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In quotes - Sunday in Japan

27 Sep 2015

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


Lewis Hamilton, 1st

“I'm buzzing like you could not believe. As I'm walking through after the race I've got this rush but I'm thinking about all the different experiences I've been through and the people that have helped me along the way: my family, without whom I wouldn't be here today, and everyone else that's helped me - they know who they are. As I arrived today, I knew Nico had done a great job in qualifying and I needed to get a good start. It was very tight through Turn One but from then on it was just the most beautiful day. I have struggled every year at this circuit, but I always loved it. When you have the balance and the car is doing what you want it to do, and you're attacking through the corners, there's no better feeling. The engineers and everyone in the garage did a great job. We didn't have much data to go through after practice, but the car felt unbelievable. I am really grateful to the team because without them I wouldn't be here. I also want to thank my fans who have supported me all this way, and still we rise.”

Nico Rosberg, 2nd

“A tough day for me. It was very close throughout the corner and on the exit I had to go off the track to avoid a collision, which cost me speed and pushed me back to fourth place. After that, I was fighting for P2 today rather than the win. But I was able to push then and overtake Valtteri, which was great. The team did also a great job with the undercut of Sebastian, this worked out perfectly with a really hard out-lap on the new tyres. So second place is damage limitation for me, as I had to win here in Japan to close the gap to Lewis. But I will keep pushing and try to win in Sochi now. I had lots of positives this weekend. So I will be back strongly.”

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

“That was a great race for us and a great feeling to be back on the top steps of the podium - it feels a little bit like our first race win to me. It wasn't plain sailing at all for us today. First, there was the start - Lewis got away a little better than Nico, so they ran wheel to wheel through the first corners. That was pretty stressful to watch as they drifted out towards the edge of the track, with Nico forced to run up on the kerb, and Lewis complained about some understeer in Turn Two straight after that. That left Lewis to run the race we had planned, and he pulled good gaps on each stint to make the strategy work. With Nico, it was more tricky but we pulled two different strategic moves to move him up the order; first, we played the long game with Bottas, letting him stop early and then passing him on track with fresher tyres; then we were able to undercut Vettel on the second stop and claim second position. As for Lewis, he had some challenges out there, too, especially when he got a big tyre vibration in the second stint after locking up, and we had to pull him in for his final set of tyres. But we were able to manage the different issues today and get both cars home. Of course, this doesn't mean we can just write off Singapore and say that we are back to normal; we must stay on our toes, keep working and keep learning. But this was a good day for us, with great drives, quick pit-stops and a fantastic job from the whole team to bounce back conclusively from last weekend.”

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)

“It was great weather for the race today with the sun shining all day. Two great starts, Lewis getting away from the line slightly better and going into Turn One side-by-side, but it was good to see them both emerge from the other side in one piece. Nico unfortunately lost two positions in the battle, so we faced a difficult job to get him back to the front. During the race, there were a few issues to manage with engine temperatures and a flat spot on Lewis' second set of tyres, which was through to the canvas. As always, even when you're in a position with apparent control of the race, there are always risks and worries but it was great to get both cars home, which we haven't done since Belgium. Congratulations to Lewis and Nico for some great driving today and particularly Lewis for reaching a very significant marker in his Formula One career to match Ayrton Senna's total of 41 wins.”


Sebastian Vettel, 3rd

“All in all, today there is plenty of reasons to be happy with third place. At the second round of pit-stops, we were surprised by the out lap that Nico pulled. I guess we thought the gap was big enough, so you can’t say we made a mistake. But in the end it’s a bit of a shame when you cross the line; I think that if we could have stayed ahead it would have been difficult for Nico to pass, as around there it is not so easy to get close, and we saw that he struggled a long time with Bottas. But we have to accept that Mercedes were just a bit quicker and for this reason they deserved to be ahead. Nevertheless, third and fourth is a great result for the team. We got good points, and it was a strong recovery after a difficult Saturday morning.”

