Alonso brilliant in Malaysia
"It's a tough time for us at the moment, but we will remember this day," said the Ferrari driver, who finished ahead of another surprise podium-sitter, Sauber's Sergio Perez.
The young Mexican was catching Alonso at a rate of knots when he made a mistake. But Alonso was perfect with his inferior Ferrari and held on to win.
"I think the win was possible," Perez, who has been linked with Felipe Massa's works Ferrari seat, said after beating the back-to-back 2012 polesitter Lewis Hamilton.
Sergio Perez is adamant that he could have claimed victory Sunday, with a late error seeing him lose touch with ultimate winner Fernando Alonso. Despite missing out on the top step of the podium, Perez was still delighted with the result and heavily praised his Sauber team.
"I think so, I definitely think so," Perez said when asked if he could have won. "I was catching Fernando at the end. I knew I had to catch him soon as I was losing the tires with a lot of degradation, so it was not easy."
Perez went on to talk about his mistake in more detail, explaining that he simply lost control of his car when he touched the exit curb at Turn 14.
"Then I ran wide, touched the curb and went sideways," he commented. "I lost the win probably. It was difficult to catch him, but the win was possible,. The team did an incredible job, the pit-stops were at the right moments.
"The pace was fantastic, I was really quick. The team has done a fantastic job, so I'm very happy for them."
Former Toro Rosso driver and BBC radio commentator Jaime Alguersuari, however, was not overly impressed.
"The team did a fantastic strategy to put Perez on the right tires at the right moment. For me, that's it," said the Spaniard.
Back-to-back world champion Sebastian Vettel had an horror Sunday, cutting a tire whilst passing an HRT and eventually retiring with what Red Bull described on the radio as an "emergency" technical problem.
The German lies sixth in the drivers' world championship, four points behind Perez and 17 off the lead.
"I think it changes nothing," he said. "We are in a position that we do not want, fighting to get into Q3."
Team boss Stefano Domenicali agreed: "I hope this helps the people at home to push, but we were not stupid yesterday and we are not phenomenal today."
The Italian also denied that Perez's debut podium is the ideal time to immediately pluck the Mexican from Sauber and put him in struggling Felipe Massa's red car.
"Not true, not true," Domenicali told British Sky television.
How the race unfolded
Having had a mainly dry weekend since Thursday, somehow the rain chose the moments leading up to the start to arrive over the Sepang circuit. It was light enough for everyone to fit the Pirelli intermediate tires, but heavy enough to cause plenty of spray off the open-wheeled cars. As the lights went out, Hamilton and Button maintained their first and second grid positions, followed by Webber, Grosjean briefly, Vettel with Fernando up one to seventh.
Having started third, Schumacher spun, while Felipe went up two places to tenth. Fernando was fifth on the second lap and on lap 3, as the rain intensified, Felipe was the first to pit for Extreme rain tires and on the following lap, Grosjean parked his Lotus in the gravel in the treacherous conditions. Lap 4 and Fernando, Button, Hulkenberg, Ricciardo, Petrov and Kovalainen switched to the rain tire. On lap 5 it was the turn of Hamilton, Webber and Vettel doing a double stop, Rosberg, Maldonado, Raikkonen, Kobayashi and Schumacher.
The conditions were getting worse and at first the information on the monitor said the race had been Red Flagged. However, a few seconds later the red band came off to be replaced with the message that the Safety Car was deployed. But as the track was virtually a river, the Red Flag did come out on lap 9.
The cars formed up on the grid in the order, Hamilton and Button first and second for McLaren, then Perez (Sauber,) Webber (Red Bull) Fernando fifth for Ferrari, Vettel (Red Bull) Vergne (Toro Rosso) the only one of the lead group not to have changed to extreme tires, then Felipe eighth in the second F2012, with Rosberg ninth for Mercedes, followed by another non-stopper Karthikeyan who had moved up 13 places in the Hispania!
As the restart took place behind the Safety Car, after a stop of almost an hour, the rules demanded that all cars had to be on Extreme rain tires. Button pitted immediately for Intermediates and that saw him get ahead of his team-mate, who was also passed by Fernando and although Perez, who had made up a lot of ground when Sauber were the first to put him on extremes after the first start, got ahead of the Ferrari man, Fernando immediately got ahead of him again.
