• Malaysian Grand Prix

Driver and team reaction

ESPNF1 Staff
April 4, 2010 « Alonso bemoans 'hardest race' of his life | »

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The Ferraris and McLarens fought their way through the field © Sutton Images
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Ferrari

Felipe Massa - 7th "All things considered, we did a good job in these first three races, as proved by the fact we lead both championships. However, there are still sixteen races to go and we know there is much room for improvement in terms of car performance and in making it totally reliable. Given where we started from, seventh place is probably the best we could hope for. We tried to delay the tyre change as much as possible, also because over the past days it has always rained in the afternoon and if that had happened today, we would have been able to exploit any opportunity. Unfortunately, for once, the rain did not come. The soft tyres were quicker but probably at the start, the track was not rubbered in enough to get them working at their best, so our strategy was the right one. The duel with Button was very complicated: down the straights, he could always pull away, but when he made a mistake at the final corner, I was able to get close enough to overtake under braking for the first one. Today's race proves the need to fight on every lap of the championship: we have a lot of work to do, so we must keep focussed and not lessen our efforts."

Fernando Alonso - DNF "This was a very difficult weekend. We made a big mistake in yesterday's qualifying and today in the race, I had to retire with an engine problem. My race was an uphill climb from the start: I found I had a problem with the gearbox right from the start and I had to drive without a clutch for practically the whole race. Trying to look on the positive side, at least the engine failure only cost me two points: it would have been much worse if I had been in the lead! Seeing what happened in the previous days, it made sense to expect rain and so we made the first stint as long as possible, but unfortunately, it did not happen. Today, we gave Red Bull a little gift: if we had qualified in a normal fashion then we would certainly have given them a hard time. I am not worried about the engine failure, as our engineers have enough experience and ability to resolve this situation. Given everything that happened, we can be proud of what we managed to do in the race and we can look forward with confidence to the next Grand Prix, which we will be trying to win."

Stefano Domenicali, Team Prinicipal "There's no way we can be happy with the outcome of this third race weekend of the season. We came to Malaysia with very different objectives and taking home a mere seven points is a disappointment. Today's result is down to yesterday's qualifying: when you start that far back on the grid, it's difficult to do better. On top of that, we had a few reliability problems which should put us on our guard: if we want to aspire to the title we absolutely have to sort this out. Fernando drove an amazing race, given that right from the formation lap, he had a problem going through the gears. To drive under these conditions is impressive and he was able to stay in the fight for points right to the end. Felipe also drove a really great race, especially in the second part and heading the Drivers' classification is a just reward for all he has done in this early part of the season. An initial assessment after three races? Positive, because we lead both championships and have shown we are competitive at the highest level. We know where we have to improve - performance and reliability - but we can count on an excellent package - car, drivers, team - all capable of being in the fight for both titles."

Force India

Adrian Sutil - 5th "The race was exciting and fifth place in the end was a great achievement. I was hoping for a good race as we were so close in the first two races but then had a little bit of back luck that stopped us scoring. It was a good overall performance from the team. It was always very close with Lewis [Hamilton] just behind in the closing stages but I knew that if I didn't make any mistakes I wouldn't have any problems, so it was just trying to concentrate. I had to push, of course, but it was under control. I think we can now carry this forward to China: we are still a good top 10 competitor and we need to continue like this - Q3 and a few points each race would be great at this stage in the season."

Tonio Liuzzi - DNF I had had a good start from tenth and was in seventh place and had a good pace, although I was stuck behind Hulkenberg in the Williams. I was struggling to pass even though I was quicker but we were optimistic for a good race. Unfortunately I had a problem with the throttle after about 12 laps. We didn't understand exactly what it was but overall we lost drive and that was the end of it. It's disappointing for me but I'm pleased that Adrian could score a lot of points as that helps us in the constructors' championship.

HRT

Karun Chandhok - 15th "I am fantastically happy to have finished my second race today after our difficult debut in Bahrain. I kept out of trouble and pitted on lap 17. On lap 45, I had a tricky moment, passing Trulli's Lotus. A great thank to the team who did a fantastic job. To finish was very difficult today but I am happy to have done it."

