European Grand Prix - selected team and driver quotes 23 Aug 2009
Toyotas Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock on their first lap collisions; Williams Kazuki Nakajima on his dramatic puncture; McLarens Lewis Hamilton on the flawed pit stop that could have cost him victory; and Brawn GPs Rubens Barrichello on making it back on to the top step of the podium for the first time since China 2004.The drivers and senior team personnel report back on Sundays race action
Rubens Barrichello (1st):
"What a fantastic day. I am so delighted with the win after what was a really tough race out there. It's just amazing and a weekend that I will never forget. Even after five years, you don't forget how to win and the feeling is so good! Although we were fuelled heavier than the McLarens, I knew that I would have to push really hard throughout the race. My engineer Jock was great today, he really encouraged me and helped me to maintain the pace, and the team did a fantastic job with two excellent pit stops. I want to thank everyone who has supported me and this victory is dedicated to the whole of Brazil but particularly to my great friend Felipe Massa. I hope he is back racing against me soon."
Jenson Button (7th):
"Rubens did a great job this weekend and he deserves the victory. It's been a long time so I'm happy for him although of course I would rather be on top of the podium. The small mistake in qualifying and a difficult start caught behind Vettel really cost me today as I got caught in traffic and it's really tough to overtake around this circuit. Still we did what we came for this weekend and beat the Red Bulls, our main title rivals, so I'm not too disappointed with seventh position. We'll go to the next race in Spa positive and ready to have a good race."
Ross Brawn, Brawn GP team principal:
"That was a fantastic performance from Rubens today to take his first and Brawn GP's seventh win of the season. We knew that having a heavier fuel load would give us an advantage over the cars in front but Rubens had to drive at his absolute best to have a chance of victory. He pushed exactly where he needed to. When we got on the radio and told him that he had to put in some quick laps, he delivered. It was a great performance and an extremely well-deserved victory. We're all delighted for him. Unfortunately it wasn't such a good afternoon for Jenson who had a quick car but was caught in traffic which prevented him from achieving the result that he could have done. In hindsight perhaps we should have been more aggressive in qualifying but his two points today are valuable and we have increased our lead in both championships. Thanks and credit is due to everyone at the track today and at the factory in Brackley for all their hard work over the past couple of weeks and to our colleagues at Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines in Brixworth for their dedication and the performance of our engine."
Lewis Hamilton (2nd):
This is my second podium in a row, and Im very happy to be here. We did the best job we could today. Am I disappointed? Yes, I think we all are - but thats simply an indication of just how hard everyone in this team is pushing to win. Were never satisfied unless were winning, in fact. But, ultimately, we didnt really lose anything today - it was always going to be tough to beat Rubens and what we tried wasnt quite enough. Before my second pitstop, Id been saving fuel and was a bit unsure if I had enough for that extra lap or not. The pitwall had initially asked me to pit - but, just when I was coming in, they told me to stay out and do an extra lap - however, I was already inside the white line and committed, so it was too late. In those circumstances, its always better to be safe and to pit, because the last thing you want to do is run dry out on the circuit. But the call was a marginal one - the team was pushing the envelope, as I say - and it came just a little too late for me and the mechanics, who werent perfectly prepared. Make no mistake, I think those guys are the best in the business; what happened was simply a result of the team trying everything in their power to turn a safe second place into a possible win. In any case, our overall performance this weekend confirmed the huge improvement weve made recently, but we still lack a bit of race pace compared with the very fastest cars. You can be well sure were working on fixing that, though. Congratulations to Rubens - he drove a fantastic race today and really deserved this victory.
