New title leader Button ends Red Bull F1 dominance
After two titles on the trot, Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel finished second in Melbourne as McLaren's 2009 champion Button sped to an early 7-point lead over German Vettel only to see the German claw his way back to just 2 seconds down at the finish.
It is the first time in 23 races - more than an entire season - that Red Bull have not led a single lap during a grand prix.
F1 jumps directly from Australia to Malaysia, but Button is planning a party first.
"I'm very excited to go to Malaysia," the Briton smiled, "but I'm not thinking about that now."
Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull-Renault finished in second place, 2.1 seconds behind, while polesitter Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren finishes third, 4.0 seconds behind the winner.
The victory is Button's third win in Melbourne.
Fourth place went to Australian Mark Webber (4.5s back) in the Red Bull, followed by Fernando Alonso (21.5s back) after starting 12th in the Ferrari finishes fifth.
Kamui Kobayashi in the Sauber-Ferrari was sixth, Kimi Raikkonen in the Lotus-Renault was seventh, Sergio Perez in the Sauber was eighth, Australian Daniel Ricciardo scored his first career points in the Toro Rosso-Ferrari in ninth, and Paul di Resta in the Force India-Mercedes finished in the final points paying position in tenth place.
Holding off Sebastian Vettel, the seven-time World Champ seemed to run into trouble, veering onto the grass before limping back to the pits where he retired in pit lane.
Explaining his retirement, the German said: "It was an unfortunate end to my race when I lost drive going into Turn One.
"I was trying different gears and occasionally the drive came back, but in the end, I had to go onto the grass to avoid the risk of the car being forced into a spin.
"It was especially unfortunate as we have not had this problem during the winter tests and were very reliable.
"This is why I am not concerned, as I know things like this happen in racing, and our reliability is not in question."
He added: "I believe I could have had a good race this afternoon, and I can still take some positives out of the weekend as we have seen our car was confirming our feelings, and is definitely a clear step forward.
"We can now build on that and start improving further."
The car looked good today. Our pace was quick and consistent and we were looking competitive right up until the moment I had on the last lap, which is very important. Unfortunately, I just lost the back of the car while pushing Alonso and I had nowhere to go.
Schumacher's woes, though, were not the only ones to befall the Mercedes team on Sunday.
His team-mate Nico Rosberg had been running as high as fourth place before dropping down the order while a clash with Sergio Perez caused a puncture and dropped him outside the points.
"I had a perfect start today and was able to gain three positions, however unfortunately we weren't able to maintain that pace, and the race did not turn out as we had hoped.
"The end was particularly unfortunate with Perez when we touched on the straight, causing a puncture which took away a points scoring finish.
"We have a lot of work to do to understand what went wrong, and how we can use the full potential which our car definitely shows.
"I'm still positive as Malaysia is a completely different track so I'm looking ahead to next weekend now."
Romain Grosjean was dejected after missing out on a possible podium finish in Melbourne. The Franco-Swiss, who had qualified in an impressive third place, was out of the race on just the second lap after contact with Pastor Maldonado’s Williams.
After a poor start which left him sixth, Grosjean took the middle line on the approach to Turn 13, with Maldonado pulling off a forceful move down the inside. However, with the Venezuelan having run wide on the exit, Grosjean firmly believes his rival is to blame.
“I think we could have achieved a great result today,” the reigning GP2 Champion commented. “It’s frustrating as I really wanted to make the checkered flag and even the podium, but on the positive side the car is performing very well. I was keeping pace with the guys in front of me and everything was looking good. My start wasn’t great, so we’ll need to have a look at the data.
“Then of course there was the collision with Pastor. From what I saw, he braked far too late and hit my right-front wheel, which broke the steering and that was it - my race was over. The team deserved better because they have been working very hard, but by tomorrow morning it will all be a memory. We’ll move on to Malaysia now, which is one of my favorite circuits, and focus on getting a result there.”
To raise the spirits of newly-named Lotus, team-mate Kimi Räikkönen scored six points by fighting up to seventh place from 18th on the grid.
