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In quotes - Sunday in Abu Dhabi

29 Nov 2015

Ten teams, 20 drivers, and one official tyre supplier report back on the 2015 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix...

Pirelli

Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport Director

“As usual, Abu Dhabi delivered another very tactical race, during which Mercedes and Nico Rosberg in particular controlled the strategy perfectly. Congratulations to the entire team for the most dominant season in Formula One history, looking at the points scored. Tyre wear and degradation was well within control, even though we were using the two softest compounds in the range at Abu Dhabi, which enabled some entertaining battles all the way to the end of the race. Our 2016 season now starts in just 48 hours time when we embark on a 12-hour test throughout Tuesday, during which we will be testing the new ultrasoft tyre as well as new constructions for 2016.”

Toro Rosso

Carlos Sainz, 11th

“I’d say it’s been a good day and a positive weekend overall after a very tough start. I’m pleased because we managed to overcome all the problems we had on Friday and we put a very good race together to finish in P11 – I think it was the maximum we could do today. It shows that when we don’t suffer any problems we can be there. My rookie season ends with a positive feeling because I think we’ve had a good year and overall I’ve definitely learned a lot every race, become a better driver and this will make me stronger. I’d also like to thank the whole team for all their hard work during this year, it’s been great!”

Max Verstappen, 16th

“It wasn’t my day today. The pace was good, especially at the beginning, but it’s a shame that I locked-up my tyres into Turn 8 and therefore had to do an extra stop. From there on, my whole race was compromised and I knew it was going to be difficult to end up in the points. At least I enjoyed some last overtakes! It’s been a great season overall, I’ve really enjoyed my rookie season and I think we delivered some strong performances. This team has become already like a second family and I’d like to thank everyone here and at the factory in Faenza and Bicester.”

Cedrik Staudohar, Renault Sport F1 Track Support Leader

“Naturally we hoped for a better result today but at least we finished the race reliably. Even though we end the season on a relative low, we can be proud of the achievements this year, including two fourth positions and a total of 67 points, more than double last year’s total. It has been a pleasure to work with the STR team these last two years. Thanks to all at Viry and Faenza.”

Lotus

Romain Grosjean, 9th

“It’s been an emotional journey for me and I’m so happy to be able to reward everyone at Enstone with points in my final race for the team. I had to push all the way and it wasn’t always plain sailing as there was a lot to manage on the car. The calls from the pit wall were great and my pit stops were fantastic. I owe a lot to this team and it really feels like a family to me. I hope to be back one day in the future. This has been the best season of my career.”

Pastor Maldonado, DNF

“It’s sad to end the race in the first corner because we were looking good for the race. Today we had a good strategy to go with our better race pace, but anyway this is racing and it can happen. I didn’t see the contact I just felt it in the back of the car from Fernando. I tried to restart but then I saw the suspension damage. Imagine if that incident had been the other way round, it would’ve been big news then!”

Federico Gastaldi, Deputy Team Principal

"2015 has been an incredible year for us for so many reasons and I must say a massive thank you to everyone who has supported us through what has been a character-building season. The resolve of everyone at Enstone has been tested, but we have come through. Today’s race was illustrative of the fighting spirit of Enstone and Romain did us proud in his final race with us. Pastor was the victim of someone else’s incident so couldn’t end the season as he wanted. Our focus is now completely on 2016; watch this space, there’s plenty more to come.”

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director

"Romain drove a superb race and it’s a testament of all the hard work that’s been put in under difficult conditions over the year from everyone in the team that he could finish in the top ten in the final race of the season. Our relative pace today was much better than in qualifying and we were able to harness a strong strategy to move up the order. Pastor was very unfortunate at the start as he had looked strong all weekend here."

McLaren

Fernando Alonso, 17th

“This has been a tough and unlucky weekend: I had the puncture in Q1 yesterday, then I had no control at the start today, which pushed me into Pastor.

“That was it for me: there were no battles in the race, and I was pretty much alone. The race became more of a test session for me – hopefully we got some useful information for the winter, but I still had to save tyres and fuel.

“During the race, I told my engineers, ‘Guys, let’s try to push’, as we wanted to test the Supersoft tyre on low fuel, and everything worked fine.

“My preparations for 2016 start almost immediately: I have a seat-fit and simulator tests at the MTC next week. I’m optimistic that we can make good progress.”

Jenson Button, 12th

“That was probably my best race of the year.

“At my first pit-stop, I saw that Valtteri was going to get released – which his team shouldn’t really have done, as I was pulling into the pit-box – and I braced myself for the hit. It disrupted my stop and unsettled the boys quite a bit – the worst outcome for me was that I fell out of the DRS zone I’d been chasing to stay within all race. That has been our game-plan all year, and I lost time because of that.

