Malaysian Grand Prix - selected team and driver quotes 05 Apr 2009
Brawn GPs Jenson Button on the sodden end to his second consecutive victory; McLarens Heikki Kovalainen on his early exit; and BMW Saubers Nick Heidfeld on scoring his first points of the year. All 20 drivers and senior team personnel report back on Sundays rainy race action
Jenson Button (1st):
"What a crazy race! It was really exciting out there and I'm delighted that we came out on top today. I didn't have the best of starts and was surprised at the lack of grip on my side of the grid. I went in deep at turn one and got a big snap of oversteer which dropped me to fourth but I was able to get past Alonso at the end of lap one and overtake Trulli and Rosberg at the first pit stops. I was happy with the car and our pace was good but the weather really threw the race wide open. Choosing the tyres was difficult but we made the right calls at the right time, particularly when it started raining so hard and so quickly. I have to say a massive thank you to my engineer Andrew Shovlin who was on the podium with me today and the whole team for their work on the strategy and in the pits. Last weekend we said that we had a fairytale start to the season and I am so proud that has continued here."
Rubens Barrichello (5th):
"It was a great race today and I was really happy with how the car was performing in the dry in the first stint of the race. After a good start, I felt that I had the pace to catch up with the front-runners and score some good points. Unfortunately once the conditions started to deteriorate, we lost a little too much time on my side of the garage with the pit stops which cost me a few places. However the important thing is that the car is going great and we have proved that it is competitive at different types of track. Congratulations to Jenson and the team for maintaining our fantastic start to the season and I look forward to continuing the challenge in Shanghai."
Ross Brawn, team principal:
"A fantastic team performance today and a thoroughly deserved second victory of the season for Jenson and the team. It was an eventful race to say the least and I am pleased with how quickly we were able to react to the changing conditions to maintain the lead that Jenson had achieved in the first stint of the race. However it was not perfect as we could have had both cars in the top three if we had been a little bolder in bringing the drivers in for their third stops for intermediate tyres. We are delighted to have had such a successful start to the season with two pole positions and two victories in the opening races. You can't ask for more than that and it is a credit to the talent, attitude and dedication of our team that we have been able to achieve such results."
Nick Heidfeld (2nd):
Im obviously very happy to be second after starting from tenth. It was a really extreme and challenging race today. I had a good start but also quite a heavy car, which meant racing was not easy for me. When it was obvious it would rain soon I pitted seven laps earlier than planned, and we decided to go on full rain tyres. They wore down quickly because the heavy rain didnt come. The team kept telling me stay out, heavy rain expected, but the tyres felt almost like slicks. For those laps intermediates would have been much quicker, but who could know that. When it finally poured down it was the right decision to stop the race. It was absolutely impossible to drive. I spun behind the safety car, not only because of aquaplaning with the tyres but also with the underfloor. Im happy for our team that we can now bring home at least one proper result from the first two races of the season.
Robert Kubica (DNF):
When I started on the formation lap, my engine produced strange noises and there was very little power. I started the race, which under the circumstances was not easy, and continued to drive. I asked my team what I should do, but before I got an answer the car caught fire and I stopped.
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport director:
The race was as chaotic as we expected based on the weather forecast. For Robert, the race was already over at the start because his engine didnt respond to the throttle. According to an early analysis the reason was a leakage in the pneumatic system. Because of the weather forecast we put Nick on a heave fuel load. This enabled him to stay out until the rain started. He switched to rain tyres at the right moment and was able to finish the race. In extremely difficult conditions he managed to achieve the best possible result. Compliments go to Nick and the whole crew, who worked without any mistakes.
Willy Rampf, head of engineering:
This was not a race for poor nerves! For Robert, the GP was over at the start. Thats a shame, because he was in a strong position. Nick started on a heavy fuel load. The strategy to leave him out for a long time paid off. This was brave, but in the end it worked out. In very difficult conditions he managed to keep the car on the track and to capture a podium finish. Compliments are due to the whole team who worked perfectly in chaotic conditions.
Timo Glock (3rd):
"It is fantastic to be back on the podium and I am really happy for the whole team. It was a really tricky race. I started third and was eighth at the end of the first lap. I struggled a bit behind the guys in front of me in dry conditions but I made the right call on the intermediate tyres; I said let's just take the risk and go for it. It was a long time before the rain really came down and I was not sure what everyone else was doing. They were struggling on the wets but I was really quick and I made up a lot of positions. When the rain came down I had to go to heavy wets because my tyres were destroyed. I was going well on them and it was unlucky that they declared the results based on the order at the penultimate lap because I could have had second. When the red flags came out I was second but I'm still happy with the result."
Jarno Trulli (4th):
"I am happy for the team. I feel a bit unlucky this weekend - I missed pole position by a tenth and it could have been an even better result for me. It was a good race and it was certainly eventful. I was pushing at the front and fighting with Rosberg for the lead. Actually I was struggling a bit with traction but it was very close. Then the rain came and the team chose to go with heavy wets, which was the more conventional strategy. I was the quickest car on the heavy wets but that was not enough because the tyres went after two laps. Timo was on the intermediates at that stage and that worked out better for him. I was a bit unlucky but strategy is always easier in hindsight and I don't want to blame anyone. It is a pity to just miss out on the podium but it is another very good result for the entire team."
