was a disaster. We couldn’t even get past 20 laps. Then they pushed very hard in the space of a week-and-a-half, two weeks, and it was just incredible what they were able to bring to Australia. Australia was our first race distance and the car has been great. It really has been great. Red Bull are doing a fantastic job. They are very, very fast. They have got a wonderful car and they are doing the job and we are having to push with absolutely everything we have to try and close the gap. I think today we were similar pace perhaps in the race, I think they were generally a little bit quicker, but I think it was just due to us just trying to be a little bit smarter on the strategy and making it work and fortunately it did today. Other times perhaps it won’t work out but today it did so we are very happy.
Q: Was that the reason for the emotion at the end. The relief of getting on to the top of the podium?
Hamilton: I think the emotion probably comes from the desire to win, the desire to be better and the desire to compete against the toughest drivers in the world. When you haven’t won for a while, I can’t remember the last time I won but when you haven’t won for a while it feels like an eternity so you just keep pushing, trying to keep your mind fresh. I think with the whole thing that happened in the pit-lane, I was confident going into the race but perhaps I wasn’t even going to be in the race. I thought I was going to be back with Mark and obviously just the way the race turned out. I came out behind someone and I think Sebastian came past me at one stage. I wanted to pit at one stage and Jenson was pitting so I couldn’t pit as he was pitting. I had to try and keep things up and I was just able to pull through several cars. I couldn’t believe I was catching Sebastian. He was doing a great job to stay ahead. He put up a very, very fair and strong fight and I am very happy I was able to get by.
Q: Was it an enjoyable race for you as it was for us?
Hamilton: It was absolutely, every inch of the race, every second, was incredibly enjoyable. I love being able to fight with different drivers and have the battles and have them at their best. I really felt that today. Whilst the tires were going off on some of the cars I felt they were really performing and driving very well to defend their position, so it made that even more exciting.
Q: Sebastian, there was only one retirement. Can I ask you about traffic. Was it really busy out there?
Vettel: As usual I would say. The track is fairly long so it spreads out, but it depends which cars you talk about. There are some cars you come across a bit more often than others so it wasn’t too busy.
Q: After your run of wins is second a disappointment?
Vettel: To be honest I don’t think so. I have not seen all that happened but from the bit that I saw I think there is a very important lesson to be learnt today. The strategy that I picked was not the one that was meant to be the best but these things happen. You never know until you cross the line. If the race is a little bit shorter, if the tires are holding, we are talking two laps every stint holding together a little bit more, then it could be different. But in the end I was struggling a lot. You just wait to turn the car around, wait to get on power as you haven’t got much tires left. It was quite a nice fight with Lewis, twice down the long straight I was able to just stay ahead and also for the next corner but I saw that there were seven laps to go so not much that I could do. To be honest I was quite surprised by his move into turn seven. I think he did a very good there and surprised me. Congratulations to them. I think we have given it our best and I don’t see second today as a disappointment. Mark proved the car was very quick today. For us with a different strategy you cannot always show everything you have. First stint I was very happy. Even though we lost the start, being third, I had the feeling I could have gone a bit longer but for strategy reasons you pit earlier. But all in all we are happy with second. First was not meant to be so second is the best we could do today.
Q: Looking at the start, did you use KERS at the start?
Vettel: I did, but to be honest, my initial launch was not 100 per cent. I probably had problems to really start going; you feel that inside the car. It’s hard to wait then and I was probably a bit too aggressive later on. You can’t use KERS straight away, you have to wait until you reach 100kph, so I saw that I immediately lost a position to Jenson, which wasn’t nice and then Lewis behind. I tried to defend hard into turn one, but at some point you have to give up and let the guy go. As I said, in general, the fight with him today was very fair. It was quite entertaining and good fun from that side.
Q: Mark, a phenomenal drive all the way up from 18th on the grid. Was it enjoyable for you?
Webber: It was obviously a very interesting Grand Prix for me. We decided to get rid of the hard tire in the first stint because we knew we were going to be in a bit of traffic. That worked out well, the guys made the best decision there to... it was their call to start on the prime and that worked out well. Well, I went off the track in turn one, I was struggling with the tire and I thought “my God, this day is getting difficult” so I just kept my head down and focused on the next corner to give it everything. The guys did a good job in the pit stops; the first one was not the best, but after that they did a very, very good job. I got a bit lucky today - we didn’t have so much yesterday, but hey, look, I’ll take as much as I can get. I still had to do a little bit of driving today so it wasn’t too bad, so thanks to the guys.
Q: And a fair amount of racing; you could have done with a few more retirements rather than one, couldn’t you?
