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In quotes - Sunday in Melbourne

15 Mar 2015

The season-opening 2015 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix threw up plenty of drama, with Ferrari back on the podium, numerous retirements, and points for not one but two F1 rookies. Here's what those involved made of the race...

Lotus

Romain Grosjean - DNF
“We had a loss of power on the formation lap; there was a technical issue which we are investigating. It’s not how you want to end your race, but we know the car is good and we’re miles ahead of where we were last season. We have a good baseline with the E23 and a good engine. We also have new pieces that we are bringing over for the next races, so more performance coming. The first race is always a bit of a tricky one, you never know what might happen and, unfortunately it was bad luck for us today but it doesn’t matter: I’m still very hopeful for the year."
 
Pastor Maldonado - DNF
“Racing is like this. It was quite busy start, going into a narrow corner. I just felt a big hit on the back and didn’t see what happened. It’s disappointing because it was a great chance for us to have a great race. The pace of the car was looking much better than in qualifying, so looking forward we can learn from this race. It was a good weekend until today, it’s looking quite promising. In two weeks we will be again fighting for points and again doing our best to be even more competitive."
 
Federico Gastaldi, Deputy Team Principal
"What a frustrating day! Pastor’s race ended through no fault of his own and Romain’s race was over at the end of the first lap too. This is not the way any team wants to start the season and there were a few choice words in the garage when we realised our race was over so soon. It was particularly frustrating as we had great potential to deliver very strong results today. The team is not downcast, however, and we have a lot of enthusiasm for the races ahead as we’ve seen what is possible from the season ahead. The whole vibe of the team is tremendously positive.”
 
Nick Chester, Technical Director
"A very short race for us to end a weekend full of promise. Pastor was an innocent victim whilst Romain suffered from a loss of power which we are investigating. We ran very reliably in pre-season testing, but sometimes certain issues don’t manifest themselves until the season starts. Everyone back in Enstone will get to the root of the issue and we’ll come back fighting in Malaysia. Fortunately today was one race in twenty and we’ve demonstrated over the course of the weekend that the E23 Hybrid has tremendous potential. We can’t wait to exploit this potential once we get to Sepang."

McLaren

Jenson Button - 11th

“Today has been a good day.

“We’re still a long way off, but this is a good starting point – and I enjoyed the race. I even had a good little battle with Checo [Perez]. Today also really helps in terms of development: if we’d done three laps, we’d have learned nothing, so we’ve learned a massive amount by completing a race distance.

“It was also a good opportunity for me to get used to the car and to play around with it, making adjustments in the cockpit. There’s a lot of work still needed – on power, driveability, downforce and set-up – but we can make big strides. And, by improving one area, it tends to snowball; more and more areas start to improve, too.

“There were more positives: we’re as quick as the Force Indias in the corners, and we look similar in speed through the corners to the Red Bulls and Saubers, too.

“It’s been a tough winter – our longest run in testing was just 12 laps, so today’s 58-lap run was a good step forward – but we know we’ve got a lot of work to do. But, with all of today’s learning, there are many areas we can improve for the next race.”

Kevin Magnussen - DNF

“Today was frustrating for me – I really wanted to race the car – but it’s been good to get out here this weekend. I’ve really enjoyed it.

“Even though I couldn’t make the start, the team can learn something from my car’s problem. And we can take positives from Jenson finishing the race, too – we came here to learn, and that’s what we did. Finishing is a small victory for the team – I don’t think we expected to be able to do that.

“Now we can get a car to the finish line, we can start to accelerate our learning. We got 56 valuable laps under our belts today, and that’s a great way for McLaren and Honda to start our journey together.”

Eric Boullier, Racing director

“After a tremendously difficult weekend, it’s not easy to find positives, but in fact there are some.

“First and foremost, we’re pleased that Jenson’s car was able to finish the race. He drove extremely well, keeping Checo behind him very adroitly for many laps, and garnering us a great deal of useful data in completing 56 laps.

“Having said that, he was lapped not once but twice by the race winner, Lewis [Hamilton], and we know we have a mountain to climb as far as performance is concerned. Nonetheless, our corner speeds were pretty decent, and there’s definitely untapped potential in MP4-30 that both Honda and ourselves can unlock.

