Driver reaction - Chinese GP
The drivers have their say on the action in Shanghai
By William Esler. Last Updated: 14/04/13 1:54pm
The drivers have their say on the action in Shanghai, where Fernando Alonso became the third different winner in three races.
Sebastian Vettel said Fernando Alonso was too quick to catch in the Chinese GP.
Sebastian Vettel: "After the last stop, the team told me there was quite a big gap to the cars ahead, but also a big gap behind, so we thought we should go for it in the closing stages. When I came on to the long straight and saw Lewis at the other end turning into the hair pin I thought 'well, that's a bit too far', but obviously we had much more speed on the fresher tyres. It was a little bit disappointing to lose out by such a tiny bit; a few corners more and we could have tried something.
"Nonetheless, our strategy seemed to work today. We knew it would be difficult and that it was crucial to get clean laps, but we didn't in the first stint. I was faster than Nico (Hulkenberg) but if you follow another car you lean on your front tyres too much and it was hard to find the right compromise, but overall we can be happy."
Mark Webber was forced to retire early from the Chinese GP after a clash with Jean-Eric Vergne.
Mark Webber: "The start of the race was going okay; we elected to get rid of the soft tyre quite quickly and then came back through the field pretty well. Regarding the incident with Jean-Eric, I was coming from a reasonable distance behind, Jean-Eric was really wide, but when we came close to the apex he wanted to hit it, which he is entitled to do, but by then I was committed to the inside and the incident happened.
"It was a couple of laps before our pit stop window, so I had to come in early. The guys thought the tyre was fixed when we left the stop, but it came off on the out lap. We have had a few problems this weekend; I think we could have done something from our start position today, but it wasn't meant to be."
Fernando Alonso: "It couldn't have gone better than this today! I hadn't won since Germany and this has a special feeling because it was a tricky race full of action. Along with the second place I got in Australia, this result shows that the car is competitive and that we are working in the right direction to always be in the fight for the podium.
"For that, I have to thank the team for the huge efforts it has made both here and back in the factory. They have worked so hard to put me in this position from which I can fight with the others on equal terms. We had a good feeling all through the weekend and qualifying third gave us the possibility of fighting for the top places. On top of that, maybe we were owed some good luck. Along with that all the important factors worked perfectly, such as set-up, strategy, calling the pit stops and the stops themselves.
"All together it produced a win that wasn't easy at the end of a race in which we made the most of our pace and did a good job of managing the tyres, which was definitely the most dangerous aspect. With no one dominating the Championship, it makes it extremely interesting, even if we are aware this is only the third race. We are under no illusions and we must continue to concentrate and do all we can to improve still further".
Felipe Massa: "It's difficult to understand exactly what happened today, because the start went very well. I was immediately quick and the car was working perfectly. At the first stop, I fitted the Medium tyres and after a few laps I began to suffer with graining on the front. That meant I lost ground to other cars and it was probably down to a problem linked to the track conditions and my driving style.
"All weekend, I haven't felt comfortable with these tyres and in the race, any attempts I made to save them was useless. But for this problem, I would certainly have been in the fight for the podium, but I am still confident because, all the same, I was able to bring home a good points haul which is important in a season that has only just begun".
Jenson Button: "I'm very happy to have finished fifth today - and the team should be too. The race was always going to be tricky: we weren't quick enough to adopt the same strategy as the others, so we had to run longer than the rest and make two pitstops, rather than three.
"For us, a two-stopper was the fastest way to the end of the race. It meant I had to let others past me and protect the tyres. If we couldn't run to our target lap, it would've destroyed our race.
"I had to cruise when I'd normally fight the others. It's not the most exciting way to go racing, but we got 10 points today because we did it.
"We know we still have a lot of work to do to challenge at the front, but we can take a lot of positives away from this weekend."
Sergio Perez: "This was a difficult afternoon for me - there's a lot for us to analyse, and a lot to learn. It wasn't my best weekend in terms of pace, so there's some work to do.
"Congratulation to Jenson - he drove a fantastic race today. He found a better rhythm and really made the strategy work. I couldn't find a flow throughout the whole race and was struggling with the car.
"I had a reasonably good first stint and thought we could achieve a good result with the strategy, but then we encountered degradation with the tyres and that compromised our pace.
"We still don't have the speed in the car, but it's been a useful learning weekend for the whole team, we got some useful points on the board, and we head to the next race with a clearer idea of just what we can do."
