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Australian Grand Prix - selected driver quotes 16 Mar 2008

Nico Rosberg (GER) Williams.
Australian Grand Prix, Rd 1, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 15 March 2008 Race winner Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren celebrates on the podium.
Australian Grand Prix, Rd 1, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 16 March 2008 (L to R): Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault and team mate Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA) Renault at the start of term photograph.
Australian Grand Prix, Rd 1, Race Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 16 March 2008 Sebastien Bourdais (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso on the drivers parade.
Australian Grand Prix, Rd 1, Race Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 16 March 2008 Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Honda Racing F1 Team.
Australian Grand Prix, Rd 1, Race Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 16 March 2008

Lewis Hamilton on his flying start to the season; Williams’ Nico Rosberg on his maiden podium; Timo Glock on his spectacular accident in the Toyota; and Kimi Raikkonen on Ferrari’s miserable Melbourne experience. All 22 drivers report back on Sunday’s action at Albert Park…

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren (1st):
“I feel fantastic - what a dream start to the season and my championship challenge. I am sorry not to have Heikki (Kovalainen) with me on the podium as a one-two would have been a great reward to the team. It’s nice to have Nico (Rosberg) here though as we have not shared a podium since our Karting days with Team MBM (Mercedes-Benz McLaren). It was a super race which I controlled from the beginning. I was able to drive at a steady pace without feeling any pressure which is always the ideal situation when you are leading. The three Safety Car periods meant that there was never time to relax, and the whole situation was a bit like Canada last year when I claimed my first victory. We constantly had to change our strategy and the strategists were on the ball throughout which was super. The car is fantastic to drive and the team has done a superb job. I have prepared much better this year than last, and it’s important that myself and the team continue to push hard in the months to come.”

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (2nd):
"This was a fantastic start to the season for us. The team was working extremely hard to solve the problems we had in the beginning with the F1.08. We made constant progress and we have not exploited the full potential of the car yet. At the start I had too much wheel spin and could not keep Nico Rosberg behind me. I thought it is going to become a difficult race because I expected him to pit earlier. But we stopped on the same lap and our crew did a really great job to get me in front of him. With my second pit stop I was lucky that the safety car didn't come out earlier and I could refuel as planned. In the last stint I had to take care not to kill the option tyres. Overall the first race without traction control was less difficult than expected."

Nico Rosberg, Williams (3rd):
“I am really, really happy and I have to say that being on the podium in Formula One is a really great feeling. It’s been a while since I have been here and its great for the whole team as they have been working hard over the winter, they have done a good job and made some real progress. I gave everything I had today, but it was a tough race on a street circuit in the heat which didn’t make it easy. The team deserves my thanks for this great result and it really encourages me to feel that I can grow with Williams. I also want to thank my father for everything he has done to help me to get to this position. We have a solid race car and some good developments coming, but we don’t want to get too excited because it’s early days yet.”

Fernando Alonso, Renault (4th):
“That was a very strange race with lots of overtaking, incidents and mechanical problems for lots of drivers. We were able to make the most of the opportunities that came our way today and finished the first Grand Prix with a good result, which will give the team a boost and give us confidence for the rest of the season. However, we must continue working to improve our level of performance in qualifying and our pace in the race, but the result today is very important for us.”

Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren (5th):
“Obviously my competitiveness was better than the result shows. Unfortunately the last Safety Car phase prevented me from finishing second. Nevertheless I enjoyed the whole weekend working with the team on such a professional high level. My start was okay but during the first stint I had a bit of graining on the tyres, but it didn’t affect me too much. In my second stint and especially in the last part of the race my car was really good and I was flying. I had a great battle first with Kimi (Raikkonen) and then Fernando (Alonso) which I really enjoyed. I managed to get past Fernando but then as I tore off a visor strip on the main straight I accidentally hit the pit lane speed limiter button and Fernando managed to get past me again. I am pleased but also a bit disappointed as we were looking strong for a one-two finish today.”

