Singapore Grand Prix - selected driver quotes 27 Sep 2009
Force Indias Adrian Sutil and BMW Saubers Nick Heidfeld on the tangle that ruled them both out of the race; Mark Webber on his Red Bulls brake issues; and McLarens Lewis Hamilton on making amends for his Monza mistake with victory. Drivers and senior team personnel report back on Sundays race action
Lewis Hamilton (1st):
This is the perfect end to a fantastic weekend. The race was physically very tough for all the drivers, but it was actually quite straightforward for me. I made a good start and I knew I was running longer than the guys behind me, so I was able to bridge the gap back to them. It was a very nicely controlled race in that way. The team did radio me about a small problem with KERS - but I didnt have a problem in the cockpit and was able to just disable it and then re-engage it. It worked fine after that. We came here hoping for a good result - and I wanted to redeem myself after the last lap in Monza - and we got it!
Heikki Kovalainen (7th):
I had no problems from start to finish and was feeling very comfortable, but I couldnt go quicker. I drove to the pace I could with this car. I struggle a bit to maintain the tyres performance and the car gets out of shape if I try to increase my pace, so I cant carry more speed through the corners. My focus now is to get the car better for me, so I can achieve better results. As a team, well take many positives from this race. First of all, our car performance has been fantastic all weekend - and Lewiss victory shows that the performance is definitely there. But, to be honest, my weekend was ruined yesterday in qualifying, which was very unfortunate for me.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal:
You wont be surprised to hear me describe what Lewis did this weekend as a fantastic job. After a slightly troubled Friday, the team worked tremendously hard throughout Friday night and Saturday morning to rebuild Lewiss car completely - and the result, combined with a brilliant pole lap from the man himself, was that we were able to approach today with a win firmly in our sights. As such, it was a perfectly paced weekend - and Lewis delivered magnificently today. Working together with the team, he was able to control the race from the front - and, although at one point both Nico (Rosberg) and Sebastian (Vettel) were piling the pressure on, we were always confident. In short, Id describe it as a great victory - not only for Lewis, but also for the team. To design and manufacture the new parts required for our latest upgrades, against time pressure, and yet to do it accurately and reliably, is a truly superb achievement. In fact, Im every bit as proud of the team as I am of Lewis himself. As for Heikki, he was unlucky in qualifying yesterday, but today he put in a solid performance from 10th position on the grid, in tricky circumstances, and earned us some valuable world championship points as a result.
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
A first-class grand prix from Lewis and our whole team. Lewis did everything right, setting pole position yesterday and winning the race today. The team was at its best by building up a different chassis for Lewis over night from Friday to Saturday and they all got the reward for their exceptional work including perfectly timed and well-executed pit stops. Heikki came home seventh, and more was just not possible after his 10th place in qualifying. Well done to everybody - nobody scored more points than Vodafone McLaren Mercedes in this so important night race here in Singapore. The statistics speak for themselves: this is the 60th grand prix victory of the McLaren-Mercedes partnership, and no team has scored more points than us in the five races since Lewiss victory in Hungary two months ago Now we all are looking forward to a great season finale with three more races to go. Congratulations to our German friend Timo Glock and Toyota for their second place today, they have been strong all weekend.
Timo Glock (2nd):
"We have had a really good weekend and this is a great reward for the team. After a solid qualifying the pace was good in the race so I am really happy for the team and myself. It was important to get in front of Fernando (Alonso) on the first lap and I was disappointed I didn't do it at the start. I saw he was fighting with Mark (Webber) and I just dived in and made the pass. It paid off because after that our strategy worked well; it was the key point in my race. I was just concentrating the whole race on my speed and we didn't make any mistakes. This is a brilliant result for Toyota before the Japanese Grand Prix. It's important for everyone in the team; the mechanics and engineers as well as the people back home in Cologne and in Japan. The car worked well today with the new package and I hope we can be competitive again in Suzuka."
Jarno Trulli (12th):
"It was a really tough race and not much went right for me. As soon as I got out of the traffic the safety car came at the wrong moment for me; right when I was passing through the pits for my first stop. I wasn't particularly competitive all weekend and I was struggling with traction so we have to take a look at that. But on the positive side Timo's second place is a great result for the team, who really deserve it. Timo drove a great race and I am happy for his podium; it is also good news for us in the constructors' championship."
