2014 Australian GP - Driver Reaction
The 22 drivers have their say on a thrilling race in Melbourne
By William Esler
Last Updated: 16/03/14 1:18pm
Nico Rosberg: "That was an incredible day for us. To start the season with a win is unbelievable and I have to say a big thank you to everybody who was involved in building our car over the winter. I always dreamed of having such a strong Silver Arrow and now it seems we are there. In the race, everything went perfectly for me.
"My start was great and I was able to push from there until the end, with our fuel consumption well under control. However, despite our success today, we also know that there is still some work to do. We saw over the weekend that reliability is still a concern and it prevented us from having a strong two-car finish. We have two weeks to improve that. I am very much looking forward to Malaysia and I would love to race again tomorrow!"
Lewis Hamilton: "My start didn't feel great today and I had a lot less power than usual when pulling away, so it was obvious immediately that something was wrong. It looks like we only had five cylinders firing and, while I wanted to keep going, we had to play safe and save the engine. It's unfortunate but that's racing and we will recover from this. We have a great car and engine, and the pace was really strong today as Nico clearly showed.
"Big congratulations to him and the team for achieving the win, it's a fantastic result for us. Of course I'm disappointed with my own race and when I think about all the work that has gone on back at our factories, it's tough to have a costly hiccup. However we have achieved an incredible amount to get here, to be at the front and to be so competitive; we will bounce back and learn from this. There is a very long way to go this season."
Fernando Alonso: "I'd have liked to start the season with a podium, but getting both cars to the flag is a good result, which can give us confidence, especially on the reliability front. I had some problems with the electric motor at the start and had to make a few changes from the steering wheel, but after the first ten laps everything went well.
"When I managed to pass Hulkenberg after the pit stop my pace was definitely better, although it was impossible to overtake. 35 seconds down on the leader is too big a gap and to work out what we need to do to close that gap, we will need to analyse the race, work out what are the strong and weak points on the car and with that in mind, the laps I did behind Nico can provide very useful information.
"We are a great team and I have total faith in our guys, because they did a great job today. We still have lots to learn about this new Formula 1, as the race was very strange and very difficult. But it's only the start. We must concentrate on doing better in Malaysia."
Kimi Raikkonen: "That wasn't a straightforward race. At the start, I managed to get away well and even though I was hit from behind by another car at the first corner, my car was undamaged. The speed was good, but at one point I was suffering with graining on the front tyres, I had very little grip and a lot of understeer.
"From then on, the car's handling was not the same. When it was time for the first stop, we had to do a double stop and that cost me a place. It's definitely too early to make any definite judgement, because even if at the moment we don't seem to be in great shape, we still managed to finish the race, scoring valuable points.
"We can't be pleased with this result and we know there are many areas where we need to improve. But I'm sure that analysing the data from this first race will give us a clearer idea of the direction to work in."
Romain Grosjean: "In a way, it was a pretty positive day. I expected to do around 15 to 20 laps in the race after all the issues we've had this weekend, and we managed 45! We've learnt a lot today and all the changes made to the car have been positive.
"We still have a long way to go, but at least I know more about tyre usage, all my engineers know where we need to improve with the chassis, and we've learnt a lot about aero balance and fuel consumption. Of course there's more to do with the energy management and recovery and some work yet with the braking. We've still got lots of work to do, but we're definitely heading in the right direction."
Pastor Maldonado: "It was obviously very disappointing, but if you look at the positives we did more laps than in the pre-season which is quite encouraging as we have more data which is very important for making progress. We had a very negative free practice but we did plenty of laps during the race which is very positive for the team. I'm looking forward to the next race and we'll keep pushing."
Kevin Magnussen: "It's just fantastic to be on the podium! What happened today just feels surreal. Being on the podium in the first race of my Formula 1 career - it's amazing.
"My 'moment' at the start was quite scary - I got on the power a bit too quickly, and nearly lost it. But the car was fantastic today - I was always able to place it exactly where I wanted, and I had the pace to fight the Red Bull. I had a bit of a go at Daniel towards the ends of the race, but didn't quite have the speed to get past.
"I want to say a big congratulations to the team for doing such a good job over the winter and for working so hard to prepare me for this - it's just crazy!
"Where do we go from here? Well, we need to continue improving. And I'm sure we will. I'll try to learn as much as I can, and to carry this experience forward to Malaysia. It's a completely different circuit, so there's no guarantee we'll have the sort of speed we showed here today, but I'm sure the team will keep pushing as hard as they've done already this year.