Webber: Absolutely. I was looking for more yellow flags, a few more retirements, a couple of Vodafone cars pulled over but nothing, no yellow flags, I had to pass everybody. Yeah, I really earned it today, I think. I think the DRS position was pretty good for the race, in terms of overtaking. Maybe we need to look at top gear for the sport, to get that right between low and high fuel, because sometimes it’s hard. We have DRS but we’re on the limiter. The DRS, basically, sometimes doesn’t work because you have the wrong top gear, it’s the same for everyone. So anyway, we learned quite a bit today, a great result for the team, second and third. Congratulations to Lewis, they got the race.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Wang Wenfei - Titan Sports) Sebastian, you were leading and I wonder if you remember what the team told you on the radio on lap 29, and are you going to change the nickname of your car to get more luck in the race?
Vettel: Whether I remember on lap 29 what the team told me over the radio? And if I’m still happy with the name of the car? No, I think we have to keep our feet on the ground. I do. We’ve had three races, we’ve finished first, first and second. There’s not a lot of room for improvements. Obviously, today, we could have been one step better but Lewis and McLaren were too strong and not within reach for us, with the strategy that we used today. I’m very happy. To be honest, with the radio, I have no clue what I was told because some bits I heard, other bits I didn’t. As I said, I think they asked some questions, didn’t get any answer and the other way around. Sometimes it worked. Fortunately, the pit board was always there, and looking for the pit stops, I got the call to box. But these days, with the racing that we have, it’s quite important to have the communications and if one step doesn’t work it’s not really a pleasure. As I said, I’m happy with the name of the car. She behaves well.
Q: (Michael Schmidt - Auto, Moto und Sport) Sebastian, if you had been first at the start, would you have done a three-stop strategy and secondly, what did you think when, at the first pit stop, Jenson Button tried to park in your spot?
Vettel: If we could have stayed ahead at the start I think the race could have been different, probably not the first two or three laps but after that I felt quite comfortable in the position that I was. On the other hand, you obviously need to remember that Jenson, who was leading at that stage, is not able to use the DRS. I was always fairly close to Lewis and it is around half a second that you gain just by doing that. But as I said earlier, I had the feeling that I could have gone longer but there was no point, for strategy reasons. So, if we would have stayed ahead, we would probably have been able to pull a gap and then react to the people behind, too, and then maybe it would have been a bit more clear to us - what to do, two stops or three stops. The first time I came in I was fairly close to Jenson, obviously he was the race leader. I just got past Lewis on the back straight and came in to pit and I thought “what’s going on”, because I looked at my box, but I have to say, I stayed quite calm. He pulled over and into my slot, so I was just hoping for the front jack man to react and to indicate to him to keep going, you’re wrong. I lost a little bit of time because I waited, I didn’t want to stop then and then go again. Fortunately, Jenson realized and I could do my pit stop. It’s not easy for the guys, as I said earlier, it’s very easy to lose the rhythm, wrong car and imagine if they’ve changed the tires. Then it’s a big mess and I have to go one spot further to McLaren and ask them: ‘hello’. If I would have come in at the same time with Lewis and if he was supposed to get his new set it would have been nice, but that way, no way.
Hamilton: I would have got tires.
Vettel: From my team or from...
Hamilton: Yeah, yeah, from your team.
Q: (Livio Oricchio - O Estado de Sao Paulo) Sebastian, how much does the KERS affect your result today?
Vettel: We had some trouble in the race and for the majority of the race, unfortunately, we had to do without KERS, so the first stint was fine but then we lost it fairly early after that. Yes, it’s a big hit, obviously. Here you have the long straight, the back straight, where it has a big effect, so it surely doesn’t help if you try to pull away.
Q: (Edd Straw - Autosport) Sebastian and Mark, obviously the KERS problems have been there during the first three races: how important is it that the team gets these problems sorted out as soon as possible, especially with McLaren getting stronger by the race?
Webber: Yeah, it’s a key component in Formula One these days, mate, so it’s completely obvious that we want to address it as soon as possible. McLaren have a huge amount of experience with Mercedes from 2009 and they’re doing a good job of it, and that’s not an excuse, it means that we have to work harder, we have to work as cleverly as we can and as fast as we can. Fortunately, we now have a bit of a break, so it will be a clear focus for us in terms of durability and consistency and also understanding the system. It’s not only a performance thing but it’s also incredibly disrupting in the garage for... my car was rebuilt about four times this weekend. It makes it so much harder for them in terms of making mistakes, when you open a car up and put it back together all the time, it’s not easy. We have awesome guys on the case. As I say, with the limited experience we have, that’s the way it is and we’re still going OK in the Constructors’ championship, I think, so let’s regroup, get to Turkey and work hard on it.
Q: (Dan Knutson - National Speedsport News) Mark, a mega race, tons of passes, a bunch of fastest laps, does this make your top 10 list?
Webber: It’s a different type of racing, Dan. There were some phenomenal races even when you drive for smaller teams, but today worked out for me. I had a good feeling from the middle part of the race to 60-70 per cent of the way through the race that things were starting to come to us, so it’s easy to sit here and say yeah, it was phenomenal, top-three drive, overdone, rah rah rah, but in the end, that’s my job, mate, isn’t it? You’ve just got to (get your) head down, arse up and get into it - so that’s what I did.
