Bahrain Grand Prix - selected driver quotes 14 Mar 2010
HRTs Karun Chandhok on covering just one lap before retiring; Red Bulls Sebastian Vettel on the technical issues that lost him the lead of the race; and Ferraris Fernando Alonso on taking first blood in the battle for the championship after winning in Bahrain. All 24 drivers report back on Sundays race
Fernando Alonso (1st)
"I want to dedicate this victory to President Montezemolo, who believed in me and to our mechanics who did a really great job, especially this morning, when they changed the engine on my car in a very short time. Jumping onto the top step of the podium was a special feeling and I hope I have matched the expectations of the whole team. We worked so much this winter and now we are beginning to see the results of that. The first races of the season are very important: we must get to the European part of the year with a lot of points in the bag and a high level of understanding of how the tyres work at various types of track. The key to winning will be to continue to develop the car race by race. Today, on the harder tyres, we went very well, but with the softer ones, I was struggling a bit to stay close to Vettel. I was planning to attack in the final ten laps, but luck gave me a hand: you always need a bit in every race. At the start, I got away well, making the most of being on the clean side of the track and I managed to pass Felipe, going for a space that was big enough to pull off the move without any risk. Then I was lucky not to have any problems with the car, while my team mate had a more difficult time and had to ease up a bit. Now it's time to think about Australia. We will see who has the best car at that track, but I think the four top teams will all be in the fight."
Felipe Massa (2nd)
"I am very happy with this result and I want to thank all the team and our fans. It is my best opening race of a season since I started in Formula One and, given all the problems we had, I am very pleased. We had to manage the temperatures on the car and, for around thirty laps, I was not able to push as hard as I could. At the start, I lost a place to Alonso, but then the car worked well with both types of tyre. With the softer tyres, the Red Bull was quicker than us, but on the harder ones we were much better. I want to thank one more time all those who have been close to me over these past months, writing and sending me messages. Now we must look to Australia to be as well prepared as
Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari team principal
"A fantastic start to the championship! This amazing one-two is just reward for all the work of the team, both at the track and the factory in Maranello, over these past few months and I dedicate the result to them. Today, we had to manage a very complicated situation with Felipe's car, because of the high temperatures, but we did it and I was very happy to see our driver on the podium on what was a very special day for him. As for Fernando, what can I say? There could be no better way for him to start his adventure in red! I also want to thank our technical and commercial partners, first and foremost Philip Morris and Shell, who have always supported us, even in the most difficult times and I think there is no better way to also welcome on board a new important sponsor like the Santander Bank. Now we can enjoy this wonderful day for a few hours, but as from tomorrow, we must start preparing for the next round in Australia, adopting our usual approach which involves keeping calm, with our feet on the ground and working hard. We have a very long season ahead of us, in which reliability will be crucial, as indeed we saw yet again today and where we will be fighting very strong and determined adversaries."
Chris Dyer, Ferrari chief engineer
"A fantastic result for the whole team. We worked so hard over the winter - in the wind tunnel, in the design office, the engine department, on track, everywhere -and today we reaped our reward. It was a great welcome for Fernando and an equally nice welcome back for Felipe: it would be hard to have asked for more in the first race. It was not an easy weekend, because we had to tackle a whole series of problems which we controlled thanks to the efforts of everyone at the track and back home, but I really hope we have fewer of them in the future. Because of the high temperatures, we were not able to run the race we wanted, but especially with Felipe, we had to adopt a very conservative approach, although I don't think we were the only ones faced with that particular difficulty."
Lewis Hamilton (3rd)
Third place was a very strong result for us today. I feel that we did a good job: our reliability was great and the pace today was pretty good, but we still need to push very hard to close the gap to the cars in front. My race was decided on the first lap when I locked up at Turn Four, ran a bit wide, got in a bad position and Nico (Rosberg) got past me. After that, I spent the whole first stint close behind him, but just couldnt get close enough to pass him. After the pit stop, the guys were able to get me out ahead of Nico - which was a fantastic job, thanks guys - and I had some clear air and was able to make up quite a bit of ground to Felipe. If I hadnt been sitting behind Nico, I think I might have been able to challenge Felipe for second place. I had a slight vibration towards the end of the race, but I think it was just the result of a locked front wheel. When youre pushing to close the gap, you lock the tyres just once and it takes several laps to get over the flat-spot. But it wasnt a big problem.Its going to be difficult for us to close the performance gap immediately, but I think Ill go back to the factory and give them the biggest push. I know theyre all pushing flat-out as it is, but we need to get some upgrades, and we need to bring as many of them forward as we possibly can.