With Button having dropped back after a collision with Karthikeyan, Fernando was now leading, with a comfortable margin of around six seconds over Perez. However, the situation changed when the track became dry enough for slicks to be fitted for the first time in the race. The Sauber proved to be much faster than the F2012 and the Mexican was able to close right up to Fernando.
However, the pressure eased when Perez ran wide onto the back straight, the gap growing to at last five seconds again. The Mexican did fight back, but by this stage there were not enough laps remaining for him to get ahead, so a delighted Fernando punched the air as he crossed the line to take a brilliant and frankly unexpected victory; a victory that puts him in the lead in the Drivers’ World Championship, 5 points ahead of Hamilton and 10 in front of Button.
There is now a two week break before the series resumes at the Shanghai Circuit over the weekend of 15th April.
Mark Webber (4th): "It was busy with a lot of calls going on at the re-start and with the tires. My stint on the intermediates after the red flag was tricky and I didn't have much confidence. When I went onto the dry tires, I felt much more confident, but it was a little bit too late then. You've got to take your hat off to Fernando and Perez today, there were some good calls made at the front. It was a mixed-up race and it was good to get some points. There were some great strengths to take from this weekend. The team has been working really hard, so thanks to them. We know there will be more opportunities in the future."
Sebastian Vettel (11th): "Most crucially we lost radio communication and that makes it very difficult in these conditions to know what's going on. Nonetheless we did our maximum today and got up to fourth. To then lose the race how I did is very frustrating. Some people need to look more where they are going. Today it was crucial to come in at the right time. Having no radio meant we were delayed getting the messages and I didn't hear anything from the team at the end. There were problems with the car after the incident, but I wanted to see the checkered flag. There were no points for me today. Before the incident with HRT the way the race had unfolded was good for us I think, so it's frustrating to lose the race like that."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "An action packed race with the rain coming down on the grid at the start. Before the race was red flagged, both guys had a reasonable starts. After the re-start we made the right call to change onto the intermediates with Mark and then a lap later with Sebastian. For Mark, the advantage of being the first car into the pit lane is that you get a clear run into your box, but the disadvantage on that occasion was that half the grid followed him in behind and we couldn't release him until we had a clear space. After the stop Sebastian made a good move on Rosberg and set about trying to close the gap to Hamilton ahead. His race was going well. As the track dried, we went onto the slicks pretty early with Mark and a lap later with Seb. We had lost all radio contact with Sebastian, which meant we could only speak with him via the pit board. After his stop he came up to the HRT who hit him and caused a puncture. The incident caused damage to the rear brake duct, which went into thermal runaway, so we wanted to stop the car before the end from a safety point of view. Seb didn't hear us on the radio and continued. Thankfully his car got to the end without failing, but the incident cost Sebastian at least a fourth place finish today. For Mark, after his final stop his pace on the slicks was good and he started to catch Lewis in the last third of the race. He finished in fourth position after what was a very eventful race."
Cyril Dumont, Renault: "Unfortunately for us, today is a race to forget. There is already a lot of gambling when you have these conditions and if you add the issues we had - which was no radio communication with Seb for most of the race and with Mark for parts of it - then it made it even more difficult. The race was going okay until Seb had the incident with HRT which caused a problem with the left hand wheel. For Mark fourth place was not too bad, but we would have preferred for him to have been on the podium. We have two weeks away from racing now and will be pushing to get back to where we need to be."
Lewis Hamilton (3rd): "This was a tough but fascinating race - firstly, I want to offer my congratulations to Fernando [Alonso] and Sergio [Perez] - they both drove great races and did a fantastic job. It was pretty eventful race: it was difficult trying to judge the best time to change from Extreme Wets to Intermediates, and we were probably a little late on that - but that's how it goes sometimes. Today wasn't perfect - making the call for slicks is always a risk, and the others went a bit earlier than us. In general, we lost some time in the pitstops and I was pushed out of the fight somewhat. But, all in all, it's been a positive weekend and I'm not too frustrated. My aim for this season was always to be consistent - I did it in 2007 so I'm trying to repeat that! A big thanks to Lucozade for doing such a great job with the new race hydration formulations this weekend - they've really made a difference in such a hot and humid climate. For me, the next races will be all about converting our really strong qualifying pace into equally strong race pace - that's what I'll be working in the few weeks ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix."
