Malaysian GP - Driver Reaction
The 22 drivers have their say on a thrilling race at the Sepang International Circuit on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.
By William Esler
Last Updated: 24/03/13 2:18pm
The 22 drivers have their say on a thrilling race at the Sepang International Circuit on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.
Sebastian Vettel: "I messed up today. I would love to come up with a nice excuse as to why I did it, but I can't. I can understand Mark's frustration and the team not being happy with what I did today; I owe an explanation to him and the whole team. I will try to explain to them later. We talk about this situation happening many times and what we will do if and when it happens and normally it doesn't, but today it did and I should have translated the call into action.
"I got the call and I ignored it. Mark and I are used to fighting each other when we're close, but with the tyres how they are now, and not knowing how long they will last, it was an extremely big risk to ignore the call to stay second.
"We could have ended up finishing eighth or ninth after destroying the tyres in those two laps; I put myself above a team decision, which was wrong. I didn't mean to and I apologise. I'm not happy I've won, I made a mistake and if I could undo it I would. It's not easy right now and I owe apologies to Mark and the team."
Mark Webber: "I think Sebastian has respect for me and I have respect for him, but the situation today was not handled well. It's hard to put your finger on it all now after the race; when we're racing on the limit and pushing as hard as we can, then it's the worst situation for a team. I am sure they are bricking themselves and know that things can go wrong.
"There's a bit of history to this as well; my mind in the last 15 laps was thinking about a lot of things, but I was happy with the way I drove. I tried to isolate what happened at the end and we got something out of it today, but of course I'm not satisfied with the result. This puts heat on a few people and unfortunately there's no rewind button. I know people want raw emotion from us after these situations and it's there, but we need to remain cool. There's three weeks until the next race, so time for us to work on things."
Fernando Alonso: "Today, unfortunately, we were very unlucky. After making a good start, I touched with Vettel at the second corner: it was a surprise to find him there, almost stopped and I don't know what speed he was doing. Despite the fact the car was damaged, it didn't seem to be too bad and, together with the team, we decided to keep going, because if we'd stopped immediately and then again on lap 3 or 4 to fit dry tyres, we would have dropped too far back and definitely lost the chance to finish up the front.
"It's easy to criticise this decision, but at the time it seemed like the right one. It was certainly a shame, because here we could have fought with the Red Bulls, but circumstances didn't help and apart from the wisdom of the decisions we took, bad luck really played its part, when you think how many off-track excursions there were in Australia without any consequence and even here when the cars first went out on track.
"Now we are already focusing on the coming races in China and Bahrain, where we hope to do better than last year, so that we arrive in Europe with as many points as possible".
Felipe Massa: "Today's race was really complicated, because starting with a new set of intermediates on a track that was very damp at some points and completely dry at others, prevented me from having a good pace and I lost ground to many other drivers on the first lap. Maybe bringing forward the first stop to fit dry tyres was a slightly risky choice, because the track was still damp and this cost me time.
"Then on the dry track, the car improved, the tyre degradation wasn't excessive and I managed to settle into a good pace, but at that point, any hope of finishing on the podium had vanished. I can't say I'm satisfied with this result, but given all the difficulties I had at the start of the race, I am happy to bring home a good points haul".
Sergio Perez: "This afternoon my engineers sorted out a very good race strategy that enabled me to pass the cars immediately in front of me early on - so thank you and well done for that, guys.
"Unfortunately, towards the end of the race, my tyres began to degrade a bit too much, especially my front left, and we therefore felt it would be too risky to try to drive to the finish on that set.
"Consequently, we had no real option other than to make an extra pitstop, which caused me to lose position.
"I still ended up ninth, which is two places better than I finished in Melbourne last weekend, so I think it's fair to say that we can see that progress is being made.
"In Shanghai in two weeks' time let's hope that that upward trend continues."
Jenson Button: "We drove a good race today. Strategy-wise, we did everything right. We pitted on the correct laps and looked after the tyres exactly as we should have done.
"We'd have finished fifth but for the problem in the pitstop - maybe we'd even have been in the battle for third and fourth. It's very disappointing that we weren't able to demonstrate that, of course.
"Even at the end we had a chance of scoring a point, but unfortunately I was struggling with my front left [tyre] by that stage. It kept locking up, and it was producing such a bad vibration that I think the guys were worried that it might damage the front left suspension if I carried on.