Kimi Raikkonen, 4th

“Today we did the maximum we could and, considering where we had started the race from, fourth position is the best we could get. The car was OK and we had the right speed, but on a circuit like this, when you are stuck behind other cars, it’s always hard to overtake. We did a good job at the pit stop, managed to jump Bottas on the way out, and chose the right tyres at the right time. I don’t think we could have done much more. This kind of track is not the best for us right now, but it seems things have worked well today. There’s still work to be done, but we are doing the right things and going in the right direction. Obviously, we always want to be at the top, but I think we have done an amazing job all year long and since last year. Now we keep doing the same progresses and try to improve. We take what we have got today and go to the next race trying to do the maximum.”

Maurizio Arrivabene, team principal

“You’re never completely happy when you don’t win the race, but I think this result should not be compared with what we had achieved in Singapore one week ago. We’d rather compare this track to Silverstone, because it has similar characteristics. And if we look back at the British Grand Prix, at the gap that we had there to our main rivals, we can see that today we have been closer. And this means that there has been a major development in all areas, starting from our power unit. As for the strategy, we were in doubt as to shortcut the Mercedes or pit after them; but there were not many data available from practice, due to the rain on Friday, so making certain choices would have meant a huge risk for the life of the tyres.”

Red Bull

Daniil Kvyat, 13th

"It was pretty boring for me out there this afternoon, because a combination of circumstances meant I had to just sit back and was unable to attack. I had a completely new car, so that wasn't so easy. We had difficulties with the tyres, the brakes and the overtake button, which made life complicated. In the end, I did manage to overtake some people, but it wasn't great. It's frustrating and annoying, but there was nothing I could do. Battling for P13 does not give you much satisfaction. But a big thank you to the team, they had a lot of work to do on Saturday night to get the car ready for the race."

Daniel Ricciardo, 15th

"At the start, the best line for me was straight down the middle. I saw the gap between Kimi and Felipe and I knew it was close, but I thought they would make a bit of room. I haven't seen the footage and don't want to put the blame on anyone so we'll call it a racing incident for now. It's a shame for the team, I think we could have gained some positions off the line and then the race would have been completely different. But we had the puncture, and that damaged the floor so we lost some downforce. I tried to do what I could, we started to catch some cars towards the end but by then I didn't have the grip to do anything. On a positive note, even with the damaged floor, the car was handling well."

Christian Horner, team principal

"It was a frustrating afternoon for us from lap one onwards. Daniel made a great start, then found himself the cheese in a sandwich between Massa and Raikkonen, resulting in a puncture, which is the worst thing that can happen on the first lap. This cost him a huge amount of time. His recovery and pace was decent after the stop for fresh tyres but with no safety cars, catching up was a tough task. For Dany, it was a busy afternoon; we elected to go onto a three-stop strategy and he endured some brake issues throughout the race which caused a few lock ups and made the car quite difficult to drive, which comprised his pace throughout the race. It was a frustrating Japanese Grand Prix for the team and our first non-scoring race of the season. On another note, the boys in the garage did an incredible job on Dany's car overnight, with both sides of the garage working side-by-side to get the car ready for the race."

Matthieu Dubois, Renault

"That was a tough race to watch with both cars being virtually last after lap one with no real option to finish much higher than where we ended up, sadly out of the points. On the positive side we did not have any major problems, particularly on Daniil's car that had to be totally rebuilt from scratch overnight. I would like to take the opportunity to thank the team of mechanics who did an outstanding job there. On the plus side, both cars from our sister team managed to grab points, which is good. We are looking forward to Russia where hopefully we can make much better use of our recent uptrend in form."


Alexander Rossi, 18th

"It was a tough race today but I'm very happy with the outcome. I struggled a little more in the first stint, but after the first stop everything turned around and my pace was pretty good. I was right on the tail of my team-mate throughout the second two stints, and was trying to get past when Will spun. Thankfully, I was able to get out of the way, but it was a real heart-in-mouth moment that I'm sure looked every bit as dramatic from outside the cockpit as it did from where I was sitting! All in all, I'm pleased with how things are going after two races and glad we had a good race after a difficult weekend."

