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In quotes - Sunday in Russia

11 Oct 2015

Ten teams, 20 drivers, and one official tyre supplier report back on Sunday's 2015 Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix...

Marussia

Roberto Merhi, 13th

“I’m really pleased with my race today. Everything went well for me through the weekend and finishing ahead is a nice way to end things on my return to the cockpit here in Sochi. It hasn’t been an easy weekend on the track. It seems that there was something happening every session and this made it difficult to find a good rhythm to prepare for today. Anyway, the race went well and it was very straightforward for me; pretty as much as we planned. Now I’m looking forward to my final race of the season in Abu Dhabi, but I’ll be on hand with the team at the next three rounds also.”

Will Stevens, 14th

“The start was very chaotic, as we expected to be the case here, and we all had to avoid the crash between Ericsson and Hulkenberg on the exit of turn 1. I lost position to Roberto and was behind him for the first stint, then at the restart I flat-spotted my tyres under braking and had to pit again, so our positions were pretty much set for the rest of the race. I think it has been one of those weekends here in Sochi. Nothing has been very straightforward so we have to be pleased with getting both cars to the finish again and look ahead to better things in the next few races.”

John Booth, Team Principal

“We leave Sochi pleased to bring both cars to the chequered flag, once again highlighting the excellent reliability of our package. Several events in the race enabled us to improve our position, with Roberto faring slightly better on his return to the cockpit for the penultimate time this season. Will had a more difficult race and his advantage was lost when he flat-spotted his tyres under braking, so he will be disappointed with that. Now we focus on the four remaining races, in The Americas and Abu Dhabi, and what we can learn there to aid the development of next year’s package. The next race in particular, in Austin, will be a biggie for us with Alexander in the car and we’re looking forward to that.”

Lotus

Romain Grosjean, DNF

“I lost the rear end in a very high speed corner going through turn three and couldn’t recover it. We don’t know exactly why yet. We need to check what has happened – was it a driver error or something technical? - we’ll see. I feel sorry for the guys because there will be a lot of work to repair the car. I feel okay physically and I’ll certainly be a bit sore tomorrow morning, but I’ll be completely fine again after a couple of days. We lost some good points today but let’s understand what happened and look forward to the next race.”

Pastor Maldonado, 7th

“It was a bit tough today but we opted for the right strategy from the beginning starting on the soft tyres and going longer on the first run. Unfortunately we lost a lot of time on the second stint with the new super soft tyres. Our car didn’t perform as expected at the beginning of the run but then after a few laps we started to get back into the rhythm. We scored points today which is very positive for the team and hopefully we can continue to do so in the next races.”

Federico Gastaldi, Deputy Team Principal

"The most important thing from today is that Romain’s okay after his crash. We were all very relieved when we saw him jump out of the car and he was his usual happy self when he came to the garage to tell everyone about what happened. Pastor had a solid race into the points from a less than ideal starting position so a good performance from him.”

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director

"We are looking at the data and speaking with Romain to ascertain what happened but obviously we’re glad all the safety measures did what they should. Pastor was able to make progress in a race that saw a reasonable amount of incidents. Not our strongest weekend so we’ll be looking to do better in Austin."

McLaren

Fernando Alonso, 11th

“To have both cars finish in the top 10 at a circuit where we didn’t expect to fare well, was a nice surprise. It was just a shame to lose out afterwards [owing to a 5s penalty for corner-cutting]. In fact, the car performed very well in the race – I think we were able to look after the tyres a little bit better than the cars around us, and, on an afternoon where every little bit helped, we made the most of that.

“We’ll now hope for more performance at the next race, in the USA. It’ll be tough, and we’ll have to remain realistic, but I’m definitely happy with today’s result.

“Now, we can keep moving forwards and improve things for the future.”

Jenson Button, 9th

“Today, we did everything right, did the best we could, and we took home some points.

“I was a sitting duck for the first couple of laps: I couldn’t really fight off the people behind, my deployment was cutting off at the end of the straights, so it was very easy for people to overtake. That was tricky: they were trying to pass me into Turn 13, which is a pretty scary place, especially when you don’t have DRS and can’t gauge the closing speed of the cars behind.

“Still, it wasn’t bad. I was racing Fernando for the whole race, which was all I could really do, as all the other cars were quicker.

“We haven’t made massive progress with the car’s performance, but we did lots of interesting things with the set-up this weekend. We’ll analyse those and see whether they paid off or not.”

Eric Boullier, Racing Director, McLaren-Honda

“Rarely, if ever, have two world championship points been harder earned or more richly deserved, for Jenson and Fernando both drove the wheels off their MP4-30s here in Sochi today.