Q: (Stephane Barbe - L’Equipe) Lewis, could you describe your move on Jenson?
Hamilton: Ummm. I don’t remember it. I can’t remember it. I’m in a daze right now. Where did I overtake him? First corner. Yeah, I remember now. I’m not joking. Jenson seemed to... I think it was on our last or second stint and basically I was able to catch him. I had my new tires which, as I said in qualifying, I was able to save and they just seemed to hold on a little bit longer than Jenson’s, so I was able to close the gap and I knew that I had a pit stop coming up, so I was able to push quite hard in those last few laps and I was very, very good on the brakes into turn 14, very close on the way up to turn 16 and I was able to get a real good tow from him out of the last corner. I’m not sure whether he expected me to go on the inside there into turn one but, fortunately, he left me enough space and I was able to capitalize on that and he put up a fair fight but there was nowhere really for him to go, because I was fully up alongside him. It was a great move and a great little battle. As I said, just with everyone generally, I had really good fights with everyone. None of them made it easy and that’s the kind of racing I love, so I think that’s why it feels even better than perhaps it’s felt in the past.
Q: (Michael Schmidt - Auto, Moto und Sport) Lewis, would you say that the tires saved yesterday were the key to your race win today?
Hamilton: I don’t think that was the only thing. I think all my tires were in good condition. I think it’s always a combination of things but that definitely did help. Without that, I wouldn’t have overtaken Jenson. It would have been hard to get close enough. But, obviously, I had quite a lot of key moments through the stints in which I needed to really maximize and I think today... in some races you’re able to maximize and things just go the way you want it to go and then in some other races, some parts of it will go well and then one part you’re a bit unfortunate. I had a close coming together with Perez, I think, at turn one, I think it was. I was coming out of the pits and he cut across and touched my wing, I think, or my tire. I thought I had a flat spot or a flat tire but otherwise, just cool fighting.
Q: (Bo Zhao - Wenhuibao) Lewis, there is an interesting phenomenon in Shanghai in that there are seven champions here. Not one seems to have been able to repeat their victory here, but you have broken that deadlock. How do you value that? This time you see more and more fans coming to watch the race; do you want to say something to them?
Hamilton: Absolutely, and I think that’s a good point. Coming into this weekend and coming here, every year I’ve come here since 2007, I’ve come here and I’ve had the fans, who are just incredible. While the grandstands aren’t as full as we would like, perhaps, but every time I arrive at the airport, I’ve got fans standing there waiting. I think it started off with maybe one or two at the beginning and each year it gets a little bit more. Their support is just incredible and you go back to the hotel, they might be outside the restaurant, they’re back at the hotel when you come from the restaurant, they’re there before you leave in the morning and when you come back, it’s absolutely unbelievable. I’ve never seen anything like it. I’ve had great letters that are read each night from several of the fans that give me a letter outside, and also gifts. Every day, I spend a little bit of time with them, try to give as much time to them. But that gives energy to me. They’ve not been overbearing or anything, they’ve been really supportive but that’s also the same of my fans around the world, I’m so appreciative of the support we get. It makes a big difference. I don’t know how it is for everyone but definitely for me.
In my long answer, I was trying to say that this weekend some of the fans said “can you make it two?” and I said: “I will do absolutely everything I can” but obviously I was on P3, it was going to be a very tough race, but you can never ever imagine a race like today and what happened throughout the race and even before the race, so I feel very, very blessed to be sitting here, very, very happy.
Sebastian Vettel (2nd): "My start was not the best and for some reason it seems the left hand side of the grid is worse here than the right hand side. It wasn't brilliant and I lost positions to Jenson and Lewis. After that it was about being patient; I think we treated the tires better in the first stint, we could have stayed out, but there wasn't reason to at that time, so I came into the box and came out first. It was a surprise that Jenson came into my garage in front of me - I hoped he would carry on. We had something similar two years ago with a Toro Rosso - I don't know what attracts people to stop in our garage! Fortunately it had no effect and the guys kept their heads. We came out in the lead and tried hard to stay on two stops. The middle stint should really have been a little longer, but at the end of the race I found myself out on the hard tire and could see Lewis coming closer and closer. I tried to defend as best I could, without losing too much time to the guys behind, but he found his way past. It was a difficult race and we had a couple of mistakes, but we still finished second and third, which is a strong result. Congratulations to Lewis and McLaren, they did a good job and it just shows that in one race, if you try something a bit different and make a small mistake, there is someone to beat you. It was a good race for us and we can learn a lot from today. Mark had a good race and had good pace. With two stops, you have to be patient and look after your tires, but it didn't work today."