Jenson Button (7th)
At the start of the race, I didnt know what was going to happen to my tyres so I took it a little easy. I was a bit disappointed that we pitted when we did, because Id probably looked after the tyres a little too much - because, in the last five laps of the stint, I was able to push to catch Mark (Webber) and Michael (Schumacher). At the stop, I jumped Mark, which was great. It was a really good pit stop from the guys - both for Lewis and myself actually, because we each jumped the car in front. I then paced myself on the tyres until there were about 20 laps to go. I caught up with Michael, but didnt have enough pace through the middle sector to stay with him and have a go at him in the last sector, which was disappointing. But it was fun all the same. Overall, I think our car is pretty good at looking after its tyres, but theres always room for improvement and I think everybody in the team wants more speed and more downforce.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
"Both Lewis and Jenson raced very well here in Bahrain this afternoon. After the disappointment of our qualifying performance yesterday, the fact that our race pace was strong today was extremely encouraging. In fact, in the last part of the race, Lewiss was the fastest car on the track. However, like Jenson, who got stuck in a queue of traffic early on, Lewis was a little delayed by Nico in the first few laps. As a result, neither of our drivers was able to show their true race pace until after their pit stops. Happily, both our drivers benefited from excellent pit stops - Lewis got ahead of Nico and Jenson got ahead of Mark - so I want to take this opportunity to say Well played to the team for calling both pitstops at the right time and executing them so efficiently. Overall, then, were pretty happy with our haul of 21 world championship points today, and will now continue to develop our car on the back of this very promising first outing. Our aim is to be fully competitive in Australia. Last but not least, the seventh Bahrain Grand Prix was, as expected, an impressively organised event. This year is the second time it has been the first Grand Prix of the year, and Im sure that all who either took part in it or watched it will agree that it was a very worthy season-opener.
Sebastian Vettel (4th)
Its a pity today. It was positive all weekend, except for the exhaust failure [subsequently identified as spark plug, not exhaust, failure]. From Saturday morning onwards, we were one of the quickest cars on track in all conditions. We had control of the race today and we were on top of the strategy - everything was running smoothly. I think at every point I knew how my tyres were, so we kept good control of the tyres and brakes. At some stage, I think about 15 to 20 laps from the end, you could see my lap times were getting slower. It seems something mechanical broke, luckily we could continue and finished fourth, but we should have won today. It cost us a lot, but weve got 12 important points.
Mark Webber (8th)
It was a bit of a traffic jam out there. I had a fight with the two Mercedes in Turn One and Michael (Schumacher) had the inside for two; after that it was just about working out how we were going to jump them. It was very, very difficult to stay close to the cars in front. We got hurt yesterday in qualifying; we still managed to get a few points today, although not as many as we would have liked. We definitely learned a lot as a team today. It wasnt the most exciting grand prix Ive driven - following gearboxes all afternoon - but the world class drivers who were ahead dont normally make mistakes. I tried as hard as I could to make Jenson (Button) and Michael make mistakes, but it wasnt happening. We have a long championship ahead and the boys are working incredibly hard; we showed last year we can fight, so Im looking forward to Melbourne.
Christian Horner, Red Bull team principal
It was cruel luck with Sebastian today. He drove a great race and was pulling away at the front. We had a very good pit stop with him and he was controlling the lead comfortably until lap 33, when he had a sudden loss of power. He was then powerless to defend to the Ferraris and Hamilton, but he drove extremely well to retain fourth position. It gives us valuable points, but ultimately its very disappointing to lose such a great opportunity for a victory. Mark lost ground in the first turn and a little more with a slight sticking front tyre at his pit stop, losing him a place to Jenson (Button). After that, despite being a lot faster than the cars in front, he was unable to overtake.
