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Australian Grand Prix - selected driver quotes 18 Mar 2007

David Coulthard (GBR) Red Bull Racing returns to the paddock.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 18 March 2007 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren and team mate Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren celebrate on the podium.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 18 March 2007 Nico Rosberg (GER) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 16 March 2007 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Renault on the drivers parade.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Race Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 18 March 2007

Kimi Raikkonen on his maiden Ferrari win; Lewis Hamilton on his first taste of Formula One champagne; and Alexander Wurz and David Coulthard on their dramatic coming-together. All 22 drivers report back on the action in Melbourne…

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari (1st):
“A fantastic victory! It is great to be winning again with my new team whom I want to thank for giving me a great car. The race was not as easy as it might have looked from the outside, partly because shortly after the start, the radio failed so it was almost impossible to talk to the pit wall. Fortunately we had prepared well for the race and I knew what I had to do, but there were a few difficult moments. I was not flat out all the time, adapting my pace to the way the race was going. It was nice to hear my national anthem again on the podium as it had been a while. I have to say that last year it seemed to be the Italian one I was hearing usually. This is a great way to start the championship. We know we have a very competitive package but we still have to work to make it even better and above all, reliable.”

Fernando Alonso, McLaren (2nd):
"What a great way to start the season and my career as a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver. Of course it's always better to win but Kimi (Raikkonen) was a little bit quicker than us today, however we scored the maximum points that were possible, and I'm really pleased. My start was a bit strange with both BMWs being very quick off the line, and I was so busy defending my line from Heidfeld on the outside that it was not possible for me to stay ahead of him. I was then behind Lewis (Hamilton) for a while and was just focusing on keeping up with him and sometimes dropping back to allow the car to cool down. I took second after the second pitstop as I was able to stay out for an additional two laps. Originally it was meant to be one lap but because I was behind Lewis I managed to save enough fuel for one more lap. Both of the Bridgestone Potenza tyre options worked well. We will now continue to work hard to give us the best opportunity to beat Ferrari at the Malaysian Grand Prix."

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren (3rd):
"I'm absolutely ecstatic - today's result is more than I ever dreamed of achieving on my Grand Prix debut. A big thank you to the team who have worked so hard during the winter to make sure I was as prepared as I possible could be. I made a good start but the BMWs were quick off the line and Kubica managed to get past. There was no room on the inside so I got on the left and managed to outbrake both Kubica and Fernando (Alonso) coming into the first corner to take third. The race was intense, and I was working very hard. I made a few mistakes but nothing major and really enjoyed myself. It was great to lead the race for a few laps, but I knew it was only a temporary thing. Fernando got past me at the second pitstop as he was able to stay out a bit longer and I lost some time behind backmarkers. We now have a lot of work ahead of us with the Malaysia test and the rest of the season, but there is no doubt that we can build from what has been achieved today."

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (4th):
“I had a very good start, which was an even better one than Kimi (Raikkonen) and managed to pass Fernando (Alonso). Of course I hoped to stay in front of him, but realistically I knew the McLarens were quicker than us. Thinking about how happy we are, you should not forget where we came from as we started last season eighth in the constructors’ championship. Our pace is really good and fourth is a super start to the season. I feel very sorry for the team with Robert’s (Kubica) retirement, as he was also very strong. My tyre strategy to take the softer ones first was riskier. I knew after the first stop there was the danger of getting stuck in traffic, and this is what happened, but I took the risk anyway. The race was a lot of fun, but in the final laps I was a bit lonely. Mechanically my car was perfect.”

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (5th):
“The race proved more difficult than we had expected. We knew that we were not on the pace of the leaders, but we had hoped to make up some ground - and now, I think we realise there is a lot of work to do. From a personal point of view, I got the best that I could from the package today, but I was struggling with overall grip from the start. The car was handling well, and we had good reliability - but so did the other teams at the front. Hopefully we can begin catching up from the next race.”