Bruno Senna - 16th "I had a good start and gained as much as I could. I am really pleased for the team to have finished the race with both cars. It has been another positive weekend for the team taking a good step forward."

Colin Kolles, Team Principal "A fantastic day for the team completing our first two-car finish in only our third race, with no pre-season testing. Bruno Senna had a good start while Karun Chandhok had a bad one. But Karun could find a good pace then and both drivers had reliable races. Again we have made a great step forward. We reached our goal with two cars finishing the race. Congratulations to the team who worked again hard to achieve this result. Now we have to work on more developments for the next Grand Prix in China."

Lotus

Heikki Kovalainen - 18th "It was still a very positive race for us, despite the issues. My start wasn't fantastic and it meant I dropped immediately to the back. After that I got into a good rhythm, but started to see some issues on the dash. I tried to make a move on Di Grassi, but clipped his front wing when I was going past and damaged my left rear tyre, so had to come in to pit. Even with the problems we had the car was competitive and I was very comfortable. Compared to the other new teams our times are very competitive indeed, so I'm not going to let this race trouble me - we learned a lot and now we'll move on and look ahead to China."

Jarno Trulli - 17th "We made a good start, but then on the second lap I was hit by Glock, which made me spin, and from then on my race was compromised. Despite that I got the car home to the end and that shows our focus on reliability has been worth the effort."

Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer "The beauty of sport is that you have highs and lows, and after the high of yesterday, with Heikki in Q2, it was a bit of a low today. Jarno had some handling problems due to damaged bodywork at the rear, and did a great job to bring the car home. With Heikki, he had some very high temperatures which we managed to fix in the pit, and as soon as he was out again he was very competitive, took the car to the flag, and really showed what the car was capable of. So it was disappointing, but at least we managed to get two cars to the flag. We've learned a lot and are looking to move on and be on good form for China."

McLaren

Lewis Hamilton "I had a great start, went down the inside and got past a lot of cars on the first lap. I was able to keep going for much of the race on my first set of tyres, and even nearly got past Sebastian [Vettel] after his pitstop. After my pitstop, I tried my best to get past Adrian [Sutil], but he was very smart at getting clean exits and was simply too fast down the straights. He drove a fantastic race, actually; faultless, in fact. From 20th on the grid, I think sixth was a brilliant result. I reckon we showed today that we were fast enough to compete with the guys at the very front - and, that being the case, if we'd started farther up we could've had an even better result this afternoon. Overall, then, I'm well happy with my race - I couldn't ask for any more to be honest. The team really deserved this, and we're now closer to the top in the constructors' championship than we were before the race. So we'll take forward a lot of positives with us into the next race."

Jenson Button "My first stint was very tough. I went for the outside at the first corner - and as things turned out it wasn't the right place to be. So I fell back, and was then stuck behind Fernando, who I just couldn't overtake. I found the Option tyres quite difficult in the early laps - I had no rear grip in the high-speed stuff. I couldn't overtake, and lost lots of time, so I took the gamble to pit early and drop back into a clear track. I made up a lot of ground, but I was on the Primes for so long that it became difficult to hold back cars that were two seconds a lap quicker than me. Felipe [Massa] eventually got past. Fernando [Alonso] tried a couple of times - the last time he went really deep into Turn One, but I managed to repass him on the exit - and then suddenly his engine was gone. I don't know what happened to him, but we had a good fight. I didn't realise that fighting for eighth was going to be so difficult! However, it's good to get some points again."

Martin Whitmarsh, Team principal "Given their grid positions, this afternoon we saw two markedly different yet equally impressive drives from Lewis and Jenson. Lewis ran long, starting on Prime tyres, and made prodigious progress in the first phase of the race thanks to a series of stunning overtaking manoeuvres. Jenson ran a contrasting strategy, starting on Options and making his pitstop early [lap nine]. Thereafter he preserved his Primes in masterly fashion, defending his position against cars whose tyres were far newer than his yet still maintaining strong lap times throughout the race. From our perspective, a bit of rain would have been welcome; but, given the dry weather all afternoon, the fact that we'll leave Malaysia with 12 more constructors' championship points than we had when we arrived here is a powerful testament to the professionalism and determination that both Lewis and Jenson showed today. The team, too, did a fantastic job. Lewis's pitstop was the fastest we've achieved all year, at a lightning-quick 3.4 seconds, so I'd like to take this opportunity to say 'well done' to Pete Vale [chief mechanic], Paul James [number-one mechanic, Lewis Hamilton] and all the lads for their excellent work under significant pressure. Looking forward to China, there are many positives to reflect on. We now lie a close second in the constructors' world championship table, our pace was highly competitive all weekend here in Malaysia, and, with a better qualifying performance than we achieved here in Sepang, we hope to perform strongly in Shanghai."