“This circuit isn’t one that suits our car well, and our boys duly found it difficult to defend their positions on the straights in particular. But they didn’t put a foot wrong all afternoon, finishing ninth and 10th on the road, and I’m delighted that, as a result, we were able to score another points finish, even though sadly Fernando later lost his 10th place in the stewards’ room.

“I’d also like to say ‘well done’ to our friends at Honda, whose power units again performed with commendable reliability.

“We’ve got a lot of work still to do, but the good news is that, together, we’re successfully doing it.

“Next up is the United States Grand Prix at Austin, where we’re hoping to continue making steady progress. We know we’re not where we want to be yet, but we’re getting there.”

Yasuhisa Arai, Honda R&D Senior Managing Officer - Chief Officer of Motorsport

“I’m glad to have two cars home after such a chaotic race – and for Jenson to score two points for ninth position. Not only was this a difficult track for our power units, but there were also two Safety Car incidents and many more retirements.

“Our drivers and team remained calm throughout the afternoon, and we were able to stick to our strategies. I'm sure it was difficult to save fuel, keep calm, and push when needed during the race, but I think we came together in the end as a team.

“This points finish will be good motivation for further improvement at our next grand prix, in the United States.”

Red Bull

Daniil Kvyat, 5th

“I think we squeezed everything out of it today and ten points at the end of such a complicated race is a very good achievement, so we have to be satisfied with these points. With hindsight, you could say we could have run a slightly better strategy, but you can never be completely sure how these things will turn out and you never stop learning in this respect. It was nice to see all the people that came here to support me today, it’s a great feeling and hopefully it will continue and get better and better. I could also see that other drivers had their fans in the crowd as well which was nice, it’s a true passion and it looks like in Russia the sport is growing a lot and many people are coming which is great to see. I’m already looking forward to Austin because I think it should suit us a little bit better and I’m looking forward to those high speed corners.”

Daniel Ricciardo, DNF

“I’m happy with how I drove but it’s a shame we don’t have any points to show for it. The risky strategy was working well and we were looking good to earn some decent points. We’re not sure what happened, we suspect it’s a suspension issue. I came out of turn four and I felt something was not right and I reported back to the team. The team will investigate the issue but I think considering we weren’t expecting too much from this track, we can be pleased that we were racing with the faster cars of Williams and Ferrari and managed to keep them behind us for a good while.”

Christian Horner, Team Principal

“A real shame for Daniel today. With the early safety car we took a risk to go for an early stop switching him to the harder tyre and thereafter he made it work fantastically well, keeping the faster cars of Bottas and Raikkonen behind him until losing time with a backmarker, which allowed Bottas to get past him. Shortly after that, the car developed what we suspect is a suspension issue which caused his retirement. When the safety car came out, we elected to cover our options and with Dany we went for a more conventional strategy. Finishing P5*, having started eleventh, is a respectable result in his home race.”

Matthieu Dubois, Renault

“The race was reasonably eventful for everyone so there is some satisfaction to be taken from the result today. Our power units operated without any issues on the demanding circuit. Faultless reliability has been our primary focus for some time and today we showed our efforts are paying off. We feel sorry for Daniel, who was equally on for a good result but I am sure there will be more opportunities to grab one in the four remaining races.”

Force India

Sergio Perez, 3rd

“It feels great to be back on the podium and to be able to celebrate with my team. I have been enjoying my time with the team so much and this is a great reward for all the work we have put in together. The call to pit under the safety car turned out to be very good because it gave us track position ahead of all the battles. With one lap to go, when Valtteri (Bottas) and Kimi (Raikkonen) passed me, it felt like this result had been taken from us: I was obviously disappointed but I also knew I had given all I could during the race. There was no more I could do because I had been on the same tyres for more than 40 laps. When I finally managed to get back into third it was just an amazing feeling. I am happy I was able to share this second podium with my team. It's a very special result and one that fills me with expectation ahead of the races in Austin and especially Mexico City.”

Nico Hulkenberg, DNF

“I didn't have the best of starts, but then I was able to pick the ideal line on the approach to turn two. Unfortunately, I locked the rears going into turn two and, when that happens, you just end up in a spin. I hoped the whole field would get past without hitting me but unfortunately Ericsson got stuck with me and I couldn't move away. The first lap is always a unique situation: I didn't brake any later, but with cold tyres it's really tricky and once the tyres locked there was nothing I could do to save it. It's always a pity to go out at the start and it's really frustrating because our pace seemed really good this weekend. I just want to move on and start thinking about the next race. At the same time I have to say well done to Checo because the podium is a great result for the team.”

Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal

“We have to compliment the team on a great performance and a perfect strategy. Pitting Sergio under the safety car was an aggressive call, but it paid off. We knew we would be under pressure towards the end, but having track position was crucial and the events on the final lap vindicated our decision. Checo did a great job defending against Ricciardo first and Bottas later until the very final stages and then we had some good fortune on the final lap. The only blot on our copybook today was Nico's accident at the start. It was unfortunate but he will bounce back in Austin. Our recent run of form is testament to the great job we have done over the last few months and it’s incredibly satisfying to deliver on the potential we have shown with a podium. We're on target to consolidate our fifth position in the championship and that has to be our objective for the end of the season before we push hard to move forward next year.”

Sauber

Marcus Ericsson, DNF

“A difficult weekend for me, but I was still optimistic for the race. As I started from the back of the field, we chose an alternative strategy starting on soft tyres. The start was good, as I was able to overtake a few cars going down to turn two. Then I suddenly saw Nico (Hulkenberg) facing the wrong way. I had nowhere to go and went into him. This is very disappointing as the car was quite competitive here. A missed opportunity, which is frustrating for me. Now I will recharge and try it again during the next race weekend.”

Felipe Nasr, 6th

“I am very satisfied with the result today. It was an intense race from the beginning to the end. The pace of the car was quite competitive, especially on the supersoft tyres, and we were temporarily able to keep ahead of some strong competitors. The balance of the car with the soft tyres was not as good as with the supersofts. Nevertheless, well done to the team, those points are for all of them. They all did a great job. These are the opportunites we cannot miss, and I am glad we extracted the maximum today.”

Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal

“A great job by the team – here in Sochi as well as at the factory in Hinwil. Felipe had a very good race. Directly after the start he was lucky enough to drive around a tricky situation. With a strong performance, he was able to show the potential of the car. There is even more to extract from the Sauber C34-Ferrari. Unfortunately, Marcus had no luck. It was not his weekend. He managed to have a good start, but then ran into another competitor after he spun.”

Pirelli

Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport Director

“First and foremost, we’re delighted to confirm that we reached a commercial agreement with Bernie Ecclestone to remain in Formula One for the 2017-2019 period. The process to the formal FIA official nomination will follow with its procedure.
Looking at the race, with very little practice time and therefore tyre information, the drivers and strategists had to think on their feet, reading the race carefully in order to react to changing situations in real time. It’s a testimony to the high level at which Formula One operates that they all rose to this unique challenge with no real issues. We saw a variety of different strategies, and some very effective tyre management that helped many drivers move up the field in an action-packed race.”

Toro Rosso

Max Verstappen, 10th

“I’m disappointed. It certainly wasn’t the best of race starts, as I got clipped because the cars in front of me crashed and from then on it was a very difficult race. I had a lot of damage on the car, especially at the rear, and it wasn’t behaving as it should’ve been. It was very difficult for me to continue, but we tried to, hoping we could get back into the points, even though in the end it wasn’t possible.”

Carlos Sainz, DNF

“What a disappointing way to end what was being such a good race! But I have to say that I’m happy I could race after what happened yesterday. Today’s was a good performance in difficult conditions. I started from P20, pushed hard and suddenly I found myself in P7… We could’ve even ended in P6! Towards the end of the race I was warned to look after my brakes as the temperatures were very high and I was managing to do that while still racing at a good pace. Unfortunately, with only eight laps to go the brakes said ‘enough’ at Turn 13 and that was the end of my race. I have to be thankful to the whole team, they did a great job for me to be racing out there today after yesterday’s crash. The car was in perfect conditions. Now I will certainly get some rest during the next couple of days!”

Franz Tost, Team Principal

“It was a very difficult and emotional race weekend for the team, with a lot of up and downs. Of course, Carlos’ crash in yesterday’s FP3 was the worst moment, especially the minutes just after the accident, when we didn’t know what had happened as we lost all radio connections. Fortunately, everybody was delighted once we found out he wasn’t injured and that he was in a position to race today. Max did a very good qualifying yesterday, finishing in P9, which showed the potential of the car. Today in the race, unfortunately he wasn’t able to avoid the collision between Ericsson and Hulkenberg at Turn 2, as he was hit and damaged his tyre. He came back to the pits and we changed it, but we also saw that the floor and the rear suspension were also damaged, so his race was compromised because of this. He attacked and did a good race, but in the end he couldn’t do more than finish in P11 unfortunately. Carlos did a fantastic race. He was on the way to a sixth or seventh position finish, because he was 10 seconds ahead of Kvyat, who finished in P6. He had some problems with the front-left brake, which was overheating, so therefore he had to retire. Currently we don’t understand how this happened, because the data shows that the brake system worked quite well from the beginning onwards, but with only ten laps to go suddenly the temperatures increased dramatically. It would’ve been a fantastic recovery for Carlos after yesterday’s accident.”

