Formula 1 News

Drivers' quotes after the first race of the season

Ricciardo: "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."
Sunday, March 18, 2012

Red Bull Racing

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 manoeuvre 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.”

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

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 tyres 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 tyre 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.”

Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro

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 Maldonaldo: 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 tyres.”

Felipe Massa (Ret)

“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 tyres. 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 tyres 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 tyres, 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.”

Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team

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 (Ret)

“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.”

Lotus F1 Team

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 (Ret)

“I think we could have achieved a great result today. It’s frustrating as I really wanted to make the chequered 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 favourite circuits and focus on getting a result there.”

Williams F1

Pastor Maldonado (13th)

“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)

“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.”

Sahara Force India

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 (Ret)

“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.”

Sauber F1 Team

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 Pérez (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 tyres, 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 tyres 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.“

Toro Rosso

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 tyres, 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 One 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.”

Caterham

Heikki Kovalainen (DNF)

“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)

“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 tyres 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.”

Marussia

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 chequered 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.”

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