Jenson Button (14th): "Today was a pretty difficult day; pretty much everything that could have gone wrong in the race did go wrong. And that's just one of those things - a lot of my issues were brought on when I wiped my front wing off at the start: I locked up the rears, couldn't slow the car down and hit Karthikeyan, which was a bit frustrating. So I had to pit for a new nose, and that was pretty much it. And it's always going to be tough when you're down in 14th or 15th position. All the cars were so close and it was difficult to overtake, too. That made it very difficult. Big congratulation to Fernando, Sergio and Lewis, who scored more good points for the team - but it just wasn't a good day for me today. The amazing thing is that I'm still third in the championship after not scoring any points! This wasn't really the result I wanted - but, hey, chin up: we'll move forwards and hopefully have a much better weekend in China!"
Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal: "Today certainly wasn't the day I was expecting! Firstly, this was a terrific race for Ferrari and a great result for Sauber - congratulations to both teams. It's frustrating for us, as the race didn't really go our way, but today's result is great for the sport of Formula 1. For Jenson, it was simply a bad day in the office - losing a front wing in tricky conditions was always going to make it a hard afternoon for him. Lewis was somewhat unlucky, too: Ferrari's 'double-shuffle' pitstop meant we were obliged to hold Lewis in his pitbox longer than we would have liked, but that's motor racing. Nevertheless, he brought home some extremely valuable world championship points - his 15 points today consolidate Vodafone McLaren Mercedes' position at the top of the constructors' championship. Today's conditions were always going to represent something of a roll of the dice. We didn't quite manage everything today, and we'll go back and analyze our performance, but in normal dry conditions we've shown that we've got decent pace. There's a long season ahead, and with one victory and two strong podium positions, we can return to Europe extremely encouraged about the forthcoming races."
Fernando Alonso (1st): “It was an incredible race! I am very happy, for me and for the whole team: I am proud of this fantastic group of people. While we have been going through this difficult time, no one gave up, in fact everyone has doubled their efforts to try and catch up. The strategy was perfect, the mechanics did an impeccable job, the engineers did their best in preparing the car and I drove at my maximum for all 56 laps of the race. I would never have bet on this win and I would think anyone who did so must have picked up a tidy sum! As I returned to the pit lane on the cool down lap I didn’t even know where to park the car: to win with all the problems we have got is something quite extraordinary. In the wet, I was going very well, but then when the track dried out, our weaknesses showed themselves. Sergio got very close and I was trying to stay on the only dry line: if he wanted to pass me, he would have had to take a risk. Yesterday, he and I ended up ninth and tenth and today we found ourselves fighting for the win, which shows how unpredictable is this championship. Our aim was damage limitation for these early races of the championship and now we even find ourselves leading the classification. Now we absolutely have to improve the performance starting right away with the races in China and Bahrain. We must get back to work immediately so as to find at least the two or three tenths that could put us back in the fight for the top places.”
Felipe Massa (15th): “First of all, I want to congratulate Fernando on this great win, which came thanks to him driving a fantastic race. It is a very important victory for the team, although it must not let us forget that our car is not yet at the level of the best. Obviously I am disappointed with my result. Things were going well at the start and I was able to fight with the drivers directly ahead of me. When the track was drying, I suffered more and more with tire degradation and I could not maintain a good pace. We opted to follow what Rosberg was doing ahead of me, as he too was apparently struggling with his tires, but it did not work out and we lost a lot of time with this extra stop, given also that the others stayed on track for around a dozen laps more before switching to the dry tires. It is important for us to try and understand why there is such a strong difference in the way our cars perform, but ultimately, our aim is to have a more competitive car in as short a time as possible.”