Will Stevens, 19th

"It goes without saying that I'm disappointed with the result today. I felt I was in control up until the point of the penalty and then the spin, and that's where I lost the advantage. It's a shame, as my pace was strong all weekend, so that's what I'm focusing on and I'm looking forward to getting things back on track in Russia. I'm pleased for what is a good team result though, and that is what we were targeting here."

John Booth, Team Principal

"Today's race was progressing in a fairly straightforward fashion for us, largely defined by a continuation of the developing intra-team battle between Will and Alex that has kept us very much on the edge of our seats over the last two races. In the closing stages, we experienced a brief heart-stopping moment when Will lost the back of the car at 130R and spun into the path of his team-mate. Credit to them both for their impressive reactions; Will did well to collect the car without leaving the asphalt, while Alex's lightning response ensured there was no contact. There were sharp intakes of breath all round up on the pit wall, but all's well that ends well and we are pleased to achieve our tenth two-car finish of the season. A good job all round today, and indeed all weekend, after an emotional return to Suzuka for our team."


Romain Grosjean, 7th

"We finished with both cars in the points so I'm definitely happy with that! When it came to my own race we were a little bit slow against the Force India. We tried to fight Nico Hulkenberg but couldn't. I really struggled with the tyres at the end – it seems the new Pirelli limits hurt us more than our rivals so we'll work around that for the next race. Overall though, we've had a good result as a team."

Pastor Maldonado, 8th

"It was a good race for us and we really deserved a happy result today after pushing hard all weekend. It's a shame we weren't able to keep Hulkenberg behind us so we'll review the strategy and performance to see if there was more we could have done. The team has been united all weekend, we scored some nice points and we're looking forward to the rest of the season."

Federico Gastaldi, Deputy Team Principal

"It's a great result for all of the team after a reasonably challenging weekend. It just goes to show that you can never discount an Enstone team no matter what the circumstances. We have to say thank you to all the crew at the track for working through a slightly unusual situation as well as thank you to Bernie for his help behind the scenes. We're looking forward to continuing to fight back in Sochi."

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director 

"It's great to get both cars solidly in the points and score more than our immediate championship rivals Force India and Toro Rosso. Force India looked stronger than us in the race and we didn't have the pace to match Hulkenberg today. It was nevertheless a good performance from both drivers and the entire team."


Valtteri Bottas, 5th

"Not a perfect day for us, but we will take the ten points. I was hoping for a podium, but the pace wasn't as good as we had expected. Defending from the quicker cars was hard and I think we should have pitted earlier for the final stop, but it's always easier to say that after the race."

Felipe Massa, 17th

"A very tough day for me today right from the first lap. I had a bad start and then had contact with Ricciardo and it took me a long time to get back to the pits. From there it was the end of the race barring any miracle. We have scored some decent points for the Constructors' Championship with Valtteri's fifth but I had the car to contribute a good haul of points as well. We have to regroup and get those points back at the next race."

Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering

"It was a tough race for the team today. Unfortunately I don't think we showed the pace we were hoping for. Felipe had a bad start which was further compounded when he received a puncture following a collision with Ricciardo. He then had to complete a whole lap on three tyres which put him down by a lap and effectively ended his chances of a competitive race. Valtteri had a good position at the start and was driving very well. Our call on the first stop was the right one and kept us in front of Rosberg, but our second stop was too late and so we lost the position to Raikkonen. We have further solidified our third place in the Championship but leave Suzuka with the knowledge that we could have achieved more."

Force India

Nico Hulkenberg, 6th

"A great result today and realistically sixth was the maximum we could achieve when you remember that I started from P13. I made a really good start and jumped a couple of cars away from the line, and then stayed on the inside going into turn one, which turned out to be a good decision. By turn two I was up in eighth, close up behind the Lotuses and actually they were holding me up during the first stint. The team pitted me early to undercut them and we then out-raced them with our stronger pace. It was a lonely race for me, but effective and the result is very welcome. The team did a great job today and I think we deserved these eight points."