Kazuki Nakajima, Williams (7th):
“To get to the end today was great, great to finish and great to get some points. It was really tough out there today physically, but on top of that there was so much going on. At the start, a car spun in front of me, turned side on and damaged my nose. Then with the various safety car periods, the team did a great job to swap my strategy to a one stop that put me in the points. Towards the end of the race, I had another incident when all the cars backed up into each other and I damaged my nose again. But it was good to be able to demonstrate my physical fitness and my consistency and I’m looking forward to Sepang which is a circuit I know better.”

Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso (DNF):
"It's not the first time I've experienced disappointment in racing and it won't be the last, but what is important is that the team has worked really well, reacting very quickly, getting me into pit lane as soon as the lights went off for the second safety car. It was a great call. From then on I was good to go in terms of fuel and others ahead still had to stop. It was very tough as I was under a lot of pressure from behind, first from a BMW and then it was Fernando and Kovalainen. At one stage, I decided to back off a bit, but I found I was making a few mistakes, so I pushed harder and pulled out a bit of a gap. I hardly dared look at the pit board, but I knew it was nearly the end of the race. At the start I was down the order and running quite heavy and I was struggling a bit. But then I got the hang of things and after the re-start my radio did not work for a moment, so I was caught out by the green light. But to come from almost last to fourth was an excellent start. I hope we get two points and in a first grand prix, that's not too bad."

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari (DNF):
"It's really disappointing not to finish the race, but at least the point is better than nothing. I had an engine problem, the reason for which now needs to be analysed. The car was good and I had a good pace when I found a free track ahead of me. I spun a couple of times trying to pass those ahead of me, but the first time, with Glock, I put a wheel on the grass and the second time, with Kovalainen, I was a bit too optimistic. This result is obviously not the best start to the season but it is a very long one and we are well aware that we are capable of recovering from far worse situations than this. We have to put everything in place and then we will be really competitive."

Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber (DNF):
"My race went pretty well in the beginning. I was on a similar strategy to Nick and I had a good pace. Then the strategy was changed and this did not pay off for me. I got stuck behind Bourdais and lost a lot of time. I still had a chance to score some points, but then at the end of the third safety car period Nakajima crashed into the rear of my car and I had to stop."

Timo Glock, Toyota (DNF):
“That was a hard way to return to racing in F1. Given our starting position this was always going to be a difficult afternoon's work. I had contact with two other cars at the start but despite our heavy fuel load we were able to make up some ground in the early part of the race. Still, the car felt a bit strange in terms of understeer and that's what we have to work on to improve the car. After the pit stop it was hard work to drive and my race ended with the crash. I feel fine but I'm disappointed and we will hope for better fortunes next week.”

Takuma Sato, Super Aguri (DNF):
“It was a difficult race for us. I did not get off the start well, but after that I fought back for position and gained a few places in the first lap, and that was an exciting moment battling in the first stint. After the first pitstop and a few laps we had a problem and I had to stop, which is a shame as everyone has done such a good job to get us here and make it happen. But I think that we collected very valuable information and data today, so I cannot wait to get started again in Malaysia.”

Nelson Piquet Jr, Renault (DNF):
"I made a good start and I was able to make up some places during the first lap, which was pretty hectic. Unfortunately I was hit at the start, which damaged my car and so I did not manage to reach the end of my first Grand Prix. Of course, I am disappointed, but I learned a lot this weekend and I cannot wait to go to Malaysia to continue my apprenticeship and hopefully get a better result. I already know the Sepang circuit, so it should be easier."

Felipe Massa, Ferrari (DNF):
"A horrible start to the season. We had engine problems which is unusual for a team like ours. We have to understand what happened and react immediately. I was fighting my way up the order all race long. At the first corner I lost control of the car while battling with Kovalainen and ended up off the track. Then I moved up the order and could have finished in the points. The incident with Coulthard? I was on the inside and he closed the door on me, probably because he hadn't seen me. Our championship will have to start again in Malaysia. We know we have a good car we have to work to be able to use it as intended."

