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Who said what after the Malaysian GP

ESPN Staff
March 29, 2015

ESPN rounds up all the reaction from up and down the paddock after the Malaysian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton (2nd): "First of all, huge congratulations to Seb and Ferrari. You have to hand it to them - I wasn't expecting them to be as quick as they were today but they had some serious pace and deserved the win. It's great for the fans to see them up here. It was a tough race out there. I was struggling with the balance today and never really felt comfortable with the car. There was so much understeer that tyre management was really hard. When I went to the option it was much better, so I thought we'd use it again at the end and was surprised we went with the prime. But I made the best I could with it and ultimately I'm sure the team made the call for the right reasons. There was a bit of confusion on the radio at one point where I wasn't quite sure what we were doing on the strategy but I'm not sure if pitting with Seb would have made the difference anyway. They were as fast if not faster than us today and once I had that gap to make up it was just a step too far. I'm now looking forward to the next race and fighting to get back to the front again."

Nico Rosberg (3rd): "That wasn't a great weekend for me and I cannot be happy with third place. When the Safety Car came out I lost a lot of time in the pits. I expected to have to wait behind Lewis but it was letting some other cars by that cost the places - especially waiting for the Red Bull queue to move, I think it was. So I had to fight through to the top positions which was tough but my race pace was okay, so I can build on that. We have to congratulate Sebastian and Ferrari. They had a great race pace today and it's very impressive how they improved over the winter. Now this will be a fight against Ferrari I guess - and we want to strike back in Shanghai."

Toto Wolff, executive director (business): "Our first feeling today is obviously one of disappointment. We were beaten fair and square by Ferrari and Sebastian, who did a fantastic job, and I'm not sure we could have matched their long run pace at any point. They took a well-deserved win. We saw on Friday that Kimi was really strong in these hot conditions, with the track over 60 degrees, and that was confirmed in the race. Of course, it's easy to be clever after the race looking at things we could have done better and there are certainly plenty of points that could have been optimised. But we take these decisions together as a team and this is the moment to stay calm, do our analysis and learn what we can improve for next time. It was a complicated race for the team to read - and for the drivers, too, from the cockpit. We had some interesting radio discussions and both guys did a great job to deliver the double podium at the finish. But I think we can also take a step back and look at the sport today. Always it seems that when people are making the most noise about changing the rules, Formula One delivers. It was the case in Bahrain last year and we saw it again today. It wasn't a perfect day for Mercedes but it was a good one for Formula One."

Paddy Lowe, executive director (technical): "First of all, congratulations to Ferrari and Sebastian on an impressive victory. Coming into the race, there were two main choices to be made: whether to make two or three stops, and whether the Prime or the Option would be the better race tyre. It was clear yesterday that opinion was divided on that question, as we saw the leading teams using different tyre compounds in Q1. We saved new Prime tyres for the race, while others saved new Options. We planned a three-stop strategy favouring the Prime tyre and, although the Safety Car came out early, it was late enough to be used as the first of our three stops. With hindsight, the advantage this gave to Ferrari on their two-stop strategy, and the time we lost in traffic in the first laps after the Safety Car, left us with a gap to Sebastian that proved too much of a challenge for us to recover - especially considering that we did not have an underlying pace advantage to Ferrari, who were very competitive this weekend. Nonetheless, we scored a good haul of points with P2 and P3 and I must also say well done to the team, who performed brilliantly on one of the most difficult weekends for human endurance."

Red Bull

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Daniel Ricciardo (10th): "A really frustrating race. I was ready for a fight going into the race and hoping for something special - but it wasn't to be! I had a bit of contact on the first lap, which hurt us and then we had a few issues throughout the race, which we had to manage. It took a long time to pass cars as we didn't have the pace and we had some problems with the brakes, which didn't make our afternoon easy. It was a good job by Seb, a great drive from him."

Daniil Kvyat (9th): "We took the maximum out of the situation today. We are lacking some pace and need to catch up, I am confident that the team can do it; it's a challenge and we have to face it with a strong mind. Fighting for P9 and P10 is not what we want, we struggled today and we need to work out why."