"I'm very happy, and I'm sure the guys are happy to be leading the constructors' world championship, as indeed I am too. That's a big boost, and the guys completely deserve it.
"Me? I'll just keep pushing as hard as I can."
Jenson Button: "It was a great drive by Kevin today - I had a lot of fun chasing him and Daniel down at the end of the race, but my tyres were several laps older than theirs, so it was always going to be tricky. Still, I had a good race - the car's balance wasn't quite right when I was in traffic - I struggled with understeer when I was behind people - but the car worked very well in clear air.
"For some reason, it seems to be more difficult to overtake now than it used to be, so we had to do it during the pit stops. During my second stop, we damaged the nose - which made it a bit cooler in the cockpit! - but the guys did a great job of putting me in the right place at the right time. When the Safety Car came out, I quickly dived into the pit lane at the last second - which gained me a couple of places. And then the second stop gained me a couple more. They were both great calls.
"As a team, I think we can be very proud of the job we did today. I don't think we expected to be leading the constructors' world championship at the end of this weekend, but I think the pace in the car is generally there: in clear air, we seem capable of fighting every team except one. I'm really looking forward to getting back in the car in Malaysia.
"It's been an emotional day for me, but it's been great to have my sister, my fiancée and lots of friends around me, so that definitely helped."
Nico Hulkenberg: "Seventh place is a positive way to start the season. I was very happy to see the chequered flag - the first time I've done so in Melbourne - and it's important to score some good points early on. I made a strong start and enjoyed good track position for the first two stints when I was running up in fourth. The only real issue I had was some front left graining on the soft tyres, which never really cleared up and that compromised my first two stints.
"It was a shame to lose two positions at my second stop [to Button and Alonso] but it looks like some of the cars around us have a bit more pace at the moment. I want to thank the team for the amazing job they've done over the winter and this weekend to get us to this point. It's been a great effort and it's nice to reward everyone with some points at the first race."
Sergio Perez: "I'm satisfied to finish the race, but disappointed not to score points. My race became very difficult on lap one when I got hit by the Sauber of Gutierrez at turn three. It gave me a puncture and I had to return to the pits very slowly, which dropped me to the back of the pack. After that I just tried to keep a consistent pace on the medium tyres and I was quite fortunate that the safety car came out, which helped me recover some positions.
"Points were close, but my progress was hurt by being stuck behind the Sauber of Adrian for such a long time. It's positive to finish the race because it gives the team lots of information and hopefully that will make us stronger for Malaysia."
Esteban Gutierrez: "It was a different kind of racing today, but definitely something we take as a reference. In general we are missing speed and it's a challenge to be able to compete at the front like this. As a team, we need to make sure we put everything together because the lack of speed we have on the straight is quite significant. However, we can be very happy that we both finished the race today. This means a step forward for the team and its reliability."
Adrian Sutil: "It was an exciting race, and especially the start, but luckily I went through without any incidents. We had a few issues with the powertrain during the first stint, but after the pit stop that improved. Nevertheless this cost us a lot of time that we couldn't recover. I was on a two stop strategy, but we switched to a one stop because of the safety car.
"This could have worked well, but the safety car phase didn't help us. In addition we were simply too slow, but we managed to finish the race, which was our goal. We came close to the points, but we need to improve our speed. There is a lot of data now to analyse and we can only improve. I hope that we will progress quickly."
Jean-Eric Vergne: "This is obviously a good result, even though the car was very difficult to drive. We had problems with the brakes which made us lose a lot of time but at the end we are all satisfied to finish the race with two cars in the points. I'm very pleased with the overall three points especially for the team, more than for myself. After a long difficult time and so much hard work this winter, this is a great relief for all the guys in the garage and it's nice for us drivers to be able to give them something back.
"It looks like things are turning well and hopefully it will always be better from now on. As for my mistake in the last corner, I was trying to defend myself from Mercedes, looking for the best line to get a good exit, but I went on the grass and I was lucky enough not to spin the car. It's really a shame but it's just the first race and I'm sure we will have plenty of opportunities to score more points. Overall, it's a good result today."
Daniil Kvyat: "It was a very intense afternoon and finishing my first race with a point is a great feeling. It was a fantastic first Grand Prix weekend with the team, everyone worked really hard and scoring points was a great way to end it. So well done to everyone! The start was a bit messy, but after that I managed to get into a rhythm and the car seemed competitive compared to those around us.