Felipe Massa, Ferrari (6th):
“After what happened in qualifying yesterday it would have been difficult to do any better than this sixth place. I was able to run at a good pace even with a full fuel load facing a race that would be one long climb through the field. The F2007 was very competitive and so I am optimistic about the next few races. But I cannot forget the disappointment for the failure in qualifying, which meant I had to start from the back of the grid. If not for that, I would definitely have been fighting for the win. But I am happy with the overall result in terms of what it means for the team and I am happy for Kimi who won on his debut with Ferrari.”

Nico Rosberg, Williams (7th):
“I wasn’t perhaps expecting today would turn out so well, but I started last year’s first race from 12th place and finished 7th, so I thought I could maybe do it again given my qualifying position. I have taken the best out of our car today and I was particularly happy that overtaking Ralf (Schumacher) was successful - I was taking a chance of course, but you’ve got to try it and it was good for the team. The new regulation requiring us to use both tyre types mixed it up a bit and although I did suffer some graining late in the race, it didn’t matter because I didn’t have anyone close in front or behind me. At the next test in Malaysia we have to improve to keep progressing.”

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (8th):
“We had expected to be in the top ten but to bring two cars home is a good result in the first race. The conditions were good for the race but the car was a little difficult so it was hard work at times. Towards the end of the race we had a problem with pneumatic pressure but we made it to the finish and it’s good to come away with a point. We became faster towards the end and the strategy worked well, we just need to work on the speed now. We have some performance to catch up so we have to develop our car to get closer. I remain confident because the chance is there to improve. It will just be a matter of concentrating on each area and working hard.”

Jarno Trulli, Toyota (9th):
“That was a difficult afternoon for me and it was a pity that I just missed out on the points. The car made a poor start and I lost two places into the first corner. I made a good move to gain one back on the first lap but then I was held up behind Ralf (Schumacher) for the first stint. I lost more time when Fisichella pulled out of the pits in front of me. I couldn’t get past him and because he was heavy on fuel I lost ground. From then on I was unable to make much more impact. The balance of the car was not too bad but there was no way to gain places. Later I had trouble with my brakes so my pace dropped further. Still, we made the finish and after our hard winter of testing it has been a reasonable weekend.”

Heikki Kovalainen, Renault (10th):
“This may have been my Grand Prix debut, but to be honest, there is very little to remember from it - and lots to forget. I didn't have a great race: there were too many mistakes, and my performance just wasn't controlled enough. I had hoped to be able to move up through the field and gain positions. Straight away from the start, though, I was struggling even to hold on to other cars. My feeling right now is that the next race cannot get a lot worse. But I will stay positive, work hard and try to make sure I have a better weekend in Malaysia. I will be driving all three days of the Sepang test in ten days' time, which will help me learn the circuit and give me a good starting point for the race weekend. Then, my objective will be to improve in every area for my second Grand Prix.”

Rubens Barrichello, Honda (11th):
"I feel like we had a competitive race today, even though I finished outside of the points. The tyres were working well and our strategy also worked to our advantage. I was losing time behind Jenson in the first part of the race but that's the way racing goes. We have no team orders so I had to find my way past and go on from there. Apart from that, I thought we could quite possibly have scored points here. I think we got the best from the car today so we have shown that there is a lot of work to do to improve. At least we know where our problem is and we have some ideas on how to fix them. I'm sure we can make some progress before Malaysia."

Takuma Sato, Super Aguri (12th):
“Firstly, well done to everybody in the team. It is a positive start to the season, with two reliable cars finishing the race. I had quite an exciting start and first lap amongst the pack, which I enjoyed. But with the differing track conditions, I was struggling a bit with the balance of the car which meant that we could not make the most of it. But I take this as a positive learning experience and something that we shall have to work on from here. During my second stop we lost some time and that affected our finishing position. That was unfortunate, but I think we've shown good performance and made a very solid start, so I am looking forward to having another good race in Malaysia.”

Mark Webber, Red Bull (13th):
"It was tough race today, the first pit stop didn't go very well and when I went back out, I was having trouble maintaining my speed going into the corners. I wasn't able to get the pace back that I'd had in the first stint, which was very frustrating. Nothing really went right today, but that's the game we're in, some days give you a good feeling and the next day it isn't so easy."