Fabrice Low, Renault principal engineer track support
Its a very disappointing result. With the pace we showed yesterday we really thought we would get a better result. Mark had a bit of an engine problem at the start which lost him a place and then he lost another with the pit stop. He was eighth in the end, which shows how difficult it was to overtake. For Sebastian, everything seemed to be in our pocket, but then an exhaust problem caused him to lose power. He was still able to finish fourth, which shows great talent. We are a bit disappointed, but we can take a lot of positives from this weekend. We will clear the negatives and be stronger in Australia.
Nico Rosberg (5th)
"I had a great start today and was happy to be running in fourth position by the end of the first lap. However I lacked pace on the option tyres in the first stint and struggled for pace. Lewis beat me on strategy in the pit stop which we need to analyse later and see what happened. I couldn't quite get Sebastian at the end as I lost grip in the dirty air when I got close. However fifth place is a good start for us and I am confident that we can develop well from here."
Michael Schumacher (6th)
"After three years away, I'm happy to say that I had fun out there today, especially at the beginning with the good start that I had. I can live very well with sixth position and it gives both me and the team a good base to make progress. I have every confidence that we will improve the car. Working with the team for our first race together was very positive and the guys did a great job so I would like to thank them for their support in my comeback race. We all know that we have some way to go but we will get there. The season is long."
Ross Brawn, Mercedes GP team principal
"Nico and Michael did a great job this weekend to finish in fifth and sixth positions and now we need to give them the car to improve on those placings. We were not quick enough today and our race pace was not there to finish further up the field and challenge for a podium position. We have some hard work ahead but I am confident that we can progress the car strongly in the next few races. The team performed extremely well this weekend and for our first race with our two new drivers, we achieved two strong points-scoring finishes."
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"It was a difficult race weekend for our team with these extremely hot conditions in Manama. We looked better in the practice sessions than during the race and it appears that we could not handle the tyres as well as the teams ahead of us. Fifth position for Nico and sixth place for Michael was the best possible result today. We have some work to do and we are confident that we will catch up soon."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (9th)
I'm really pleased. We achieved our target and scored some points, which is a great result for myself and for the team. It was a difficult race as with this amount of fuel and the tyres, plus the heat, we had a bit to control but overall I think we can be pretty happy about how we handled it and to be in the points is magic. All the top teams finished ahead of us and there were no failures or reliability issues so it was the maximum we could have achieved. I'm now looking forward to Australia where we will get some more updates and it could put us in an even better position for the next race. Overall a great result for the team.
Adrian Sutil (12th)
At least we finished. After the incident in the first corner it was the maximum we could do. We had a good race in the end, learning a lot about the tyres and how the car behaves at the end of a race, but the incident pretty much destroyed my hopes of getting any points. I don't really know what happened in that corner - I was driving and then there was a big cloud of smoke so I was blind going into it. I touched someone and spun and that was it. It's a shame but we will keep pushing for the next race.
Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India chairman and team principal
What a great start to the season! I am absolutely delighted that we have scored in the first race of the season. It was always our aim to score points and we knew we had the pace to do it, but nevertheless to finally get there gives a great feeling. Tonio drove a superb race, matching the pace of the top teams in front, and it is certainly encouraging for the coming races. Adrian was unlucky and I know he will be disappointed not to have been able to capitalise on his starting position, but the season is long and he is hungry so I do not think he will have to wait long for his turn.
Rubens Barrichello (10th)
Its good to have a point, but in all honesty, we thought that we would do a little better when we arrived here. So its really all down to us, we can see that the competition is pretty fierce and there were no retirements among the leading cars. I think we finished around about where we deserved so it will be up to us to close up the gap.
Nico Hulkenberg (14th)
It was a tough and difficult debut for me today. Right from the start, I had to take some evasive action to avoid a crash in Turn Two, which dropped me couple of places and a few laps later, I spun at Turn Six. I am still not really sure how it happened, initially I thought there was something broken on the car, but it was not the case. I jumped the kerbs and maybe hurt the car a bit, as it was quite difficult to drive for the rest of what was a long and lonely afternoon for me. Its been a tough weekend, but the practice and long run pace has been good and we need to build on that.
Sam Michael, Williams technical director
It was today good to get both cars to the finish and one car in the points. Cosworth will also be happy with engine reliability after all their hard work over the winter. We went for a different strategy with Rubens on the prime tyre, but it looks like the option was quite strong. Nico had car damage after an early spin, so he spent the race learning about the tyres. We are looking forward to Melbourne and taking a step up in performance.