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal: “An incredible win, absolutely unexpected, but that does not make it any less wonderful and emotional! Once again, Fernando was amazing, driving with a cool head and determination, managing to get the very best out of this car and of the very changeable weather conditions. Today’s victory does not change a jot in terms of our situation: we know that, at the moment, we do not have a car competitive enough to fight for the win under normal conditions and that we have a lot of work to do to catch up. Clearly this win gives us even more motivation, because it shows that this championship is not at all clear cut and anything can happen. A slight improvement in performance can result in a good step forward compared to other teams. Felipe suffered too much with degradation on his front tires, which led to him making one more stop than his team-mate: this is a particularly difficult moment for him, because he cannot get the most out of a car that, objectively, is very difficult to drive. We have an obligation to stay close to him, which is as it should be in such a closely knit team. Now we will enjoy this moment for a few hours, but tomorrow we must be back in the factory again pushing on the development of this F2012. Finally I want to congratulate Sauber, who today secured their best ever result and congratulations also to Sergio Perez, a youngster from the Ferrari Driver Academy, who today confirmed his great talent.”
Pat Fry: “This win is a wonderful reward for all the efforts we are making here at the track and back home at the factory to try and turn around a season that immediately saw us facing an uphill struggle. However, this result must not be seen as a case of all our problems having unexpectedly solved themselves: that’s not the case and everyone is aware of it. Fernando drove a fantastic race, pushing throughout the entire time, always being very careful but never overdoing it. The F2012 seemed to behave very differently depending on the conditions in which it was running: today, there were moments when it was absolutely competitive, others when it struggled. We had already seen in Melbourne on Friday that on a damp track, the situation was not bad and today it went even better. Towards the end, Perez was very quick, partly because his Hards were working better in these conditions than Fernando’s mediums. Another decisive factor in today’s win was the work in the pits and on the pit wall: at every pit stop, Fernando managed either to make up places or to stay ahead of his pursuers. Felipe made a good start but suffered quite badly with the front tires as the track was drying. We tried to remedy the situation, bringing him for an extra stop and clearly that cost him valuable time. We must try and understand why, for him, the car ends up being even more unstable in terms of its handling compared to the way it works for his team-mate: it is one of our tasks for these coming days along with obviously trying to find the tenths in performance terms that we are still lacking.”
Michael Schumacher (10th): "From where I started the race, it's a real shame to grab just one point at the end today, and of course I would have wished for a better finish for our team after their hard work. However I was touched at the back soon after the start and the car spun which really decided my afternoon. During the first part of the race, I just tried to stay on track as you couldn't see anything, and it was the right decision to halt the race. After the re-start, the pace wasn't that far off but it was the same for a lot of teams so there was no way to gain positions. It's clear from today that there is still a lot of work for us to do to take our pace from qualifying into the race, and I am sure the guys are already thinking very hard about finding a solution. But this will not be done from one race to another, it will take some time, and we need to give it that time. Still it is a fact that we have improved, so I can fly home now being sure about this and looking forward to fighting in the races to come."
Nico Rosberg (13th): "That was an unlucky day for me after an eventful race. I had a good restart and because of a good strategy I was in fourth position. But then I had problems with my intermediate tires; the degradation was very high which forced me to do another pit stop for a new set. The positive thing is that on my last stint with the slicks, I had good pace and because of my tire management, I was able to beat Jenson. We are strong in qualifying but not yet in the race, and we need to work on that before the next race in China."
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "It's a very disappointing end to what had been such a positive weekend here in Malaysia. Clearly we have a conundrum with this car that we have to unravel. After such an encouraging qualifying session, and indeed the fuel runs that we did on Friday, we struggled to get the tires to work properly in the race today. There were little windows when we seemed to get them working and other times where we fell out of them completely. I don't believe that we are abusing the tires, just not using them properly, and it's a problem that we have to solve if we are going to move forward with the car. It is especially disappointing after the potential we have shown, however I am confident that we have enough strength and the right people to unravel the problem. We will be getting our heads down back at the factory next week and doing just that."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "From P3 Michael did not have the best start but was still in a top five slot when he was spun around during the first lap and passed the start and finish line in P16. After the restart, things did not go any better and we never really could cope with the wet conditions and the drying out track on which nobody has had the opportunity to test before the race. Other teams could obviously handle these mixed conditions better and all credit to them. Both Ferrari and Sauber did a great job today so congratulations to those teams, Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez. We obviously did not have the set-up to make the best out of these tricky conditions today. We brought Nico in and put him on slicks which was a calculated risk that finally did not pay off. Our car has got speed and we will continue to work hard to generate this speed in the race as well as in qualifying."