Heikki Kovalainen (4th):
To start second and finish fourth isnt ideal. But Im more pleased with my overall performance in this race than in Hungary. We showed good performance throughout the whole weekend, and I really want to thank the whole team for helping us to achieve that - its good to see things improving like this. We dont yet have the pace of the frontrunners, but everyone has done an incredible job to get us to where we are. Weve scored more points in the last three races than any other team - but I still want to score more. Im already focusing on Spa; its a circuit I love and I really want to be on the podium there.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal:
Following our all-front-row qualifying result, naturally enough we had very high expectations for todays race. In the event, though, our race pace wasnt good enough to beat Rubenss car. Wed adopted a different tyre strategy from many of the front-runners - maybe that was right, maybe that was wrong - but the reality is that we werent quick enough to win today. So, coming in to the final pitstops, in our efforts to convert a safe second for Lewis into a possible first for him, we took a calculated risk in attempting to reverse the sequence of Lewiss and Heikkis pit stops at the last second. That last-second decision caused a bit of pitlane confusion, which probably cost Lewis a couple of seconds overall but Rubenss race pace was such that that couple of seconds didnt make a difference to the outcome of the race. In a nutshell, we decided to take the risk because we knew Rubens had the strategy to win and it was our only chance of attempting to prevent that. We dont like not winning, but second and fourth isnt such a terrible result. Now, though, well focus on the challenge of Spa - a very different type of racetrack from Valencia.
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
A shame for Lewis who drove a faultless race, but it would have been very tight with a perfect pitstop against Rubens anyway and he certainly deserves this victory. Our team scored more points than any other today, the same it did before the summer break in Hungary. This makes a total of 27 out of 36 possible points and Lewis scored 18 out of possible 20. That of course is very positive and will certainly please all our team members in Woking, Brixworth and Stuttgart who have worked so hard to recover from our not quite typical Vodafone McLaren Mercedes form in the first half of the season. Heikki drove a solid race today and brought home his best result so far this season. So, all in all, quite a lot of positives and we all will push hard in order to build on these results. Spa will not be a circuit exactly tailormade for our car and I do not expect us to be quite as competitive as we were in Hungary and here where we have been the class of the field or on a level with the best. Congratulations to Rubens - he deserves this victory after four tough years since his last one and my feeling is the whole paddock thinks like that.
Kimi Raikkonen (3rd):
I am happy about this result. Already on Friday we saw that the car was pretty competitive over a distance and we therefore thought we could fight for a podium finish. We were also aware that, in qualifying, we might have struggled, especially on light fuel. Both these predictions proved correct and today we were once again able to get on the podium. I managed to make up a few places at the start and my first aim was to pull out a bit of a gap over Rosberg, who was going to stop after me. In the second part of the race, I realized that I could close on Kovalainen and try and make the most of the run of pit stops to get ahead of him and I managed it. Now we go to Spa, a track that I like a lot: we must wait for Friday to see how competitive we can be. At this point in the season, if we manage to get everything right, then we can aim for the podium and if anything was to happen to those ahead of us, we can try and do even better. We must do all we can to hang on to third place in the constructors championship.
Luca Badoer (17th):
I said when I arrived in Valencia that this Grand Prix would be a time for me to dust the rust off my back and get confident in the role of race driver again. It was important for me to complete so many kilometres without making any serious mistakes and I managed that. From the physical point of view, I feel fine and that is another cause for satisfaction. I got a good start, making up a few places but then I was hit by Grosjean and that dropped me back down again. I tried to run my own race, but it was not easy to maintain a consistent pace, especially when I had to let the leaders by. At the first pit stop, I made a mistake which cost me one place and then I was just a whisker over the white line and so I picked up a drive-through penalty. Now I am looking forward to Spa with confidence: its a track I know and I will also be able to count on the experience gained this weekend. Thanks to the whole team, who did everything they could to make me feel comfortable, without putting me under any pressure and to Michael, who was a great support throughout the weekend.
Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari team principal:
Today we did the maximum with Kimi, who drove an amazing race to make it to the podium once again. He was very competitive throughout the race, pushing at the decisive moments, at the start and then when the opportunity arose to get ahead of Kovalainen. Luca managed to finish the race, thus completing this learning weekend, which served as an introduction course prior to tackling the Belgian weekend in the best way possible, next weekend. Clearly, considering our choices and those of other teams in terms of developing this years car, our aim of maintaining third place in the Constructors classification is becoming harder. For our part, we will give it our best shot, knowing that in some races we can expect to be more competitive than in others and we will have to be ready to exploit every opportunity that arises.