“I’m happy with all we did today. I had to save fuel for the whole race, which hurt us and made things difficult, but I was still having fun out there. You wouldn’t think I’d have been able to keep a Williams-Mercedes behind for so long in the closing laps, because it was so much quicker in a straight line, but we could. That was a surprise, but a real positive to take away from today.

“I’m already looking forward to next year – we just need to keep pushing.”

Eric Boullier, Racing Director

“Today was a frustrating and exhausting race, fittingly bringing to an end an exhausting and frustrating season.

“Following yesterday’s qualifying performance, in which Jenson had bagged P12 and Fernando P17 [net P16], no progress was made this afternoon in terms of points-scoring potential, since our two drivers ended up 12th [Jenson] and 17th [Fernando].

“Neither man had a trouble-free run to his finishing position, Jenson suffering rear-wing endplate damage as a consequence of Valtteri’s unsafe release at the hands of the Williams pit-crew, and Fernando being lumbered with a drive-through penalty after having skirmished with Pastor [Maldonado] in a manner that we regarded as innocuous enough.

“Having said all that, there are reasons to be cheerful, if humble, not least because our corner speeds here have been more than respectable all weekend. Indeed, over the last five laps of today’s race, we switched Fernando’s settings to ‘full deployment’, not only so as to allow him to have a bit of on-track fun – to which enjoyment he’s been something of a stranger in recent weeks and months – but also so as to find out just how well our car would perform in that performance configuration.

“The results were more than somewhat encouraging. He carved his fastest lap on the race’s 52nd tour – 1m44.796s – and only two drivers bettered that: Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

“So we’re getting there; plainly, we are.

“To sum up, then, no, we haven’t had a great season. No, we can’t claim to have enjoyed every minute of it. No, we know it’s been tough for our drivers, our staff, our sponsor-partners and our fans. But, indubitably, yes, we have continued and we will continue to work as hard as is humanly possible to make up the performance deficit to our rivals.

“Finally, therefore, I want to pay tribute to those four discrete constituencies.

“Our drivers have been magnificent, both on track and off it, racing their hearts out while never complaining about the fact that their efforts could so rarely be rewarded with scorers-troubling finishing positions.

“Our staff have toiled tirelessly, exhibiting fantastic team spirit, at home and abroad; truly, guys, I salute you all.

“We’re immensely grateful to and proud of our sponsor-partners, who have continued to believe in us, which loyalty will pay high dividends before too long.

“And, last but very far from least, our fans have been supremely loyal, living and breathing the maxim #BelieveInMcLarenHonda against all odds and despite all disappointments. We salute you all, too. Merci et bravo!”

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

“First and foremost, I would like to thank our two drivers for supporting the team with their motivation and endless hard work throughout the season.

“Also, thank you to the whole team, who have been through so many ups and downs over the last 19 races. To them, and everyone holding the fort in both Woking and Sakura, I would like to say a huge well done. We couldn’t have kept improving and fighting this season without every single one of you.

“This Abu Dhabi race result was difficult, with incidents during the first lap and in the pit-lane, but we were able to confirm our progress with our package through proper battles in the mid-field. We can now look forward to the winter development, including focusing on the reliability and rectifying the deployment of the power unit. Our aim is to come back stronger and better for next year.

“Last, but by no means least, a big thank-you to all of our fans for their warmth throughout the year. It means everything to us we when receive your good wishes and encouragement.”

Marussia

Will Stevens, 18th

“I’m really pleased to end my debut season on a positive note with yet another two-car finish. It was also the best possible reward for the team - both here in Abu Dhabi and back at the factory - at the end of a long hard season. I’ve been feeling really comfortable in the car all weekend and thankfully I was able to carry that confidence through to the race today. On the whole, I’m pretty satisfied with how things have gone for me in my debut season. I gave it everything I have and I definitely feel like I’m just getting started, so fingers crossed this is just the beginning. I would like to thank everyone in the team for their support, but in particular John and Graeme, who we say goodbye to here today.”

Roberto Merhi, 19th

“A disappointing race for me today and not the finish to the season I was hoping for. We started from the pit lane after a mechanical set-up change during parc ferme conditions, so that made everything much more difficult for us. Then on the first stint I flat-spotted my tyres, but we’ve struggled with the brakes all weekend here. Nonetheless, I have a lot of positives from my debut F1 season to reflect on, including our best race result of the season - P12 at Silverstone. I would like to thank the whole team, not only for this opportunity but for the hard work throughout the season. We’ve had some difficult times, but I am very proud of us. My thanks also to John and Graeme and I wish them well for the future. I am sure we have not seen the last of them!”