Kimi Raikkonen (5th): "It was a bit difficult today. It was my first time on the wet weather Pirellis and I didn't know how the intermediate or wet tires would react - I had only completed one installation lap on them before. I just tried to stay on the road and push as much as I felt comfortable with. When I changed to the dry tires it took a couple of laps to get heat into them, and my visor was pretty dirty so seeing the dry line was difficult. Once I found my way I could push much harder. It was difficult to have another mixed weather weekend. The conditions changed a lot today so it was always a case of adapting and looking for grip. Overall, we seemed to have a pretty strong package again this weekend, so I'm relatively happy. A fifth today was okay, but we're always looking for better results."
Romain Grosjean (DNF, Spin): "It felt like a perfect start off the line; I got a good jump on the others and with the KERS I managed to weave through the cars in front without touching anybody. Coming out of the first two corners I was up to third, which was an amazing feeling. In turn four Mark (Webber) managed to carry a bit more speed through the corner and edged in front. Michael (Schumacher) tried to follow him through but there was not enough space so we touched and I spun. From there things became really tough. The visibility was so poor I couldn't see anything in front of me. We made the decision to stay out on the intermediate tires but the rain got heavier and there was far too much water. I had massive aquaplaning into turn five and unfortunately ended up going backwards into the gravel."
Eric Boullier, Team Principal: "Today's result is a bit frustrating. Whilst it's good to have a car finish in the top five after starting from tenth in conditions which were very tricky, we can't help thinking that we could have achieved more from this race. Obviously, it's disappointing for Romain, as it's another DNF for him in the early laps of the race. He had never driven in the rain with these intermediate tires so we have to take that into account. He had a very good start off the line, but the contact with Michael ruined his race. At the restart, we recovered well from our position and on the plus side, the car looked strong again. Kimi had a flawless race. He was very consistent in all conditions and his best lap shows what could have been without his grid penalty. I'm sure when we have a 'standard' weekend - without bad weather, penalty or interruption - we will do very well."
James Allison, Technical Director: "What we would give for a normal race! We had to fight back from a grid penalty for changing the gearbox on Kimi's car. We also had two drivers learning Pirelli's wet tires for the first time today. This made for a difficult time here at Sepang. Our pace at the end of the race on dry tires looks extremely promising from the perspective of both degradation and pace. Give us a normal race, with two clean getaways from the good qualifying positions of which we have shown we are capable, and I think we'll be able to collect a good reward."
Riccardo Penteado, Engine Support Leader: "Another points scoring finish for Kimi here. Again it was a shame for Romain but over the course of the weekend we confirmed the pace seen in Australia of the Lotus-Renault package. The changeable weather made it very difficult to manage fuel consumption. We burned a lot of fuel at the second start, which allowed us to be lighter towards the final laps. This played out well as Kimi set the fastest lap of the race on lap 53. Overall the engine has worked perfectly and we're now looking forward to China, which presents a very different challenge."
Paul di Resta (7th): "The start of the race was a bit of a mess and it was all about trying to stay on the track and stay out of trouble. I did pretty well until Maldonado hit me just before the red flag, which spun me around and cost me about three places. At the restart our pace was very good on the intermediate tires and we were able to get well up the order and stay with the leading group. As it dried out we switched to dry tires at the same time everyone else did, which was the safe way to play it, and just tried to hold position in the points. We were a bit lucky with some of the issues for cars ahead, but in races like this you need a bit of luck and given where we started I think we can come away from here very happy with this result."
