Australia Grand Prix - selected team & driver quotes 29 Mar 2009
Brawns Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello on their historic on-two in Melbourne; BMW Saubers Robert Kubica and Red Bulls Sebastian Vettel on their late race collision; and Ferrari on their double DNF. All 20 drivers and senior team personnel report back on Sundays race action
Jenson Button (1st):
"What an amazing day! This is just a fairytale ending to the first race of our career together at Brawn GP. It may have looked like an easy victory but it really wasn't easy at all out there today but we brought the car home and that's all that matters. This win is for me, my family and my team. It's been a traumatic few months and I want to say a massive thank you to them all for being so strong and never losing belief. This weekend we have achieved everything that we deserve for all of our hard work over the past few months. And what's so exciting is that there is so much more to come from myself andfrom this team. I can't wait to get to Malaysia!"
Rubens Barrichello (2nd):
"Well you could say that I had an eventful afternoon! I had a lot of mixed emotions during the race and honestly I am so delighted to have achieved second. It was really tough for me at the start as the anti-stall kicked in which cost me a few places off the line and then I was hit heavily from behind going into the first corner and thought my race was over. Thankfully the carsurvived and I was able to battle my way up to fourth and be in the position to take advantage of the accident between Vettel and Kubica. It just goes to show that you should never give up! Congratulations to Jenson for a fantastic win today and my heartfelt thanks to the team for providing us with such a goodcar. This is the start of a very exciting journey for us."
Ross Brawn, team owner:
"We have worked incredibly hard for this victory today and to see the dedication, commitment and sheer hard work come to fruition with Jenson and Rubens bringing home a one-two finish for Brawn GP at the first race of the season is immensely rewarding. After everything that our team has been through over the past four months, this is quite simply a sensational result. It is just the beginning for us and it wasn't a perfect race by any means so we will learn from today and continue to improve. We have to keep developing the car throughout the season if we want to challenge for further wins and the championship. I would like to express our sincere thanks to Norbert Haug and Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines who have been so supportive over the past few months and have worked closely with the team to ensure we were in a position to go racing this year. Thanks also to Virgin, Henri Lloyd and all our team partners for having the vision to see what the team could do before today and wanting to be a part of it. It's difficult to put into words what this win means to our team but I'm sure that I speak for every single one of them, here at the track and back at the factory in Brackley, when I say it has been a wonderful weekend."
Lewis Hamilton (3rd):
We scored way more points than we could have realistically expected. I was looking to try and get one point, so to get six is a great achievement. Weve definitely not forgotten how to win: our strategy was perfect and the team did a fantastic job. Considering the package weve got, I wrung every last ounce of pace out of the car, drove one of my best ever races and absolutely raced my heart out - Im so satisfied. Also, my heartfelt congratulations to Jenson - hes driven brilliantly all weekend and both he and his team really deserve this success.
Heikki Kovalainen (DNF):
Obviously, my race was very short. Webber had a moment at the first corner and his front wheel hit my left-front. It was a racing accident - these things unfortunately happen.
Martin Whitmarsh, team principal:
Today was one of those days on which Lewis demonstrated very clearly just what a fantastic racing driver he is. Throughout the race he showed great speed and tenacity, tempered when necessary by commendable patience. The car we supplied him wasnt as competitive as wed have liked it to be - weve made no secret of that - but were working flat-out, night and day, to improve it. The points Lewis scored today are of course very welcome - and, as and when we regain our form, we hope theyll take on a greater significance still. As for Heikki, he started with a heavy fuel-load and could also have scored points today - but, sadly, and blamelessly on his part, his race was ended early on when he happened upon an incident involving two other cars. Lastly, well done to all at Brawn GP - and of course also to Mercedes-Benz, whose superb engines powered the first three cars.
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
Lewis finally in third place and the best car with KERS - this is more than we had expected after starting 18th. He drove an excellent race under very difficult circumstances and proved his world-champion class. During the second Safety Car period, Trulli had an off and Lewis overtook him for third place, but he let Trulli past again. But the stewards decision after the race gave him back third place. Its a shame for Heikki; without the first-corner multiple-car collision which was not his fault, he also could have scored a solid result in this turbulent race. Congratulations to Brawn GP, Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello on their one-two victory - three times Mercedes-powered cars in the top three makes us happy. Our customer team did a great job and we helped to Keep the Customer Satisfied!
Timo Glock (4th):
"I am happy to finish fourth but obviously it is really disappointing for Jarno. For us to be fighting at the front like that after we started from the pit lane really shows the strong performance we have. This is proof that our car has real pace. It was a good race for me and I have to say thanks to the team for their hard work in achieving this. The race was pretty exciting but I was stuck behind the Renault of Alonso for quite a while and it was difficult to overtake. My car felt good but I couldn't find a way past, however when I was in clear air I was able to go about a second faster so the performance is definitely there. I said before the weekend that we looked strong judging by our winter performance and it's great to show that in race conditions."