This weekend the Williams-Renault package has shown itself to be competitive. Pastor Maldonado had an amazing weekend right until the very last lap when he crashed battling with Alonso's Ferrari and it was a shame he could not score some points to consolidate the good form.
"The car looked good today," said Maldonado. "Our pace was quick and consistent and we were looking competitive right up until the moment I had on the last lap, which is very important. Unfortunately, I just lost the back of the car while pushing Alonso and I had nowhere to go."
Sebastian Vettel (2nd): "I'm very happy with myself today - I think it was the most we could have achieved. I felt good in the car. Even before the safety car, I think we would have had a good shot at Lewis towards the end, as we were getting close. I decided to stay out when he went to the pits and we would have had a crack even without the safety car. I think it was a great race - a lot of fun. I had a good start initially and was surprised by Nico, who had a very good start and got past. I passed him again, which was a great maneuver and on the edge. Behind Michael, I had a mistake and went off in the first corner; he then did exactly the same when I got close to him, which was good. Congratulations to McLaren and to Jenson, I think he drove a fantastic race and was unbeatable today. I'm very happy to come away with second place, it's a lot of points and I think people would not have expected it after yesterday. I think we had a better car in the race and it seems to have a lot of potential, now it's up to us to get to it. Thanks to everyone who is pushing so hard and making this race result possible today."
Mark Webber (4th): "There are some positives to take out of today. Qualifying was difficult for us, but the race pace was better today, it was just that we didn't have track position. I had a poor start, so I need to see what happened there and then I got sandwiched at Turn 1. I didn't want the race to be over; I was able to keep going and then started to build from there. The car felt quite tricky on the options in the first stint and I wondered if I had some damage from the first corner, but then when I got the primes the race came alive for me. We had a bit of luck with the safety car and I was quicker than Lewis at the end, but it's a difficult track to overtake here - in Malaysia it would have been a different story. Today was a strong showing for us and it was a good day for Red Bull Racing given what we went to bed with last night, we had a bit on, but this was a good comeback. It was a strong start."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "After a difficult day yesterday, we saw strong recovery races today from both Sebastian and Mark. After surviving the first corner, Sebastian made a very good move on Rosberg and then set about chasing Michael (Schumacher) who went off ahead of him. Then he started to reel in the McLarens and, before the safety car, was closing the gap to Lewis. On the second stint he went onto the option tire, rather than the prime and then the pace car came out and we managed to get Seb in, turned around and out just ahead of Hamilton. Jenson was just that little bit too quick, especially at the restart, but nonetheless a great recovery for Seb to finish second and be on the podium. For Mark, after getting caught up by Rosberg and Alonso, once he got into free air he really got his head down and at that point was the quickest car on the circuit. He went onto the prime tire, doing the opposite to Sebastian as he had an additional new set available to him from yesterday. Again, the right call under the safety car put him out right behind Hamilton and you could see how desperate he was in the remaining ten laps. He tried everything to pass Lewis to be on the podium here in Australia. Unfortunately, he didn't quite make it, but a great recovery to get a double finish in second and fourth."
Cyril Dumont, Renault: "Seb made a very good start, Mark's was not so good, but it was a good recovery during the race and a solid race from both drivers. The pace was there with high fuel, so it's a shame we didn't qualify higher yesterday. I would also have liked to have seen Mark on the podium today, but fourth is a good result and Seb was second. We will be back fortified for the next race."
Jenson Button (1st): "Every victory means a lot - but today shows just how important it was to have a strong winter. The starts of the past two seasons have both been tricky for us, so today is really encouraging. The guys at the circuit and all the men and women back in Woking have done an amazing job to get us here. Today means a lot to me, and I'm sure it'll mean a lot to all of them too: it'll make those extra hours worked in the early hours of the morning all the more worthwhile, because we know we can do great things with this car. At the start, I really wanted to get away fast in the first two laps to avoid the threat of DRS - it wasn't easy because I had Lewis right on my tail. But the race went smoothly after that. My biggest worry was the late-race Safety Car: I had a 10-second advantage, which was pretty healthy, but the Safety Car cut that to nothing. And, since it was 6.00pm, with the sun going down, it was quite difficult to keep temperature in the tires when we were running slowly behind the Safety Car. That was a big worry for me, but it worked out okay in the end: I got clear of Seb [Vettel] and the DRS zone pretty quickly and was able to pull out an advantage and hold it to the end. There's a huge amount of positives to take away from this weekend: we've got a great car and we can fight for the world championships. This is a perfect start to my season and I'm already looking forward to Malaysia."