John Booth, Team Principal

“It has been fantastic to end the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with yet another two-car finish, incredibly our 14th of the season. That really is quite a reliability record, considering the MR03 and MR03Bs have completed a total of nearly 45,000kms during 2014 and 2015.

“Our race today largely characterised our season; both the team and the drivers worked their hearts out, but there was a limit to what could be achieved with the package we have had this year. Nonetheless, we have achieved so much more with what we have than should ever have been possible and I am extremely proud of every single member of the team for having done so.

“I would also like to extend my sincere thanks to Scuderia Ferrari. They have been a joy to work with throughout our partnership and we have shared some very special memories together that I am sure we will all treasure.

“This is of course my final race with the Manor Marussia F1 Team. At a time like this, there is so much to say but I think the single biggest sentiment I will take away is incredible pride at just how much we punched above our weight for such a small team. It was a greater challenge than we ever anticipated, but six years on we are still here fighting. I wish the team every success in the future and I will be following their progress with a great deal of satisfaction at what we created together.”

Red Bull

Daniel Ricciardo, 6th

“Top 5 would have been a bit sweeter, but I couldn’t hold off Seb, whom we expected to get past us more towards the end of the race. I held him off for a lap and then, especially on those Options, his pace was so much quicker. I tried to get Perez, but couldn’t get close enough. At the start I had a sniff at Hulkenberg and went for it and that paid off. Parts of it were fun. I would have liked more battles though, but it looked quite spread out. It’s a circuit I enjoy fighting on. I have confidence in the big breaking zones here. I think we ended the season well and feel I got the most out of the car, so I’m leaving the season more happy than I was a few races ago. Sixth is probably not that representative of how good our weekend was, but I’m pretty pleased. I would love to go racing next weekend but at the same time I’m happy the season is over and I’m optimistic that next year will be better. I think we ended the season with a lot more feeling and confidence in the chassis. This season has made us stronger as a unit and I’m happy to move forward with these guys to be better next year.”

Daniil Kvyat, 10th

“It was good that we managed to finish and I was happy with my pace in the first half of the race. So, up until about midway, it looked as though we could have had a really strong race, as I was controlling Massa and attacking Hulkenberg, but then we had electronic issues and we had to give up the fight in a way. From then on we were losing a lot of time on the straight. Almost every lap we had to do something about our electronic issues, so under the circumstances, we did absolutely the best job we could today and I'm happy about that. Our focus from now is 2016 and if we can make some steps forward over the winter, we will be happy.”

Christian Horner, Team Principal

“Daniel did everything he could today. He drove a sensible race and looked after his tyres, but unfortunately Perez had too much of a speed advantage, particularly on the straights. Dany was having a good race but he suffered with an overheating issue, which compromised his ERS. Nevertheless, he drove well to pick up the final point. This long season has now drawn to an end: it’s been a demanding year, at times frustrating but we had a few highlights, and we now look forward to hopefully brighter prospects in 2016.”

Matthieu Dubois, Renault

“Even if we could have hoped for a little more today, both Red Bulls finishing in the points is more or less in line with our expectations. It was a reasonably busy race from a technical perspective as we had to get some of our system temperatures under control whilst maintaining the pace to keep racing, particularly with Daniil. The fuel management has also been reasonably challenging. Overall it is good to see all four Renault-powered cars crossing the line without major issue again. I would like to thank everyone at Viry for the work this year off and on track, as well as Red Bull Racing for was has been a tough but entertaining season.”

Force India

Sergio Perez, 5th

“It feels great to end the season with a strong performance and I’m very satisfied with how everything has gone this weekend – both in qualifying and the race. We pushed hard to try and beat Vettel today, but he had too much pace on the supersofts and it wasn’t possible to hold him back. The rest of the race was straightforward for me, with no big dramas, because I was on my own looking after the tyres. When I was running fourth I was pushing very hard to stay within Vettel’s pit window, which took a lot from my tyres and meant that Ricciardo was able to get close to me at the end of the race. Fortunately I had enough left to hold him off. I think we got the maximum that was available to us and we can be proud of our performance. Looking back on the whole season it’s been my best year in Formula One and the most successful year for the team. There is a lot of potential for next season and we will be aiming even higher.”