Christian Horner, team principal: "A really difficult afternoon. Some contact at the first turn damaged Daniel's front wing, which seemed to deteriorate through the race. Then after the safety car we started to see brake temperatures climb and needed to nurse the cars quite significantly through the second half of the race. I don't think the drivers could have done anymore today. There's plenty to understand following this weekend and plenty to address before China in two weeks. Sebastian drove an incredible race, so congratulations to him and Ferrari. Hopefully we will give them a harder time soon."


Valtteri Bottas (5th): "It was a nice race in the end. I was always in the wrong place at the start and lost a lot of time and positions. I made the most of the performance of the car and it was great to be able to race Felipe at the end. We know we have some work to do, we need to learn from our mistakes and keep progressing. We have some upgrades that are due shortly which will hopefully be a further step in the right direction."

Felipe Massa (6th): "I don't think we had a fantastic day today. We had a small problem in the pitstop which lost a little time. Valtteri was able to catch me in the final few laps, but it was good to race wheel-to-wheel. We have got the best points we could for the team given the where the car is at the moment."

Rob Smedley, head of performance engineering: "It was a good team performance and we finished with the maximum points on offer considering the pace of the car. It was a tough race in the heat but we have highlighted some areas of the package that we need to improve. We made a good recovery from a difficult Saturday and it was good to have both cars racing each other at the end."


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Sebastian Vettel (1st): "Grande gara, bella macchina! (A great race and a beautiful car). Sorry for starting to speak in Italian, but today is such a special day for me. I don't really know what to say, I am speechless. It's not only one childhood dream that becomes true, it seems to be many dreams together. It was amazing to look down from the podium and see the mechanics, the engineers, the whole team and listen to the German and Italian anthems. The atmosphere in the team has always been great, but it's just getting better and better. For today, the important thing is for all of us to enjoy this moment together and celebrate. I did not swap teams that much in the past, so winning for a new team is always a relief.

"Since I joined Ferrari I felt incredibly welcome and together we have worked to improve things. The potential, as I always said, is huge, it's good to see what a step forward we did over the winter. There were a lot of changes in the background (including one driver…) which never make things easy, but everyone saw the positives of that. It just doesn't compare to last year, when the car was also good but I couldn't get on top of it. With Ferrari I had a good feeling right from the start. This is a special day, it has been a while since both I and team won for the last time. I'd like to be in the same position at every race, but we must be realistic, Mercedes were a bit struggling today but they have a great package and our target is to make the gap smaller at every Grand Prix and make sure that we are the team right behind them".

Kimi Raikkonen (4th): "We had a pretty poor weekend in terms of things going wrong. I had a good speed but in qualify it didn't go well and then today, after a poor start where I had too much wheelspin right off the line, I found myself fighting with all the other drivers and I had a puncture on the rear left tyre while battling Nasr at the last corner, which means I had to go one full lap before coming back to pits with no tyre. At that point my floor had got a little bit damaged, I had to do a full lap with no tyre and then, even if the safety car helped us, I had to start from way back behind. We did our best and the forth position was the maximum we could achieve. The win of Sebastian is a very good thing for him and for the whole team , knowing how difficult the last year has been; it's a very good job what the team has done. We knew from winter testing that we have a good car, so it did not come as a total surprise, and probably the track with these high temperatures suited us. I don't know how it will be in other circuits, but the car has been strong so far, not yet as we want but we have a good package, and we are getting stronger".

Maurizio Arrivabene: "This is no one-man win: it's a success for the whole team, which has been working impeccably at all levels. Seb was just unbelievable today, and Kimi was able to put on a fantastic charge from the back. The whole team has showed a great deal of discipline, just like a Swiss watch-or should I say, an Italian one! Today, the whole team gave me great emotions and I wish to thank everybody, including the women and men back at the Maranello factory, for putting on an incredible effort over the last months, burning the midnight oil. Now we've got to be realistic, keep our feet on the ground and our concentration at a high level, because Mercedes is still a formidable contender. After the race our President Mr. Marchionne congratulated the whole team. He's really one of us, he likes to stay away from the spotlight but still gives us a powerful contribution. And he's a real Ferrari fan!".