Cedrik Staudohar, Renault Sport F1 track support leader

“First of all, everyone is really happy that Carlos was fine and able to participate to the race after his huge crash yesterday. I would like also to say a big thank you to our mechanics who did a great job to rebuild the car with a new power unit that worked well in the race without any issues. Obviously we are disappointed with the final results but the performance of the car in normal conditions was good, which is a positive on a demanding circuit. Reliability was also there yet again here so we have to keep it in that sweet spot until the end of the season.”

Williams

Valtteri Bottas, 12th

“It was quite a strange race with lots of accidents and safety cars, and we managed to do a very good job as a team to give me a good shot at the podium. I was running in P3 on the last lap and then I was hit from behind in Turn 4 and that was it. It’s difficult to describe the disappointment because the team has worked so hard all week to get a good result, and then the result we feel like we deserved was lost with only one lap remaining. It’s a tough end to the weekend.”

Felipe Massa, 4th

“It was a good result for me today and we managed to do well to fight back from a disappointing qualifying yesterday. I lost a bit of time behind slower cars at the beginning of the race because I was on harder tyres than those around me, but the pace was very good on the supersofts at the end. This allowed me to close up and be in a position to collect more points on the final lap due to the incidents up ahead.”

Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering

“Obviously we are bitterly disappointed to lose what looked like a deserved podium finish on the last lap of the race. The team has done a good job and made the right strategy calls, and both drivers did a fantastic job, so to come away with less points than we should have and no silverware is frustrating. Pirelli did a good job with the tyres this week and on different strategies our cars managed to make them work for us when needed. We now have to go on to the USA and Mexico in good spirits and to use the positives of this race weekend and the strong pace we have shown to make amends and have another strong weekend.”

Ferrari

Kimi Raikkonen, 8th

“All through the race the car was behaving well, especially after the pit stop, but then I was stuck behind other cars and had no speed on the straight, so it was hard to get past. In the final stages, I tried to overtake Valtteri in the same place I had passed him earlier in the race, I had a good run in turn 3 and in the next one there would have been enough space, so I decided to go for it. I don’t know if he was not expecting me at all or if he did not see me, but once I decided to go there was no way I could back off. I tried to turn inside as much as I could, but there was no way to go and in the end we collided. It is an unfortunate thing for us and for them, nobody want to have an accident even if it’s part of racing. It’s really a shame, but my move was based on a good chance and not something completely crazy.”

Sebastian Vettel, 2nd

“Overall I am very happy. It was a great day, a great race and I felt really good in the car. In particular I am very happy for the Team, they have done a great job, after the lacking practice the days before. My start was not so good, I struggled a little bit, but as the race went on I fought my way to the front. After the safety car came in I could overtake Kimi and start the hunt for Williams. As for my fight with Kimi, first of all I think we both enjoyed the battle that since it was still so early in the race, it was right to let us fight to provide some excitement. In the end I was just able to finish my race. Lewis deserved the win, but we were maybe closer than some had expected.”

Maurizio Arrivabene, Team Principal

“Once again, as I said many times before, I was impressed by Seb’s skills. He proved to be a good asset for the team and he shows at every race what a great driver he is. He drives a very good car, that’s for sure, but he can add that little extra that is a champion’s trademark. As for his battle with Kimi in the first stages of the race, our drivers are well aware that the team has its rules of engagement: so it was a nice fight between two great drivers. Our race strategy was the right one, congratulations to Iñaki Rueda: if Kimi had managed to get past Bottas in the final round, that would have further shown that we were on the right tactics. It’s up to the Stewards to decide on the accident they had, but to me it clearly looked like a normal race episode. Now Seb is running second in the Drivers’ standing and, mathematically, the race to the championship is still open: but our humbleness says this is not the case. So, as a priority, we have to work race-by-race to consolidate our current position.”

Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton, 1st

“It’s just an amazing feeling today. I have a huge admiration for this team. Driving the car through that race, it just felt so good and this is what I’ve always dreamed of having. Even though you’re in the front, it’s still a hard race to stay in the zone and not make mistakes. We were only doing a one-stop, so you’re trying not to lock up and damage the tyres. I felt like it was a big challenge today. It’s a shame I didn’t get to race with Nico, which I was really excited about. I’m glad my car made it as the rear wing was getting a bit loose towards the end, so I had to stay off the kerbs and try not to damage the car. I’ve got to enjoy what’s going on now and cherish the moment; there are still lots of points available this year. To get the Constructors’ Championship feels very special and a great feeling to be a part of this and to have contributed to the team’s success. It’s really an amazing feeling and I’m very proud of them up there on the podium, to see all their smiling faces. I feel like a small part in the chain of many people; I’m proud of that part and I look forward to seeing the whole team tomorrow at the factory. I knew the guys were going to do a good job this year but they’ve done an even better job this year than last, which is phenomenal.”

Nico Rosberg, DNF

“Racing can be very tough. You put so much effort into a weekend but in the end I leave Russia with no points. A very disappointing weekend for me. It all went well until the Safety Car came out. My throttle pedal came into my direction. At one point I wasn’t able to steer anymore as I had to lift my foot too much and touched the steering wheel with my knee. In the recent months I had some unlucky moments, which made it hard in the battle against Lewis. But I will come back and keep pushing. We can be very happy that we secured the Constructors’ title a second time in a row. So it’s a good day for everyone in the factories and we have to thank all that made this happen.”

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

“That was a day with every possible emotion: a bittersweet day on track, then a tense wait – and finally a confirmation that we have won a second world championship. Wow, there are never any simple days in this sport! But what a feeling it is to win a second title and a privilege to be part of this team. A world championship isn’t just about points on a scoreboard, it’s about many hours of hard work and sacrifice from every single member of the team, most of whom are away from the limelight‎ and work with incredible dedication six or seven days a week. Well done to every one of them in Brackley, Brixworth and Stuttgart; you have done a sensational job. Likewise, it may sound like a corporate line, but I must say thank you to all of our partners who have supported us every step of the way to deliver this level of performance; they make a fundamental contribution to our success. As for the race itself, it was a bittersweet experience. Lewis drove a fantastic race and didn’t put a foot wrong even though he had some problems to manage, especially towards the end with an aerodynamic instability on his rear wing. But he brought the car home in a really controlled way and strengthened his lead, well done to him. But I’m gutted for Nico after a problem with his throttle mechanism forced him to retire. It shows how sport this cruel can be: he had a brilliant weekend and opening lap, and I can only take my hat off to him about how he handled the situation, both in the car trying to find a solution – and afterwards in his professionalism. It’s another reminder to us that, even with the steps forward we have taken on reliability this year, our work is never done and we need to keep focusing on every tiny detail. But now we can sit back and savour the moment: the party will start tomorrow back at base!”

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)

“Fantastic news to get the second World Championship. A very strange way to get this now as a result of the penalty but the result still stands; a great credit to the teams at Brackley, Brixworth and Stuttgart for the fantastic effort that brought us to this stage with such dominance to win the Constructors’ Championship before the end of the season. In the race itself, it was good to see both cars make a good start today and get cleanly through Turn Two. After the early Safety Car a problem emerged with Nico’s throttle control, preventing him from lifting off fully and in an inconsistent manner. Eventually this got so bad, we retired the car. It’s emerged as a mechanical failure of the throttle pedal damper, which was causing a blockage. We are very sorry to Nico to lose so many points from the lead. A much better day for Lewis; there were some issues to manage in terms of whether to pit under the safety car, but we picked the right strategy and had good pace and tyre consistency through the race to manage the gap well. He did have a bit of an issue with his rear wing towards the second half of the race which became worse towards the end, where we were seeing some loss of downforce during braking. We had to warn him about that and we will find out in due course what was causing that. A great win for Lewis in the end, so congratulations to him.”

Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars

“What an incredible moment for Mercedes-Benz! Congratulations to our team in Brackley and Brixworth who have worked so hard to make this achievement possible, winning a second world championship in a row.

After winning in 2014, we raised the bar again to secure this year’s title, and we needed to because our rivals gave us plenty of headaches as they stepped up their performance. The work by our team is the perfect example of what drives Mercedes-Benz forward: the best technology. The most efficient hybrid petrol engine that our company has ever made, world-beating aerodynamics and intelligent design in every part of the W06 Hybrid racing car.

Most importantly, though, we must not forget the human factor: we have two exceptional sportsmen at the wheel, Lewis and Nico, and a fantastic team behind the scenes, who have delivered 12 wins in 15 races so far this year. Their work has made every employee of Mercedes-Benz a world champion and we are very proud of them.”