Robert Kubica (11th)
All our hard work this weekend was undone by the incident on the first lap. During the lap to the grid, we had high engine oil levels and we took some out on the grid, but it seemed like Webber had the same problem after turn one: his engine just sucked the oil in and there was a massive amount of smoke in front of me. I think Sutil just didnt lift off because he couldnt see anything and he hit me. I spun during the incident and that cooked the rear tyres: they were overheating from that point onwards and I eventually stopped very early on lap 12. I completed the rest of the race on hard tyres, and that was a big challenge: I just set myself the goal of finishing in the points, but we didnt quite make it. Without the incident on lap one, I think we would have had a very strong points finish because we showed the pace to fight well. Overall, it was a positive weekend for us, though: we were well prepared after the winter; the team did a fantastic job at the track and back in Enstone to get the cars ready with the new package, and we didnt have any issues with the engine or the brakes. Now, we need to keep working and keep pushing.
Vitaly Petrov (DNF)
I made a fantastic start and was running well in P11 at the end of the first lap. The car felt good, and my pace was better than Barrichello in front of me. Then I ran wide over a kerb in turn 12 and it seemed to damage the right-front suspension at that point. I came into the pits to have the car checked over, and that was when we realised that the suspension couldnt be repaired so I had to retire. It was an extremely disappointing end after such a great start, but Im pleased with how things went up to that point, and I want to thank all my mechanics and the whole team for the car they gave me this weekend. They did a fantastic job.
Eric Boullier, Renault team principal
Mixed feelings after this first race of the season. Robert fell victim to a racing incident on the first lap, when he touched another car, and he drove a fantastic race to climb back through the field. Its frustrating to finish so close to the points but, at the same time, we can be encouraged by the speed he demonstrated to get there. Im very disappointed for Vitaly, too: he made an outstanding start and drove very well in the opening laps, looking after his tyres without overdriving, and showing strong race pace. Overall, we can say that the R30 is a good basis to work from but were under no illusion about the amount of work ahead of us if we want to catch the teams in front. The whole team has put in an incredible amount of effort during recent weeks, both at the factory and here at the track this weekend. The team spirit is strong and were all motivated to keep on pushing to improve even more.
Alan Permane, Renault chief race engineer
We were disappointed not to score points today. Robert got hit from behind on the first lap and was running pretty much last at the end of lap one, before climbing back up to P11 where he ultimately finished. His pace on a long second stint on the hard tyre was very good. Vitaly made an excellent start before he experienced a problem with the front suspension that we are currently investigating. On the positive side, the car looked competitive in race trim and we had the pace to achieve a much stronger finish today. Im confident that, with the upgrades we have planned at the coming races, our performance will only improve in the weeks ahead.
Remi Taffin, Renault head of engine operations
The entire team had a very tough first weekend of the year but, in typical fashion, they all rose to the challenge. The two drivers did a fantastic job: Vitaly got better and better through the weekend, while Robert justified all the hopes we had for him and it was a shame to see him fall victim to a racing incident on lap one. On the engine front, we used the same engines throughout the weekend without any problems at all. We had no surprises running on the heavy fuel loads, no issues with fuel consumption and we respected every part of our planned strategy. We hope that our hard work will be rewarded with points at the next race in Australia.
Jaime Alguersuari (13th)
"It was positive that I managed to finish the first race of the season, also the first with the new no fuelling regulations. There is still a lot of room to improve, especially for me and also for the team as we should be in a position to challenge for points, being somewhere around seventh to eleventh in the races. We will need to work hard to achieve that. In terms of my physical condition, I feel that I am in much better shape than last year, when I had very little time to train, so that most of my races were just taxi drives. This track was not the best for us and now we must analyse all the data and see how to improve. One thing is certain, we need to qualify better."
Sebastien Buemi (16th)
"Im not sure what happened at the start, but I got a lot of wheelspin, so I did not get away well and everyone passed me. After that, the first lap was quite hectic and I got a couple of places back. We decided to stay on a one stop strategy and for a while it was going well and I closed on De la Rosa, but those who took on new tyres before me were faster and so they got past me. By the time I pitted, I had lost too many places. After changing tyres, I got stuck behind Jaime and was unable to pass him and with three laps to go, the car just stopped. Tough love!