Mercedes

Nico Rosberg - 3rd "It's a fantastic result today to achieve our team's first podium at the home race for our title partner, PETRONAS. I want to thank the whole team for all of their hard work this weekend and over the winter. This result is the start of the reward for our efforts. It's a great feeling to be back up on the podium again and to have so much support from the Malaysian fans here. My start didn't go that well today as I had a bit too much wheelspin and once I was in third place, I knew it would be difficult to follow the leading cars. I struggled a little with the options in the first stint which allowed Robert to stay quite close but once we switched to the primes, I felt really comfortable and we could manage the race home to third place. This is a great end to a strong weekend for us. We're not quite where we want to be yet so we need to push on but I'm confident that we'll get there soon."

Michael Schumacher - DNF "It was a shame that I could not finish the race but unfortunately the wheel nut on the left rear wheel was lost. The car suddenly became very unstable in turn six and I could hardly steer and had no drive left. I initially thought it was something to do with the suspension but after I stopped and had a look, it was evident that was a wheel nut missing. It is something very unusual to happen and in testing we never had problems so we have to look it. I would have obviously wanted to finish the race and I think it could have worked out quite reasonably well. But in the end that is motor racing, I remember that very well. It makes no sense to get angry about it, you have to accept it as part of the game and look ahead. At least Nico scored our first podium finish and I am happy for him and the team."

Ross Brawn, Team Principal "That was an excellent drive from Nico today and a first-class performance to secure his third career podium and the first podium for the MERCEDES GP PETRONAS team. We are delighted to have achieved the first podium for the Silver Arrows here in Malaysia and to be able to share the rewards of our hard work with our title partner PETRONAS at their home Grand Prix. My compliments to Nico for an assured performance today and over the weekend. Michael was in a good position after the start and we were looking forward to having a good race on his side but unfortunately it wasn't to be. The car lost a wheel nut which is a problem that we haven't experienced before. The wheel nuts are double-checked on the grid so we will investigate and put in place the necessary solutions."

Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel - 1st "What a day! At the start, I realised that I had a good start past Nico (Rosberg). I was then able to gain on Mark; it's a long sprint down to Turn one and I had an advantage, so I took the chance into Turn 1 and just made it through! Mark had a better exit out of Turn 2 though Turn 3, but it was very slippery and we both tried to push. We are here to fight, but you should always keep respect and I think we both had respect for each other. If Mark had been in my position I'm sure he would have done the same. After that it was a question of getting away from our competitors. I could see that Mark and I had the same pace - he was a little quicker in the beginning, but I was trying to save my tyres so I could pull away before the stop. The second stint was extremely long and it's very hot here - I didn't stop sweating. It's very physical and at some stages I was hoping for rain just to get a bit of a cool down! Yesterday was extremely difficult with the conditions, but today it stayed dry. We have a magnificent car and the key once again was to pace yourself and watch your tyres. Bridgestone did a good job bringing two compounds here that worked well. It's a very good result for us after two races where we didn't finish where we wanted. Thanks to the team - it's crucial not to panic in that moment and stay relaxed as it's a long season. Sitting here on Sunday afternoon after finishing in first position is the best result we can get. On top of that, Mark is in second place. It's a big plus for the team and a lot of points for us, I'm very, very happy."

Mark Webber - 2nd "We know these days with the strategy and the way the races unfold that the first part of the race is crucial. I got a bit of wheel spin at the start and Seb got a tow into the first corner. I didn't know where Nico was, so I braked late. Both Seb and I were on the limit to make the first corner. I had a little bit better exit coming out of Turn 2 and the fight continued into Turn 4. We had a chat to Christian at the start of the race and he said "Boys, behave yourselves!" and we did. The spirit and the chemistry in our team is awesome and we fight very hard. You saw that today - it was a good fight between Sebastian and I. It could have gone either way, but in the end he did the job at the crucial stage and deserved the victory. A one two finish for us as a team is sensational. The cars ran very well and it was a nice come back for us after a tough few races where we didn't finish as we wanted to. I'd like to be one spot further up, but it's a great result for the team. We executed a beautiful weekend, so well done to Red Bull and also to Renault, the engines were great today."