Nico Hulkenberg, 7th

“The race was a bit of a struggle at times, and I had a hard job on my hands. The start was pretty good - everyone went to the inside so I stuck to the outside. It was a brave move and I was able to make up a few places. However, I had a lot of understeer and it was difficult to get the car to turn in, especially at a track with so many tight corners, so I suffered in the first two stints. The final part of the race was a bit better and I was able to get into a rhythm, which was important to keep our position. It was a tough race so it was a really good result to come home with seventh place. It's been a good season for the team and we will be aiming to build on it over the winter months. From a personal point of view, it hasn't been one of my best years but it gives me an opportunity to learn from what happened and come back stronger. I am already looking forward to 2016 and working hard to make sure we are competitive from the first race of the season”

Otmar Szafnauer, Chief Operating Officer

“We end the season with a strong result and 16 world championship points – the most we’ve scored at any race this season. The strong result is the ideal way to conclude the most successful season in the team’s history. The car has been working very well here and the team has done a fantastic job to deliver our most competitive performance of the year in terms of outright pace. Today’s result shows just how much progress we have made this season and gives me confidence ahead of 2016. The second part of the season is testament to the hard work of everyone in the team and highlights the upward direction the team has followed in the last few years. We will celebrate this year's results, but we know we cannot rest on our laurels: we're already at work on our 2016 cars to pick up where we left off tonight and be competitive from the start of next year’s championship.”

Sauber

Marcus Ericsson, 14th

“It was a decent race after what was overall a difficult weekend. We tried a different strategy, but we were struggling to keep up with the midfield to fight for points. In terms of performance, we got the maximum out of what we had today. Of course, the result is disappointing. My first season with the Sauber F1 Team is finished – it has been a pleasure. First of all, I want to thank everyone, both at the track and also back at the factory, for their hard work. I have got to know a lot of great people. I have learned a lot during the year, and I am very happy to be staying for next season. I am confident we can keep pushing and make some steps forward next year.”

Felipe Nasr, 15th

“I was unlucky with my start to the race. I was in the sandwich between two cars, which caused damage to my front wing. Because of this, I had to make an early pit stop, which cost time. After that, it was all about catching up with the drivers in front of me. Finishing in this position was not the way we wanted to end the season. However, overall it’s been a good season for me. I am pleased we were able to keep the eighth position in the constructors’ championship, as well as holding onto my 13th in the drivers’ championship. It shows that everyone in the team put a lot of effort into this season throughout the year. I want to thank everyone for the dedicated work. Now we will focus on 2016.”

Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal

“After the season finale overall we can deliver a positive summary. Marcus and Felipe have learned a lot, showed their potential and been impressive with solid performances. It was a demanding and eventful 2015 season. Despite a difficult and challenging environment, we achieved our objective to have a significantly improved performance compared to 2014 due to the dedicated commitment by the whole team. I would like to say thanks to all the employees at the race track as well as in the factory in Hinwil. Now we will fully concentrate on the 2016 season.”

Williams

Felipe Massa, 8th

“It was a very tough race, but not much happened apart from trying to overtake a car with very similar pace. We didn't have the pace we wanted and we've paid the price in the last few races. This is a poor way to end the season, but it is a good motivator to come back strong in 2016. The guys are working hard so we hope to make gains over the winter.”

Valtteri Bottas, 13th

“Of course that was not the way we wanted to finish the season. But in the end this could be good - it was a proper wake-up call that we really need to raise our game if we want to challenge for the wins next year. We all know the facts, we need to find big gains with the car during the winter, and there are operational things we need to do better. Everyone knows it and we are fully motivated to fix these things and have a much better season next year. I need to say a big thank you to everyone in the team because we achieved third place in the Constructors' and with this team I managed to be fifth place in the Drivers' Championship. This season gave me some good things to remember, like a couple of very special podiums, but we want more so none of us are fully satisfied yet.”

Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering

“It wasn't the way we wanted to end our season, so we will go away and analyse how we could have done better at this race. We seemed to go forward in pace compared to Force India and Red Bull, but starting behind them in qualifying didn't help us. We shouldn't dwell on this race too much, we've had a really good season and finished a solid third again, which is important to the growth of the team. I'm incredibly proud of the way this team is constantly growing and improving. Our focus has been on the 2016 car for quite a long time, now we've got a long winter ahead and we have to come out the starting blocks in a full sprint next year.”

Ferrari

Kimi Raikkonen, 3rd

“It has been a nice and clean weekend, the car was handling well and we had no issues. In the race I was pretty happy with the speed and everything ran smoothly . We only had a small delay in the pit stops, which dropped us off a bit and we did not manage to really challenge the Mercedes. I think today we could have been closer, but third place here is an OK result, even if we always want to win and challenge for that. If we think where we were last year, there has been a really good effort from all the guys in the team. We have been pretty satisfied with the car all year long and the results have got better. Next year there is a new challenge and a new car: I think we have to keep doing the same things we did this year, improving consistently and working as one team, following the progress we did this year. Nobody knows what will happen next year and it’s too early to start guessing. We can only do our best and then we’ll see what the others do. Only time will tell.”