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Fernando Alonso (DNF): "This whole weekend has been better than I expected. The main positive to take away from today is the fact that we were able to run with other cars - Jenson and I weren't simply fighting with each other. That was the first step we needed to take, and we've taken it already.

"Indeed, our race pace was surprisingly good; I was running with the pack, and I was even able to catch the Red Bulls before the pit-stops. That was a nice surprise. We still need a little more time to investigate the exact cause of my retirement. The team came over the radio to tell me to back off a little, to save the car, so I brought it back to the pits.

"For us, these are the sort of reliability problems you'd usually discover in pre-season testing, but, given our lack of running over the winter, unfortunately we're likely to encounter such issues in the first few races of the year. Hopefully, we can take another step forward in China."

Jenson Button (DNF): "The start of the race was a bit of a mess for me: I'd had a longer-than-normal pit-stop under the Safety Car, and came out behind Roberto [Mehri], who didn't close down the gap before the Safety Car came in. At the restart, I then started about four or five seconds behind the pack, had to get past him, then chased down the cars in front - which hurt my tyres.

"But I enjoyed it out there - we're actually racing people. To be able to see one of the Red Bulls ahead of me - and so far into the race - was obviously a nice surprise. And we were able to mix it with the others a little bit more, too. Fighting in the pack is the most positive thing to take away from this weekend - hopefully, before too long, we can start to pick them off on a race-by-race basis. Today has been a useful day; it's just a pity that both Fernando and I ended up finishing it early."

Eric Boullier, racing director: "The fact that neither Fernando nor Jenson finished today's race is of course disappointing, but they both drove extremely well in arduous, challenging and frustrating conditions. Moreover, in line with the MP4-30's improved qualifying pace of yesterday, its race pace today was also a significant improvement over what it showed in Melbourne two weeks ago.

"Furthermore, the 62 laps driven by Fernando and Jenson this afternoon have garnered us additional invaluable data that will inform the ongoing intense development programme in which we are relentlessly engaged. Last but far from least, I want to say 'merci beaucoup' to our mechanics, a mettlesome troupe who have been working with indefatigable tenacity, in severe heat and humidity, ever since we arrived in Sepang."

Yasuhisa Arai, Honda chief officer of motorsport: "Fernando was showing some good pace today until we had to pull his car out of the race with an ERS cooling issue. Obviously, that was a big disappointment for us. Jenson's car then encountered a turbo issue, when we were just about to push to maintain his position within a busy, jostling pack. Both retirements were a result of the harsh use of the power unit within competitive race conditions, not the result of the high-temperature conditions encountered at this circuit. We'll investigate the issues further and aim to improve things before Shanghai."

Force India

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Nico Hulkenberg (14th):"It was a tough afternoon and I was always kept very busy with lots going on around me. I was really struggling with the general balance and the car was sliding around, especially as the tyres became older. We chose not to pit during the early safety car, which gave me good track position, but it was not an easy decision. We were trying to make the two-stop strategy work, but it just wasn't possible with the degradation and so we switched to three stops. Perhaps it would have been better to commit to the three-stop earlier, but I'm not sure it would have changed the result that much. The penalty for the contact with Daniil [Kvyat] also dropped me out of the fight for points. I went a bit wide in turn one and chose to go back on the inside going into turn two. I was quite well alongside him, but he probably didn't think I would try to come back at him."

Sergio Perez (13th): "We knew ahead of the race it would be a big fight to get close to the points and it turned out to be just the case. I struggled with degradation in my first stint, on mediums, and that cost me a lot of time after the Safety Car. We had slightly better pace with the hard compound, but in the end it was not enough to get back in contention. The penalty didn't help us either; I felt I had nowhere to go and couldn't avoid contact with Romain. I thought it was a racing incident but it ended up costing us a lot. It's a disappointing result but at least we were able to learn a lot from this race and this will help us going forward."