Tadashi Yamashina, team principal:
"I am very proud of the team's efforts today because it is fantastic to get another podium and it shows how competitive we are this season. It was an extremely challenging race for the team but everyone did their best and was professional even in those difficult conditions. It is disappointing for the fans that the race could not continue as scheduled due to the weather but there was nothing that could be done. We have shown again today that we are really fighting at the front this season and I am obviously hoping we can continue this very good performance in the Chinese Grand Prix as well."
Mark Webber (6th):
The guys made the best call to stop the race when they did. It would have been nice to have had some more laps to give us a crack at getting on the podium - but that's how it is, so I've got mixed emotions. It's dark now (7pm), so it was the right call not to make a re-start. I'm not so sure you can blame the time of day for today's conditions, as the weather was bad at 3pm too. It seems it was just one of those days. It's been the mistiest and coolest day I've ever seen in Malaysia for race day.
Sebastian Vettel (15th):
Not so much to tell. I was on the intermediate tyres and they were pretty gone as it wasn't very wet before the sudden pour down. I was approaching Turn seven and there was suddenly lots of water, but I was being very cautious. I lost the car due to aquaplaning and there was nothing I could do. There was too much water and my tyres were not made for those conditions. A spin wouldn't have been much of a problem, but the anti-stall didn't work. Without that, I would just have spun, lost some time and that would have been it. In the past drivers had three pedals, a throttle, a brake and a clutch and when you were spinning you knew exactly what to do. It's not in our hands anymore, so it's a shame that we have to retire for this stupid reason.
Christian Horner, team principal:
The rain was always going to come, it was just a question of when. Unfortunately it started with drizzle, followed by heavy rain. We got both drivers onto full wets at the earliest possibility and we then put Sebastian onto intermediates. Just before the heavy rain came, he was the quickest car on the track at the time but unfortunately he spun on his in-lap to get extremes and the anti-stall didn't catch the engine, so that was the end of his race. Mark made a pit stop for intermediates just before it started to rain heavily and then pitted again for the extremes. If he would have completed that lap, we believe he would have been third in the running order. However, the count back, classifies us sixth.
Lewis Hamilton (7th):
All I could do was try and keep the car on the track. It was the correct decision to stop the race because it was just too dangerous for everyone. I love it when it rains, but this was just too much.
Heikki Kovalainen (DNF):
My start was okay. I was taking it quite carefully and was trying to slot in behind Lewis, then I just lost the rear and spun out. It was my mistake. Game over.
Martin Whitmarsh, team principal:
The extremely changeable dry-wet conditions made todays race a very challenging one for all competitors - but, as ever, Lewiss ability shone brightly in the gathering gloom and the race brought another really impressive performance from him. He kept his head throughout, and the result was a hard-earned point for seventh place. That may not sound like a great deal by our usually high standards - but, given where he started, its a step in the right direction. Overall, then, in testing conditions the team did a great job - as did Lewis.
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
A race like a battle. Despite starting from the sixth row on the grid, Lewis was in good shape - and everybody who kept his car on the track in these conditions was a hero today. Congratulations to Jenson Button and Brawn GP on the second consecutive win with Mercedes power; which he both achieved from pole position.
Nico Rosberg, Williams (8th):
I took the lead off the start and it is a while since Williams have been out the front on pure performance and I have to thank the engineers for that. The car was going really well and I showed my ability to consistently push on each lap and open the gap to those behind me. And then the rain came and unfortunately the situation just didnt go our way. But we got something out of the day and our car is right up there, so we will be looking to get the points we deserve next time out.
Kazuki Nakajima, Williams (12th):
I had wheelspin of the line and I dropped quite a few positions to the KERS cars around me, and I ended up behind Piquet and I struggled to get past. This affected my plan as I dropped quite a lot of time behind him and then of course the weather came along and it was impossible to make a totally correct decision with the changing conditions. It was the right thing ultimately to red flag the race and it was no surprise that we didnt restart.
Sam Michael, technical director:
It was a great start from Nico and he continued a good performance in the dry in the first stint. When the weather came, we made the same tyre choices as the cars around us, including the Brawns and Trulli, but they gained more from their stops than us.
Felipe Massa (9th):
"It was a chaotic race and it's easy in these conditions to take decisions, which later in hindsight, turn out to be wrong. When we fitted the rain tyres, we expected heavy rain to come soon and unfortunately it was just a light shower. Therefore, I came back in to fit intermediates and immediately after that, the downpour arrived. It's a shame, as I could have managed to get into the points. We definitely need to analyse our mistakes and understand how they can be avoided, but I don't think it needs a revolution which the always emotional onlookers demand: it would be wrong because it's not a case of us suddenly becoming stupid. It's the playing field that has changed. We must be aware of that and tackle the situation with a different approach."