Lewis Hamilton (3rd): "Congratulations to Jenson and the whole team for such a great result today. While it's a bit disappointing not to have been able to convert pole position into victory, I'm not downhearted - there are still plenty of races ahead and lots more opportunities to score points. I struggled out there a little - it wasn't my day. But what's most important is that we showed today that we have a very quick racing car - that's a massive positive for the team. I'm not sure what happened at the start, but I lost ground and then suffered from tire degradation at the end of the first stint. Then, at the end of the race, I wasn't able to close the gap to Seb - he was very quick on the straights which meant that it was always going to be difficult to pass him - so I dropped back into some clear air, then Mark [Webber] put me under pressure. I'll just re-focus now, get my head down and look to the next race. The world championships are all about consistency, so that's what I'll be aiming for."
Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal: "Jenson was utterly immaculate today. He made a brilliant start, slipping past Lewis who got bogged down momentarily, and after that he controlled the race with consummate authority. Lewis, too, drove extremely well, but was unfortunately deprived of second place when the Safety Car was deployed late in the race. A Vodafone McLaren Mercedes one-two had been there for the taking; but I guess it's a very good sign when you feel a little disappointed by a one-three, so we'll settle for that! We never under-estimate our opposition, and undoubtedly there's a long hard road ahead of us between now and the end of the season. But we've started well, and in a few days' time we'll roll into Sepang, Malaysia, hungry to score a repeat victory. I want to thank everyone at not only Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, but also at Mercedes AMG HighPerformancePowertrains, for a fantastic effort over the past few weeks and months. We've all worked incredibly hard - and, today, in dappled late-afternoon sunshine in Melbourne's Albert Park, all that hard work paid off."
Fernando Alonso (5th): "We knew it would be a very complicated race and I am happy I managed to bring home a useful number of points. I got a great start and managed a few passing moves in the early stages and later, after the Safety Car, there was a tough fight with Maldonado: when I saw he'd gone off the track I breathed a sigh, because he had been really close to me for quite a few laps up until then. I was slower than him and all I could do was defend my position, using the KERS at a few specific points. I am sorry for him, because it's a real shame to finish a race like that. As for the positive points to come out of today, they would be the start, the pit stops and the strategy. Today the car was better than yesterday and we were closer to the leaders. However, we still have a lot of work to do to reach those who are ahead of us in terms of performance; not just McLaren and Red Bull, but also Mercedes and Lotus. We are probably a second off pole and there are seven or eight teams who are all very close to one another. In one sense, that's good news because if we can improve by a few tenths, then we can make up a few places. Next week in Malaysia will be a trial by fire, because Sepang is a very demanding circuit, for the cars and the tires."
Felipe Massa (DNF, Damage): "This has been a really poor weekend for me. Already yesterday I suffered because the car was badly balanced and today, it was probably even worse, because after a few laps I was struggling with the tires. I had got a great start and had managed to make up a few places and I was hoping to finish in the points. We tried to bring forward the first stop, but also on the second set of Soft tires we had the same problems: the car was sliding and the degradation was much greater than for the others. I would not say I was driving aggressively and I was actually trying not to be hard on the tires, but there was nothing I could do. Even on the Mediums, the situation did not change. We must work to understand why we could not reproduce the right balance on the car, as we had for example at the Barcelona tests. As for the contact with Senna, I think we can consider it a racing incident. A Toro Rosso tried to pass me on the outside of Turn 3 and Bruno had better traction on the inside, so we went into Turn 4 side by side: that where we tangled and it ended as you saw it did."