Sergio Perez, 12th

"Twelfth place is a very disappointing outcome for a weekend that had started really well. Unfortunately, my race was an uphill battle from the first corner: I saw Massa going slowly in the centre of the track and had to avoid him, and that's when I got the hit [from Sainz]. We tried to recover and I did all I could to get back into the points, but even our best was not enough. It's a shame as our pace was really good, but with no safety car or any other incidents, the points were too far away. It was still a good result for the team with Nico scoring points, something that will help us with our championship battle."

Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal

"We leave Suzuka with the confidence of having a very strong car but also the feeling of disappointment for not getting both cars in the points. Nico drove a tactically brilliant race: he made another great start to regain the ground he had lost through his grid penalty and then had a fairly lonely race. He executed our strategy perfectly, leapfrogging the two Lotuses during the first pit stop window, and from then on he worked hard to continuously increase his gap. Sixth was the maximum he could have got today and it's just the result Nico needed after a difficult run of races. Unfortunately, Sergio could do nothing to escape the incident at turn one: he moved to the right to avoid Massa, who was driving slowly, and he was hit by Sainz. Sergio avoided hitting the wall, but his race was heavily compromised by the puncture. He performed a solid comeback and showed very good pace, but the points were just out of reach. Even though we conceded two points in the battle for fifth place, we take encouragement from having such a well-executed race with Nico and the pace of the car."

Toro Rosso

Max Verstappen, 9th

"It was a great race! I think the start was good and I was able to overtake Nasr straight away in Sector 1, even though he got me back in the hairpin because I got a bit blocked and I didn't want to take too many risks! That was a shame, because I then got stuck behind him for quite a lot of laps and lost some time with the other cars ahead… But after my first pit-stop I was able to push again until I got stuck behind Kvyat first, then Alonso. But I didn't give up and in the end we were able to end up in front, which is very positive. To go from P17 to P9 at a track like this one is a good result and I'm happy to have scored points again, it was a very good day!"

Carlos Sainz, 10th

"It was a good race until the mistake in the pit entry and I even think it was being one of my best races so far this year. It was a good first stint on the Options and an even better one on the Primes, I was really flying, catching the cars in front. Then it got to the point that it was simply impossible to overtake the Lotus on track, so we decided to go for the undercut. The team told me to do the opposite to Maldonado, and it looked like he was going to pit so I was meant to stay out on track, but he suddenly continued on track and I was so aggressive on the turn into the pit entry that I hit the bollard and damaged my front wing. I therefore lost some time during the pit-stop and if it was already meant to be a final long stint, it became an even longer one behind Perez, who was slow in the corners but fast on the straights. I destroyed my tyres behind him and in the end it was all about making sure I brought the car back home. The team did a very good job and I'm sure that we would've finished higher than P10 if it hadn't been for my mistake – a rookie error that I will learn from. All in all, I'm pleased with my first Japanese Grand Prix!"

Franz Tost, Team Principal

"Taking into consideration that we started today's race in tenth and seventeenth position, to finish with both cars in the points is quite a success for the team. We knew that Suzuka was going to be a tricky circuit for us, as it requires very high top speeds, therefore I must say that we've achieved the best possible result for us here. Both drivers did a fantastic job, especially Carlos in the first stint, when he overtook a couple of cars, showing a really good performance. For Max to go from P17 to P9 demonstrates how strong his race was. From a strategy point of view, I think we made the most out of it. In the end, It was a good race for us, finishing with both cars in the points for the second time in a row - the cars are reliable! We are now looking forward to Sochi, where I expect to be more competitive than here in Suzuka."

Cedrik Staudohar, Renault Sport F1 track support leader

"It was in the end a good race for us. On Max's car in particular it was a good recovery after yesterday's electrical issue. For the second race in a row both cars have finished the race in the points so we can be happy with the reliability and performance. Let's keep pushing like this."