“As for Kevin, he was very unlucky to have his race ended by an as-yet-unspecified power unit glitch before it had even begun.

“Last but very far from least, I want to thank and pay tribute to our mechanics, who’ve worked hard, day after day. They’re unsung heroes, every one of them, which is why I want to take this opportunity to sing their praises in no uncertain terms.

“In two weeks’ time we’ll be racing in Sepang [Malaysia], where the weather is bound to be extremely hot and humid. I’m not going to be rash enough to predict a form upswing in so short a time frame, but we’ll be working flat-out between now and then to make performance and reliability gains in any and every way we can, of that you may be 100 per cent certain.”

Yasuhisa Arai, Honda R&D senior managing officer – chief officer of motorsport

“The fact that Jenson was able to finish the race was a significant step forward for the whole team. Equally, today’s performance clearly displays the task that lies ahead of us to reach our objectives of achieving full competitiveness.

“This was an important race for Kevin, and we feel deeply for him. It’s a great pity that we weren’t able to provide him with a driveable power unit for the race. We still need to fully investigate the source of Kevin’s problem, and we won’t be able to look into it until the car comes back to us and we’re able to take off the engine cover.

“We now turn our attention to Malaysia – racing in such a hot and humid environment will not be easy, and our main objectives will be to tackle heat-mapping and taking a step forward with a more competitive data setting.”

Force India

Nico Hulkenberg - 7th

“I am very pleased with today's result and starting the season with two cars in the points is always positive. It was a good race; I didn't make any mistakes and, while the reliability of our car helped us take advantage of the problems of others, at this stage in the season it is important to capitalise on any opportunity. We were ready when it counted; we had a good strategy and we delivered under the pressure. In terms of performance we are not yet where we would like to be, but everyone is working really hard to get there and make our car quicker. With points on the board we can now look forward to Malaysia in a couple of weeks and hopefully take another step forward."

Sergio Perez - 10th

“It was one of those unusual races where so many things happened, but I’m certainly happy to come away with a point and see Nico also score good points for the team. We went for a different strategy compared to Nico to maximise the team’s chances so I started on the medium tyres in order to have the advantage on the softs at the end of the race. Unfortunately, after the safety car the FIA asked me to give a place back to Ericsson, which also meant dropping behind Button, and that was really painful for my race. Button was on the soft tyres and, although I was quicker, it was not easy to overtake and I lost a lot of track position. Still, I’m focussing on the positives of scoring a point from a difficult race, which is a good result for the team."

Vijay Mallya, Team Principal and Managing Director

“A double points finish is a positive way to start the season and a reward for all the hard work everyone in the team produced over the winter. In a race with high attrition, we made the most of the reliability of the VJM08, which at the moment is one of our strengths. Nico completed an excellent race, without putting a wheel wrong from lights to flag; he looked in control and we were never in doubt he would score well today. Sergio had an eventful race, recovering from contact and a spin early on: he made the most of his ability to manage the tyres with a very long stint and was able to score a point. Unfortunately, Sergio had to relinquish the positions he made at the start, otherwise he would have been very close to Nico. Still, it is always good to start a season with two cars in the points and we can leave Melbourne feeling positive."

Williams

Felipe Massa - 4th

"The aim of today was start the season with a solid points haul and demonstrate that we have a competitive car. We have managed to achieve much of what we wanted so this has been a positive start. The only disappointing part of the race was that I was jumped at the first pitstop by Vettel after losing a second and a half behind Ricciardo on my out-lap which was enough to lose the position. I have faith in the team and the car and we head to Malaysia knowing we are very much in the fight."

Valtteri Bottas - DNS

"I have done a lot of work since the issue with my back came in qualifying to get myself ready, starting treatment immediately, so the news that I couldn’t race today was obviously disappointing but I respect the decision. I now have two weeks until the next race to receive further treatment to ensure I will be back to full fitness and even stronger in Malaysia. I’m very eager to get back in the car and race because the FW37 is looking competitive and I’m confident we can fight for podiums."

Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering

"It’s always difficult to compete with only 50 percent of your armoury with Valtteri having to miss the race, so today was about damage limitation in the constructors’ championship and we have managed to come away only a few points behind Ferrari which is a decent result. The team worked very well as a unit all weekend; the pit stop was good and so was the work on the pitwall. We made a decision to pit early because Vettel was a bit quicker behind us, but unfortunately this didn’t pay off for us. We are in a really competitive battle with the teams around us so this race is a marker for the rest of the season. We need to continue improving the car and getting maximum performance from what is a strong package. "

Pirelli

Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director

“As expected Australia was a tough race for the teams, but the tyres delivered everything that was asked. The cool conditions and early safety car period meant that the faster two-stop strategy turned into a one-stop for most of the competitors. As well as a top performance from the established frontrunners, we saw some extremely accomplished drives from the rookies this year, who have clearly got on top of the 2015 tyres and strategy options in a very short space of time.”

Sauber

Marcus Ericsson - 8th

“First of all, the team has done a great job over the winter. It is amazing for everyone in the team here in Melbourne and also back home in the factory to get this result in the first race weekend of the 2015 season. We have seen good progress during pre-season testing, and with this achievement I am really happy for everyone. For me as a driver, I have scored my first points in Formula One, which is a big goal achieved. Now, we can build on this for the next race.”

Felipe Nasr - 5th

“I am very happy with fifth position in my first ever Formula One race. It is such a big relief for the team and myself that we are able to score points, and I am very pleased about this achievement. It was a tough race. Right after the start it was quite messy in Turn 1, as another driver hit my wheel. I thought the car was damaged a bit, but after a few laps I noticed everything was fine. After that, the race went according to plan. There was pressure from behind during the whole race, which was not easy. That was an emotional race for me and everyone in the team.”

Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal

“That was a great achievement by the whole team. We already saw during qualifying that we are competitive, but being able to achieve these positions by our own efforts is a bit of a surprise. It is a confirmation of our hard work and a great reward for the team that had to deal with unfavourable circumstances. This applies to the crew in Hinwil as well as to the team at the race track. It was an outstanding achievement which we have to be proud of. Obviously, I am very happy about our two drivers who both put in a great performance, and in the end they made this great result possible for us.”

Giampaolo Dall’Ara, Head of Track Engineering

“It was definitely a great Sunday with a great result. We had a pretty troublefree race.  With Felipe we stuck to the original strategy we had planned for him. I have to say that he did an excellent job making up places and keeping Daniel Ricciardo behind him. He drove a fantastic race all the way. Reaching P5 in his first Formula One race was an outstanding achievement. Marcus had to start from further behind and was on the medium tyres. Nevertheless he managed to make up a couple of places on lap one. Then we decided to bring him in during the safety car period and put him on the soft tyres to give him a boost. We gave up a couple of positions, which he was able to recover quickly. At some point we had to make the decision whether to leave him out or to go more aggressively and stop again. We went for the second option and asked him to push to the maximum. He did a very good job and was able to overtake Carlos Sainz Jr. and clinch eighth position. Everybody in the team did a fantastic job and I’m really happy about what we delivered today."

Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton - 1st

"It's quite unbelievable, really, what this team has done. It's a great feeling to start off the season the way we finished the last and the car is just incredible, so thank you to the team. It was still a tough race, though, as Nico was very quick throughout. It was about managing fuel and also the tyres - trying to see how long we could push them. Once I'd built a two second gap it was about maintaining it. But when Nico turned up the heat it was tough. He drove really well and it's a great result for the team to start the season with a 1-2. It's good to see Ferrari back up here on the podium. I think they have taken a big step, so I anticipate a good fight with them this year at some point and we can't back off. In fact, the podium was pretty awesome. I don't often get star struck but I can't believe I was up there with the Terminator! Anyway, we've learned a lot this weekend and there will be a lot of analysis to do before Malaysia. Hopefully we'll keep finding ways to improve. Just because we had that gap today it doesn't mean we'll be cruising. There's still a long way to go." 
 
Nico Rosberg - 2nd

"What a start for us. It's great to have the quickest car again and what an amazing job by everybody involved. A big thank you to the guys back in the factories for all their work. Okay, so now it's 1:0 to Lewis. He did a perfect job this weekend with no mistakes and improved a lot from Friday to Sunday. Yesterday after Qualifying I was already on the back foot and that's difficult to change in a race against Lewis. I need to have a better Saturday, which I was able to do last year. But it's still a long season with lots of races to go. I want to strike back in Malaysia, so that's the focus. Thanks to everyone in Europe for waking up so early and for crossing their fingers for us - we've had fantastic support and it's really great to see."