Nico Hulkenberg (9th): "I think today's performance with two cars in the points is a great team result and I'm very happy to pick up my first points of the season. It was quite a complicated race and the rain certainly helped mix things up, but we made the most of our chances and made good calls on the strategy. I have to say that the wet conditions today were some of the worst I've raced in and the visibility was almost zero before the race was stopped. It was much better when the race restarted, but I struggled with the balance of the car on the intermediates, so it was just a case of trying to stay in the points and catch Vergne ahead."
Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal: "Today's result is thanks to a tremendous team effort with everybody rising to the challenges presented by the tricky conditions. It was an especially busy race on the pit wall, but on the whole I think we made the right calls, especially the timing of our switch to the dry tires, and both drivers delivered very strong performances. It was important to pick up points on a day like this and given where we started we have to be happy with eight points. The race was not without drama, though, and Paul was lucky to emerge unscathed from the contact with Maldonado, which occurred in the very wet conditions. Both Paul and Nico came on the radio to say how poor the conditions were, and it's to their credit that they managed to stay largely out of trouble. We now head to China determined to carry on this momentum and hopefully add some more points to our tally."
Sergio Perez (2nd): "It is a great day for me. The team did a very good job and I feel very happy for them. It is a really nice feeling to have been on the podium here, but I think victory was also within reach. Twice in the race I was catching Fernando (Alonso). On the final stint, when I was on the hard tire compound, my tires had degraded quite a lot. It wasn't easy and I went wide and touched a curb. I actually was lucky not to go off. Before that Fernando had just pitted on the perfect lap for dry tires, just one lap before me, and I lost a bit of ground to him. It was very difficult to make the right calls today and I want to thank my team. They always called me in at the right time, the first stop after lap one was especially important and it was also good to take the hard compound in the end, as the medium compound was not working too well for us. It is only our second race in 2012 and I think we have a great season ahead of us. I knew we had potential to fight today, our car is not far away from the top cars and a good crew and a driver can also make a difference in such conditions."
Kamui Kobayashi (DNF, Brakes): "It is great for our team to have scored so well today, but for me personally, of course, it was a very disappointing race. Technically I struggled with the brakes and that was then also why I had to give up after 47 laps. Besides that for me the strategy didn't work out, which, of course, is always easy to realize in hindsight. I had a good start but then it was a long time before I changed from intermediates to rain tires. It was not easy to keep the car on track, and almost as soon as I had changed the red flag came out. But nobody can know this in advance. Later in the race then it was the other way round. I would have loved to get dry tires, but we were expecting more rain so, again, I could not get rid of the intermediate tires."
Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "What a great result! Sergio drove an outstanding race and rose above our expectations. What surprised me most was the fact that he was very competitive in all conditions and with all tires. Whether they were wet, intermediate or dry tires he was always one of the fastest drivers on track if not the fastest. This obviously also shows the huge potential of the car. And I want to pay a big compliment to Giampaolo Dall'Ara and his team for doing a great job with the strategy. Thanks also to everybody in the factory in Hinwil. I'm sorry for Kamui who had to stop due to a technical problem. Nevertheless it was a great and important day for the team."
Giampaolo Dall'Ara, Head of Track Engineering: "It was a very strong race for our team. We made a good call on the weather conditions, and then Sergio took over. He drove a brilliant race. His pace was excellent on a wet and dry track. For Kamui it was an unlucky race. First we should have called him in earlier, but there was a chance of rain. This judgment was wrong. Secondly he had a leak in the brake system which stopped him, and we are sorry for that. We have to investigate it. However, it was a great performance and a great result for the team."
Jean-Eric Vergne (8th): "To from eighteenth on the grid to eighth and in the points at the end is great. I stayed out for a long time on the intermediates after the start and then the Red Flag came along to help me so I was able to switch to extreme wets on the grid. If I had to resume behind the Safety Car on the intermediates it would have been very hard to stay on track! As soon as the track was dry enough I came in again for intermediates but I lost a bit of time before I made the switch to slicks. After that I was catching Di Resta, but with the backmarkers in between us I could not get close enough to pass, so I just managed the situation, concentrating on bringing the car home. So I am happy to settle for this eighth place and I plan to keep improving step by step. After these two opening races, the overall performance has been quite good and I feel we can make progress in China starting from this good base line."