Mark Webber (3rd): "We decided to start on the prime tire, which we know is not the most desired, as it doesn't have the characteristics of the hard tire in terms of duration and things like that. So, we got that out of the way, but it was quite tricky actually, as even with the guys I was with, everyone was using DRS at the same time. I made a mistake in Turn 2 on my in-lap and then we came in as there wasn't much left in the tires and our race started from there. To see P17 on your board after 15 laps you think it might not happen, but suddenly I felt very comfortable with the car. I had a few sets of tires left from qualifying, so that helped - and maybe that's the way to do it! Miss qualifying and go from there! But, all joking aside, I think the guys have done an incredible job - it's a back to back race and we haven't had the smoothest run with my car, but I haven't given up. That drive today was for them and everyone back at the factory. Congratulations to Lewis and it was a good day for us in terms of points for the team."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "After losing out a little bit at the start by dropping behind both McLarens, we elected for Sebastian to go onto a two stop strategy. It nearly paid off for us and we got within four laps of making it work but, ultimately, he just didn't have enough grip to defend that podium place. Second is still a fantastic result and means a lot of points, which are well deserved. With Mark, we effectively ran his race in reverse starting on the prime tire and running a three stop strategy. It was a phenomenal recovery by him to get onto the podium, so an awesome job and strong pit stops from the team. We had one scare when Jenson stopped in our pit box at the first stop, but overall it is a very strong team result."
Cyril Dumont, Renault: "Somehow today, I feel like the job is not finished even though it is a really good result for the team. To finish second is a good result and the season is still very long - which is good. For Mark, what a race! To come from 18th to third is incredible - it was a really solid race by him, so congratulations to all the team. We now go to Europe leading the Championship."
Lewis Hamilton (1st): “I’m still struggling for words - that really was one of my best races. Before the start, I was sat in the car and thinking, ‘Okay, let’s go,’ but the car wouldn’t start. I didn’t question what was going on, I just wanted to stay calm and not add to everyone’s stress. When I finally left the garage, I drove down the pitlane watching the light and hoped it wouldn’t turn red - and it didn’t! It’s never been that close before... It’s rare to have battles like the ones we saw today; you really had to think about the situation, and I loved that challenge, but having to overtake people made things so much sweeter. At the end, it was tough to get past Sebastian - even though he was getting slower, he never looked like getting out of shape. It was always going to be difficult to follow him onto the back straight, so I wanted to get him before then - I wasn’t expecting to overtake where I did, but I had the grip to keep ahead, and I made it stick. Looking back at these three flyaways, it still feels absolutely amazing to have a car beneath us that can compete. We’ve still got some way to go to close the gap to the Red Bulls, but we had the better strategy and were able to execute it really well. The team will keep on pushing as hard as ever as we head into the European season. I feel so proud: this race is in my top three of race wins, it’s up there with Silverstone and Monaco in 2008. I exist and I live and I breathe to win: I love winning and I just couldn’t be happier.”
Jenson Button (4th): “Firstly, I want to say congratulations to Lewis - he had good pace and drove a great race today. It was also a fantastic job by the whole team. I had a pretty interesting race - I lost out to Sebastian at the first pitstop when I mistakenly pulled into his box. I was looking down at the steering wheel to adjust a switch: when I looked up, I thought I was in my pitbox, but then I saw the Red Bull pitcrew in front of me! But that moment didn’t really change my race at all. We saw a lot of action out on the track today, but we just weren’t quick enough today. For some reason, I really struggled to look after the rear tires, and fourth place was the best I could get out of my car today. Nowadays, getting strategy right is very important. I didn’t have a clue where I was going to finish: I could have been seventh, I could have been second. Nonetheless, fourth position is a good result, all things considered. Now I’m looking forward to getting back to MTC and improving the car for the next race. We’ll be pushing as hard as ever, and this victory will be a great motivator for everybody back in Woking - they’ll all be wearing their Rocket Red Victory T-shirts.”
Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal: “In grands prix nowadays, there is so much action that, if you get it slightly wrong, you’re toast. Today, I think both Lewis and Jenson drove brilliant, charging races, just fantastic. This was our first win of the year, a really important one, and a reward for all the work that everyone at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes has put in over the last six weeks. Before the race, we tried to start Lewis’s engine, but his car suffered what we believe to have been a fuel flooding issue. At a certain rate, a pressure release valve pops and lets fuel out. It let fuel out into the engine’s airtray, flooding it. With too much fuel, the engine won’t start, so the mechanics hurriedly took the airtray out - cleaned up the excess fuel and fired it up. We quickly assembled the car and sent it to the grid with 60 seconds to go. The mechanics did an absolutely superlative job to identify the problem and rectify it within a very stressful timeframe - they really showed today that they are the best in the world. I take my hat off to them. Both drivers’ races were eventful: Lewis responded magnificently to the pressure to record one of his most finely judged and aggressive race wins. He really is a magnificent fighter and this victory was the perfect way for us to head into the European season. Jenson also drove a fine race, although he was hampered by tire drop-off issues that sadly left him unable to counter the attack of Mark [Webber] in the closing laps. That was frustrating, but it’s racing. I think today showed that Formula 1 can deliver spectacular, fast, close, nail biting racing. That must have been one of the most exciting races I’ve ever seen. It’s incredibly rewarding to know that our sport is in good shape and that Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is a winning force in Formula 1 - today will be a fantastic boost for every man and woman in the team, and it will only motivate us to achieve even greater things in Turkey next month. Now we’ve just got to win some more!”