Jarno Trulli (12th):
"I can't say how disappointed I am to finish third but have the result questioned. When the safety car came out towards the end of the race Lewis Hamilton passed me but soon after he suddenly slowed down and pulled over to the side of the road. I thought he had a problem so I overtook him as there was nothing else I could do. I would still like to say thank you to the team who have made a huge effort. The fact we were able to fight for the podium despite starting from the pit lane is down to them."
Tadashi Yamashina, team principal:
"This is an extremely frustrating way to finish a challenging weekend. Already we were disappointed to be starting from the pit lane after we were informed yesterday about the problem with our rear wing. We responded to that in a fantastic way and we showed that our car has genuine performance. I would like to thank everyone who is part of our team, not just the guys at the track but also everyone at the factory, our partners and our fans. It's sad that this result has been questioned but we have filed an appeal to give us more time to study the data and the situation."
Fernando Alonso (5th):
"Sixth place is not the best result, but in a way we have to be happy because we started the race in a difficult position and I was pushed wide at turn 1 onto the grass and so I dropped to the back of the pack. After that, it was difficult and so it's great to score points. With what happened during the race, the incidents and the safety car, we managed to finish 6th. In terms of the overall results and looking at our competitors, we have to be happy with the result. With the KERS I didn't feel a big difference and I was a little bit disappointed at how it worked. We also need to work on the tyres a bit more at the next race."
Nelson Piquet (DNF):
"I was really happy because we were lucky at the beginning of the race to gain some positions. The car was good and I was having a consistent drive. But when the safety car came out I started to have some problems with the brakes. I had a good restart and overtook Nico Rosberg, but when I touched the brakes again they were gone. I spun out and I was lucky I ended up in the gravel, so there was no damage to myself or the car. The car was not as competitive as we wanted it to be in the race but we were still running in the top eight. The Malaysian circuit should suit us better and I'm sure that we can get a good result there next week."
Flavio Briatore, managing director:
"The three points scored by Fernando are not a great consolation for what has been a disappointing weekend for us. We were just not competitive enough and our qualifying performance penalised us for the race. Fernando lost several positions at the start because of the first corner incident which he could not avoid. That said, our two drivers were consistent and tried to make the most of the situation. Nelson made a good start and his race was very promising, but a technical problem unfortunately brought his race to an end. It's only the first Grand Prix and our intention is to work hard to fight back quickly, starting at the next Grand Prix in Malaysia.
Pat Symonds, executive director of engineering:
"Nelson's accident appears to have been caused by a problem with the brake system, although as yet we don't know what that might be. It's a shame because he was in a reasonable position. We are clearly not as competitive as we need to be and there is a lot of work to be done to get to the front."
Remi Taffin, head of engine operations:
"A mixed result this afternoon with the retirement of Nelson and we will need to look into why he couldn't finish. We would have been able to do something good with Nelson who had a great start to the race. I think he could have been on the podium, so it's a shame. We finished sixth with Fernando and when you consider the level of competitiveness that we have shown this weekend, it's not a bad result. We know that we have to do better and so we will take these points and work hard to try and get a strong result at the next race."
Nico Rosberg, Williams (6th):
It was a challenging race and we suffered with a few glitches here and there, firstly from my side when on lap one I left the door open at turn three and I lost some positions, and then we had a problem on my first pit stop. The restart after the first safety car on cold tyres was very difficult, I had no grip at all and again in the last part of the race, I had taken everything out of my tyres and they were dropping out, so it was impossible to keep anyone behind me. All said, I think two points is a good outcome because I believe we are faster than a couple of the cars who finished ahead of us today, so from a championship perspective, its looks okay. It was an exciting race today thanks to the new rules.
Kazuki Nakajima, Williams (DNF):
I had a quite a big accident on lap 17 when I ran wide at turn four and I hit the kerb, which unsettled the car and then I lost the rear. It was quite a fast impact, but I had a precautionary check in the medical centre, everything is fine and physically I am okay, but of course the outcome - my retirement - hurts! The race was really enjoyable, we had a good pace, good fuel and good tyres, so I have to keep all the positives in mind and take these forward to Malaysia next weekend.
Sam Michael, technical director:
We showed encouraging pace in todays race and when the car was in clear traffic, we were as quick as anyone and Nico recorded the fastest lap of the race and did a good job. But we made too many mistakes as a team today and we will be looking to make a better job of what the car offers at the next race in Malaysia. Congratulations to Ross Brawn, Jenson (Button) and their team for an impressive result, we will try our best not to let them make a habit of it!