Daniel Ricciardo (12th): "Unfortunately, after being delayed in the early stages, when I lost places after the start in the rain, I never managed to fight my way back into the points. I think there were moments in the race when I ran at quite a good pace, but I did not have that extra edge to move up the order. When the track was drying before the pit stops that is when I again lost time, so of course I am a bit disappointed, but there are still eighteen races remaining and I'm sure I will have plenty more opportunities to do well."
Franz Tost, Team Principal: "In Melbourne we scored points with Daniel and now in Sepang, it was the turn of our rookie driver, Jean-Eric to secure his first ever Formula 1 points, with a strong drive to eighth place. As is often the case in Malaysia, we witnessed a very exciting race in which Jean-Eric did an excellent job as it was the first time he has raced a Formula 1 car in wet conditions. He made no mistakes and produced really good lap times and so this eighth place is well deserved. These four points are also the result of excellent work from the team, making the correct decisions as regards pit stops and tire strategy as well as managing the complicated situation while the race was suspended. Daniel lost too much time in the early stages of the race to fight back into the points, but his lap times in the later part were very good. The STR7 performed quite well this afternoon in both the wet and the dry and finally congratulations to our engine partner Ferrari for this important win."
Bruno Senna (6th): "I am really excited about the result today. I'm so happy that I have scored points for the team after a very tough race. It's on days like to today that you can show what you can do in difficult conditions. I knew we had to attack after the restart, so it was very satisfying to push hard, not make any mistakes and to make my way up through the field. I'm so happy for everyone in the team."
Pastor Maldonado (19th): "It was very difficult today with conditions changing so quickly at the start. I had poor visibility in the pitlane so missed the pit box entry after the restart which dropped me down the order. I was then just pushing every lap and our pace was very consistent. I had a good race to come through from 20th to tenth with just two laps remaining. Bruno had a great race and we have both been able to show that the car is competitive."
Mark Gillan, Chief Operations Engineer: "It was a real rollercoaster of a race and the whole team are delighted to get our first points of the season. Bruno drove very well finishing in sixth, having been last at the restart. Unfortunately we had to retire Pastor with an engine problem with only a few laps left whilst he was running in tenth."
Laurent Debout, Renault: "Our feelings are obviously very mixed. It's very satisfying to score the first points for the new Williams-Renault package with Bruno's sixth position, but very frustrating to lose a potential double points finish due to an engine failure on Pastor's car. We are still looking into the problem but apologies to the team and we'll look to make amends in China. There's a long gap between now and then so we have time to fully investigate."
Vitaly Petrov (16th): "I am really happy with the performance today. We didn't show the car's true potential in qualifying, but today I was able to put in similar lap times to the cars ahead and didn't make any mistakes in the tricky conditions. The car felt good all afternoon and the team worked really well to help me get the most out of it, both on the pitwall and with the stops, so I'm very pleased I've been able to record my first race finish for the team and to start to show what we can do in races. This gives us a good base to work from so it's been a good Sunday, particularly in front of our home fans."
Heikki Kovalainen (18th): "That was one of those races when we could have had a really good result, but a bit of bad luck and a car I didn't really have a great balance on meant I'm just pleased to have got it home. I made a small mistake on the inters and had to come in for a new nose, and that dropped me back a few places which basically ended my race. Despite that, it's good that we got both cars home and we also showed again that we have a car that can race on Sundays. Now we need to focus on getting more out of it in qualifying and pushing on at the next race in China."
Tony Fernandes, Team Principal: "I'm happy with how the race went today. We recorded our first two car finish at our home race in Malaysia, and we definitely gave the fans here something to cheer for, particularly with Vitaly battling with the likes of Ferrari, Williams and Toro Rosso. We showed good pace and with a bit more work out he strategies I think we can keep demonstrating that we keep edging ever closer to what is clearly an intense battle in the midfield. The fact we are now fighting with some of the most famous names in motorsport is a huge achievement in what is only our third season, and now we will keep fighting to close that gap which is already so much smaller than it was last year, and streets ahead of where we were in 2010."