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal: "Clearly we cannot be happy with a fifth place but, given how things went yesterday, Fernando's result is a positive one, the result mainly of yet another super performance from the Spaniard. Felipe's bad Sunday is the result of the Saturday that preceded it: the balance of his car was not right and he paid the price, especially in terms of tire degradation: a shame because thanks to a really good start, he'd managed to move up straight into the top ten. We knew that this weekend, the car we had was not the one we wanted going into this season, but today we also saw a situation that was a bit different to yesterday, especially as far as Fernando was concerned, because, in the first stint, his pace was not that far off that of the leaders. The Safety Car did not help him any and after the end of the neutralized period, Fernando's pace was no longer as competitive and he struggled to keep Maldonado’s Williams behind him. I want to highlight the performance of the crew during the pit stops: looking at the figures, we were the fastest both in terms of outright performance and on average. I am keen to mention this, because we have worked a great deal on this front: already in the second part of 2011, the situation was better and today we have taken another step forward. We know we must raise the performance level of our car: from what we have seen here in Australia, there are several teams not so far off one another and one does not need to make enormous progress to make up several places. We know the main areas we need to work on - traction and top speed first and foremost - and we must accelerate as much as possible the development work to reach the level of the best as soon as possible."
Pat Fry: "From what we have seen this weekend, our race pace is a bit better than in qualifying. Today, Fernando drove a very good race and managed to bring home some valuable points. A shame for Felipe: we must try and understand why his car was not right from yesterday as today, we saw even more of the consequences of that. Both drivers got a good start and managed the situation well through the first corner, thus immediately making up the ground lost yesterday afternoon: without that first lap, it would have been tough because there are so many quick cars and it would have been quite a task to get past them. The Safety Car came out at the worst possible time for Fernando, but even so, he would not have managed to fend off Webber in the final part of the race. However, we are behind when compared to the best, even if not as much as could be seen yesterday. We must work very hard, that's for sure. Next week in Malaysia, we will have another difficult race: we must try and adapt as well as possible to the characteristics of the Sepang circuit."
Nico Rosberg (12th): "I had a perfect start today and was able to gain three positions, however unfortunately we weren't able to maintain that pace, and the race did not turn out as we had hoped. The end was particularly unfortunate with Perez when we touched on the straight, causing a puncture which took away a points scoring finish. We have a lot of work to do to understand what went wrong, and how we can use the full potential which our car definitely shows. I'm still positive as Malaysia is a completely different track so I'm looking ahead to next weekend now."
Michael Schumacher (DNF, Gearbox): "It was an unfortunate end to my race when I lost drive going into turn one. I was trying different gears and occasionally the drive came back, but in the end, I had to go onto the grass to avoid the risk of the car being forced into a spin. It was especially unfortunate as we have not had this problem during the winter tests and were very reliable. This is why I am not concerned, as I know things like this happen in racing, and our reliability is not in question. I believe I could have had a good race this afternoon, and I can still take some positives out of the weekend as we have seen our car was confirming our feelings, and is definitely a clear step forward. We can now build on that and start improving further."
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "After a very encouraging weekend, today was not a good result for us. Despite excellent starts, both Michael and Nico had difficulties from the start of the race with their tires. With the development of the circuit and the track temperatures, we fell out of the working window, and struggled with degradation. However, we remain positive as both here and over the winter tests, we have demonstrated that we have a fundamentally quick car and we have a lot to build on. So we need to look at what happened today, unravel the problem and work out where we need to improve."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "Michael was defending third place when his gearbox had a problem which caused his retirement. Nico did not have the necessary speed due to problems in the tire usage, the reason for which we are currently investigating. The collision on the last lap cost Nico points but more concerning for us today is that we could not use the tires as we did during testing and earlier this weekend. The team will work hard to understand the problem and to be in better shape next week in Malaysia."