Kimi Raikkonen: "Second wasn't quite what we wanted, but in the circumstances it was the best that we could manage today. I'm not 100% happy because we didn't win, but it is what it is and second place is a good result after a bad start and the incident with Sergio [Perez]. It was quite difficult out there; obviously the car is not designed like that otherwise we would use it all the time, but I was surprised how good it was still. Of course there were some handling issues which was not ideal, but we just had to try to live with it and we still had pretty okay speed."
Romain Grosjean: "It was a long, tough race and again we not able to make it work quite as well as we wanted. I'm definitely not happy with ninth place; we started P6 and thought we had a good chance to end up within the top five, but unfortunately we could not manage it. I did as much as I could, but I couldn't get the performance I wanted and being in traffic of course affects this. It was good to score some points for the team, but I want more in Bahrain for sure."
Lewis Hamilton hung on at the end to finish third despite a challenge from Sebastian Vettel.
Lewis Hamilton: "It was a good race for me today and whilst I would have loved the win, I'm really happy with third place and being on the podium for the second race in a row. Fernando and Kimi were just a little bit too fast for us during the race and my tyres were shot at the end trying to keep ahead of Sebastian. I could see his car getting bigger and bigger in my mirrors so it was nice to be able to hang on for the third place.
"The guys did a great job this weekend to get us where we were; on pole and finishing third. We got the absolute most out of the car we had and that's very satisfying. We're not quite there yet in terms of overall pace but everyone is working so hard and I know we can do it."
Nico Rosberg: "The race was tough for me today and with my set-up I had an unexpected level of understeer which made it difficult to drive. After my second pit stop, the feeling got worse and I had one front wheel in the air during the corners. The rear anti-roll bar, which influences the balance of the car, had broken so unfortunately we had to retire the car.
"It's a shame and I've had a difficult start to the season with two DNFs. But it's good to have the next race in just seven days' time so hopefully we can put this result behind us with a strong weekend in Bahrain. It was great for the team to get another podium today."
Nico Hulkenberg: "It was quite a mixed race with mixed emotions. It was obviously very nice to be leading again, and to be at the front battling with the top teams. I had a reasonable start and some nice battles in the first couple of laps. I was able to gain some positions, but, somehow, towards the end of the race, we were losing or lacking a little bit of pace.
"Once you are in the lead or second you understandably hope for more. Nevertheless, it might not have been the true picture, as we were racing out of sequence with other people who were starting on soft tyres. But anyway, it was quite a good race. I don't think the two issues I had in pit lane made a difference between winning or losing."
Esteban Gutierrez: "First of all, I had a good start, and a good first lap. At that point in the race when the accident happened, we had a reasonable speed and were able to keep the pace in order to stay with the group in front. Right before going into the long straight I had Checo (Perez) fighting behind me, and I approached the corner too fast. I was braking at the same place where I usually brake, however, didn't anticipate the loss of downforce and the amount of speed I had.
"I tried my best to stop, but didn't succeed. It was definitely my fault, and I apologise to Adrian (Sutil) and to his team. It's not a good feeling to finish a race like this, but we have something to encourage us to keep going and to keep pushing. We had a good pace, and let's keep moving forward."
Paul Di Resta: "A good result in the end and a strong recovery after a difficult start to the race. I was battling with Nico [Hulkenberg] on the opening lap, but unfortunately there was some contact with Adrian [Sutil] down at the hairpin, which put me on the grass and set us back three or four places. After that I was stuck in the pack, my tyres were graining, and I couldn't really make much progress.
"It wasn't until the third stint that I was in some clean air and the pace of the car was very strong. I was pushing all the way and I knew it would be very close after the final stop with Grosjean and Hulkenberg. But the pit crew did a top job; they kept their nerve and we managed to stay ahead of both of them. If everything had gone to plan I'm sure we could have done an even better job, but it's good to pick up more points and to see our race pace right up there once again."
Adrian Sutil: "A very disappointing day for me. Things were going well in the opening laps and then under braking for the final hairpin I got hit from behind as I turned into the corner. I guess Gutierrez missed his braking point and had nowhere to go but into the back of my car. My rear wing was broken and there was no option but to stop. It's always a shame not to finish a race and I had a good chance of scoring more points today. I was on the soft tyre and the strategy looked to be shaping up well."
