• Korean Grand Prix

Driver and team reaction

ESPNF1 Staff
October 24, 2010

Ferrari

Fernando Alonso - 1st: "It is a great feeling winning this way, as it was a very difficult victory, given the track conditions. Especially at the start, the situation on track and in terms of visibility was really precarious. That was the most worrying time, because I knew it would be an achievement just to stay on the track. We had never driven here in the wet and so there was no reference point. Webber's retirement slightly changed our approach because, all in all, it would have been sufficient to finish on the podium without taking too many risks. The final stages were particularly difficult because half the track was almost dry and the tyres were getting ruined really quickly. I witnessed both Red Bull problems from very close up: in these situations you try and stay super-concentrated, because you are coming from a high speed corner and there is no time to think. Clearly, this was a great help for our championship chances, but luck proves that Formula 1 is not just about the maths! If you then think about what happened at races such as Valencia and Silverstone, you can really say that what goes around comes around. Now there are still fifty points up for grabs: Red Bull are still favourite, but we will continue to do our utmost and try to always get onto the podium. The car has improved so much in the second half of the year thanks to continuous updates: maybe we have come away with more than we expected, but we know the situation can change from one weekend to the next. All the same, these results are fully deserved by the team and my dream is to see everyone in it happy..."

Felipe Massa - 3rd: "A great result at the end of a very difficult race. I am very pleased, for myself and for the team. Fernando did a great job. After two poor weekends, I am happy to have stepped up onto the podium once again. I also want to thank the race director who did an excellent job of managing the situation, making the right decisions as to when to start the race and when to bring in the Safety Car at the right moment. By the end, it was almost dark and the intermediate tyres were deteriorating, especially the rears: there is a light on the steering wheel which is very bright and in these conditions it was quite distracting. We were a bit lucky, but we also did a good job, proving to be competitive even on this track. How will things go in Interlagos and Abu Dhabi? It's hard to say, as the two tracks are very different one to the other. It will be important to have a car capable of fighting for a podium place and then try not to make any mistakes."

Stefano Domenicali: "First of all, let's just keep calm about this! This has been a fantastic day, in which we have turned around the situation in the Drivers' championship and also, albeit partially, put us back in a stronger position in the Constructors' classification. However, we are well aware the hardest part begins now. There are two races to go: we must tackle them with the same ferocious determination which has seen us fight back in a way many thought impossible. I have said it so often in the past, but I want to repeat it even today: what counts the most in this final part of the season is for the team and the drivers to keep a cool head, along with reliability and concentration. This weekend we proved capable of doing that even in very unusual conditions like those we experienced today. We are up against very strong opposition, especially in the shape of a team that has managed to take 14 poles from 17 races: to be in this position with just two races to go is already significant. First of all I want to thank our drivers: they were great, not making the slightest mistake, managing a very stressful race in very difficult conditions. The team worked very well and the little problem at Fernando's pit stop was soon recovered on track. As usual, our thanks extend to our commercial and technical partners, starting with Philip Morris, the Santander Bank and Shell, the latter bringing us a new fuel here which also helped. Finally, I want to say it is an honour for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro to be the first name to go on the winner's trophy for the Korean Grand Prix, in a country that is expanding rapidly and a market that is also growing in importance in terms of our road cars."

Force India

Adrian Sutil - DNF: Conditions were pretty tough throughout the race and it was the right decision to start behind the safety car. When the track dried a bit I made a pit stop and tried to do the whole race on the intermediate tyres. I was just struggling with my brakes all the time. I had so much brake force that I always locked up and it was hard to drive consistently. There were a lot of times I was off the circuit, or locked up, and then got past a driver and went off the road. In the end I tried to overtake Kobayashi but lost the car on a patch that was a bit more wet than I expected and went into the side of him. I'm not happy with my performance, it was not a good race for me personally, but I'm pleased that the team did well with Tonio and the sixth position. I'll now be looking forward to the next race in Brazil.