Kimi Raikkonen (7th): "It feels like I've never been away. Yesterday we made some mistakes which cost us quite badly so it could easily have been better in the race. I made a good start but then there was an accident in front of me at the first turn, so we lost a few places there as I had to almost stop and move onto the grass to avoid it. That made the race harder again as we had the speed, but a lot of traffic to get through. When you look at all these things we could have finished in a much better position. We had the safety car which I think actually hurt us a bit as well. Overall the weekend was far from ideal, but the car feels good and to come back to 7th means we at least come away with some points."
Romain Grosjean (DNF, Accident): "I think we could have achieved a great result today. It's frustrating as I really wanted to make the checkered flag and even the podium, but on the positive side the car is performing very well. I was keeping pace with the guys in front of me and everything was looking good. My start wasn't great so we'll need to have a look at the data. Then of course there was the collision with Pastor (Maldonado). From what I saw he braked far too late and hit my right front wheel which broke the steering and that was it; my race was over. The team deserved better because they have been working very hard, but by tomorrow morning it will all be a memory. We'll move on to Malaysia now which is one of my favorite circuits and focus on getting a result there."
Eric Boullier, Team Principal: "We should be leaving Australia with mixed feelings, but actually we all have a little grin on our faces tonight. Yes, we had great expectations from Romain after his third position in qualifying, and seeing another car taking him out of the race early on was very disappointing. But on the other hand, the performance shown by the E20 this weekend makes us optimistic for the rest of the season. The team has produced a very solid car, responsive to set-up changes, and quick. It has been a tough winter, and I'd like to congratulate everybody at Enstone for their hard work which seems to have paid off. I'm proud to be part of a team that can take blows like we suffered in 2011 and still bounce back to show what we are made of. Kimi has been able to demonstrate that we have more than just single-lap pace; gaining 11 places in his first race after a two-year break is certainly a satisfying performance. We're now all looking forward to Sepang, a completely different track, where we hope we'll be able to put on another decent show. We think there's definitely more to come from us."
James Allison, Technical Director: "Though we may have some disappointment from the race, when you look at the weekend overall we can be proud about how the car, team and our drivers have performed as it's a much more satisfying story. Starting from P3 on the grid, we hoped for something better than P7. However, for Kimi to have converted his rather lowly grid position into a handful of points gives us some consolation. Most importantly, however, the car looks quick and we are optimistic of bringing home strong results with both cars in Malaysia."
Riccardo Penteado, Engine Support Leader: "Australia is a hard track engine-wise as we need to deliver responsiveness out of the slow and medium speed corners for good acceleration down the straights. However this makes fuel consumption very high, so careful engine management is needed. Across the weekend we've worked very well as a partnership, with a strong starting position for Romain and ultimately an excellent race result from Kimi giving us a decent amount of points from the first race. Our aim now is to build on this strong form in Malaysia, which puts a very different set of stresses on the RS27."
Paul di Resta (10th): "It's always nice to start the season with a point, but it was not looking too promising until the last few laps when my engineer told me that I was catching the cars ahead of me. Fortunately I had saved quite a bit of KERS for the last corner, which helped me get a good run on Vergne and beat him to the line for tenth. So it was a pretty exciting final lap. It's a good way to start the season, but it's clear we have a lot of work to do because we were struggling for pace at the start of each stint, which hurt my overall race pace. Even so, considering where I started and the weekend we've had, I don't think I can be disappointed to have come away with a point."
Nico Hulkenberg (DNF, Damage): "I don't seem to have much luck at Albert Park. My first race here in 2010 was less than a lap and today was a repeat of that. I'm still not really sure what happened, but I got hit when I turned into the first corner on lap one. It's such a shame because I had made a great start, moved up a couple of positions and then I just felt somebody tap me from behind. There was a puncture and the suspension was damaged so my race was over and I had to park up. These things happen when 22 cars are battling going into a tight first corner, but it's really frustrating to miss out after such a good qualifying session. The good thing is that I will be back in the car in five days' time, which is the best way to bounce back and get over the disappointment."
Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal: "We always felt that today's race was likely to be full of drama and it didn't disappoint - particularly the closing lap of the race when Paul did an excellent job to grab the final point in the dash to the line. He drove a very clean race, stayed out of trouble and made the most of the strategy, but ultimately he struggled for absolute pace over the duration of the stints, which is something we need to address. As for Nico, he was simply the innocent victim of the turn one chaos. He got hit quite hard from behind going into turn one, which caused some serious damage to the left rear suspension and he immediately came on the radio to say that he needed to park the car. We have to take this on the chin because it's part of racing, but it's disappointing for Nico who needs all the race miles he can get at the moment. Still, he's shown what he is capable of and he can be proud of the job he has done this weekend."
Kamui Kobayashi (6th): "I am very happy - for the team and myself. Finishing sixth is a great start to the season. After the start I nearly crashed into Bruno (Senna) who spun in front of me. I was lucky to avoid hitting him, but at the same time Sergio could not avoid touching me and then I had to do the whole race with a damaged rear wing. This was very difficult and for sure cost car performance. However, after the first lap I had improved two positions. I was on a two stop strategy, with two sets of softs in the beginning and the medium compound for the last stint. With my second pit stop I had bad luck with the timing because the safety car came out just after I had pitted. Then I was running in ninth position until the ultimate lap when Pastor (Maldonado) crashed and Sergio had a battle with Nico (Rosberg). I went passed and finished sixth."
Sergio Perez (8th): "After I had to start last on the grid because of changing the gear box I knew I had to try everything to gain positions right after the start. I managed to get into 12th behind Kamui and touched his car while he had to avoid crashing into the Williams car in front of him. My front wing was then damaged and this was only one of the difficulties I had today during the race. I also had to save tires, also for some time fuel, and I had to fight to defend my position. It really was a tough race for me. Then on the very last lap Pastor (Maldonado) crashed and I backed off because of the debris. But then Nico (Rosberg) overtook me, our cars touched and I had to finish the race with tires that were completely gone. Of course I'm not happy to have lost my position on the final lap, but I am very happy for the team because finishing sixth and eight is a good start to the season."
Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "Both drivers delivered a fantastic race, especially Sergio, starting from last and finishing eighth. However, this is only possible with a fast car. I'm very happy that we were able to fight back after a difficult qualifying. A big thank you to the team at the track and also the people back in Hinwil for designing a great car. We went into this season with high expectations and were able to deliver today."
Giampaolo Dall'Ara, Head of Track Engineering: "It was a bitter sweet weekend. Qualifying was disappointing, but in the race we were able to show our true potential. I wonder if we could have done even better today, because we had to compromise a lot on the strategy due to the fact that both drivers were stuck in traffic and couldn't make best use of the tires. With Sergio we planned a flexible strategy which was a result of his grid position. Although we didn't know before the race whether a one stop strategy could work, it was the only way to have the chance of scoring points. Sergio did a very good job conserving the tires for a long time, and towards the end of the race I was really impressed how he was able to keep up with drivers who had much newer tires. Kamui was on a "normal" strategy. Also for him in the beginning it was a bit frustrating with traffic, but in the end he was also able to score a great result. For sure we have to improve our qualifying performance, but the important fact is that we know that we have a good car."
Daniel Ricciardo (9th): "I don't really know how that happened on the last lap. I saw blue flags and a lot of cars in front and I was sure I could make up at least one place because it was chaos. I was a bit lucky to be the last one in that group because I could have a clear picture of the other cars going off in front. Then I had a chance to attack Jean-Eric. He defended into Turn 13 and I thought I could make the switch back and I did, which put me in P9. The last few laps were crazy and I was pushing like hell. At the start, I got caught up in the accident and at the moment I don't understand how it happened or who was to blame. I made a decent start, I moved to the outside but there were too many of us there. I hit the left front quite hard against a Williams and had to come in to change the nose. I had to race with a bit of damage after that. It's good to finish ninth, but I think I could have done better because the car was very strong, given how fast it was even with the damage I had to carry through the whole race, with the car pulling to one side. It was not easy to come back, but I never gave up, pushing all the time. I'm extremely happy and it's great to score my first F1 points here at home in Australia, where the crowd has been just fantastic all weekend long."