Valtteri Bottas: "The team did a good job with the strategy today and we made the most out of what we had. I think it was the best race I have done this season but we need to find more pace to get closer to the front. I knew it was going to be close with Pastor at the end, so I was pushing hard in my final stint on the medium tyres. I was then right behind him on the faster option tyres and so able to make a move on the penultimate lap. It was a nice end to the race but we still need to improve so we can race for points."
Pastor Maldonado: "It was a difficult race from the beginning. We lost a lot of time on the option tyres in the first stint and we just didn't have the pace. We didn't have a chance to fight for any higher positions and we know we are still far away from where we want to be, but we will keep our focus on improving."
Daniel Ricciardo: "I am really pleased to score my first points of the season and to confirm the qualifying performance. After yesterday afternoon I kept calm, knowing the real work would begin today. The last time I qualified this well was sixth in Bahrain last year and then I failed to score, so today, I really wanted to show people what I could do, so it's great for me to have had a great race but it's especially good for the team, who have worked so hard for this.
"Of course, the early pit stop to change the nose affected our plans and towards the end, Massa's Ferrari was looking bigger and bigger ahead of me! So yes, maybe I could have done even better, but for now I'll settle for this seventh place. From the start of the season, we have had many changes in terms of personnel and it takes a while for that to gel and this weekend, it felt like everything clicked into place, after the first two race weekends were a bit up and down, but now I expect us to continue getting stronger from here on."
Jean-Eric Vergne: "I think Mark could not have got through from where he tried and I'm not even sure if he was trying to pass me. Certainly I didn't even know he was there. Unfortunately, the impact put me into a spin and the incident damaged my floor.
"From then I lost a lot of downforce. It was not a good race from then on, having lost a lot of time and having to drive a damaged car. It's not been a good weekend, as I did not have a smooth time of it from the start. However, as I said yesterday, the pace of the car has improved in the break since Malaysia, as could be seen from what Daniel was able to do today. Therefore I am now looking forward to Bahrain with a positive outlook."
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Charles Pic: "For me that was a good race, almost as good as we could have hoped for with our current performance levels and run to a good race strategy. The car felt good right from the start - the setup we went for worked well and I had a decent start on the soft tyres and came in just as they were starting to degrade heavily, came out ahead of Bianchi and for two thirds of the race I was pretty comfortably holding 15th place.
"Unfortunately on my third stop I came out in 16th and didn't quite have enough pace to fight so I finished in 16th, but the fact we were able to keep pace with the Marussia for the whole race and at some points be just out of reach of a Williams is very encouraging for the future. Now we go straight to Bahrain where we hope things will become interesting."
Giedo van der Garde: "That really wasn't a good race for me. I had another very strong start, passing three cars, but almost from the moment the first set of softs started going off I couldn't find any real pace and was struggling for the whole race.
"After a good Friday it's been a pretty tough weekend for me, but I'm a very positive person and this is all part of the learning curve I knew I'd have for the early season races and I know I have the team on my side to help me progress. We have the chance straight away to get back to the sort of performance we want in Bahrain so we'll look at what we can learn from here and move on to the next race where I'm sure things will improve."
Jules Bianchi: "I am very happy to finish in 15th place today, but it was a tough race and to be honest I was happy to see the chequered flag after quite a difficult final stint holding onto the tyres. I got a good start and held position for quite a while before Pic was able to get ahead when we ran a slightly longer first stint. I spent the next two stints making up the time before retaking track position at the third round of pitstops. After that I was running with Maldonado and it was encouraging that I was able to maintain the gap to him for quite some time.
"Towards the end of the race though I had to focus on the tyre management more while ensuring that I kept the gap to Pic behind me. Those final laps seemed to last for an eternity but we got the right result in the end. Overall it was an enjoyable race - certainly my most challenging yet - and I think we have all learned even more about the tyres today. I think we have made another good step and it will be important to maintain this in Bahrain before we can then switch focus to what we will bring for Europe."
Max Chilton: "Again, I think we have good reason to focus on the positives today as the race went well for me and the car felt good. I'm pleased that we end our time in China on a stronger note after a few challenges along the way. I didn't get the best start but things improved through the race and that was reflected in my lap time relative to Van Der Garde. So looking at what has been a good race and also the signs from Free Practice earlier in the weekend, it's all starting to come together I think.
"Importantly, we brought home another good combined result for the Team and demonstrated that we can understand and respond to issues quickly to achieve the right outcome. I hope that we will have an easier time of it in Bahrain so I can make another positive start to the weekend and then have the opportunity to maintain that momentum."