Robert Fernley, deputy team principal: "It was a challenging afternoon for the team, although we were unlucky not to come away with at least a point. Both Checo and Nico gave everything in these conditions and featured in a lot of battles for the majority of the race. We seemed to have the measure of some of the stronger cars, but the penalties effectively cut us out of the fight for the top ten positions. We knew going into the race that we were lacking ultimate pace today and with a fully dry race there was not much that would disrupt the strategy or offer any opportunity to exploit. Now we need to regroup, continue our work back at base and come back stronger in the near future. Everyone is putting in a real effort to get us back where we belong quickly and it will be hugely rewarding when we are once more fighting closer to the front."

Toro Rosso

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Carlos Sainz (8th): "It was a mega day for me today! A two-stop strategy at a track like Sepang was never going to be easy, but it worked out well in the end and it's definitely made me forget yesterday's result in qualifying. Starting from P15 and making it to P8 is amazing! There was a lot happening around me throughout the whole race, so it was very easy to lock-up, make mistakes or lose positions, but I kept calm and in the end it paid off. The conditions have been very tough here in Malaysia, much more than in Australia obviously, but we prepared well for it and I had no problems. Such a result gives us great confidence and motivation to keep up the good work. The team is doing an excellent job and to finish with both cars in the points is a great way to end the weekend."

Max Verstappen (7th): "I really enjoyed that! I'm very happy to have scored my first ever points in F1 and to end seventh! I think we did a great job as a team. The first few laps were a bit tricky for me as I was struggling a lot on the Medium tyres, so we boxed early for the Hard ones and that worked perfectly, the car felt great. We had a few good fights with other competitors and it was good fun. This was the right strategy and we did a great job managing the tyres. I felt well physically, it was quite hot at the end but I was still able to cope with it and be consistent, so I'm happy with that. This is a big boost for the team, we couldn't have done a better job today."

Franz Tost, team principal: "To finish in seventh and eighth positions today here in Malaysia was a big success for the team as well as for the drivers because if both Ferrari's, Mercedes' and Williams' don't have any problems, this is the best position which we can achieve. Therefore, the team showed a very good race performance, of which I'm very proud. We were fast in yesterday's qualifying session but this was no surprise. Max ended up in an excellent sixth position and I think that also Carlos could have been in the top ten as he certainly had the speed, which he also showed in today's race.

"Both drivers did a reasonable start. Max had some problems during the first laps, where he was blocked by some traffic, but later on, after the safety car, he was able to overtake his rivals and put on a good show. Carlos had a great start as he gained lots of positions after starting from 15th position. He was also the only driver a part from Sebastian Vettel to go for a two-stop strategy and he really looked after the tyres well and drove a fantastic race. I'd like to congratulate the whole team as well as to Scuderia Ferrari and Sebastian, who won the race here today. This great result now gives us a big boost and we look forward to the next race in China in two weeks' time."


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Romain Grosjean (11th): "Overall we had quite a good race with a strong first lap and some nice overtaking, although I lost a lot of time behind Hulkenberg and then the spin with Perez in such a fast corner. I had some fun overtaking with Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Force India, which was great, and we had a good strategy but we lost too much time to benefit from it. I also had an issue with my drinks bottle which added to the fun. Overall the car behaved well though and we're not far from the top ten so we'll work to close the gap for China."

Pastor Maldonado (DNF): "The potential is clearly there, especially in the race where the car pace is very competitive and we can score good points. Unfortunately there was an incident on the first lap which lost me a lot of time and compromised the race from then on. Despite dropping to the very back fo the field, we switched to a different strategy and we recovered well. Unfortunately, we suffered from a brake issue, which isn't great but it's effectively our first race and we need to keep working through issues, ready for the next Grand Prix. As soon as we have a clean race, we will be fighting for good points."

Frederico Gastaldi, deputy team principal: "Today was about unfulfilled potential. Both Pastor and Romain could have scored strongly but events out of their hands meant they did not. That's motor racing sometimes and we're firmly focused on China to open our points account. We've shown again that the E23 is a great package and both our drivers are capable of delivering with the very best. Shanghai will present a challenge very different from the one seen here so that's our next focus."