Jean-Eric Vergne (11th): "I got a super start and I had moved up a few places, but then Webber touched my right rear and I went straight on, losing a lot of time. After that, it was complicated as I was stuck behind cars I could not pass, even if they were considerable slower than me. Then, when trying to pass Di Resta, I made a small mistake, braking a tiny bit too late and went into the gravel. Even on dirty tires, I was doing some very quick times. It's just a shame that at the end I tried too hard and lost too much ground. That's racing, I learned a lot on my first Formula 1 weekend and there are still nineteen races in which I can score points. The car seems to be working well and we were competitive all weekend, so I'm looking forward to getting back on track in Malaysia in a few days."
Franz Tost, Team Principal: "Having started from 10th and 11th on the grid, it might seem quite normal to finish 9th and 11th but this was far from a normal race and it was an exciting spectacle with which to start the season. Unfortunately, on the opening lap, Daniel was the innocent victim of a collision which meant he had to pit immediately for a new nose which dropped him to the back of the pack. After that he had to contend with a car that was never quite right, having sustained some damage in that collision. Jean-Eric also got delayed by the confusion on the opening lap, dropping to sixteenth place. He then fought his way back to the top ten, but he lost places after running wide shortly after half distance. The Safety Car worked quite well for us and both drivers managed to get past Di Resta. Then, in the final part of the third sector on the last lap, Jean-Eric tried just a little bit too hard and this cost him tenth place. Given what happened to him on the opening lap, ninth place for Daniel at his home race is the best we could hope for. Both drivers did a good job all weekend, gaining in experience from day to day. The car performance was very good over the three days and I think we can look forward to another strong race in Malaysia in seven days time and indeed to a good season."
Pastor Maldonado (13th, Accident): "The car looked good today. Our pace was quick and consistent and we were looking competitive right up until the moment I had on the last lap, which is very important. Unfortunately, I just lost the back of the car while pushing Alonso and I had nowhere to go."
Bruno Senna (16th, Damage): "I had a great start, but I tried to take the outside line at the first corner and I felt someone make contact with me. I then had to do an extra pit stop which made things difficult. My race was looking better but then I had a tangle with Massa so luck wasn't on our side today. That's racing though, and we now look forward to making up for it in Malaysia next weekend."
Mark Gillan, Chief Operations Engineer: "Whilst the end result was disappointing for the team, we are all very pleased with the significant performance improvement of the FW34, with the car showing both good qualifying and race pace. We will now regroup and look forward to delivering a strong performance in Malaysia next weekend."
Laurent Debout, Renault: "This weekend the Williams-Renault package has shown itself to be competitive, which validates the hard work we've put in since the announcement last year. Pastor had an amazing weekend right until the very last lap and it was a shame he could not score some points to consolidate the good form. Bruno was very unfortunate and ultimately we had to make a call at the end of the race to stop the car. Debris from the accident with Massa had become sucked in the sidepods and water temperature was starting to rise. This engine has to be re-used in Malaysia so we made a call to prevent any damage to the unit. We're looking forward to Sepang now, and are encouraged by this weekend's overall performance."
Heikki Kovalainen (DNF, Suspension): "Both Vitaly and I had to avoid the problems in turn one at the start and then I lost a bit of time behind Glock, but got past him quickly and then started to show good pace, enough the close the gap to the cars ahead. I lost DRS until about lap six, and had to switch off KERS right at the start, so the sort of times we were doing were clearly competitive. Both stops went well but then I felt the car starting to pull left under braking so we brought the car in to take a look and it seems like a front left suspension problem was causing the handling imbalance I'd felt for a few laps before we had to retire. I'm sure we can fix both problems for next week and we have shown today what a step forward we've taken, so it's not bad news, it's just one of those days."
Vitaly Petrov (DNF, Steering): "I was having a fantastic race and it's such a shame we had to retire the car. Until that point everything was going exactly to plan. The team did a great to job to help me pass Heikki in the first stop, I was catching Senna and Massa ahead and the car felt really well balanced. I was managing the tires well and we definitely showed the sort of pace that can bring rewards this season, so while it's obviously not how we wanted the first race with my new team to go we can take a lot of positives from this and move on to Malaysia where we know we can put in a strong performance."