Tadashi Yamashina, Toyota team principal:
"I am extremely happy to be back on the podium and fighting at the front again. Timo did a fantastic job this weekend, as did the entire team. Everything went perfectly with Timo today; his pit stops were very good and he drove very well. Jarno did his best but unfortunately it was always going to be difficult after qualifying. To be on the podium again is a particularly satisfying result coming just a few days before our home Grand Prix in Japan. Suzuka should be more suited to our car than Singapore so we can expect to be very competitive there as well. I would like to thank the team for their hard work in getting such a great result and I am looking forward to another strong performance next weekend."
Fernando Alonso (3rd):
This was a great result for the team allowing us to be positive and put behind us the past few weeks. I had a good start and great pace throughout the race and third place came as a result of a good strategy and a solid race. Everyone at Enstone, Viry and here at the circuit has done a great job and this has paid off today. Now we go to Suzuka in high spirits.
Romain Grosjean (DNF):
It was a disappointing weekend for me. The car just wasn't right and we had recurring brake problems which we hoped we had solved before the race. I had a good start and a good first lap when I felt my brakes failing and so the team asked me to retire. Its too bad because I was comfortable and enjoying this track and racing at night. Now we will have to work hard and get the car back in order for Japan next week.
Bob Bell, Renault team principal:
Today was absolutely fantastic. Its wonderful to get a podium at any time but to get one after what the team has just been through is really positive and gives us great strength to move on now. Unfortunately Romain had more brake problems which put him out of the race early on. Its clear he has a lot of potential for the future and he just needs to move on from this race and make sure he completes a solid race in Japan. Everybody in the team will now go to the final three races very buoyed by this result because it shows that the team can fight for the podium.
Jean-Francois Caubet, Renault Managing Director:
To end the weekend with a podium is a great result. When we arrived here on Wednesday we did not think it was achievable, but little-by-little we have made it possible. In the end the race team put together a strategy that worked very well today. Its great to get a podium here and its extremely important for Renault, for our partner TOTAL and for our sponsors, and for Renault F1 Team. We showed that Renault F1 has what it takes to fight at the front.
Remi Taffin, Renault head of engine operations:
The engines have run perfectly this weekend. We were using the same engines we ran in Spa and Monza so it was their third race and they have delivered once again. The only issue we had was a small alert in the race, but we managed it and it had no consequence on the result of the race. To finish on the podium here isnt easy because its an unforgiving circuit where you cannot afford to make any mistakes. Today we showed that the whole team is focussed and its a super result for us.
Sebastian Vettel (4th):
The start was not so good from the dirty side of the track, but it was pretty good race for me until we had the drive-through. Theres a bit of a question mark as to why I got the penalty, I mean I had no reason to push at that point. We knew we couldnt pass Lewis at the pit-stop because he was staying out longer, so I was surprised when I got the call on the radio for it. We were on the limit with the brakes, I was lifting earlier than normal and braking a little more smoothly when I was in traffic. Sometimes I had to drop off a bit to cool them too, before I could push again - you always have to listen to your car. Regarding the championship, I think history has shown many different examples of how it can finish over the years, with it going either way. At the next races our approach will be simple: we will try to get pole position and try to win, so its very straightforward.
Mark Webber (DNF):
We had a suspected brake problem, so when I came in for my pit-stop, the guys made a visual check. It seemed reasonable for me to continue, but then we had the failure and I retired. The guys did everything they could - I think they were seconds away from retiring me when we had the failure, so its disappointing. The first lap was pretty feisty, as youd expect on a street circuit and I had a bit of a fight with Fernando in Turn 7 and we both ran wide. About nine laps later I had to let Fernando back through, but unfortunately Glock was in the middle by then, so I had to let them both through. My race was heavily compromised from there. I thought the incident was fifty/fifty but the stewards decided I had to let Fernando and Glock through, so I lost the hard work Id done during my first stint. It was a hard penalty I think, Kimi did something similar in Spa and got away with it. Id like to say thanks to the guys in the garage for this weekend - theyre awesome and thats why were second in the constructors championship. Fingers crossed we can finish this year on a high.