Franz Tost, Toro Rosso team principal
This first race weekend did not go the way we expected, because, based on the result of our testing in February, we thought we would be closer to the points. Buemi suffered a hydraulic problem on Friday and hardly did any laps and was therefore unable to find the best set-up and we paid heavily for this in Qualifying. As for the race, we have to analyse why Buemi had such a poor start and now we have find out why his car stopped without warning, with what we assume was an electrical problem. At least Alguersuari finished the race, in thirteenth place, so this is another circuit he can tick off his learning book. We will now analyse the whole weekend in the hope of returning to the pace and reliability we had in winter testing and we are looking forward to fighting back in Melbourne.
Heikki Kovalainen (15th)
It was a good race for our team - to get both cars to the finish is a great achievement. My car didnt have a single problem, I know Jarno did and managed to nurse his car to the end, but the primary goal was to get both cars to the end and we achieved that. So far the team has reached every goal we set ourselves so that is fantastic. In terms of my race, I had a good start and was battling with a lot of guys we didnt think wed be fighting with. My tyres were fine, and the pitstop was good, but I lost a bit of time whilst letting cars past, and well look at the strategy for Australia to work around that better. I really enjoyed driving the car, it felt really good and it was good to push. Everybody in the team should be really happy but now the honeymoon is over and we need to start working on better results.
Jarno Trulli (17th)
I made a good start and avoided the accident at the second corner but found myself in the gravel so at this stage I was nearly last, but then I started picking up pace and catching the people in front. The car was understeering quite a lot and I couldnt really predict the balance so at the pitstop the team, who did a really good job, changed the front wing setting and I started pushing again and putting in some good laps. At the end of the race I had a hydraulic problem so I just had to get it to the end of the race. Im really happy and proud for the team because in six months every single target we have fixed we have met so its really good, and, as Tony said, one day Lotus will win and I hope to be here when we do.
Mike Gascoyne, Lotus chief technical officer
Im very very proud of the whole team. Everyone here, and back in Hingham. Firstly I have to say thank you to both drivers. They drove great races - Jarno struggling early on but when he changed to the soft tyre he was much more competitive. Apologies to Heikki because he may have suffered from the strategy, and apologies to Jarno because he had a hydraulics problem and he had to slow down to get the car to the finish, but overall a great result.
Tony Fernandes, Lotus team principal
Im completely over the moon! I cannot describe the feeling. Six months of work and to have both cars finish is just unbelievable. Were thrilled, were happy and the spirit in the team is fantastic. Im really proud of Jarno and of Heikki and everyone here. Its a great start and better than I could have dreamt of. We wanted to finish the race and to do so ahead of established teams is fantastic. From here we keep going. Before the race Clive Chapman gave me Colin Chapmans old Lotus cap and said when you win the first race youll be the man to throw this up in the air like my Dad used to. That meant a lot to me, it was a wonderful gesture and its like handing over the mantle of one of motor racings great dynasties.
Pedro de la Rosa (DNF)
"I actually had a good start, but then lost positions when I had to go off the track to avoid colliding with other cars. On the grass I lost acceleration and some cars were able to pass, so when I arrived at turn four I had lost several positions. Then I felt we had a car that was good enough to fight for points, and there still was a chance to achieve this when I was called into the pits on lap 29 because of an hydraulic problem."
Kamui Kobayashi (DNF)
"Unfortunately it was a short race for me because on lap 12 I lost the power steering and from then on I wasn't able to shift anymore due to a hydraulic problem. I had quite a good start when I made up four positions, but then I flat-spotted a tyre and, in hindsight, I also believe it would have been better to start on the softer compound. Pedro was faster on them."
Peter Sauber, BMW Sauber team principal
"I obviously had different hopes for how I would return to Formula One as a team principal, particularly after our promising winter testing. But even before the race our
grid positions were disappointing. The race itself was okay from a performance point of view, with both drivers fighting for positions before they both stopped with a hydraulic problem. We have to analyse and to solve this problem very quickly."
Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber head of engineering
"The race pace was okay. Pedro drove an intelligent race and managed his tyres really well. Kamui, who was on the harder compound, was forced to stop before his first scheduled pit stop, therefore there is not much to say. Neither car finished the race due to a hydraulic problem which we have to analyse."
Timo Glock (DNF)
The race was going quite well for me after I managed to overtake Heikki. We were having quite a good battle for where we were and it was nice to have that racing feeling again. But first I lost third gear and I had to drive around it. Then fifth followed and it was impossible to continue. We tried to find a fix but there was no way of getting back in the race, not even to get some important development mileage. Its disappointing but we have to take the rough with the smooth at this stage. We just need to focus now on doing whatever we need to do to come back stronger in Melbourne. My personal thanks to everyone in the team here in Bahrain and back in England. It has been an epic battle for us to reach this point and the single biggest thing we can take as a reward was our qualifying result yesterday, which showed what we can do if we continue to keep pushing.
Lucas di Grassi (DNF)
I got a great start and the car was feeling pretty good. I think we could have had a good race with the car that we had but then just a few laps into the race I had to pull over in turn 9 and my race was over before it had really begun. Theres no point being downhearted. Well be back in Melbourne with some new developments and a fix for the problems we experienced here. Its race one of 19 and theres a long way to go yet. I would like to thank the team for an incredible job here and over the past few months. Its been a huge effort and I hope for a better result for the whole team in Australia in two weeks time.
Nick Wirth, Virgin technical director
Lucas retired due to a hydraulic fitting failure, which has occurred at other points during this weekend. After some laps in the race Timos car experienced an unexpected rise in gearbox temperature followed by a gradual loss in the number of gears he could select, which ultimately caused him to retire. Were still currently investigating the cause of the high gearbox temperature. So we leave our first Grand Prix disappointed that we did not manage to get either car to the finish but at least we havent had a repeat of any of our winter testing problems. Most importantly, we now know that our faith in the all-CFD design approach was justified, as we have demonstrated that we have built a competitive Formula One car. That is one reward that we can take away from this weekend. Finally, congratulations to Lotus Racing on achieving a two-car finish in their first race. It is a fantastic achievement for a new team and I hope we can get Timo and Lucas to the flag in Melbourne in two weeks time.
Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone director of motorsport tyre development
"Today we were very happy with tyre performance. This was the first race under these new regulations so no-one knew exactly what to expect. Sebastian Vettel did a great job to manage his super softs at the beginning of the race, making the same set he used for qualifying last the longest of all the front runners. Fernando Alonso drove a very intelligent race for his win, and he was able to set the fastest lap near the end, showing he had managed his tyres very well. It was great to see Felipe Massa back on the podium. Tyre management, as expected, was very important in this first race with no refuelling. The cars and drivers which were more forgiving to their tyres were rewarded with more durable performance. This was only the first of 19 races this season. I think we all have a lot to learn about this season's best tyre strategies and it will be fascinating unlocking the secrets for the best performance in the races ahead."
Bruno Senna (DNF)
"It was certainly a relief to have been in the race for so many laps. Everything was going well. I felt I had a little too much understeer. I had a good base set-up now after these laps and my engineers will have a better starting point to work from for next race. There was a vibration from the back of the car a lap earlier and then the car suddenly stopped. We'll have to investigate what happened. But I am very happy for the whole team for their incredible hard work to ensure we are in a position to be racing again in Melbourne."
Karun Chandhok (DNF)
Sorry, this was my fifth lap on this track. I hit a bump in the new part of the circuit, I was not that much experienced in that part of the track as I had driven only four timed laps over the week-end. I was pushed on exit curb, trying to bring tyres in gently, I did not know that part of the circuit. I want to thank my mechanics for accompanying my first laps on this track and the whole team for a great weekend and long sleepless hours. Now let's look forward to start again in Melbourne."
Colin Kolles, HRT team principal
"I am satisfied the way things went. Karun Chandhok stopped early in the race, but it was not a mechanical failure, he could not know that the bump was there having too few miles in his car and had just never experienced that the bump was where it was on this track. We will go home with lots of important data to make step forwards as the season moves into the second Grand Prix and continue making consistent improvements. The focus today for the team was to start the race and run both cars on track. I would like to thank everyone for their dedication and we have taken an historic first step."