Felipe Massa (6th): “It’s a real shame not managing to finish this race in a better position. It really seems that, from qualifying to the race, we discover another car: yesterday, we were not competitive, today we fought with the leaders right to the end. Unfortunately, on the hard tires we could not defend position all the way to the end. The strategy? Now, it’s easy to say that we were not on the right one, but we are a team and we take our decisions together. Vettel made the same choice as us and we had a reasonably similar pace. Probably we would have finished on the podium, but we need to look into all the details with the engineers. I am happy with my race; I think it was my best this year and maybe even the best including last year. We need to work out how to improve the car, especially in qualifying.”
Fernando Alonso (7th): “I made a bad start, Felipe managed to get past me and a Force India nearly did the same, then it was a good battle on the opening lap. After the first pit stop, I lost too much time behind Michael, thus losing touch with the leading group. I found myself fighting him again at the end of the race, with our positions reversed. Once again, it was a good battle, but I would have preferred to have been doing it for a podium finish rather than seventh place. Unfortunately, our race pace was too slow and I don’t think that a different strategy would have changed anything. I’ve had better Sundays in my career, but I won’t get downhearted or lose confidence. We know we have to improve to get to the front: McLaren and Mercedes have managed it and there is no reason to think we can’t do the same. Clearly, aerodynamics is our Achilles Heel at the moment and that’s what we have to work on the most. Eight days ago in Malaysia we had seen some encouraging signs, but that was not the case here: the car has not changed, while others have made progress.”
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal: “Fourteen points is definitely not what we wanted to come away with from this Grand Prix: there is no use denying we are disappointed. We will have to study carefully the way this race evolved and understand why, having started off by being competitive, especially with Felipe, after around two thirds of the race, we saw others produce a more competitive finish than we did. From a strategic point of view, I don’t think it would have changed much if we had done three stops instead of two: when the final result shows such small gaps, some incidents would be enough to make the difference and with hindsight, it is easy to judge. Felipe drove a great race and was fighting right up to the closing stages for a place on the podium, getting to 15” off the winner, while Fernando’s race was affected by his duel with Michael after the first pit stop. This championship has not started the way we would have wanted or hoped for. Our car definitely needs to improve its performance, especially in qualifying. We must work very hard over the coming weeks, especially on the aerodynamics. We know our problems can’t be solved by waving a magic wand, all in one go, especially as our rivals are not going to sit around twiddling their thumbs: all the same, we need to take a step in the right direction, right from the next race.”
Pat Fry: “After three races it’s clear our priority is to try and improve the performance of our car. Today, we opted for a two stop strategy and now we have to look carefully at the evolution of the race to understand if a different choice would have changed things: at first glance that does not seem to be the case. Both Felipe and Fernando made two stops, using the hard tire in the final stint of the race. Unfortunately, their degradation on our car was significant and Felipe did not manage to fend off the attacks of those behind him. Fernando was battling with Schumacher for at least eight laps and his tires suffered because of that, to such an extent that he was unable to push as hard as he wanted once he had a clear track ahead of him. Towards the end, he too was struggling and just managed to hang onto seventh place. We have a lot of work to do and we must keep our cool in this situation. There is still a long way to go this season and things can change quickly.”
Nico Rosberg (5th): "Naturally I'm disappointed with the race today as we know that we didn't make the most of our opportunity out there. We've made a big step with the car this weekend which is really nice to see and we will have better races in future. Leading the race for such a long time was a great feeling but we had issues with the fuel consumption which made it really difficult to fight for position. We could have had a podium finish or maybe more today, but we will learn from this together as a team and make sure that we get the results next time."
Michael Schumacher (8th): "That was a lot of racing in one Grand Prix this afternoon and very exciting! I had a lot of fun this afternoon and I'm so pleased to see the hard work of our guys paid off this weekend. We have made a big step forward with our car and it worked very well. We are heading towards the first race in Europe now and will bring some upgrades to Istanbul which should help us to improve even more. It is good to leave Asia with a positive feeling."
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "We had a very encouraging race today from the point of view of our overall pace and performance. Nico and Michael did a fantastic job in making use of what they had, and our strategy and pit stops were very good. It's disappointing that we had to start looking at fuel saving with Nico which ultimately cost him at least a podium finish. We need to look into why we suffered so much higher fuel consumption in the race than we had experienced in practice, even allowing for the changes in conditions and grip. There was clearly a problem and it's very frustrating for Nico and the team. However we can take away positives from this weekend in knowing that if we do a decent job, we can be competitive."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "The speed of our cars today was very good and much better than I expected. Unfortunately both Nico and Michael had higher fuel consumption than expected and both needed to save fuel for many laps. I am sure that otherwise Nico could have finished on the podium and Michael higher in the points. Both drivers drove excellently today, our strategy was good, the pit stops were well-executed and both cars ran reliably, so that is all positive. Thank you to everyone at MERCEDES GP PETRONAS and Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines for their relentless work. A better result was possible today but we will work very hard to get achieve that sooner rather than later."