Sebastian Vettel, 4th

“Obviously I would have loved to get the podium again, but I think today’s result was the best possible one for us as a team. I lost quite a lot of time at the beginning and then kept playing catch up until the end. The pace was good, especially in the first and final stint, the car was also good and I managed to do some overtaking. I was very happy, it was good fun. We knew from before that Kimi and I would have crossed path with each other, as we were on very different tire strategies. It was clear that when Kimi would be close enough I would give him way to haunt the Mercedes: unfortunately that was not enough to achieve that, but I did not want to be in his way. I think we can be very happy for this season. Of course the last step to catch the Mercedes will also be the hardest one, but if you think about where we were only one year ago, this has been a miracle season. I can’t think of any other team which improved so much over a year. Big smiles are going around in our garage and for next year we want to increase the amount of smiles. I’ m very happy to have joined the team in this moment and to have had an opening year with Ferrari like I had. Hopefully we’ll have many more good ones coming”.

Maurizio Arrivabene, Team Principal

“Kimi drove a very good race today, as I expected him to do, and Seb charged from fifteenth on the grid to fourth place across the finish line. This is a result which wraps up a bit the whole season. Already at the first test last winter, we had had some positive feedback: but then we also knew that we had a mountain to climb, and the guys in the team did it step by step, both at the circuits and at the factory. It’s a whole team effort we were able to put on, with everybody working hard to improve. A big thanks to all of them, they’ve been fantastic and deserve the highest grades! Special thanks to our President, who never stopped pushing and supporting us from behind the curtains. Now we know that we face an even bigger challenge for next year, not only catching up on our rivals but also trying to stay ahead of them.”

Mercedes

Nico Rosberg, 1st

“This is the perfect ending to the season for me - something I hoped for so much after a tough year. To finish with six poles and three wins in a row is awesome. I am so happy that I found some performance at the end of the season. I also made my peace with this track after the toughest moment of my career here last year, which is a nice feeling. Today was really a perfect race. The start, the pit stops and the tyre management were all really good and I felt like I had it all under control. Thanks so much to my team for this amazing Silver Arrow - everyone at the factories and the track has done such an incredible job all year. I would love to start the 2016 season tomorrow - but I know that´s not possible. It’s strange, I'm enjoying the moment so much - but I'm thinking already very much of next year what I could change and where I can improve. We will all now have a well-deserved break with our families and I look forward to spending some more time with my wife and my little daughter.”

Lewis Hamilton, 2nd

“That was a very difficult race. My tyres were done at the end of the first stint sitting behind Nico. The second stint was very good – but I don’t really know what happened strategy-wise at the end. I haven’t finished the season as strongly as I started it – but what an incredible year it’s been. This team has done a remarkable job, so a big thank you to everyone back at the factories. I wouldn’t be standing here as World Champion without them. I’ll go away now for the winter aiming to come back stronger, fitter and straight on top of our new car for 2016.”

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

“A really great race for the team today, after so many great races this season. It was a busy evening both on the track and on the pit wall, with a lot of talk on the radio. We had a bit of a worry on Nico’s engine with the high mileage. Then, with Lewis, we wanted to leave strategy open to do something different with the offset and give him the best chance of the win. But in the end, Nico was extremely strong through the whole race and deserved the win; it was an accomplished performance. I am very pleased with the season. We’ve achieved some amazing records this year with the number of pole positions, front row lockouts, race wins and one-two finishes. But that’s not what’s most important. The most important thing is the spirit in the team, which has been fantastic. It’s a pleasure to work with these guys and girls and I know they’re all as determined as I am to carry this form into next year. Ferrari made a huge step forwards last winter and their development curve has been quite amazing. We need to be prepared for the same this year also and make sure we progress even further. When you start to think this is an easy ride you will lose.”

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)

“A great way to end the season, with a tense battle between Nico and Lewis running two different strategies under the Yas Marina floodlights. Each driver was stronger at different points in the race, which was fascinating to watch. Ferrari also kept us honest, with Kimi showing good pace, so we also had to mindful of that threat. Overall, though, Nico proved to have stronger pace overall and controlled the race to round off the season with a thoroughly well-deserved win. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank both drivers for doing a fantastic job over the course of the season. Their ability to manage the car when required and not make mistakes has been as impressive as their phenomenal pace every weekend – and a key element in securing the success we’ve enjoyed this season. A big thank you also to everybody who has contributed to designing, building and running this car so flawlessly this season.”