"However, as I say, apart from the pitstop problem, I think we did a pretty good job. We've made improvements over the past week, and the result of those improvements was that we were more competitive here in Malaysia than we were in Australia last weekend, so there are definitely positives that we can take away with us.
"Hopefully, in China in two weeks' time, we can continue that steady improvement and score a few more points."
Kimi Raikkonen: "Although the car felt very good on Friday, yesterday and today have been pretty difficult. Since Saturday morning it has not been behaving as we expected for some reason, especially in the wet where we really struggled for grip. It was a tough race and I lost part of my front wing at the start which didn't help, but at least we scored a few points which is better than coming away with nothing. If we can get the car back to how it was in Australia then I'm sure we'll be at the front again."
Romain Grosjean: "I think we can be quite happy with the result today. It was a tough race, starting wet and finishing dry, but that's what you expect in Malaysia. I spent a lot of time stuck behind Felipe [Massa] in the middle phase of the race and I'm sure if I could have passed him earlier then I would have stayed ahead, but by the end my tyres were finished so it was best just to let him through. It's not the result we would have wanted at the beginning of the weekend, but at the end of the day it's more points for the team and we'll try to come back stronger in Shanghai."
Lewis Hamilton: "That was a fantastic job by the team today. They worked so hard over the winter and to achieve a podium at the second race of the season is a nice reward, particularly here in Malaysia at one of our home races. I have to say big congratulations to Nico. He drove a smarter and more controlled race than me this afternoon and deserved to finish where I did. The team made the call for us to hold positions and we both respected that.
"The race was tough, we were fighting hard with Red Bull and went aggressive on our fuel strategy but they were just too good today. Third and fourth places is still a great result for us however and just increases our motivation to keep pushing and close that gap."
Nico Rosberg: "It was a great day for us as a team and we can be very happy of our performance here this weekend. It was a good feeling to be competitive and to be able to set fastest lap times during the race. Thanks to all of you at the team for all the hard work, results like these are very well deserved.
"Of course, it was disappointing for me having to hold position but I understand the team's decision to safeguard our positions and to make sure that both cars got to the end with a strong team finish, especially in light of the tough times behind us. There are a lot of races to go and our performance today makes me look forward to fighting for more podium finishes in the future."
Nico Hulkenberg: "I feel quite well rewarded going home with four points after my first race of the season in a new team and with a new car. I am quite happy with how it went, especially at the start of the race when we were quite quick on the intermediates. But then I was stuck in traffic and couldn't find my way past other drivers. I think eighth was well deserved, considering I had to fight and push a lot today. I think the potential is there, and now we have to work on a few details."
Esteban Gutierrez: "P12 is an ok result, but Ideally we would have liked to finish in the points. At the end of the race we lost time because we stayed on the same set of tyres for too long. We tried to change the strategy and I did my best. That was all we could do at that stage. Overall the weekend is a step forward and we need to keep working and put everything together to achieve points."
Adrian Sutil: "An early end to a race that promised so much for us. Both cars had the same problem with the wheel nuts and it cost us a lot of time in the pits. We're not sure exactly what happened yet so the team stopped the cars to make sure we understand the issue. It's a shame that this happened here because we had a very quick car today and I felt very comfortable as the track dried out. We have to stay positive, keep our heads up and remember that there are plenty of races left where we can make up for the disappointment of today."
Paul Di Resta: "It's frustrating to come away with nothing given how competitive we have looked all weekend. We saw an issue at Adrian's first pit stop when I was sat behind him, which cost me about 15 seconds, and then I had the same issue with the wheel nut at my second pit stop. As a precaution the team chose to retire the car. The good news is that we have the performance in the car, but this is definitely a missed opportunity because we had the potential to score a lot of points today. We will go away, take this on the chin, and come back fighting in China."
Valtteri Bottas: "I had a good start but then I drove off the dry line racing van der Garde and ran wide dropping to the back of the field. Once the track started to dry I was able to start overtaking a few cars and I had a good, clean race. The team did a great job with the strategy and with a few more laps I could have started attacking for a championship point. We maximised what we had today but I trust in the team that we can now continue working together to improve."
Pastor Maldonado: "The intermediate tyres made the start of the race very difficult as it was very slippery, particularly in the first sector. We had a good strategy to pit earlier in the race and opt for the dry tyres. I made a small mistake on braking into Turn 11 which forced me to run wide and damage the front wing slightly. After a new set of tyres, the pace in the second stint was good, but unfortunately my race ended early after a KERS problem forced us to retire the car. We will now work hard to prepare as best we can for the next two flyaway races."