Mark Smith, Technical Director: "From the technical perspective that was an incredibly busy race. With the constantly changing conditions we had to make a number of calls to give us a chance to fight and while that paid off for Vitaly, for Heikki it was a much tougher afternoon. He had to change a front wing after going off track and that effectively ended his race, but it is good to see how hard Vitaly was able to push, and to see the lap times he was putting in on the inters."
Thierry Salvi, Renault: "Conditions like we saw today can make the race a complete lottery. We worked well all afternoon with the engineering team to adjust the engine strategy to deal with the red flag and the safety car period, and we can be reasonably pleased with how well the car performed against the teams ahead, so now we will focus on China and Bahrain and make sure we use this as a base to keep progressing."
Narain Karthikeyan (21st): "I must say I really enjoyed myself in that race. It really was the best race to make my debut with HRT. I don't think anyone could imagine we would finish after starting from the pit lane due to an issue with the fuel pressure that we were dragging over from yesterday, I was penalized with a drive-through penalty, we completed our first real pitstop... to sum up, a lot of things happened but, in the end, the car held out really well given where we were at the beginning. We have to improve many things but this was a perfect test. My teammate also finished so that's doubly satisfying. I'm very happy for the team, we accomplished our objective. Now we have to go a little bit further."
Pedro de la Rosa (22nd): "It was a very interesting race in really wet conditions. We were running in 10th at one point, which I think is the best position we've ever been in but unfortunately the rain stopped and the track dried out and it was impossible to keep ahead of the rest. I made a mistake, locking up the front, and went off on turn 9 but apart from that it all went pretty well. We finished the race, did some mileage and made up two positions from 23rd so that's something to smile about. Everyone did a great job and we're all really happy with the result, now we have to go on from here and try to progress in China."
Luis Perez-Sala, Team Principal: "Yesterday after qualifying we were satisfied and today, thankfully, we are again. We met another target which was to finish the race with both cars. There are aspects that need improving, without a doubt, such as reliability and the speed of the car, but by completing the race we have accumulated a lot of data which will be of great use to continue progressing. We also need to improve pit stops and team coordination but it was the first time they did it and from the first stop to the second you could already tell the difference. Today I want to highlight the work everyone did and thank them for their effort these past weeks and today's result is a small reward for that enormous amount of work that is taking place."
Timo Glock (17th): "A great weekend again for us. We finished with both cars once more, which is a great achievement for the team and we have to be very happy with that. It was a difficult race but I think we made the right tire choice and changed at the right time, going from the intermediate to the extreme wets and then after the restart changing back from the extreme wets to the intermediates. Coming in straight away was the right thing to do and I just managed to keep the 'inters' on for as long as possible and keep them alive. Again, we were one of the first to switch to slicks and we were able to keep pushing to keep ahead of Kovalainen, so really well done to the team. Everyone kept cool and calm when the red flag came out. Proper job by the team and specifically my car crew, who've done a great job in the first two races. Now we concentrate on improving again for China."
Charles Pic (20th): "It was a tricky race today in difficult conditions. It was my first time with the extreme wet tire so it was hard to know the best time to change to the Intermediate at my second pitstop. Then we had a problem with the clutch at the third stop, which is a shame as we lost some time. Overall I am happy with my pace as it was consistent with Timo on the Intermediate and at the end on slicks, which is positive for me. A great job all weekend by everyone in the team as I know it has been very difficult, in many ways. I look forward now to China and even more progress."
John Booth, Team Principal: "A fantastic end to what has been an important weekend for the team. It is extremely encouraging that we are seeing progress in every area, the most significant of which is in terms of performance. The small upgrade that we brought on Friday was the result of some very hard work in the factory over the last few weeks by the aerodynamics department and we have certainly seen the benefit of that here this weekend. However, we can't rest on our laurels and this is now the start of what is going to be a very intensive and exciting development program for us. It was an interesting race today, with plenty of twists and turns to keep us on our toes, which the race team handled admirably. We were particularly impressed with the way Charles held off Kovalainen for so long, losing out only at the pitstop. Equally worthy of note was Timo's performance in the drying conditions, which was superb. We now look forward to evaluating the findings from these two races so we can come back stronger again in China in three weeks' time."
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