Chris Dyer, Ferrari chief engineer:
We are pleased with Kimis third place, which represents the most we could aspire to today. Driver, team, car: all these elements came together in the best possible way and the result confirms it. As for Luca, it was another difficult day in an equally difficult weekend. However, it should be stressed how much he improved, continuously day by day, lap after lap. We are confident that he will find himself in much better shape next weekend in Belgium.
Nico Rosberg, Williams (5th):
I did enjoy the race, but the heat really took most of the fun out of it. It wasnt nice, but it was still a good result for the team. Fifth again, after starting seventh, is not bad, and gives us more points. I was hoping to beat Raikkonen today but he was too fast. Our car seems to suit every track we go to, and the team is doing well to keep development going from race to race. Its nice that we are always up there and I hope we continue like this, and possibly make a step forward onto the podium soon.
Kazuki Nakajima, Williams (18th):
It was another disappointing afternoon for me. It was all over in qualifying really. I was in 13th when I had the puncture and that really finished my race. Just a few laps before the end, I then had some kind of problem so I had to stop early.
Rod Nelson, chief operations engineer
Kazuki was compromised by his problems in qualifying so we decided to go for a long first stint which was looking reasonable until his puncture. We then had to retire his car early as it had some damage from the puncture which could have harmed the gearbox. Nico drove a strong race. We were hoping to get close to Raikkonen but the second stint wasnt strong enough which, in turn, brought Alonso into play. We managed the gap to Alonso to keep fifth place which we are happy with.
Fernando Alonso (6th):
Sixth place is the best I could do today for my home Grand Prix and the three points are a good result considering that we started eighth. It was a very tough race: first of all because of the heat but also because it was a very competitive race and I had to push all the way, constantly fighting to keep my position. But we have been quick all weekend and therefore Im quite confident we can keep this pace and deliver an even better result in Spa.
Romain Grosjean (15th):
Unfortunately the first lap didnt go well for me, but during the race there were a lot of positives and I gained some valuable experience. At the start of the race I had to really concentrate and pay attention to everything that was happening around me and after that I just tried to be consistent and set some good lap times. Its clear that I must do better next weekend in Spa and I will aim to put the experience I have gained in Valencia to good use.
Flavio Briatore, Renault managing director:
Fernandos race was compromised by yesterdays qualifying, but he did the best he could and brought home three points. Romain did a very good job throughout his first Grand Prix and Im sure he will improve rapidly during the rest of the season. The car is competitive and we can hopefully do better next week in Belgium on a more traditional track than here in Valencia.
Pat Symonds, executive director of engineering:
After the problem in qualifying, Fernando showed good pace during the race, but on this circuit it was difficult to do more than the result weve come away with and we certainly welcome the points. Romain was unfortunate to have an incident on the first lap but from that point he just had to settle down to a steady race and see how the car behaved over a race distance. He did this very well and we are really pleased that he finished his first race.
Remi Taffin, Renault head of engine operations:
I think we have come away with as many points as we could today and considering the disappointment of yesterdays qualifying session to finish sixth is a good result. Unfortunately Romain had an incident on the opening lap, but overall he had a strong race and showed good pace. We have now finished an engine cycle which means that the engines have completed their third Grand Prix and they have worked very well for us. We will be able to use them again during certain sessions later in the year but we will have new engines for Spa which should help us be competitive next weekend.
Robert Kubica (8th):
"I had to start the race from a very bad position as I was in the middle of the pack and we were all very close together in the first corners. Unfortunately I was not able to make up positions at the start, and I even lost a place to Nick. But then during the race my pace was good. Although my stints were shorter, I was even able to overtake Mark Webber during his final pit stop, which was very good."