Christian Horner, Team Principal "A fantastic team performance. The race ultimately came down to the first 500 metres; both drivers had excellent starts. Sebastian got the inside line into Turn 1, Mark gave him enough space and they fought each other through Turn 2 and into Turn 3. That was the difference between them today, they matched each other tenth for tenth in pace and it was great to see the team achieve a faultless one two finish. It's been a huge amount of hard work. Obviously we've had frustrations in the first two races, but the team has stayed focused. We've had tremendous support from the factory this weekend and people gave up their Easter to ensure that our cars had the best opportunity for finishing at arguably one of the toughest races. Both cars behaved impeccably, so it puts us right back in the Championship and gives everyone a lot of confidence."

Renault

Robert Kubica - 4th "It was another enjoyable race and the car was consistent with good pace all afternoon. The start of the race was really important because I managed to get ahead of Hulkenberg into turn 1, and then I got a good exit out of turn 2, which helped me overtake Sutil. After that I managed to build a good gap to the cars behind me, but we didn't have the pace to catch Rosberg. Fourth place is a good result and gives us some more important points."

Vitaly Petrov - DNF "The first half of the race was great fun and I enjoyed fighting with the cars around me, especially the battle with Hamilton. Then, in the middle of the race, the car just stopped and I think it was a problem with the gearbox. I'm disappointed to retire, but I now have some more experience and I learnt a lot about managing the tyres, which will help me improve for the next race."

Eric Boullier, Team Principal "To finish fourth with Robert is another great result for the team. Obviously we benefited from our good qualifying performance yesterday and Robert made a good start to the race. After that he drove very well and the car showed good pace. Vitaly also made progress at the start, drove aggressively in the opening laps, and had a good fight with Hamilton. It's a real shame he had to retire because I think he could have scored his first points today."

Sauber

Kamui Kobayashi - DNF "The retirement came as a total surprise to me. After turn one I suddenly had no more power. This is really bad luck. Today I was in a good position to fight for points, although I lost two positions at the start when Rubens Barrichello didn't move in front of me when the starting lights went out. It is a real shame I retired from today's race, but now we have to concentrate on the next one in China and do better."

Pedro de la Rosa - DNS "Of course it is very disappointing not having competed in this race. This Grand Prix is one you prepare for all year because of the physical demands and you really want it to be driving in it. The failure was unusual, unexpected and unlucky."

Willy Rampf, Technical Director "A very disappointing race after promising starting positions. Pedro was forced to stop on his lap to the grid, and Kamui, who started from ninth, had to give up on lap nine. In both cases the engines failed due to problems with the pneumatic system. We have to analyse everything in order to understand the reason behind it."

Toro Rosso

Jaime Alguersuari - 9th "I am very happy to have scored points today and I have to say I never expected to do it so early in the season. A big thanks to everyone in the team who have worked so hard to achieve this result. Step by step, I have improved my performance, but this weekend was very tough because I didn't know the track. I enjoyed this race, especially the fights I had with some of the others: I think I learned a bit about the art of fighting with Michael (Schumacher) last weekend in Melbourne. Towards the end, I was a bit worried about how the tyres would last, as I was on the soft ones, but I had no degradation. It is very satisfying and I feel a lot more confident now going into the upcoming races."

Sebastien Buemi - 11th "This race didn't go so well for me, because, after quite a good start, my front wing was damaged on the first lap when I made contact with Kobayashi. It meant that from then on, I lacked grip and had a lot of understeer. I ended driving for much of the race with a damaged wing, but once it was changed I was able to put in some very fast lap times, but by then it was too late to do much. A one stop strategy in any case was not on for me, as I did two stints on the Option tyre. In general, these two races in one week have not gone well for me, but we can be optimistic about Shanghai, as the whole package, the car and the team seems to have made a step forward this weekend. And congratulations to Jaime for his first F1 points."