Tonio Liuzzi - 6th: "What a crazy race today, a bit like Australia back at the start of the year, and it was very fun to be out there. It was the right decision to delay the start as there was so much water on the track. Unfortunately we had to do a lot of laps behind the safety car after that but the track was so slippery that it was really hard under braking. Then at the end it was like a night race without any lights and the steering wheel lights were so bright it was almost dazzling! Even though there was so little grip I was able to get into a good rhythm and get a great result for the team. After all the bad luck we've had in this part of the year it's brilliant to be back in business and up there in the points again, extending our advantage over Williams and setting ourselves up well for the last two races."

"Dr Vijay Mallya, chairman and team principal: I don't think I've ever seen a race quite like this one! We said it would be an interesting one and the constantly changing conditions threw up all sorts of challenges. It was a great performance by Tonio today as he kept his head and raced hard until the finish. It can't have been easy in the failing light and on a damp track on worn tyres but he did brilliantly to secure those crucial points. Adrian had a much more difficult race. He feels he didn't do himself justice, but I'm sure he'll come back stronger in Brazil and Abu Dhabi. Overall however a great team performance and a real boost for us going into the final double header of the year."

HRT

Sakon Yamamoto - 15th: "Today, we achieved the best result of the season for our team and we are very happy about this. It was an eventful race and it was the right decision to stop it after the start because there was too much water on the track. Later, during the Safety Car period, some cars changed onto intermediates, but we stayed on the wet tyres as we expected more rain to come. As the track got dry earlier than expected and we were losing time, we also changed to intermediates. I could manage my tyres and set a good pace during the whole race. I want to thank the team, which is working hard all the time and also to the fans who are supporting me."

Bruno Senna - 14th: "It was a difficult race but I'm very happy. The conditions were very tricky, and we opted to go very long on the same set of tyres. It was quite hard because the tyres were very used, and towards the end of the race it was a question of keeping the car on the track. But fortunately, it all came together and we finished another race as well as being able to achieve my best result so far."

Colin Kolles, Team Principal: "We did our best race result of the season today and we are all very pleased about this. It was an action-packed debut in Korea and we could hold our position in the championship. Both drivers showed a good performance in these very difficult conditions. Today it was hard to drive, but Sakon Yamamoto and Bruno Senna managed to keep the car on the track. Thanks to everyone in the team for their amazing job during the whole weekend. We could beat our result from Japan and we hope to carry on like this in Brazil."

Lotus

Heikki Kovalainen - 13th: "It was another excellent result for the team today. In tricky conditions like that with people making mistakes, we could have seen our tenth position under threat, but we were there at the end and that is what counts. I really enjoyed the race, and didn't really have any problems that we couldn't deal with - the team made the right calls throughout and that put us in a strong position at the end of the race. It was obviously pretty dark when we finished, but that was the same for everyone. Now we head to Brazil and we have two more races to secure our place as the best of the new teams this year."

Jarno Trulli - DNF: "It was a disappointing day but I'm pleased that the team has taken another step towards tenth. I felt that there was a possible hydraulics problem when we were behind the safety car as the power steering was starting to feel very heavy. I really struggled to turn in at the first corner and had a spin, and despite the team trying to get me back out it was all over."

Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer: "First of all it was great that we could go racing and give all the Korean fans and everyone who has put so much effort into making this race happen the show they wanted to see. They were rewarded with an historic event, with the race finishing in the dark and some excellent action up and down the field. For us it was a day of mixed fortunes - a great finish once again as best of the new teams and Heikki drove a great race in the very tricky conditions, but disappointing for Jarno that he suffered another hydraulic issue that brought his race to an early end. But overall a great weekend for us. We qualified and finished as best of the new teams and maintained our tenth place, which was always our main goal."

McLaren

Lewis Hamilton - 2nd: "At the start, I just wanted to get out there. I love racing, and I thought it was safe enough - 17 laps spent running behind the Safety Car isn't good for the spectators, and it's not fun for the drivers either. Additionally, I felt it had easily dried up enough for us to start racing - so I'm glad we did. It was very tricky out there, particularly at the end. It was pitch black, I couldn't see much and my tyres were finished. It was a big surprise to see both Red Bulls go out. Fernando [Alonso] drove really well, but I'm very happy to have scored some points after a couple of disappointing races.However, ours still isn't the fastest car: I was losing a lot of time to Fernando, particularly in the final sector. But I'm sure we'll be working flat-out to fix that back at the McLaren Technology Centre before we head to Brazil. We've got two races ahead of us - we have more coming for the car, and the guys back at the factory are doing a great job. Everyone is really enthusiastic and is pushing as hard as they can. The championship definitely isn't out of reach - we can still do this."