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Marcus Ericsson (DNF): "It is a very frustrating end to a good weekend. I felt comfortable in the car straight away and had a good start during which I could make up one position. Nico [Hülkenberg] must have had a good start as he was ahead of me, but I felt I had more pace than he did. When I tried to pass him down to Turn 1, I went for the move to the outside. I know it is possible to overtake there, but unfortunately I lost the rear, went off and got stuck in the gravel trap. Anyway, we need to take the positives out of this weekend, and I have learned from what happened in the race. In China we will be even stronger."

Felipe Nasr (12th) "It was overall a difficult weekend for me. I was struggling to find a good set-up for the car. We need to reflect and understand why we didn't have enough pace. The race itself was not easy, as I had contact early on with Kimi (Räikkönen). I should have avoided this incident, but it can happen sometimes when we are racing. Now we have to look forward to the next race weekend in China."

Monisha Kaltenborn, team principal: "It's a shame that today we were not able to score points, because, for sure, the opportunity was there. Unfortunately, both drivers were involved in incidents in the first few laps. For Marcus the race was over, and Felipe's chances were significantly reduced. But he fought strongly afterwards, although unfortunately he was not rewarded with points. This result is obviously disappointing, but there are also positives we can take from this race weekend. Our package is competitive, which puts us in a position to fight for points. We have to make sure that we grab these chances."


Roberto Merhi (15th): "I'm so happy for the team. P15 is not only a great result from today's race, but also a huge reward for a fantastic effort over the past few months. I'm really proud of us. Coming into the weekend we knew things would not be easy; we had to work very hard and stay focused every step of the way. We missed out on some of our targets but in the end it was the race that mattered and we brought the car home with a full race distance. That was my main objective, as the information we now have is so important for our development, but it's good to know that we got a good result along the way and finished ahead of some of the other teams. I'm sorry for Will that he was unable to race today but we have a very good starting point for us both to work from in China and beyond. My thanks to the whole team for a really positive weekend."

Will Stevens (DNS): "Obviously I'm disappointed that I wasn't able to race today. We pushed as hard as possible all weekend and there are quite a few positives that I can take away from Malaysia, including the promising pace in free practice. We'll work on that for China, but for now my congratulations to the whole team on completing our first race distance. It's a fantastic reward for all the hard work of the last few months."

John Booth, team principal: "We couldn't be more thrilled to see the chequered flag today. We've had to overcome some massive hurdles in a very short space of time, so everyone is pretty emotional this afternoon because this result is just reward for an incredible amount of hard work and determination from a fantastic team of people. Roberto delivered the solid race performance we asked of him, and that will stand us in such good stead as we head to China. Let's not forget that this is the first real data we've had to work with. Of course, we're disappointed that we didn't achieve that same objective with two cars and our apologies to Will that he was denied the chance to convert a positive start to the weekend into what I'm sure would have been a similarly strong race performance. We hope for better things for him in China in two weeks' time. We still have a great deal of hard work ahead, so we'll enjoy the moment and then get straight back to it tomorrow."


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Cyril Abiteboul, Renault Sport F1 managing director: "We said after Melbourne that we needed to react to the problems, but not overreact and we can see that the measures and countermeasures put in place since then have played dividends here. Engine-wise we are much more where we should have been in Australia. Reliability has globally been good - as it should be - and the improvements to driveability have allowed the teams to focus on the set-ups and see where the true performance of the cars is at the moment. Finishing one lap behind the leaders isn't where we need to be, but now we have very clear targets. Ferrari has done a great job in the last few months, it shows that Mercedes can be caught if all the ingredients are there. We need to focus on our job, play the long game and keep pushing every time we hit the track."


Paul Hembery: "I think we did our bit today. We saw a great strategic battle between Ferrari and Mercedes, with two different approaches to the race, which were also influenced by an early safety car period. Despite the highest track temperatures we are likely to see all year, the tyres did not suffer from blistering or graining, enabling a two-stop strategy to be not only possible, but victorious. The different tyre strategies available set up an exciting battle for the race victory and underlined the difference that using the tyres to the best effect can make. Congratulations to Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel for a truly memorable victory."

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