Vitaly Petrov (9th): "To be P9 and take two points for the team is still good, given that we did not qualify in high positions. However, we are still a bit disappointed that we did not challenge higher up the order and gain even more points. The strategy was OK, but we must now see where we can improve. We will analyze the data and see what went wrong, and we will try to repeat the results we had in Australia and Malaysia when we reach Turkey."
Nick Heidfeld (12th): "I'm not happy with where I finished, even though I started P16. The start was very poor, but I went aggressive into the first corner and made up a few places. After a few laps I started having problems with the KERS and couldn't use the full power all the time, which made overtaking and defending quite difficult. I think our pace in the second stint on the soft tire was not too bad, but it was still hard to attack the cars ahead of me. That's why we made an early stop for hard tires in the hope that we could get some clean air and jump the cars ahead of me. Unfortunately Perez and Sutil stopped on the same lap, and it meant I couldn't really show our pace in the final stint."
Eric Boullier, Team Principal: "Starting where we did, it was always going to be difficult to repeat the results we have had already this season. In the end, it turned out to be quite a frustrating afternoon for us and we didn't really make the progress we expected in the race. Part of the reason was that overtaking was not as easy as we thought it would be, even with the DRS. Also, we need to review our strategy because it wasn't easy to make the calls today and it's clear you need to switch tires at exactly the right moment. Still, it's good to pick up more points with Vitaly and we now have three weeks to regroup before Turkey to make sure we can be fighting closer to the front."
Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer: "It was a tricky day for us, which wasn't helped by our poor qualifying yesterday, but ultimately we struggled for pace and both drivers found it quite difficult to overtake. Vitaly didn't make a great start and he was stuck in traffic during his first stint. At that point we were thinking about whether to do two or three stops, but when he finally found some clean air his pace looked reasonable and we decided it was best to do two stops. However, he struggled for pace on the soft tires during his middle stint. As for Nick, we chose to run the same tire strategy as Vitaly, but he struggled with KERS overheating problems, which meant the system could only be used intermittently and made it even more difficult for him to come through the field."
Riccardo Penteado, Engine Support Leader: "A long and hard race for the team, with battles on every lap for both drivers - including the last one! We can be pleased to be in the top ten after the difficulties yesterday. Vitaly and Nick gave it everything and both finished up on their starting positions, with Vitaly taking some more valuable points in 9th. Temperatures were significantly higher than yesterday but the R31-RS27 chassis-engine package performed well, although we know that we are capable of finishing higher than 9th and 12th."
Rubens Barrichello (13th): "We opted for a two-stop strategy today, others did three, but I don't think that made a difference. The car isn't performing as well as it should. I am going to work hard to help the team improve it. I need this car to be performing better and I know we can make it happen."
Pastor Maldonado (18th): "I'm pleased that we finished the race because we now have more data to analyze how the FW33 is working over a race distance which we haven't had to date. My car felt ok, but we need to find more speed and improve our performance. We have a long gap between now and Turkey to look over the data and make improvements."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "There is nothing satisfying about finishing out of the points. Reliability-wise, however, it was positive to get both cars to the finish. There were stages during the race when our performance was respectable so we need to focus on those areas and improve our qualifying pace. We have some sound upgrades planned for Istanbul and we will be concentrating our efforts on those."
Paul di Resta (11th): "It was always going to be quite a tough race, starting from where we were. We came very close to scoring points, but just missed out at the end when the tires had gone. Having gone into the race without heavy fuel runs may have compromised us a bit. We didn't quite get the aero balance right at the start, but the second and third stints I think we were pretty good, just a bit longer than expected because we had to stop early to try and cover Michael [Schumacher]. May be a three stop strategy would have suited us better, but only time will tell in the simulations. But we came here relatively strong in performance and I think we have to be very thankful of that. Overall I am still very happy on how the weekend went considering we qualified into Q3 and came close to scoring points once again."
Adrian Sutil (15th): "I was unlucky with the incident with Perez, which cost me the race. But in the end we had problems as well with the tires, they didn't last as long as we thought and I was just struggling the whole time. We have to understand why we were not so competitive in the race this time; in qualifying we were much better, so we will go away, analyze everything and I think it is good that we have the break now before the next race in Europe. The team back at the factory did a good job to get us to where we are after these first three races; we just need to work out what happened in particular today to bring both qualifying and race performances together."