Sebastien Buemi (7th):
I have to say I found the pace at which qualifying happens rather quick! You go out, you come back, you change tyres, you go out again. You need to stay relaxed. I think we did quite a good job with what we had and missed out on Q2 by half a tenth. I am quite happy, as these days have been something of a test session for us and we improved the car quite a lot from yesterday morning through to now. I have taken confidence from what I have done so far and feel I am going to be capable of doing this job, even if I am quite young. The visibility in the sunshine was a bit better than yesterday, but we have to get used to it.
Sebastien Bourdais (8th):
It was closer than expected to getting to Q2 from a team point of view as Seb just missed out on 15th place to the McLaren by a fraction. My car wasnt too bad: on my second run I made a slight mistake and on my third, unfortunately my out lap was too slow and I did not get the tyres up to temperature. But its encouraging, as the Red Bull car is going well and we are not as far off the pace as I had expected. We have made good progress in terms of understanding the car. Starting last, it will be a tough race, but I will attack as much as I can and hope the race is as eventful as last year.
Adrian Sutil (9th):
As expected we got a very exciting race! I had a good start, but in the first corner I think Webber slowed down and there was nowhere I could go. I damaged my front wing and had to get the car back to the pits. I lost some time behind Heidfeld's BMW: I was faster but there was no way I could get through. After the first safety car everything was fine - we had a good strategy with a short stint on the soft tyres in the middle. On the restart I could get past a few cars and then on the hard tyre it went really well. I could finish in 10th position - I think we can be happy with this.
Giancarlo Fisichella (11th):
I'm very disappointed with the mistake I made in the pit stop. I was just confused with last year as we were always in the last slot in the pit lane, so I just overshot and had to be pulled back into the pits. I'm really sad about this as I think we could have got a good result. We can take some positives away from this race though - we were able to fight with the others and the car felt good over the race. I'm really looking forward to Malaysia now.
Dr Vijay Mallya, chairman and team principal:
I am absolutely delighted with the result we have achieved here today. Considering the relatively late debut of the VJM02 and the changes we have implemented over the winter, getting two cars to the finish is a fantastic achievement. Both drivers had overall excellent races and showed that we have made improvements to both the pace and the balance of the car this year. Given our objective was just to finish this race, to do so with both cars in the top 12 is well beyond our expectations. It's a good foundation for this year.
Nick Heidfeld (10th):
Todays outcome to the race is extremely disappointing for me. I had such a good start and was able to make up positions straight away. My strategy was promising too. Then in the braking zone for the first corner I felt safe because when I looked there was no car next to me. I was in the middle of the track but suddenly I got a big bang. I had to pit for new tyres and a front wing, but the damage to the car was a lot more than that and driving with it was hopeless. I think at least the KERS helped me to defend my position with such a slow car. But in the end it didnt matter much because who cares if you finish 11th or 13th.
Robert Kubica (15th):
What a disappointment! I had a chance to win this race because Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel were on soft tyres and struggling, while I was on the harder compound and was able to drive much quicker. Sebastian went wide in corner one and then he braked early. I was already in front, but he didnt want to let me by. Then he had a lot of understeer and touched me. My front wing was under the car, therefore I crashed in corner five. I think Sebastian was a bit too optimistic. Had this been the last corner okay, but there were still three laps to go and he really had no realistic chance to defend his position because I was so much quicker. We both had a great weekend up to this point and we leave Melbourne with nothing. Thats a real shame! My car was very good, particularly in the second stint when I set the best lap times. Thats racing!
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport director:
As quite often happened in the past we had another race in Melbourne with a lot of drama. Nicks hopes had already gone in the first corner. After a collision, which wasn't his fault, he was not only a long way behind, but also his aerodynamics were ruined, which made it impossible for him to catch up. Robert drove an excellent race and got himself up with the leaders in the final laps of the race. He was on the harder tyre compound, and had every chance to catch the two cars in front of him to win the race. The collision three laps before the flag ended the race for him and also for Sebastian Vettel, so both drivers lost a podium and points. On the positive side, I can say that today we were very fast on the harder tyres.
Willy Rampf, head of engineering:
This was a turbulent start to the season, particularly for our team. Nick lost his chances in the race immediately after the start following a crash, which was not his fault. Robert was even unluckier. First he was catching the leading cars. And then, just a few laps from the end, he was able to attack the frontrunners. Because of our tyre choice, Robert was on the harder compound on the last stint, unlike his competitors on the soft. At this stage our car was much quicker than the two leading ones. When Robert overtook Sebastian Vettel he was already in front when Sebastian touched him. This cost us second place or even the victory.
