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Malaysian Grand Prix - selected driver quotes 08 Apr 2007

Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Renault.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Saturday, 7 April 2007 David Coulthard (GBR) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Saturday, 7 April 2007 Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren Mercedes MP4/22 celebrates on the podium
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 8 April 2007 Takuma Sato (JPN) Super Aguri F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Saturday, 7 April 2007

McLaren’s Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton on their triumphant one-two; Heikki Kovalainen on his first world championship point; and Nico Rosberg on his disappointing retirement. All the drivers explain how they fared in Sunday’s race…

Fernando Alonso, McLaren (1st):
"To win today after coming second in Australia with my new team is like a dream come true. I’m so happy and pleased with the progress we as a team have made since we unveiled the MP4-22 in mid-January. We knew the key to victory today was to make a good start and get in front to control the race which we achieved. To have Lewis in second place makes today’s result even better. There was bit of a drama when there was a problem with my radio after about ten laps, so I wasn’t sure if the team was ready for me when I came in to pit for the first time. However they were and the radio was fixed during the stop. After that it was a matter of fighting the conditions, but as I was not really threatened I could take it a bit easier, however it was tough - really tough. We will now continue our preparations for Bahrain and I can’t wait."

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren (2nd):
"That was the toughest race of my career. I was defending my position for a lot of the time, and I’m so pleased that I managed to keep both Felipe (Massa) and Kimi (Raikkonen) behind me. However it was hard work and it was just so hot inside the cockpit. A big thank you to the team, who have worked so hard both with the car, but also preparing me for the past months. Today’s result is super for the entire team. I made a good start and was able to get past Felipe and Kimi to take second. At one point Felipe was attacking at Turn 4 and ended up going slightly off the track, and I was able to keep second. Kimi was catching towards the end as I was struggling with the balance a bit but what a race. I now have experience of racing in these conditions and will be even better prepared next year. I’m now looking forward to Bahrain. Congratulations to Fernando, very well done."

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari (3rd):
"A day of mixed feelings. On the one hand I am happy to have picked up six points, on the other, I am disappointed that the race did not live up to my expectations. This weekend we had to make some compromises on the car and that meant we were unable to exploit its full potential. Today we lacked a bit of speed when up against our main rivals. I repeat that I'm a bit disappointed but I am also aware this is just the beginning of the season and that these points will definitely be important for the championship as it evolves. The team did a good job, given all the uncertainties we had. We have to try and improve to get one hundred percent out of all the elements of the package. The first corner? Fernando and Lewis were just better than us."

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (4th):
“I'm very happy, this is a fantastic experience! To beat one of the Ferraris might not happen again so soon. In the early part of the weekend Felipe was so superior. After we had major problems with the balance of the car in practice, everything was fine in the race. The handling was good and we had no technical problems whatsoever, and I felt fine despite the heat. In the first corner, Robert (Kubica) touched me. He apologized - this can happen. Luckily my car was not damaged. I was able to pass Felipe (Massa) when he went wide, and I was surprised I could keep him behind me quite easily and that he pitted earlier than me. During my last stint I was using the harder tyres, and this also worked well. My top speed was good which made it difficult for Felipe to attack. It's a great and, also, a little unexpected result. But we should keep our feet on the ground. We have to keep on working in order to avoid some of the mistakes which we are still making.”

Felipe Massa, Ferrari (5th):
"It was a very tough race in which we suffered a lot. It was almost impossible to overtake. I tried to attack Lewis, but I made a mistake and ended up off the track. I cannot blame myself for trying and next time things will go better. The race we did not go the way we had expected and our pace was slower than we had expected. Now, we have to find out why and work to improve the situation in the coming races. But it was still important to have got the car to the flag as it is vital to always score points."

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (6th):
“This was the maximum I could do today - and in our situation at the moment, it feels like a podium finish. I am proud of the race I drove today, and the pace was better than during the rest of the weekend, and the car balance more stable and consistent. The start was particularly good, I was able to be aggressive in Turns 1 and 2, and gain four places. The team is realistic about the position we are in at the moment, but they are working hard to understand why we are not on the pace - and everybody is still really motivated to improve the car and start moving forward.”

Jarno Trulli, Toyota (7th):
“I’m happy to have come home in the points and I’ve had a good weekend. I fought hard throughout, the car worked well and we made the most of everything. The only pity was the start which wasn’t so great and meant that I ended up behind Fisichella for much of the race. I was quicker than him in the first stint but at this circuit whoever’s in front tends to stay there. Still, we kept up a good pace and I was able to put in consistently quick laps until the last ten laps when I couldn’t attack any harder due to some minor technical problems. Nevertheless this is a good result and I’d like to thank the team because we made no mistakes throughout the weekend.”

Heikki Kovalainen, Renault (8th):
“This was my first F1 point, so it's a nice feeling after such a tough race. I attacked every lap today, just pushing as hard as possible to try and make up positions. The balance was similar to qualifying, and a little unpredictable in the high speed corners which meant I had some moments in Turn 6, but that happens when you are on the limit. For me, the race was a definite step forward compared to Melbourne, and our competitiveness was better than we showed in qualifying. I think we are moving in the right direction, and I know the team will stay strong and keep their heads up, even though we are not winning at the moment. Hopefully we can take another step in Bahrain next weekend.”

Alexander Wurz, Williams (9th):
“It was a good race and I had fun, especially in the first stint, when I had a good pace on soft tyres and could overtake. I am also happy from the physical point of view, because I feel okay, even after such tough afternoon. Starting from 19th made it difficult to fight against Trulli and Kovalainen by the end of the race and it was disappointing to finish just out of the points. I now look forward to Bahrain, as our car is now much better in qualifying and I hope that I can extract there the same race pace I had here to in order be able to bring some points to the people at home who are working very hard.”