Nick Heidfeld (11th):
"For me the result is rather disappointing because it doesn't reflect what I was able to achieve today. After a good start I was able to match the pace of the guys in front of me, but I let Robert by because he was on a lower fuel load. Then I had to defend my position against Adrian Sutil and lost contact with the front group. This turned out to be crucial, because after his pit stop Heikki Kovalainen came out in front of me and I could not take any advantage from my car being lighter at this stage."
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport director:
"Despite being in a very difficult situation with BMW pulling out of the sport, the team really did a very good job all weekend. Starting tenth and 11th on the grid was already a big improvement compared to the previous races. In the race Robert was able to move up to eighth and score a point. Actually Nick had the better chances to make his way up to the front from 11th on the grid because of the strategy he was able to choose. But he got stuck in traffic and therefore couldn´t demonstrate what he was capable of. The result gives us a boost for the next races and the development packages planned up to the end of the season."
Willy Rampf, head of engineering:
"Our goal was to get at least one point in Valencia. We achieved that. Compliments to the whole team for the effort. The new aero package is clearly progress. We did not have any problems during the race. Unfortunately Nick and, also during some periods, Robert got stuck in traffic and therefore lost valuable time. Our race pace without traffic was as expected."
Mark Webber (9th):
No gains for us today, which is the first time in a long time. The long and short of it was that I wasnt quick enough today - it was a tough race. Ive been struggling all weekend and I think I got the result I deserved, which was no points, unfortunately. We were a little bit unlucky around the pit stops with Lewis (Hamilton) coming back out in front, but thats the way it goes. The pit stops werent great, as I might have been a bit long on positioning - so not the best day for us. But, we will dust ourselves down and move on to Spa.
Sebastian Vettel (DNF):
The biggest problem today was the first stop - we werent able to get fuel in the car, so we had to come in again. We were lucky to make it back for a second stop. The race was lost already at that point but then, a couple of laps on, I had a problem with the engine and I had to retire. Its not good. In terms of the Championship, I will fight until the last breath, but its not good to have retired when youre hunting and want to get more points than your opponent. Youre in a position to do it, but then you dont finish the race.
Christian Horner, Red Bull team principal:
A bitterly disappointing day. A fuel rig failure on Sebastians car, followed by an engine failure, which is the second of the weekend, was costly. Unfortunately with Mark, we just werent quick enough today. He held Jenson behind him for a long time, but Jenson was too quick and jumped us with a very quick out-lap, unfortunately Mark was not quick enough to hold him behind.
Fabrice Lom, Renault, principal engineer track support:
This race ended a nightmare weekend for us. We had two engine failures on Sebastians car, so its a black weekend. I can only apologise to Red Bull Racing and Sebastian in particular for this reliability issue and assure them that we will work as hard as possible to ensure it doesnt happen again. But, the end of the season will now be tough on the engine side for Sebastian.
Adrian Sutil (10th):
Today was a good performance with no mistakes, good lap times and we showed a clear step forward. I think tenth was the maximum we could do from 12th position on the grid. It was a very tough race, very hot, but everything worked perfectly. I was behind the two BMWs for my first stint and couldn't get past on the track but the team did a really good stop and I could pass Heidfeld in the pit lane. I'm really looking forward to Spa now - I love the track and with the pace we've shown this weekend it's looking promising for a good result there.
Giancarlo Fisichella (12th):
It was a difficult race as the grid position was not as good as we had hoped so we used a one-stop strategy, which gave us an opportunity to gain some positions. I made a very good start, keeping clear of the collision and was running in 13th at the end of the first lap, right behind Adrian. The first stint on the hard tyres was very consistent with a good pace. Then we changed to the soft tyres and it was a bit tricky as there was some graining. I could keep a good pace though I had to watch the tyres to keep them until the end. Twelfth is a good result for us. We made a few positions and now seem to be ahead of Toyota and some other cars. We need another step like we made this weekend and we can easily score points.