Franz Tost "A very good weekend for Red Bull, with three out of four cars in the points. Well done to Red Bull Racing for this well deserved one-two finish. We are very pleased to have scored our first points of the season and well done to Alguersuari for the first two points of his F1 career. Jaime continues to improve each weekend. He got a good start and then drove a fantastic race, not only defending his position but also carrying off some daring overtaking moves. Then for the last third of the race, he controlled the situation, looking after his tyres and the engine to complete an excellent race performance. Buemi made a reasonable start, but unfortunately, he made contact with Kobayashi at Turn 2 on the opening lap, which damaged the nose and front wing end plate. After this, he soon complained of heavy understeer, so we brought forward his first pit stop. Having calculated that a nose change at this time would have lost him too much track position, we did not change it, again bringing him in early at the second stop when we did fit the new nose. After that, his lap times improved and he brought the car home eleventh. We are looking forward to China with optimism, because not only do the drivers continue to improve, but the team also worked very well, so I hope we can pick up some more points in Shanghai."

Virgin

Lucas di Grassi - 14th "It was a very tough race today - physically and mentally - but I'm so happy to bring the Virgin Racing car home to the finish. I had a great start and was able to make up five places on the opening lap. We had very good early pace and continued to be strong, despite losing my front wing end-plate when Heikki tried to overtake me. We had a good pit stop and we were still looking very strong in the second part of the race. We were well ahead of the other new teams, which meant that we could afford to ease off a little to make sure nothing got in the way of our result today. It has been a long wait and we've had some tough times in the past few months, but we know that we're making progress and we can go on to achieve better things. Today showed that we are truly competitive and it's a great feeling that our fight has really started now. Timo's DNF was a real shame but I think we can start to look forward together to some great racing now."

Timo Glock - DNF "I had a pretty good start and the first laps were quite fun with a lot of fights going on. I dropped behind Jarno and in general I was quite a lot quicker than him. I tried to overtake but locked the rears and for some reason the anti-stall didn't kick in. Unfortunately I hit Jarno and it was my mistake. But it's great that Lucas finished the race, and ahead of Lotus, which is good for the team. I hope that in the next race we can get both cars to the finish."

Nick Wirth, Technical Director "Finally getting one of our cars to see the chequered flag is a great reward for everyone at Virgin Racing and Wirth Research and I want to thank all of our partners, sponsors and supporters for their patience and understanding during the last few months. The race was quite stressful on the pit wall as we left the grid assuming that it was going to rain. It took a little while for us to be really sure that it wasn't and then, being mindful of our fuel tank limitations, it was really just a case of the team and Lucas deploying our well-practised fuel-saving techniques to excellent effect. Timo was very fired up for the race and it was unfortunate that he didn't manage to get a finish but his time will come very soon. This weekend has been, from start to finish, a clear step forward and comes as a result of diligent hard work from a great many people and I dedicate this result to them. We've come in for heavy criticism for our radical low-cost design approach and relative inexperience in F1, which makes our performance throughout the weekend all the more satisfying. Finishing our first Grand Prix as the leading new team will give us lots of information and we've got some clear direction on issues to address for Shanghai, which will allow us to perform better all round, without distracting us too much from the bigger Barcelona upgrade. So once again, well done to everyone at Virgin Racing and we now looking forward to building on this platform."

Williams

Nico Hulkenberg - 10th "We picked up a point today, maybe because our car was more reliable, but that's racing. It was a tough race because we just don't have the pace at the moment. I wish we could do better, but we have some work to do to catch up.

Rubens Barrichello - 12th"I don't know what happened at the start, I'll go through that with the team. From there I went to the back of the field. We tried a different strategy to get us back up, but our car was just not competitive. We lost a nice opportunity today.

Sam Michael, Technical Director "We had a difficult race this afternoon from which we've come away with one point. Both drivers struggled with the start; Rubens didn't get enough drive and Nico had excessive wheel spin. We chose to pit Rubens early and put him on the harder tyre as he was being held up in traffic. Nico also had to pit early as we had an electrical problem on his steering wheel which was preventing us from changing the engine mixture. Our focus remains on improving our pace and starts."

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