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

We never expected a performance like this today. Winning in Formula One is never easy and never something you can take for granted. But today, the car and the drivers were faultless, so we must congratulate them and the team here on the track and back in the factories. Lewis got everything 100% right today - he grabbed every opportunity and drove a perfect race. Nico was right on his heels but never quite able to get close enough to really attack. Clearly, we have a great car and engine; we have made some good steps over the winter and done our homework right. But Ferrari have bounced back strongly, too, and it's good to have them back in the game - they have everything they need and they will be coming closer. Now we have to head home and focus on Malaysia."

Paddy Lowe - Executive Director (Technical)

"A terrific result and a great way to kick off the 2015 championship. It's particularly satisfying to get both cars home at the first race of the season, where reliability is always a key focus, and to do so with such a strong performance is a great achievement. All credit to the teams back at the factories for building a car that appears to be both quick and reliable. Hopefully this race will be a good indicator of what's to come throughout the year. Congratulations also to both Lewis and Nico, who drove faultlessly throughout the race. We now look forward to a very different challenge at the first of our home Grands Prix in the heat and humidity of Malaysia."

Ferrari

Maurizio Arrivabene, Team Principal

“I’m only half happy today, because the real joy comes when you win. I am happy about the podium and for Seb, but above all I am pleased for the team, because this is a good starting point, although it’s definitely not the end of the road. I am sorry for Kimi, because everyone could see how strong he was in the race. But at the second pit stop, there was a problem with a wheelnut on which the threads had already been crossed during the first one. We realised there was a possible problem and we decided to stop the car immediately, because safety is the number one priority. Looking to Malaysia, we will keep our feet on the ground, because the Albert Park is a rather unusual track. If the second Williams had also been racing today, there would have been a clearer picture of the opposition we face. But now we have realised we can do well, we must begin to stop thinking about being “second best” and start aiming higher.”

Kimi Raikkonen - DNF

“Shortly after the start, someone hit me from behind. Then I felt another contact on my right side, but I don’t think it was Sebastian’s car. The impact activated the anti-stall system and did some damage to the floor of the car. We were very quick in the race, able to catch the Williams and to fight for the podium: but then there were problems at both pit stops. I don’t know exactly what happened, but I know I lost something in terms of downforce. However, my team-mate’s podium is a great result for the team. Already in qualifying, despite my mistake on the quick lap, we knew we had a good car. And in the race, the gap to the Mercedes seemed less than on Saturday. It’s simply that, today, everything happened to me.”

Sebastian Vettel - 3rd

“They did not play the Italian anthem on the podium, but we can be very pleased with this weekend. It’s a shame that a small mistake prevented Kimi from finishing the race but, in general, it was a very ‘clean’ weekend. The most important thing is we have a good car, a real platform from which to carry on working. So thank you and congratulations also to the people who have worked hard in Maranello, as well as those here in Australia. Without them, this result would not have been possible. The start was not the best, there was too much wheelspin and when I tried to hold the inside line, my tyres were still too cold. We had a great race strategy, which allowed us to jump the Williams, which had a good top speed, at our one pit stop. Now we must confirm our performance in the coming races and then, one step at a time, let’s hope we can begin to close on the Mercedes. The gap is still big, but of all the teams, I think ours is the one that has improved the most over the winter. For a long time, I’ve dreamed of driving for Ferrari and it’s happened at the right time. I drank the champagne on the podium and I kept some for the guys in the team, because they told me they like it a lot… Thanks also to the fans. We have a great car, not just for qualifying but also for the race. Let’s hope we can get on the podium again and maybe even get a few wins!”