Jenson Button - 12th: "I just didn't have enough grip today. I was really struggling with locking fronts as soon as I touched the brakes; every time I braked for a corner, I went straight on because I couldn't stop the car. Also, I lost three or four places when Adrian [Sutil] decided to drive me off the circuit - I don't know what he was thinking. Even without that, though, I didn't really have the pace today. In my view, for sure, the race should have been stopped earlier than it was - it was way too dark to race a Formula 1 car in the conditions we witnessed at the end of the afternoon. To win this championship, I'll now have to rely on the cars in front of me failing, so today was a pretty disappointing day, all in all."

Martin Whitmarsh - Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes: "Today's race was an incredibly challenging one for all the drivers - they had to battle variable grip and poor light - and as such it was easy for them to make mistakes. That being the case, the fact that neither of our drivers made any truly significant errors all afternoon is a telling testimony to their supreme ability. Even so, it's almost always the case that, after a race as difficult and as eventful as today's was, all drivers tend to look back on the odd key moment and wish they'd played it ever so slightly differently. Nonetheless, Lewis's second place was the result of a typically combative drive, and the 18 world championship points it netted him have lifted him to well within striking range of the drivers' world championship lead with just two grands prix to go. As for Jenson, we'll have to debrief his strategy carefully, but perhaps we could have given him a better afternoon. Suffice it to say, at this stage, only that his first set of tyres were badly worn and we therefore had to change them when we did. His race was a bit of a struggle thereafter, though. Going forward, we remain in contention for both the constructors' world championship and the drivers' world championship, and we'll continue to push as hard as we can throughout the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend, and until the last metre of the final lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix too, in our efforts to emerge victorious in both those title chases."

Mercedes

Michael Schumacher - 4th: "I am pretty happy with today's race and I have to say thank you to my team who guided me perfectly through the afternoon. I am sure that the spectators had a lot of fun here today at this first Korean race. The FIA did very well to start the race behind the safety car as it absolutely would not have been possible to have a racing start. The only shame for us today was that Nico was put out of the race otherwise we would have seen a very good weekend for our team."

Nico Rosberg - DNF: "We had a near perfect weekend with the car that we have until the collision in the race today. Qualifying in fifth place was great yesterday and the car has felt good all weekend. The team has done a great job here and the straightline speed that we had enabled me to overtake Hamilton early in the race. So it's a big shame that my race was ended early. It was really difficult to judge which way Mark's car would go and I took the decision to go left but he spun more and more that way and I just couldn't avoid him. It's a real shame as we could have had a great result today."

Ross Brawn: "The team did an excellent job this weekend and have been rewarded with a very good result for Michael today. It could have been even better as Nico was in a strong position and obviously we are disappointed that he was taken out of the race. Nico had made a great overtaking move on Hamilton, he was very happy with the car and everything was going well up that point. Michael had an extremely good race. He took all of his opportunities and drove sensibly in the tricky conditions. We spent the latter part of the race looking after the tyres and making sure that we got through to the end as we didn't think that we could challenge the leaders. Overall a very positive weekend and we hope to finish the season with equally strong performances."

Sebastian Vettel could have seen his title chances go up in smoke © Getty Images
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Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel - DNF: "This is not a nice moment, but I think it was a difficult race for all of us today. To be at the front of the field for the whole race, controlling it and looking after the tyres, I think there's nothing more we could have done. All in all we did an almost perfect job today and also yesterday in qualifying. It was getting dark towards the end of the race; I had a medium visor on my helmet and it was hard to see some of the bumps on the track or the reference for braking, but the guys finished the race so there must have been some visibility. There are still fifty points available in the Drivers' Championship, it would have been easier if we had won today and the engine hadn't have broken, but that's life and how it goes sometimes. We will keep our heads down for the last two races. We have a very strong team and a strong car and we know we are the quickest. I can go to sleep tonight knowing I did everything I could today and we still have everything to play for."