"It was close at the end with Jev, but I had to save fuel towards the end, so I was not going to attack him. I never expected to score a point in my first race, so it feels amazing. It's a real boost for us and now we have to keep on working hard and if we keep on the way we are going, then we can look forward to a really positive season."
Valtteri Bottas: "The car performed very well today which is looking encouraging for the season ahead, and on the whole as a team we can be pleased that we have made a good step forward from last season. I'm a little disappointed with myself because I was pushing a bit too hard and hit the wall which caused a puncture and put me back a long way.
"I spent the rest of the race trying to make up for that mistake and managed to make some good overtakes, but I need to learn from this and make sure it doesn't happen again. It felt great to be able to race hard with people around me and I want to say a big thank you to the race team and everyone back at Grove and Brixworth who have done a great job with this car. We should have finished higher today than we did with the pace we had and I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do in Malaysia."
Felipe Massa: "I'm obviously very disappointed as I had the sort of car capable of challenging for a podium today, but the incident in the first corner ruined my race. I tried to have a calm start and not take any risks, but was hit from behind after Kobayashi braked too late and there was nothing I could do to avoid being taken out of the race. It's a shame but there are a lot of positive things that the team can take from this weekend in terms of pace and reliability, so I'm just thinking about the next race and having a strong result there."
Max Chilton: "Today's race was by no means perfect but we have started the season with a two-car finish, and on my side a 14th place as well, so we have to be pleased with that. The start was obviously extremely concerning. I was on the grid preparing for the formation lap with the usual procedures and suddenly everything just cut out. At that point I was worried that my race was already over, but the Team did a fantastic job to push me off the grid and back to the garage where they reset the car and I was able to start the race from the pit lane.
"From that point on I knew we had an important job to do to get the car home, but at the same time do the hard work to we needed to be able to evaluate the car over a race distance. It was quite pleasing to be able to catch Ericsson in the process. We've learned an awful lot today that will stand us in good stead as we prepare for the next race in Malaysia and also to start developing the car for the longer term.
"After a tough time in testing when we did not achieve all the mileage we had hoped for, it's good to take home a 14th place finish from the first race of the season. It's a nice reward for all the hard work across the whole Team."
Jules Bianchi: "The problem at the start was really quite worrying and I did not expect to be able to race, but the Team got me to the garage and fought hard to get me back on track. I was six laps down when I did rejoin and of course I was never going to recover from that, but that was not the point.
"Being in the race - and finishing it - enabled us to gather the maximum amount of information and test various strategies for maximising the power unit. In many ways it was more like a test than a race for me, which was far from ideal, but as is the case in testing, the mileage was important and this will be crucial for the engineers to start moving us forward. Hopefully I will be able to benefit from this next time around. I am pleased that we have some reward for all the hard work and we look forward to better things in Malaysia."
Kamui Kobayashi: "That isn't how I wanted my first race back to go, and I'm sorry for the team and for Felipe that both our races ended early. I had a really good start but then into turn one I made contact with Felipe. From the initial data it looked like I had a brake system issue which obviously meant I couldn't do much about the contact and when we got the car back and looked at the information in much more detail it was clear that was the problem. After the race I went to the Stewards and they went through the data from the car and confirmed this was the case. We'll have a close look at what caused that problem and make sure we fix it.
"It's been a tough weekend for us, but we still have a lot more data that will help us keep improving, and the really positive thing is that we were still quite competitive, even with the issues we had on Friday. Race two is Malaysia, one of our team's home races, and we'll keep pushing there, just as we will all weekend."
Marcus Ericsson: "Even though my first race in F1 ended with a DNF I'm still proud of the way we fought today. It's been a very difficult weekend overall, one of the hardest in my whole career, but we still showed a bit of the potential we have in the first laps of the first stint when I passed Sutil and was running well in twelfth. My first ever live pitstop a Grand Prix went really well but then unfortunately an oil pressure problem forced us to stop - we don't know what caused that yet but if we hadn't had that I think we'd have finished ahead of the Marussias as I was pretty comfortable ahead of Chilton until the issue.
"Friday was tough, obviously, but we had a better Saturday and then today we started to show some of the race pace this car has. For the last few laps of the first stint I was driving with pretty flat spotted tyres but the rear was still behaving well and the Power Unit felt good. That's encouraging for the next race in Malaysia which is on a track I've raced at before and one I like, so I'm leaving Australia in a positive frame of mind and just want to get on with it again as soon as possible!"
More to follow...