Riad Asmat, Caterham Group Chief Executive: "We have a great deal of very good news to take out of today. Obviously we did not want to finish like that, but after both Heikki and Vitaly negotiated their way around the first corner clash we were quickly up to speed with the likes of Force India, Williams and even Ferrari, and that's very encouraging for next week in our first home race of the season in Malaysia and the season ahead. We have work to do to make sure we cure the problems we encountered today, but we will do just that and come back even more strong in Sepang."
Mark Smith, Technical Director: "Today we showed the sort of pace that we knew this car was capable of in pre-season testing. We ran different tire strategies on both cars, starting Heikki on the options and Vitaly on the primes and both cars were running to plan through the first stops and right up until the problems we had in mid-race. Vitaly's issue was related to his steering wheel and he deserves great credit for putting in such a strong performance on his first race with the team. With Heikki it looks like a front track rod issue was causing his car to pull to the left in the braking zones so we had to retire him, rather than risk an incident. However, I am very encouraged by our performance in the race and we have a good platform to build on. It is clear that we can race with a number of cars in the midfield so we will move on to Malaysia and make sure we have a strong weekend in front of the home fans."
Thierry Salvi, Renault: "Despite the final result that was a good performance for us. Heikki lost KERS early on so his times were very strong without the obvious benefits the system gives him. Vitaly was also pushing hard right up until his retirement, and was using his tires well, so we have a lot of reasons to be happy today."
Timo Glock (14th): "A great race for the team and a huge reward for all the hard work and pressure over the last few months. It's important to remember that we came here with no real running with the new car. Add the potential for reliability problems - because they always happen with every team in pre-season testing - and it has been quite a special weekend to get the car home in the first race with no issues. I chose a good line into turn one and was able to avoid the problems we saw there, moving up to 13th position. I had a bit of a fight with Caterham for a while but I knew I needed to concentrate on my own race. The car was very consistent and in the end, to finish 14th, I have to be happy with that and so do the team, as it is an important start for position in the Constructors' Championship. The car gave me a birthday present for sure and I will enjoy that for now but tomorrow the hard work starts again as we have a lot to do to improve the car. I've said it before but my thanks again to the team. A great start."
Charles Pic (15th): "I am quite happy with my first race and very pleased for the team to have such a good debut for the car also. Everything was quite positive during the race; I had a few problems in the beginning and then I had to pull in a few laps from the end due to an oil pressure problem and the team wanted to be cautious with the car. It's a shame I wasn't able to take the checkered flag but I am happy to end the race in 15th position after the difficulties leading up to the start of the season. There is still so much work for us and more to come from me and the car but we have a lot of information from the weekend to help us prepare for this and for Malaysia next weekend."
John Booth, Team Principal: "I know I speak for the whole team when I say I am absolutely delighted with the new car's racing debut this weekend in Melbourne. I said on Friday that, despite P12 for Timo in FP2, I didn't want us to get carried away with ourselves because qualifying could be a different story and the race was highly likely to expose some of the reliability aspects of the car that we have not yet had the chance to explore due to our lack of testing. It really is quite something to have come so far in such a short space of time and in such challenging circumstances. Coming into the weekend the car had just 200kms of promotional running on demonstration tires and since we started here on Friday we have completed 215 near faultless laps - that's 1120kms. All credit to both drivers, who have been fantastic throughout. Timo talked all the way through the race, giving us vital feedback to add to the mountain of data we've been able to gather thanks to the good mileage. Charles' debut has been very impressive indeed and made very clear to us that he means business in his debut year. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank our Partners - those who have been with us throughout and all the new names who joined us in the weeks leading up to the race - for their faith in the Marussia F1 Team, which I am pleased has been rewarded this weekend at Albert Park. We should be under no illusions that plenty of work lies ahead but 10th in the Constructors'' Championship is not a bad place to start."
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