Kimi Raikkonen (14th):
"We were in a good position at the time of the first pit stop and then we made a mistake, fitting the rain tyres when the rain had yet to fall. And that was where my race was pretty much over. When the race was halted, the conditions were very difficult. There was so much water on the track and I was struggling to drive the car even in second gear. Clearly we cannot be happy with our start to the season: in Melbourne, I was the one to make a mistake and today it was the team, the result being we find ourselves without any points."
Stefano Domenicali, team principal:
"We are very disappointed because once again today, we leave a circuit empty handed. With hindsight, it's clear that we took some wrong decisions, especially in Kimi's case at his first pit stop: the information we had at the time was that the storm was due to hit in a very short time, when in fact it took a few more minutes for the rain to come. Felipe was very unlucky: another forty seconds or so and he could have stayed on track with the extreme wet tyres, finishing in a good position at the end of the race. Clearly we have to extricate ourselves from this situation, without panicking, but with every one of us taking on our responsibilities: we have to dig deep and react, starting immediately. We have to change our mentality and accept that we are in a different situation to the past and that therefore we have to tackle it with a different approach, both on track and in Maranello."
Luca Baldisserri, sporting director:
"Another disastrous race, and we can't make any excuses for it. Once again today we tried to second guess what might happen and every time the opposite of what we expected happened and so the race was turned into a continual struggle to make up for that and in the end we finished empty handed. In the dry, our race pace was not really exceptional, but it did reflect what was our true potential today. Now we must try to turn things around and get out of this situation in a hurry."
Sebastien Bourdais (10th):
"Round about Lap 18, we were running low on fuel so we were hoping for rain before the end of the first stint. It didn't come quite in time and we gambled on extreme wets as heavy rain was expected, but instead it was more like drizzle, so we changed again to intermediates. Then the rain really came and I had to come in again for extremes and after that, the race was stopped. It was a shame, as it seemed we were pretty competitive in these very changeable conditions. I would have liked to restart, as it might have been an opportunity to pick up points, even if only half-points."
Sebastien Buemi (16th):
"We were really going well and I think I was around P7 or 8 and the plan was to come in on the following lap, but then I went off at Turn 5. The extreme tyres were completely gone, like driving on slicks and I slowed down, but obviously not enough for the amount of water, so I spun, went into the gravel and stalled. We were competitive in terms of speed at some stages, running in the top six lap times, even though I was running last, having had to come in to change the nose. I think one of the Force India cars pushed me wide at the exit of the last corner and I ran over something that broke the front wing. I am disappointed as the spin at the end was my mistake and it is on days like this that we should have picked up some points."
Fernando Alonso (11th):
We made a good start from P9 to P3 and after that we had to defend our position because we were slow. This part of the race was interesting and it was difficult to decide what tyre to take when we made our stop because we didnt know how heavy the rain would be. We stay optimistic for the next race in Shanghai and we remain determined to continue fighting for the championship.
Nelson Piquet (13th):
Just before the red flag it was impossible to drive; really difficult to hold the car. We tried to call the right decision at the right time and there is nothing more we could have done in these conditions. The balance of the car was good, but the grip on the track was quite low, although we had a good start to the race. We have learnt a lot again this weekend and I now need to get ready for the next race.
Pat Symonds, executive director of engineering:
I suppose in many ways the heavy rain is no surprise to anyone who knows the area, but it brought some interesting elements to the race. In the early part of the race the value of the KERS system certainly showed, but as in Australia we still need to find performance from the car in other areas.
Remi Taffin, head of engine operations:
Today we are disappointed. The race was challenging and we tried our best to adapt, but the weather was so difficult to predict. We knew it was going to rain, but we didnt think it would be so heavy. However, I didnt expect the race to be stopped. We now have to work hard, but I feel we have taken a step forward since Melbourne, as shown by our strong start to the race.
Adrian Sutil (17th):
When the rain started it was very difficult and just about impossible to drive. We were in second or first gear at 20km/h and even then we were sliding around the circuit. It was unbelievable, so it was a good decision to stop the race. It was a bit of a shame that it couldn't be restarted as I think we would have had a good chance in the wet conditions. In the end though it was too dark to restart. Looking forward to Shanghai, I want to get another weekend with no problems: let's improve our pace and look for some downforce, and carry our momentum forward.
Giancarlo Fisichella (18th):
Unfortunately we made a wrong call to change to extreme wets very early on. We came in too early and I did three or four laps under dry conditions so we destroyed the tyre. Then it was raining and the grip was getting better and better but there was just so much water and the tyres were almost slicks so I could not control the car, it was just aquaplaning. It was not a good race for us, unfortunately we had a wrong strategy but we will see for the next race.
Dr Vijay Mallya, chairman and team principal:
Today in Malaysia we had almost unprecedented conditions and we took a risk with the strategy. Unfortunately the rain we expected - which you can normally bank on coming - didn't come soon enough and Giancarlo was unfortunate enough to be returning to the pits for a new set of extreme tyres when the rain hit hardest. As a team we will learn from this as we move forward to China and Bahrain. We're growing in confidence and potential all the time so we just need a good race to demonstrate it.