Christian Horner, team principal:
"A really disappointing day - and unfortunately one with too many incidents. Both drivers didnt have great starts, which was inevitable from the dirty side of the grid, and Rosberg was able to get past Sebastian. It was a shame that Mark had to drop back behind Glock and Alonso after both drivers had run wide at Turn Seven. There was a drive-through penalty for Sebastian and damage to his diffuser after running over a kerb and, with all of that, he managed to bring the car home in P4 with a really competitive drive. With Mark, we had some concern about his brake wear, so we called his pit-stop a couple of laps earlier to do a visual safety check. Visually, both the brake pads and brake discs looked fine and we cleared the cooling duct of any debris. After the stop the brake wear continued to rise and we were just in the process of calling him in, when a suspected brake disk failure occurred.
Fabrice Lom, Renault, Principal Engineer, Track Support:
A very, very disappointing result. One penalty per driver and one retirement, so it was a very bad Sunday compared to what we showed we could do yesterday. On the positive side we didnt have any engine problems and the performance of the car was good, so lets hope we will get a better result in Japan next week.
Jenson Button (5th):
"It was a good race for me and I'm happy with fifth position and four more points today. Getting ahead of Kazuki off the line was key and that really made my race. The first stint was quite frustrating as I could see Rubens getting away from me whilst I was stuck behind Heikki with a heavier fuel load. The safety car then made it very difficult as I still had fuel for a few more laps and should have been able to make up two places at my first stop. I had to put in some quick laps before my second stop to close up to Rubens and then we were pushing to catch Sebastian before deciding to save the brakes and settle for the fifth position. The weekend hasn't been quite what we expected but it's good to come through from 11th on the grid to score points today. I'll go to Japan tomorrow feeling very positive and looking forward to the next race."
Rubens Barrichello (6th):
"It was a pretty eventful weekend for me and a tough race today. I had a great start to make up two places and everything was going well in the first stint. It's a shame that the safety car didn't play into my hands but I was in a good position. Unfortunately I had a problem on my second pit stop when I couldn't engage neutral and the engine stalled which lost me the crucial time needed to stay ahead of Jenson. After that my brakes were struggling and I couldn't fight anymore so we came home with sixth position. It could have been a better weekend but I only lost a point to Jenson in the championship despite everything that happened so I'm staying positive."
Ross Brawn, Brawn GP team principal:
"Jenson, Rubens and the team put in a very good performance today to achieve two points-scoring positions after what was a disappointing qualifying result for us yesterday. Both drivers did exactly what they needed to do at the start with Jenson getting ahead of Nakajima and Rubens taking two places from Kubica and Kovalainen. From there, the pace was good and whilst the safety car didn't play in our hands particularly for either driver, we were able to make steady progress up the field. A longer than planned pit stop for Rubens when the car stalled as he entered the box lost him some time however the pit crew recovered the situation superbly and he was safe for sixth position. Jenson put in some quick laps before his stop to make up the required time for fifth place which we settled for and decided to bring both cars safely home. We will go away from Singapore with further valuable points in the championship having done as we intended and recovered well from qualifying."
Robert Kubica (8th):
This was a very tough race. I was quite unlucky with the safety car period. I lost a couple of positions as I had just refuelled before the safety car went out. On top of this we had a lot of problems with my cars rear tyre degradation. As a result the final ten to fifteen laps of my stint were very slow and, especially in the final stint, I had to defend my position extremely hard. In the end I must say this was the most difficult point I have scored in my whole life.
Nick Heidfeld (DNF):
For me it was clearly Adrian Sutils fault. Obviously I saw it from the inside and later also on TV. He had spun backwards and then just drove back onto the track and straight into my car. Thats something you just cant do. I had no chance to avoid this accident. I was last with a lot of fuel on board. The speed at the back of the pack was very low and, therefore, I started to save fuel very early on as overtaking was impossible anyway. Although my chances were far from promising today, it is still annoying not to finish because of such a stupid incident.
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport director:
That was a lot of hard work for a single point. With Nick starting from the pit lane it was clear he would not be involved in the outcome of the race. Unfortunately eventually he was taken completely out of the race due to an accident which was not his fault. Robert, yet again, was unlucky as the safety car came out just after his first pit stop. Therefore he lost some positions. What we take from this race is the improved performance in qualifying. Now we have to fully exploit the potential of the car.
Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber head of engineering:
Nicks start was very difficult as it was from the pit lane. The accident, which was not his fault, ruined his race early on. Robert lost ground at the start. Later he was not able to fight back as our pace today was bad compared to our qualifying speed. Also Robert suffered from early tyre degradation. In the end he rewarded himself with one point, which he had to fight for really hard in the final laps."
Kazuki Nakajima, Williams (9th):
It was a difficult race and I think I did the best job I could, but it was disappointing not to be able to claim any points. There seemed to be a possibility in the last stint as the car in front of me was struggling with its tyres but as much as focus on the car ahead, I also had to defend from behind, so it was tough to find the balance. The car has been good here and hopefully we can carry this with us to Japan.
Nico Rosberg, Williams (11th):
Todays outcome was hugely disappointing. I made an unnecessary mistake by braking too late and running over the white line on the pit-lane exit. Then the safety car came out at the worst possible moment. It left me with a really horrible feeling, also for the team, knowing that I wouldnt be second when I have served my drive-through penalty and I would have to spend the rest of the race at the back. The team gave me such a good car this weekend having put more effort into development than anyone else, and I am now determined to use this to best advantage in Japan.
Sam Michael, williams' technical director:
Nico had a really good start and showed strong pace all the way to the first pit stop. He had a good strategy for the remainder of the race which was going to put him solidly into P2, but unfortunately he had a problem at the end of the pitlane which cost him a drive-through penalty. It was a real shame because he had done everything right in practice, qualifying and the race, and then had a small mistake that was very costly. We then called him in early for his second stop to vary the strategy in case of another safety car. Kazuki had an uneventful race, but the car pace here has been good all weekend, our upgrades are delivering and we have some more to add to the car for the races ahead.
Kimi Raikkonen (10th):
I couldnt do any better. The car was sliding everywhere and I had no grip. In the final part, with the softer tyres, the situation improved a bit, but by then it was too late. I closed up to Nakajima and, a few times, I tried to risk a passing move, but here its really difficult to overtake unless the guy in front makes a mistake. I dont expect the situation to be much different next week in Suzuka: it is a very demanding track for the car, from an aerodynamic point of view and we are lacking in this area. Having said that, I will be trying my hardest.
Giancarlo Fisichella (13th):
It was a very tough race, both physically and mentally. The pace was not up to Ferraris standard and we have to take that on board. I was struggling to keep the car on track because of a lack of grip. At the end, on the softer tyre, the cars handling improved and I managed to do some good lap times. We brought my first pit stop forward to try and get me out of traffic, given that I was stuck behind Sutil, but then with the safety car the move didnt give the result wed hoped for. Here, KERS was less of a factor than at Monza: at the start I managed to pass a car and then it was mainly useful to defend my position. Now we go to Suzuka, a real track: given how things have gone this year, with cars being strong in one race and weak the next, its difficult to make any predictions.
Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari team principal:
Honestly, I dont think we could have done much better. When you start this far back on a track like this, its difficult to climb up the order. Kimi and Giancarlo did their best, trying to exploit what their cars had to offer. We have to accept the fact that many other teams have made yet another step forward in terms of performance, which makes our technical situation even more difficult, given that development on the F60 stopped a while ago now. When we took that decision, we knew we would pay for it more and more as the end of the season approached, but lets be clear on one thing, we are not giving up: there are still three races to go and we will tackle them with maximum effort because we want to do all we can to finish third in the Constructors classification. In a strange season like this one, anything can happen. Again today, for example, we saw teams that used to be a long way back, now at the front end, while others did the opposite.
Chris Dyer, Ferrari chief engineer:
It was a very difficult race, for both Kimi and Giancarlo. Contrary to what has happened in recent races, we were unable to make the most of the start, which has been one of our strong points this year. We were already a long way back on the grid and so our situation was immediately more complicated, especially as overtaking is virtually impossible here. Today, several cars failed to finish, or were struggling with brake problems, but we were not able to exploit that to make it at least into the points. As for the tyre performance, the softer compound, in the final part of the race proved to be better than expected in terms of consistency, but it was not clear enough to decide to use it as from the second stint, which was the longest one. Its easy to say things after the event, but I do really think we made the right choice.