Dominic Harlow, Chief Race Engineer: "P11 and just missing out on a point for Paul, and P15 for Adrian is not the reward we'd hoped for after a fantastic effort from the factory and the team this weekend. The race started well with both cars on the option tires for their first stints. Once the higher degradation set in we elected to pit Paul on lap 11 and Adrian on lap 15 with a second stint on the soft tire. Two stops was just possible, and after a switch to prime for both drivers we held on to our track position for as long as we could, with Paul only losing out in the final laps. Adrian was the victim of an incident with Perez, which dropped him a little further back. Overall though we've shown better pace in qualifying, and that we can still race very strongly. We'll look at what we've learned today and aim to continue improving when we next race back in Europe."
Kamui Kobayashi (10th): "I am very happy we were able to score at least one point today. I had a really good start and was able to make up positions. This was obviously important after not qualifying as high up as I wanted to. When I was trying to get close to Adrian (Sutil) on lap 14 we came across another car and I think the driver did not see me. We touched and this was when I got a hole in the car's nose. Technically it was not a problem to drive with that, but practically quite a lot of dust and dirt came into the cockpit. My white overalls looked awfully dirty in the end, but this is obviously not important. I made my second pit stop a few laps earlier than originally planned, but it turned out to be okay to do the remaining 26 laps on the hard compound, although I must admit after overtaking Paul (Di Resta) three laps before the end those tires where finished."
Sergio Perez (17th): "My start as such was okay, but I had a very bad first corner and lost some positions. Most importantly I'm very sorry for the accident with Adrian (Sutil) - I am sorry for him and sorry for my team. At this time in the race I wanted to get the most out of my tires, as I was under pressure from Vitaly (Petrov), so was quite aggressive. Unfortunately I lost the rear when I was already on the inside of Adrian and crashed into him. It is a real shame because, as I said before, this weekend I felt a lot more comfortable with the car than ever before."
Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "It was an exciting race and very difficult today for us to score points. However, having said that, we are satisfied with this one point. Our car had more potential than this result shows, but both drivers got stuck in traffic for long periods during the race."
James Key, Technical Director: "It is nice to come away from here finishing in the points. I think it was always going to be a bit tricky from where we were on the grid, but our intention was to give it our best shot at top ten positions. Both drivers did a good job. It was unfortunate with Sergio's incident, but we will look at that afterwards. It is only his third race so perhaps he was a bit optimistic but, other than that, again he drove a really good race and I think his pace was very good. Kamui did a great job to do a lot of laps on the hard tire at the end. We pulled him in early and he did okay. He brought home a point for us. However, Mercedes has taken a good step forward here and is ahead of us in the championship, so we have got to react to this as best we can and have a better weekend in Turkey."
Sebastien Buemi (14th): "Not the result we were expecting so I am a bit disappointed and frustrated that I failed to score points, having started from a points position. I don't really know what happened at the start, as I had a poor start even though from my point of view I think I did everything right, so I would like to see the data, because I had a lot of wheelspin. After that, I got passed by Heidfeld and then, at a certain point, I started to feel a lot of understeer, to the point where it was getting very difficult to drive the car, so we decided to change the front wing. That meant an extra pit stop and from then on my race was compromised. We could have done a lot better without that, but this is how it ended and all we can do now is see how we can make a step forward for Turkey."
Jaime Alguersuari (DNF, Rear Wheel): "From quite early on I was struggling with grip from the rear tires, so we decided to come in earlier than planned for the first stop to try and fight back for the ground lost at the start. Then, immediately after leaving the pits, I felt the car was very unstable and then I lost a wheel nut and the wheel came off, so there was nothing I could do. After my best qualifying position I was hoping for better even if we knew we would be using quite worn tires after qualifying, so we had started on my worst set of tires to try and have an edge later in the race, but it was not to be."
Laurent Mekies, Chief Engineer: "Neither car got a great start, losing us the benefit of our strong qualifying performance. After that, we brought Jaime in fairly early to have him running a three stop strategy. But we had to retire the car soon after the pit stop as we lost a wheel. At the moment, we are examining the exact cause of this incident. Sebastien came in for his first tire change a few laps later when we discovered that he had some front wing damage, so we called him in again to change the nose as he could not continue like that. From then on, he drove a strong race on a two stop strategy, which was our only chance to get us back in the rhythm of the race after the time lost just 15 laps after the start. He drove well, racing the Williams, getting Maldonado and finishing right on Barrichello's gearbox."
Heikki Kovalainen (16th): "That is our best ever performance. It's not the highest place we've had but today we beat two midfield cars in a straight fight so I am very happy, with my performance and the performance of the whole team. We knew we would struggle in the cool conditions yesterday but today the temperatures rose and we expected to be able to put in the sort of race that would do justice to the pace that is in the car. We will keep working hard to improve the car's behavior in the cooler conditions and we can only get better from here."
Jarno Trulli (19th): "I had a good start and then Heikki and I were able to pull away from the cars behind and keep to the strategy to fight with the guys ahead. My first stop wasn't great and I'm still having a few issues with the tire degradation but really today is about the team result. We have shown we are developing exactly as we want to and that's a huge motivation for everyone."