Mark Webber (13th):
"That was frustrating at my home race. I was so disappointed to drive round with a damaged car. I wanted a good result for the fans today, but we'll do our best to recover from the next race on - it would have been nice to have got a good result here. My start wasn't too bad. I got to Turn One and was making sure I got through there clean, but then Rubens came in to the side of me pretty hard and that was it really. I lost a huge amount of downforce; we had a lot of damage and I wasn't going to be a threat to anyone after that. It was a tough day for the team but we'll be back, I'm happy that Malaysia is in only a week's time."
Sebastian Vettel (14th):
We were in second and a strong position, but then, a couple of laps from the end, I had a stupid racing accident with Robert. At the time I turned in I was ahead, but I couldn't keep up speed in the corner and Robert was on a harder tyre, so was much quicker. At the time we collided he was in front, but I had no where to go, I couldn't stop the car, or turn to the right and my tyres were gone. It's a shame as it meant the end of the race for both of us. Should I have let him go? You always want to fight. Maybe I should have said let him go and bring third back home, but that's life. I tried to defend and, up to the mid-corner, I had reason, but then I had no grip to avoid a collision. I'm sorry to the team and also to Robert, as it didn't just mean the end of my race, but also his. The team did a good job, we were working very hard over the winter and the car seems to be very good. We had good pace today, so overall we have a reason to smile.
Christian Horner, team principal:
"A totally gutting finish to what had been a superb race for Sebastian. He had good pace throughout and was trying to take the fight to Button. He drove an immaculate race, but I guess a racing accident with Kubica at the end on the soft tyre was always going to be marginal and we came within two laps of a great finish. Looking on the positive side, the pace of the car was very good. It backed up our qualifying performance and we can take confidence into the next race in Malaysia in only a week's time. Mark was unfortunately involved in an incident on the first lap which effectively destroyed his home race. We elected to keep him running in order to put more mileage on the car. It was a great shame after such strong team work here and in Milton Keynes, the team didn't deserve the finish we had today, but we'll fight back next weekend."
Fabrice Lom, Renault principal engineer:
"What a disappointment - we had been so quick! Mark had a shunt at the first corner and lost his race there. Sebastian did a fantastic race and was nearly as quick as the winner, but we had to take the soft tyre on the last stint and a shunt ended his race. So, a shame, but I have such hope for the season with this pace. We are down, but ready to bounce back."
Kimi Raikkonen (16th):
"When I ended up in the wall it was my mistake. A shame as, given what happened later, I could have finished second. We lost valuable points but we will try and make up for it starting right away in Malaysia. There, we will get a clearer picture of the situation because this circuit is not very indicative of performance. The KERS worked well at the start, but there was not much room to go anywhere. If we did not think it gave an advantage, we would not use it. Definitely the main problem was in managing the tyres, but we also need to improve our overall performance."
Felipe Massa (DNF):
"We knew the Brawn GP cars would be unbeatable today, but all the same, we thought we could have a good race. The start was great, but after five or six laps, we ran into trouble with the soft tyres, to such an extent that we had to pit early. We then switched to a very aggressive strategy, which with hindsight turned out to be the wrong one, as shortly after the pit stop, the safety car came out on track. I found myself third, but after the restart, I had less than ten laps to try and make up ground on those who were behind me, but with more fuel. At the second stop, we filled it for the finish, but then I was very slow and finally, I had the problem which forced me to retire. In my opinion, apart from the Brawns, we are competitive, but we have to work perfectly to get to the front. Here, it is very difficult to get the tyres to work, partly because the track surface does not provide much grip. The solution for Malaysia? Work and work hard."
Stefano Domenicali, team principal:
"This was definitely not a start worthy of Ferrari, from any point of view. We were lacking on the reliability front, with two cars forced to retire. Our performance was not up to the potential we had expected after our winter testing: we struggled to manage the tyres. Furthermore, our strategy choices did not work out, especially in the case of Felipe. To sum up, it was a day to forget from the result point of view, but to remember well so as to try and analyse everything we failed in, in order to improve immediately. From that point of view, it's good we have a race coming up immediately next week in Malaysia. It will give us the opportunity to react as long as we draw the right conclusions, calmly but also decisively. Australia does not seem to have been a happy hunting ground for us these last few years: the circuit is a bit untypical where it could be that the pecking order is not so clear. It will be more evident in Sepang, but we are well aware that, apart from one team that was untouchable today, there are numerous other strong competitors."
Luca Baldisserri, sporting director:
"We opted to start on the softer tyres, a gamble that did not pay off today, because, given the huge degradation suffered by both drivers, we had to bring the first stops forward. We then went on two different strategies: with Felipe, in hindsight, we went the wrong way, especially as the safety car period did not help. Apart from this, we must admit that today, our performance was not up to that of many of our rivals. We must work out why and react quickly, starting in Malaysia."