Mark Webber, Red Bull (10th):
“Tenth is about where we could have hoped to finish today. The car ran reliably and the pit stops went well, but of course, we're always looking to improve and it's still early days. It's a tough Grand Prix here in Malaysia; it was a big test for the team today and we got the car home, so there are a lot of positives in that."

Rubens Barrichello, Honda (11th):
“We can never be happy finishing 11th but compared with what we had in
qualifying yesterday I guess we have had a reasonable race today. For the last two race weekends we've had a bad qualifying and then the races have shown that we could have been closer to the points had we not suffered on Saturdays. For the next race our focus has to be on improving our qualifying performance and that's all we can do to move forward for now.”

Jenson Button, Honda (12th):
“A tough race, as we expected. I had a pretty terrible first stint. Sutil drove over the side of my car and there was some damage, although how much of a difference that made I don't know. During the first two stints I was suffering massively due to lack of rear grip. We came down quite a bit with the front wing level for the final stint, went miles forward on the brake bias and took some pressure out of the tyres to improve things slightly. We were still only 12th but after yesterday we can consider this a small step forward.”

Takuma Sato, Super Aguri (13th):
“I made a good start. There was so much going on and a lot of cars were side-by-side going into Turn One and Turn Two and in the concertina my front nose was damaged and my performance was compromised. Into Turn Four I went side-by-side with the Toro Rosso’s and I was left with no where to go, so I was pushed off onto the gravel and I lost a lot of places. I overtook some cars, which was an exciting moment, and then I was having a good race. We then lost a few seconds in the second pitstop, so I believe that we could have finished in a higher position, however, I think it was a positive result.”

Scott Speed, Toro Rosso (14th):
“That was a tough race and I've got a lot of blisters on my braking foot as the pedal was very hard to push. But the car seemed to be a bit more competitive than we had expected. The guys worked very hard over the past couple of weeks so I am just glad for them that I was able to bring the car home and finish the race. We learnt a lot this weekend and I think we should be able to perform slightly better in Bahrain.”

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (15th):
“It’s been a difficult weekend for me since the start and today was one of those days when everything went wrong. The car didn’t get away well and then I had to avoid Jarno (Trulli) and I lost a few places. From then on I was stuck in traffic for the first part of the race. Shortly after my first pit stop I had a slow puncture and I needed to make another unscheduled pit stop. That meant I was heavy on fuel and the balance was not good. In general it was a tough race for no points. But Bahrain is coming next and I hope to do better there. Jarno’s result shows that we have the pace to challenge with both cars.”

Anthony Davidson, Super Aguri (16th):
“It was a tough race for me after fighting off the ‘flu all week. I knew it wasn't going to be easy, but I'm happy that I got to the end. I kept it clean this time on the first lap and got a good start and a really good first lap. But then I struggled with the car balance in the first stint especially and I got a lot of understeer following other cars, so that's something to work on. There was a surprisingly low grip level throughout the whole race and it never really came up for me so I found that a struggle. I still made a few rookie errors, but they can be ironed out and today’s result is definitely a lot more positive than two weeks ago, so I'm feeling quite happy with my day's work.”

Vitantonio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso (17th):
“I think it's a shame that Sato pulled a crazy move at Turn 4 and compromised my race, as everything was going well. But I collided with him and then that meant I also touched Scott's (Speed) rear tyre and had to come in for a new nose. A shame, as I felt my race pace was really strong and we could have done a lot better in terms of the final result. The positive point is that we have improved our pace since Australia and for the next race we can be a bit more optimistic.”

Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber (18th):
“I had a big problem, in fact, everything happened in my race today from the gearbox, to a puncture at the beginning of the race. The pace was really slow and it is better to forget this race quickly. However, we have shown when the car is working we are quick. For me in these two races the car was not working, so this is disappointing as the pace in testing was really good. In qualifying the pace was good, then in the race nothing worked. My main problem was braking stability, it was impossible to stop the car and I crossed the line at the end with many mistakes, I was locking, going straight and had oversteer. Also during the race we had no communication by radio.”

Nico Rosberg, Williams (DNF):
“We managed to improve our qualifying performance from Australia so I had a good starting position but I lost sixth place to Kubica at the start. Later he made a mistake or had a problem and I thought, I’m right next to him and I managed to claw the place back. I had a good run through the next couple of corners to hold the position and that opened up my race really well. From there I gave it everything I had, but it all came to a halt. It was a great shame not to finish but things are progressing and we hope we can do better in a week’s time.”

David Coulthard, Red Bull (DNF):
“After the second stop, for some reason the brake pedal was rubbing on the steering column, which had a double effect. I lost some of the braking and also a little bit of the steering, so the only thing to do was to stop the car.”

Christijan Albers, Spyker (DNF):
“It was such a shame to go out as I really had confidence in the car in the race. The guys in front were pulling away, but not that fast and I think we could have pushed and got back up there. Then there was the gearbox failure, where I got caught in first gear and came into the pits. Unfortunately with the high temperature, the car caught fire and that was it. I hope in Bahrain we're going to have the chance to show the progress we've made in the car this weekend.”

Adrian Sutil, Spyker (DNF):
“I made a good start and got past many cars in the first corner and was right behind Button. Under braking for the fourth corner something snapped at the back and I lost control. It's really sad; you look forward to a race and then you only get half a lap. I'm disappointed for the guys too, working hard every day, but we will do better in Bahrain.”