Riad Asmat, Chief Executive Officer: "I am actually lost for words. We were racing today, actually taking on teams who have been in the sport for many years, and even though there is a huge amount of work ahead of us, now we need to enjoy this moment, build on this feeling and keep moving forwards."
Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director: "That was an absolutely fantastic race from both drivers and from the pitcrew who performed brilliantly under huge pressure. It is very satisfying to have beaten two other midfield teams on track on pace and strategy and to be able to show that we have bridged the gap to the established teams. Both drivers made a good start and with the higher track temperatures we knew our race pace would be good, and so it proved. With the tire degradation we were able to stick to two stops, which was always our plan and that allowed us to jump a couple of people, giving us our strongest race in F1. Additionally, we were only lapped once, right towards the end of the race, so I am very proud of the whole team today."
Thierry Salvi, Renault: "That is a very good result for the whole team and it is important we enjoy it. The key goal today was to get both cars across the finish line and to achieve that, and beat both Perez and Maldonado is a big step forward for us. A very satisfying day."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (22nd): “We have performed a lot better than in Malaysia and have closed the gap on Virgin, our closest rival. Unfortunately I had a drive-through penalty because of a problem at the start where I dropped the clutch too early and moved before the green light. But overall I’m happy because we achieved our target which was to reach the checkered flag. Now we have to look forward to Turkey because our race pace has improved from Malaysia and will be even better in Turkey with the updates. Our strategy was to do a single stop but it turned out to be too difficult on the tires so I asked to come in. The second stop helped us to achieve better lap times. We still need to improve. But still we were only 17 seconds off Virgin and without the drive-through penalty it could’ve been a close race.”
Narain Karthikeyan (23rd): “We met our main objective today which was none other than to finish the race. I don’t think the Virgin’s are that far ahead of us which is good for future races. After having completed our target today we now have to improve the car and try and attack from Turkey onwards. With the new updates and parts we will be a lot more competitive for the next race. Nothing is easy in Formula 1 but we can definitely compete with our closest rivals soon.”
Colin Kolles, Team Principal: “We reached our target, which was to finish the race. We planned a one stop strategy for today. Narain went for this strategy but Tonio had a drive-through penalty for a jump start and lost some positions so we switched to a two stop strategy with him. Tonio’s times were impressive at the end, he was doing similar times to the middle of the field which is positive. All in all, we had a normal weekend where we did a lot of miles and the improvement of the car is visible. We had no technical issues and both drivers did a good race so we’re happy with the weekend. The aerodynamic and mechanical upgrades for Turkey will put us closer to the field.”
Jerome d'Ambrosio (20th): "I'm very pleased with my race. It's my second finish so I'm happy about that. I think I made progress throughout the whole weekend and my race pace was much better than in the previous two races, which is also good. The first lap was good fun as I had an enjoyable fight with Timo, he got past me, then I passed him and then he overtook me again. It was the sort of racing I like. I can see I'm making improvements and that's the important thing and now I'm looking forward to Turkey."
Timo Glock (21st): "Not a great race unfortunately from my point of view, but positive in the fact that we got both cars home, which was the objective. I had a good start and a good first lap. I managed to stay in front of the HRT and overtook Jerome when he had a moment in turn 13. In general we suffered a bit more rear degradation for some reason. The team then took the decision to convert to a three stop race but this was not the right way to go because we suffered massively with the blue flags. Then in the last stop the wheel didn't go on, which cost me a few seconds leaving the pits. Generally on the hard tire the car was slightly better but in the beginning we just struggled. A difficult start to the season is now behind us and we look forward positively to the upgrade that everyone has been working so hard on behind the scenes to ensure we can take a good step forward in Turkey. Thanks to everyone in the team for a great start operationally and I hope we can share some better results as we move ahead."
John Booth, Team Principal: "Obviously today was a very good result for Jerome in only his third race. His two-stop strategy proved far superior to the three-stop strategy we decided upon for Timo and more suited to what our competitors were doing around us. All credit to Jerome for getting a two-stopper to work. Following some feedback in the race from Timo regarding the degradation he was suffering with the rear tires, we were perhaps a little too quick to convert him to three stops. Our predictions pre-race were that this would be worse and with the benefit of hindsight we can see it was not the way to go. We didn't help Timo and when he had a problem during his final stop he lost quite a bit of time and had to fight hard to catch the HRT again and overtake. Overall we have had a better weekend in reliability terms and it has proved a useful development opportunity as we have faced several challenges that we will learn from. This is the last of the season-opening long hauls and, as is the case up and down the pit lane, the race team are ready for a bit of a break, particularly after the back to back between Malaysia and China. Meanwhile, as you would expect, everyone at our technical base is nose to the grindstone ensuring that the Turkey upgrade goes according to plan and delivers the performance gains we expect so we can get back to where we should be for the start of the European season."
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