Toro Rosso

Carlos Sainz - 9th

“I’m very pleased to have scored my first ever Formula 1 points in my debut race here in Melbourne! Obviously, we know there was much more potential than a P9 today but, all in all, if we take into account everything that happened, we need to stay positive, keep improving and believing in ourselves because we know we can do better. I really enjoyed today’s race, I did a great start and I liked the battles into turn 1, even though I was maybe a bit too optimistic there but I learned my lesson. The slow pit-stop was a tough moment for the whole team, as we were in a very good position and lost quite a lot of time. From then onwards the race changed and it was just a matter of bringing it home without problems. I’m happy with my first race weekend, I feel that I’ve achieved all my objectives and I look forward to the next race in Malaysia in two weeks’ time.”

Max Verstappen - DNF

“A disappointing way to end my first ever Formula 1 race, but there have also been many positives along the way this weekend. In today’s race I had a good first run on the mediums; a lot of people around me were on softs and I was still able to stay quite close to them. But as soon as I re-joined the race after my pit-stop I saw smoke, so I reported that to the pit-wall and they asked me to stop the car. It’s a real shame, because I was feeling good, the car was working well and if I had been able to stay on track I think we would’ve finished in the points. We’ve been a bit unlucky, but we need to focus on the positives and get ready for the next race in Malaysia, where I will put everything we’ve learned here in Melbourne into practice and I hope for a much better result.”

Phil Charles, Chief Race Engineer

“It’s been a very frustrating day for us today as we know we could have done much better. What could have been quite a good day has been unfortunately let down by a few problems on the team side which have cost us quite dearly. With Carlos, a software setting issue after the safety car cost him two places; a problematic wheel related pit-stop made him lose a considerable amount of time, and some other software and setting problems also compromised him when defending against the Sauber at the end of the race. So for him it was definitely far from a clean race but he still managed to score points, which has to be considered a positive factor. As for Max, it’s a very disappointing day, as the strategy that he was on, starting on the prime tyre, meant that he would have most likely finished in the points. With all the issues we have had, we’ve given away what could have been a very positive day and it’s a shame that both drivers haven’t finished the race with the good point scores that they deserve. We know what we have to improve and in which direction we have to work in order to try and avoid that a day like this happens again.”

Cedrik Staudohar, Renault Sport F1 track support leader

“We brought some updates to Australia to improve driveability and performance and some have worked. It has however been hidden by other issues. We’ve worked hard all weekend to improve, especially in driveability, to deliver something more consistent for the drivers. We moved forward in qualifying and the race and finished the race in the points with Carlos, even with a delayed pit-stop. For Max, we had to retire due to a problem with the ICE that will be investigated and fixed for next race. We are not where we would have hoped and obviously need to improve further for the next races; we will analyse everything closely and come back stronger in Malaysia.”

Red Bull

Daniel Ricciardo - 7th

“It wasn’t the most exciting race. After the start I was able to stay with Nasr, but I wasn’t able to get close enough to make the move. We finished the race and got some points which was positive, and there are things we can learn; I think on paper sixth was the best for us today. It was a shame for Dany, I feel for him I hope we have a smoother weekend in Malaysia. In terms of where we need to improve, the main issue is the drivability and the power, there are pretty big chunks that we know we need to find there. Beyond that it’s hard, as with the chassis itself I don’t think we’ve really been

able to test it to its limits yet due to the other issues we’ve had. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but we have got a lot of information from this weekend which will help us ahead of Malaysia.”

Daniil Kvyat - DNS

“I had to stop on the way to the grid as we had a problem; I think it was something to do with the gearbox. Obviously it’s not a nice feeling to watch the other drivers on track while you are here. From now on, it can only get better so we are staying positive. I have confidence in the team. We have another race in two weeks and will be pushing as hard as we can ahead of that.”

Christian Horner, Team Principal

“A frustrating Grand Prix for us. It was disappointing to lose Daniil before the race started with a gearbox problem. Daniel did everything he could with the tools that he had. It unfortunately demonstrates that there’s a quite a lot of ground to make up, so sixth place was the best we could manage on a rather difficult day.”

Thierry Salvi, Renault

“A very hard first race for the team. From the opening session of the weekend we’ve faced a number of issues, and for sure are not where we wanted to be in reliability and performance. This has cost lap time and points. The mapping and software need to be looked at in detail to give better driveability in the coming races. We’ve got to be realistic about what we can achieve but we can definitely move forward from what’s been a frustrating weekend overall. We are as disappointed as anyone but also resolved to fix these issues in Malaysia.”

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