Vitantonio Liuzzi (14th):
It has been an ultra difficult weekend and race for us. The conditions are very difficult from the beginning as we were starting on the last row and trying to get some points was always going to be tough. Also having two cars with KERS in front of me didn't help. I couldn't overtake Giancarlo even though I was quicker on my first two stints. On the third stint we started to have a lot of graining with the rear tyres with the soft compound and I just couldn't catch him. In the end it was a difficult race but we are more optimistic for the next races.
Adrian Sutil (DNF):
It was quite frustrating at the start as we knew with the one stop we were very heavy, but Jaime (Alguersuari) was very slow and really fighting with the car. He was holding me up a lot and I tried a few times to pass him but I finally saw a chance. I tried and it wasn't enough - I was a little late on the brakes, spun and that's it. Then Nick came around the corner and hit my front wing as I was stuck in the corner. I didn't see him coming as I was on the move already and couldn't react to it, but I'm sorry for it. It was a race incident. After the accident I then had a problem with the brakes and lost all the rear pressure and I had to stop as it was too dangerous to drive. We should be much better in Suzuka - I really can't wait for it. It's one of my favourite circuits and I have big hopes for a better result.
Dr Vijay Mallya, chairman and team principal:
We thought this was going to be a difficult race with the high downforce configuration and it indeed proved to be true. We tried all we could to gain some places but ultimately it was too big a challenge to score some points today. I am however very pleased that Tonio has achieved his first race finish for the team and again trailed home a Ferrari. Adrian tried to make up places but it just didn't work out for him. But it was a racing incident and these things happen when you are pushing hard. We are now looking forward to Suzuka where we hope we will see a truer reflection of our performance.
Jaime Alguersuari (DNF):
It would have been difficult for me to do better today, as conditions in the race in terms of the track and the heat were very tough. I ran at my own pace and then I was stopped with a brake problem. Now we go to Suzuka where I hope to do better and finish the race with no technical issues.
Sebastien Buemi (DNF):
The start was good for me as I got past Kimi and was going well, but towards the end of the first run, I began to suffer with tyre degradation. The first pit stop went well and I rejoined in P12. After that the safety car came out, bunching up the field. I was behind Kimi again and pushing hard until my second pit stop, when we had a big problem as no fuel went in and I had to come in again. Finally, I had an issue with the gearbox which meant I had to stop. I am very disappointed that we had reliability problems in a race where we might have got a good result.
Franz Tost, Toro Rosso team principal:
Both drivers got an okay start, Buemi moving up to twelfth and Alguersuari was fourteenth. Buemi defended his position, until he was passed by Raikkonen. The first pit stop for Buemi went according to plan. Then we had a major problem at Jaimes first stop, as he tried to drive away before the lollipop was up and this damaged the fuel rig. As a consequence, when Sebastien came in for his second stop, no fuel went in and we had to bring him in to refuel again. Towards the end, we called him back to the pits, as we could see he was losing oil pressure in the gear box, for reasons we must now investigate. When Jaime made his second pit stop, we saw that there was a problem with the front right brake, the cause of which we have yet to identify, so on safety grounds we decided to retire him.
Hiroshi Yasukawa, director of Bridgestone Motorsport:
"What a fantastic Grand Prix! We appreciate the great organisation required to put on such a race in this wonderful venue. Congratulations to Lewis Hamilton and Vodafone McLaren Mercedes for their second win of the season. Timo Glock will be very pleased with his second place, equalling Toyota's best-ever result, and it is good to see strong performance from them heading to the Japanese Grand Prix. Renault and Fernando Alonso have also done very well to achieve a podium finish in such difficult circumstances."
Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone director of motorsport tyre development:
"This was a long and gruelling race, only four minutes short of two hours duration. Over this time the circuit became cleaner and cleaner and more rubber was laid meaning a better track surface. This meant that degradation was better than seen earlier in the week. Indeed, brake degradation was a bigger concern for some competitors. Most drivers used the same tyre strategy; however with the information we have after the race, two stints using the super soft was a realistic option. Driver style and car set-up and characteristics defined the tyre performance on this difficult track. Nico Rosberg completed nearly half race distance on the super soft showing that it had solid durability today."