Jean-Eric Vergne: "It's good to finish in the points, but it's a shame that a mistake in the pits cost us so much, as I could have done something better. So, overall I feel rather frustrated. But I'll take the point gladly. After these first two races, we now have a short break before we go racing again and we must use that time to take a close look at how we performed and where we can do better, because there is certainly a lot of room for improvement, as both these two races have been missed opportunities. On the positive side, again today, once we got over our problems I had a good race pace and managed to make up a lot of places."
Daniel Ricciardo: "I compromised my race even before the start when the conditions were very slippery, aquaplaning off at Turn 3. I managed to keep going, but I went across the gravel quite fast and damaged the floor. That probably played a part in my problem at the end. I got a reasonable start and made up a few places and was pretty pleased with the first couple of laps. But I did not have the pace to keep the Lotuses behind me and stay in the top ten, even though the switch to dry tyres was well timed. Like I said, I think the damage on that opening lap affected my overall performance all race long."
Charles Pic: "Off the line I had a great start and was up with Giedo for the first few laps while the track was wet enough for the inters. The team called me in to change onto the medium tyres for the first stint in the dry but as I was coming in to the box I saw Vergne being released right in front of me and I couldn't avoid him as I was turning in and there was nothing I could do to avoid their mistake. The guys did a brilliant job to change the nose and the tyres and I was out again after losing about 25 seconds - that's the sort of thing the pitcrew train for and it paid off in that first stop.
"It's such a shame that incident happened as we could definitely have finished better if it hadn't happened. It may have cost us a place and while that's frustrating it's also positive to see how well everyone reacted and to see that we didn't stop pushing, on the pitwall or in the garage. We stopped another three times after that, going onto the hard compounds for two stints and the mediums for the last thirteen laps and the car felt pretty good throughout the whole race. I was able to push right to the flag and without the pitlane issue I'm sure the final result would look different."
Giedo van der Garde: "I had a really good start, really strong and the car felt great on the inters for the first stint. Just when the conditions were going from wet to dry I heard over the radio that I had a front left puncture but it was exactly at the time we were coming in to switch to the dry tyres so it only cost me a little bit of time. I came back out on the mediums and was running well in 17th with really good balance.
"From there the race was ok. The rain that had been forecast didn't come so we didn't have another chance to show what we can do on the inters and that's a shame as I'm definitely quick on those tyres, but the car felt much better on both the medium and the hard compounds we put on in the second and third stops than it had yesterday. I didn't have the same oversteer problems I had in FP3 or qualifying but we still have work to do to reduce oversteer on entry into the corners and we'll look at that again in China. We're also going to work on improving our setup options for qualifying, maximising every run in the practice sessions to help us get the most out of the car on Saturday afternoons and that will definitely help us put in a stronger showing in quali.
"I also want to say what a good job the boys did in the stops. It was pretty tight with Chilton each time but I stayed ahead of him after good work on the pitwall and really strong work from the pitcrew. When we finished I thanked them on the radio, and after the race Tony Fernandes told the whole team how proud he was of the work he'd seen today in the stops. He's right - the boys are pushing hard and it's good to see the efforts we're making in the car are the same across the whole team."
Jules Bianchi: "Obviously I'm delighted to finish 13th today, after 15th in my first race last weekend. I hope this is a trend we can continue! It was not an easy day though as we made life more difficult with a not so good start and opening lap and this really hurt the first part of my race. The lap time was really coming towards the end of the first stint but I was stuck behind the Caterham and unable to do much with it. After 18 laps or so I was able to get back into position and from then on I was very happy with my progress.
"It was nice to have held off Maldonado and to maintain the gap for so long. This shows we have the car to fight with them in the future. There are some things to learn from and improve after today and the weekend generally, but we have also made more progress already since Melbourne and we need to keep pushing. My thanks to the Team for a lot of hard work and more to come between now and China."
Max Chilton: "I'm slightly disappointed with today because it seemed so many things were against us. First, the start didn't work well and I lost a lot of time on the opening lap. That setback and being stuck behind the Caterhams really defined my race, which is tough to take because you know instinctively that the blue flag period is going to come much sooner in the race.
"The car performance is there and so is my pace, but there's some work to do to bring all of that together and maximise every part of the race, including how we manage the blue flag phase. I'm sure that focus will ensure we can come back stronger in China. A good job by the Team this weekend as it has not been an easy time."