Vitantonio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso (14th):
"A big thank you to everyone in the team who worked so hard so that I could see the chequered flag here today. As we have been struggling all weekend, this has been a tough race for us. It was important for us to finish to get more kilometers under our belt, as we did very little testing this winter. Fourteenth place is not the result we were looking for, but it was a positive day for us as we have got plenty of data from it to build on for the future."

Jenson Button, Honda (15th):
"Not a very good day or result unfortunately. I was running heavy with fuel in the first stint and had to pit early because the car had a massive amount of understeer. At my first stop I requested front wing but because of a radio problem the team was unable to respond. When I pitted again, we had to put a lot of wing on but it didn't make any difference. So the problem may be in the front end aerodynamics. If that proves to be the case, then it is something we can certainly address straight away. Then of course I had the drive-through penalty which just compounded things. Going forward, once we know where our problems lie and what we need to do to fix them, we have three weeks and a test in between to start addressing them. Hopefully we will be able to demonstrate some improvement as early as the next race in Malaysia."

Anthony Davidson, Super Aguri (16th):
“The car went into anti-stall at the start, which is such a shame as I didn't go anywhere, so obviously I was then in last place as we went into turn one. I collected myself and thought that maybe I'd get some early positions back. I went round the outside of one of the Spykers and they hit me quite heavily, even though I thought I'd given them enough room. The car got pitched into the air and landed very heavily and I hurt my upper back. The jolt also winded me a lot making talking on the radio difficult. I think that we've got to work on our pace for the next race, so we need to do some more long runs and understand what happens to the balance during the test in Sepang. My car suffered a lot of damage, the whole right side of the bodywork was gone, the floor's broken, and I must have lost a major amount of downforce and that obviously slows you down a lot. It was a fight, but I got to the end of the race and saw my first Grand Prix chequered flag.”

Adrian Sutil, Spyker (17th):
“I got a good start and made up a few places, but I had the coming together with Davidson and dropped back. When I did get some free space I found I could push the car and was running similar times to the group in front, but I was disappointed to have the two drivethrough penalties in the mid point of the race. I guess it's down to experience and I can only get better.”

Alexander Wurz, Williams (DNF):
“After his second stop, I was aware that David (Coulthard) was close behind me on the track. Suddenly I felt an impact and the next thing I knew, I was his landing pad as the impact had sent him airborne over my car. It looked pretty spectacular, but I’m fine. It’s a shame my race ended the way it did, as soon as we got back to the paddock David came to apologise to me and he was a gentleman about the incident. Unfortunately though this doesn’t help Williams nor me, but that’s just how it goes sometimes. Nico proved today that our race pace is good - I wasn’t able to show our speed so much, just because of the constant traffic I was among, but let’s look forward to a better race in Malaysia.”

David Coulthard, Red Bull (DNF):
"I tried to have a go down the inside of Alex Wurz's car at Turn three, but I was too far back and screwed it up. I went for the pass, but it was over optimistic on my part. The collision was my fault, not Alex's, so apologies to him for that."

Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber (DNF):
“My pace was good but unfortunately we had a gearbox problem. I was stuck in fifth gear and that was the end of my race. The only good thing is we know what the problem is and we now have to resolve it. In the race I was much heavier than Nick (Heidfeld) and was able to match his speed. My strategy was to attack towards the end of the race. My last stint was going to be very short, so I would have had an even better performance then, but unfortunately I didn’t get that far.”

Scott Speed, Toro Rosso (DNF):
"By the end of the first stint I was pretty much at the pace of the guys right in front of me, but I was struggling to keep the wheels on the track. Then, after the first pit stop the situation got worse and I had a bit of understeer, because evidently, we had a slow air leak in both front wheels."

Christijan Albers, Spyker (DNF):
“I started the race in the spare car as I wasn't happy with the balance of my race car after qualifying. I had a good start and put in some fast times in the first ten laps, but unfortunately I made a mistake and went off the road. It's a shame for the team but we can only improve on this performance in Malaysia.”