Fernando Alonso, 11th

"It's difficult when you have other drivers overtaking you along the straights, then you arrive at the corners, and watch them outbrake themselves, or make mistakes. Then, when you take the corner perfectly, and get overtaken again along the straights, it feels frustrating.

"We need to improve the programme. The remaining races will be tough, but we're looking towards next year. We'll win together, and we need to make it happen as quickly as possible. Hopefully, we can learn some lessons from today's race and keep improving things."

Jenson Button, 16th

"When there's that much of a speed differential between our car and the others', you don't know what to do. When they overtake you, you just back out of it - there's such a difference in speed, that you can't be sure where they're going to be.

"At my second stop, Ericsson got past me, and that messed up my race because I was quicker, and had the better tyre - I was on the Option, he was on the Prime - for the final stint. If I'd come out ahead of him, we'd have been fine, because we were quicker than him, and he was holding cars up behind, which helped Fernando to run his own race. But I couldn't keep the faster cars behind me, and fell farther back.

"It's been a tough weekend in front of the whole of Honda and all the fans we have here; and that's tough, because we want to succeed in front of them."

Eric Boullier, Racing director, McLaren-Honda

"It's not always easy to perceive progress when your overall performance is poorer than two great Formula 1 brands such as McLaren and Honda are used to, and of course none of us is pleased with our 11th and 16th places here this afternoon, but nonetheless there are positives.

"Both cars ran completely reliably to the finish, which is encouraging. No, our friends at Honda didn't get to watch the cars on which they've worked so hard score points in their home race today, but both Fernando and Jenson finished it and it's via such incremental stepping stones that we'll march together to our eventual destination: podiums and victories. Finally, I want to pay tribute to our guys, especially the boys in the garage who have worked so incredibly hard, in such hot and humid conditions, over two very arduous back-to-back weekends, here and last weekend in Singapore. Well done!"

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

"We received an unbelievable amount of cheers from our fans at the start of the race. As predicted, both our drivers made brilliant starts which put them close to the points-paying positions, but we knew coming into the race that energy management would be tough at this track.

"Disappointingly, we missed out on 10th position, and the final point on offer today. Through rain and sunshine, our fans gave us the support we needed throughout the three days of the grand prix weekend. We hope that we'll be able to give back to them soon, by fighting every step of the way to improve in the remaining races of the season and development for next year. I cannot say thank you enough for everyone's support."


"There was a strong and consistent performance from both our nominated tyres from start to finish of the Japanese Grand Prix, despite the highest track temperatures we have seen all weekend, as well as the high energy loads and abrasive surface that Suzuka is famous for. We saw a wide variety of strategies in place throughout the race and different thinking on the best way to use the tyres, with the timing of the pit stops turning out to be crucial. With the rain on Friday, the teams did not have their usual amount of data heading into the weekend, which made the way that they were able to read the race and get the best out of the tyres all the more impressive."


Marcus Ericsson, 14th

"I had a good start. In the first stint especially, I had a reasonable pace running in the points in P10. Towards the end of this stint I was pushing a bit too much and had sort of a half spin in turn 13, so I lost some time there. That was a shame. We gambled a bit with the early second pit stop, knowing we would have a long last stint on the hard tyres. Then I was able to keep the train of cars behind me for many laps, but at the end the rear tyres could not hold on anymore. I think we had a better performance today, even if the result does not show that. However, there are still things to improve."

Felipe Nasr, 20th

"The race started well. I gained a couple of positions at the start, and I had some good fights and overtaking manoeuvres in the early stint. Suddenly, I had a strange feeling in the car. Together with the team, we decided to stop the car and retire from the race. Now we have to look into it to understand the issue."

Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal

"A disappointing weekend from which generally we expected more. After qualifying, we knew it would be difficult starting from these positions. Marcus and Felipe both had good starts, and there was a chance we could have finished the race in the points. Unfortunately it did not happen. Felipe's car had an unidentified problem, which needs to be investigated. Marcus spun, which cost him some positions, but he kept on fighting."