Mark Webber - DNF: "It was totally my fault, I got on the kerb on the exit of Turn 12 and it was a very slow-motion moment off the back of that kerb - it was my mistake and it wasn't my day. I thought I'd managed to catch it, but I lost the car and made contact with the wall, nothing too heavy, but it was enough to bring the car back to the other side of the track and then Nico (Rosberg) hit me, which wrecked his race as well. Conditions were okay by the time we were racing - on the edge, but okay. Today didn't help me with the Championship, but I can absolutely still win it; this was only my second non-finish of the year. Positions aren't the most important thing, points are and they can change very quickly. I'm back with the others now on points, but there are still two races to go and I'll do my absolute best."

Christian Horner, Team Principal: "Some days motor racing can be cruel and for Red Bull today it was unfortunately one of those days. Mark was unlucky, he dropped a wheel on the kerb - one of the few mistakes he's made this year - and it bit him hard. Sebastian had the cruellest of luck - ten laps to go and out of the blue he had an engine failure. As a team we'd done everything right today and we had the pace to win. Starting on the front row, we got the strategy right, we read the conditions right and to have an engine failure, almost in sight of the end of the race, is appalling luck. It's our first non- points score this year, but we leave here still in the lead of the Constructors' and we're still in it in the Drivers' too; Mark's second and Sebastian's only one race-win behind the leader. We gave Fernando (Alonso) a big present today, but it was only two weeks ago that we were celebrating a one-two finish and we'll be back in Brazil."

Renault

Robert Kubica - 5th: "Fifth place means good points for the team and it's a good reward for all our efforts this weekend. It was a long, difficult race - and a race of two halves. The first part was very tricky for me, because I had big problems warming up the tyres. I had no grip at all and couldn't push - I was just concentrating on keeping the car on the track. For the second half, though, I think it was very good. It was important to look after the intermediate tyres and keep them in as good shape as possible, to get the benefit in the final laps. That was when I managed to gain a lot of positions, which meant everything turned out pretty well in the end."

Vitaly Petrov - DNF: "I had stopped early for intermediate tyres on lap 20, so they were pretty worn by the time we started racing after the second Safety Car period. I was still pushing to keep in front of the guys behind me, and I lost the car on the penultimate corner and had a big crash - but I'm okay. This was my first experience of such extreme conditions in F1, and I think the FIA did a good job to let us run behind the Safety Car and understand the circuit before starting the race. The team had made a good call with the change to intermediate tyres, and I was in a strong position in P7 when I crashed. Of course, I am disappointed to end the race in the wall and not in the points, but it was encouraging to be running in the top ten."

Eric Boullier, Team Principal: "It's a case of mixed feelings following a race where we scored a solid top-five finish - but also lost a potential double points finish. We made good strategy calls for Vitaly, and he was doing a good job when he lost the car in the final corner. In those conditions, every mistake will be punished, even though he was driving to look after his tyres. As for Robert, he produced a strong performance to finish fifth. He managed his intermediate tyres well, and was catching the cars in front of him in the final laps - and would have passed them on track, had he not pressured them into mistakes. His fifth place was the plus point of our afternoon."

Sauber

Kamui Kobayashi - 8th: "It was obviously a strange race day with the delay and the start behind the safety car. But for me it was okay to do it this way, as in the beginning I could not see anything behind the safety car. Poor visibility and a lack of grip were today's problems. When we changed to intermediate tyres when the safety car came out again after 19 laps it was very difficult to drive, as it was very slippery. When Adrian Sutil attacked me I stayed on the inside and didn't change line. I saw him in the mirror and had the impression he was not going to be able to brake or something like that. We touched but luckily my car wasn't damaged too much and I was able to continue. For the last laps I found the visibility very, very bad again. This time it was not because of spray but due to the darkness."

Nick Heidfeld - 9th: "I am happy to have scored again. It was not easy today to keep track of what was happening in the race. I think it was the right decision to delay the start, as before then the visibility had been down to zero. We changed onto intermediates quite early. In hindsight it was actually too early as it wasn't easy to stay on the track, although we managed it, and then the conditions improved. After a lot of laps, and on a drying track, at the end the tyres were gone, but I think others had the same problem. I could not really defend my position against Adrian (Sutil) because, with the mirrors being so dirty, I just could not see him. I knew from the radio he was there, but I only saw him when he was beside me. For me racing in the darkness was on the edge, but I still felt I could see okay."

Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "Both drivers in the points in a turbulent and difficult race - that's positive. Compliments to both drivers who had to fight hard, particularly towards the end of the race. However, although we scored six points we couldn't reduce the gap to our direct competitors. We now have two chances left."

Toro Rosso

Jaime Alguersuari - 11th: "We missed out on a good opportunity to score points today, so I am very disappointed, because just getting to the finish was an achievement given how many cars did not manage to do that. I obviously lost out most during the pit stop, when a technical problem meant I went into the pits in ninth place and came out in fifteenth place. Throughout the race, I lacked speed down the long straights and that is why it was hard to move back up the order, then at the end, when I had finally managed to get into the points, I could do nothing against Hulkenberg, who was faster in a straight line and was on new tyres. It is hard to be competitive when you lack the top speed, because it also means we ran less downforce than others in order to make up for that, so it is harder to manage the tyres in this situation. I just hope we can have a better weekend in Brazil."

Sebastien Buemi - DNF: "I think it was the right decision to spend so much time behind the Safety Car because the visibility was so poor. The asphalt did not seem to drain very well. I am disappointed with my race as I think there was plenty of potential for me this afternoon. I was running as high as seventh before the accident as everyone had stopped to change tyres. My pace was good and I was able to pass Kobayashi, Heidfeld and the Lotus and Virgins and it was going really well. We lost the chance to score some real points today. The accident? I braked late and locked the front wheels, so I could not turn and ended up going straight on and hitting Timo. I am sorry for him."

Virgin

Timo Glock - DNF: "This was a very disappointing race, especially after having been in a strong position to achieve a good result. The restart was okay and the track was starting to improve. We had quite good pace in the first part of the race and were clearly the quickest of the new teams. It's just a huge shame that we couldn't finish the race and all because of the mistake made by Buemi. It just seemed that he was all over the place. We now head to Brazil for the penultimate race of the season where I hope we can expect more luck than we found here in Korea."

Lucas di Grassi - DNF: "A very frustrating day here in Korea . We had made the correct call by switching to the Intermediate tyre very early in the race and on lap 15 I went out trying to avoid a crash with Yamamoto, who was ahead of me but much slower. Again I was in a good position for a strong result as I was running together with both Saubers and a Toro Rosso after the last safety car period ended. The next stop is my home race in Brazil, so we hope for better things there in two weeks' time."

John Booth, Team Principal: "A really unlucky day for us today as we were looking good for a strong placing with both cars. Lucas had made a good early switch to Intermediates, which would have benefited him as the race unfolded, but he crashed trying to avoid Yamamoto. Timo was up to 12th place and comfortably leading the new teams' battle when he was hit by Buemi in an accident which was entirely Buemi's fault and for which he was subsequently penalised. Both cars sustained considerable damage but we will regroup and bounce back strongly in Brazil."

Williams

Rubens Barrichello - 7th: "It was a tough race, but we were competitive today. I was lucky with the timing of the safety car and we were running in a good position right up until the closing stages. Unfortunately, I just ran out of tyre in the last five laps which cost us two places in the end. It was very difficult out there today so I'm pleased we managed to complete the race."

Nico Hulkenberg - 10th: "We did everything right today; we simply had some bad luck. I came in just before the safety car was released which cost me time and lost me a place. We managed to claw back position and were running in sixth towards the end of the race, but then my engineer told me I had a slow puncture. I couldn't keep running until the end as the car was totally undriveable. We had to pit and that cost us a big result today."

John Russell, Senior Systems Engineer: "The inaugural Korean GP proved to be a very eventful race. Finishing the race with both cars in the points is a solid result, but seventh and tenth is not wholly representative of our competitiveness this weekend. While looking good for fifth place, Rubens suffered rear tyre wear and a loss of grip. Keeping it on track to the end put him in seventh. Nico was unfortunate to pick up a slow puncture on his left rear in the closing stages as it forced an unscheduled stop which dropped him from P6 to P11. He recovered well, though, passing a Toro Rosso on the last lap to take tenth. Everyone in the team worked well today."

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