Dr Vijay Mallya, chairman and team principal:
Overall it's been a strong performance for us all weekend and probably our most competitive race in two seasons. The upgrades we introduced this race have clearly given us a big step forward and we're now really mixing it in the midfield positions. I'd like to say thanks to all the team back at Silverstone who have worked very hard to get the development through, and to the drivers for doing it justice. I can't wait to get to Belgium now.
Jarno Trulli (13th):
The start wasn't great and the car didn't improve from qualifying, when I was struggling a lot with a lack of grip. So I had the same problems again today and the grip was nowhere close to where it had been earlier in the weekend during practice. I did my best but there was nothing I could do to improve my position. I hope for a better weekend in Belgium."
Timo Glock (14th):
"It was a pity the race started like that because over a race distance we were pretty quick, just like we were in Budapest. At the first corner I had to dive down the inside because the cars in front were braking heavily so I had to avoid them. Then I was hit from behind and basically any hope I had of getting a decent position was finished there and then. But I pushed as hard as possible for the rest of the race to at least get some more data and we showed what might have been by setting the fastest lap right at the end."
John Howett, Toyota president:
"That was clearly not the result we wanted or expected from this Grand Prix. It has been a very difficult weekend but we must put this behind us and we have another race next week in which to show our true potential. We have to understand why our relative qualifying pace is worse than our relative race pace because our car is reasonably competitive, as Timo showed by setting the fastest lap. We have to get on top of this and take advantage of what the car can offer."
Jaime Alguersuari (16th):
This was much tougher for me than Hungary, because of the heat and humidity. With ten laps remaining, I had a problem with my drinks system which meant I couldnt get anything to drink. It was really tough and I just did my best to finish and bring home the car. On the plus side I have now done a lot more kilometres and I therefore hope this will help me do better in Spa, where at least it wont be as hot.
Sebastien Buemi (DNF):
My race was more or less over immediately after the start. I will have to watch the race to see exactly what happened. I moved to the inside to try and avoid the bottleneck and as Glock accelerated, he drove over my wing which obviously broke and the time I lost coming back to the pits to replace it meant my race was done. I carried on pushing to see what lap times I could do and what the car was capable of, but I soon had braking problems and eventually the disc broke and I had to park the car. The last few race weekends have not gone well, but you have to stay positive. The car seems to have improved, so we have the potential to do better. Lets see at Spa.
Franz Tost, Toro Rosso team principal:
Unfortunately for Buemi, his race was effectively over at the first corner, when he collided with Glock, losing the front wing. He had to pit for a new nose and we assume that the accident had also damaged the left front brake duct, so the brake didnt cool properly, which led to the failure that put him out of the race. Alguersuari did a good job to finish in these tough conditions, in what we must not forget, is only his second F1 race."
Hiroshi Yasukawa, Director of Bridgestone Motorsport:
"Congratulations to Rubens on taking the 150th win on Bridgestone Potenza F1 tyres. We are very proud to have supported so many drivers in their Formula One World Championship victories over the past 13 seasons but it is apt that Rubens, who has been on Bridgestone tyres for all but a season since we entered in 1997, should take this special victory. When Bridgestone started as a tyre supplier to Formula One it was on slick tyres. Since then, there have been several evolutions in tyre technologies and specifications but throughout we have received the fantastic support of the teams, FIA and FOM. We have also seen tremendous growth in the brand awareness of our company around the globe and much of this can be attributed to our F1 related activities. We would like to thank all involved in F1 for their support. We are now in the second of a three year Official Tyre Supplier tenure and look forward to seeing many more exciting battles on our tyres."
Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone director of motorsport tyre development:
"I am very happy to see Rubens win. He first used our F1 tyres in 1997 so it is fantastic that he still has the competitive spirit to win in this highly competitive sport. We are pleased with the performance of both the soft and the super soft Bridgestone Potenzas today. The circuit improved very rapidly, as expected, and as a result drivers could be competitive using the super soft over a stint at the start. The soft was the more consistent tyre however, and we even saw one-stop strategies. Regarding Kazuki Nakajima's tyre, we believe it was a puncture and we are investigating this with the team."