David Coulthard, Red Bull (DNF):
“I can understand that Felipe (Massa) was in a quicker car and was trying to overtake, but you’ve got to have your car alongside to pass, especially in a corner like Turn One, you can’t just ram into them. Felipe took a lunge from too far back and Turn One is a corner where you have to turn in early - it’s not like Turn Three, which is a hairpin and door’s open for a long time. I screwed up last year when I tried a speculative move on Alex (Wurz), but I took full responsibility for it and I would expect Felipe to do the same today.”

Jarno Trulli, Toyota (DNF):
“From early on in the race the battery was too hot. Then when I stopped in the pits it just gave up. That is a pity because the car felt good and I was doing pretty well. I was running comfortably in the points so it is unfortunate to lose out on a scoring start to the year. Still, the car is better than last year's and there is performance to come. Here we didn't look too strong because we didn't work the tyres perfectly but even so we could have had a good result. So I'm sure we can fight well this year and I hope to be stronger in Malaysia.”

Adrian Sutil, Force India (DNF):
“A big disappointment, especially when I watched the race afterwards, but it was good while it lasted. In the opening laps I could stay with the guys in front of me and could overtake to get up to 13th position, but then I had a hydraulic pressure problem. I had to go back to the pits, so at that point my race was over. We have to hope for more in Malaysia, but I think we showed an improvement over last year, particularly over the longer runs in practice, so I am confident we can really do better there.”

Mark Webber, Red Bull (DNF):
“It’s a real shame, I’m very disappointed. I had a reasonable start into Turn One, I was behind Kimi (Raikkonen) going around the outside, then I think someone hit Jenson (Button) on the inside and I had to go on to the grass. I had a good run down to Turn Three, but then Nakajima came along side with no front wing. I thought ‘this will be interesting’, - he had a bit of a moment and he and Davidson were very tight next to me. I was trying to give them as much room as I could and, although I didn't really feel any contact at all, I think the left rear of my car got a clip from Davidson.”

Jenson Button, Honda (DNF):
"I got a good start off the line, getting past Alonso and running alongside Vettel. Unfortunately it was just a racing incident that caused the damage as we were going three or four cars abreast down to the very narrow and quick first corner. I tapped Vettel in the sidepod which seemed to spin him and then he turned in and hit my rear wheel as I was going past. I thought that I could get back to the garage and see if the car could be fixed, but the damage was too bad to continue as the rear left corner trackrod was broken."

Anthony Davidson, Super Aguri (DNF):
“It is disappointing to have an early retirement from the Australian Grand Prix. I am really frustrated that I couldn’t do the laps that I wanted to today and finish the race, as that was my main aim. We haven’t had much time in the car this weekend or in testing and it was really important to get that done today, so it is gutting not to have done that. I feel that through no fault of my own I was sandwiched between two cars, trying to avoid the inevitable. I tried to brake to get away from it and the cars right and left just rode over my front wheels, so there was no where for me to go.”

Sebastian Vettel, Toro Rosso (DNF):
"My problems began at the start when I stalled. There was nothing I could do about it as that problem was not actually my fault. That meant I dropped down the order and going into the first corner I had Kimi on the left and Jenson on the right. I tried to stay as close as possible to Kimi to give enough room to the car on the right. Then, as I turned into the corner, I felt that I had been hit on my rear right side. That spun me round and I was in the middle of a collision. Very disappointing."

Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India (DNF):
“I am very disappointed as I lost the race at the first corner because another driver came in like a kamikaze into my car and it was very frustrating, especially considering a race like this where there was a possibility to score lots of points. It was a good opportunity and I am really disappointed. Let's hope for more in Malaysia.”

Rubens Barrichello, Honda (DSQ):
"Although the final result of today's race is so disappointing, I'm really pleased with my performance and that we were able to get the best out of the car. It was a crazy race today and I lost control of the front damper after the first pit stop, so my race was more difficult from there. It's tough to finish the day like this.

"The signs from the weekend show that this car has great potential and the guys back at the factory have done a fantastic job over the last few weeks on its development. It was good to complete a full race distance to increase our understanding of the car. We'll now look forward to Malaysia and optimising the performance of the car there."