A round-up of comment after Sunday's race at Sepang
Fernando Alonso - 6th "I am happy with this race: not with the result but because we were finally competitive, capable of fighting wheel to wheel for a place on the podium. This is further motivation for the forthcoming race in China. We were not lucky: if the moveable rear wing had worked all the time, I could easily have passed Hamilton down the straight, but instead we had to fight hard. He defended very well and, unfortunately, we touched: that broke my wing and I had to come back into the pits to change it, thus losing any chance of getting to the podium. These things happen: today went badly for me, but another time we will have better luck.
Here, the car seemed capable of managing the tyres really well which meant I could fight with the others. With the package we have today, we cannot fight for the win, but I hope that changes soon. In Shanghai, we realise we can expect another difficult weekend. We will have something new, but we don't know how much progress it will see us make. Everyone knows that, at the moment, we just have to grit our teeth and that's what we will do. There is still a long way to go in the championship and we must leave nothing to chance."
Felipe Massa - 5th "We definitely have to improve the car, but it's equally true that our race pace is very different to our performance in qualifying. That's a positive, but we know that grid position is nevertheless very important, so we have to move forward on this front. As for my race, it was a shame to have lost valuable seconds at my first pit stop: but for that problem, I could have fought my way to a podium place. With the soft tyres my pace was very good, less so on the hards, to such an extent that Webber, who in addition had made one more stop, managed to pass me."
Stefano Domenicali, team principal "We cannot be pleased with this result, because today, we had the possibility to finally leap up onto the podium. Two incidents, linked one to a reliability issue (a failure of the moveable rear wing on Fernando's car) and one at a pit stop (a problem with the left front at Felipe's first stop) cost us very dear. It's a shame, because in terms of race pace the 150º Italia seemed much more competitive when compared to its qualifying performance, as we had already seen in Melbourne. Once again today one driver, Vettel, was probably uncatchable but we were capable of fighting with all the others.
Felipe and Fernando both drove great races: it's up to us to give them a better car. We find ourselves in a situation where we need to be perfect to maximise our potential, given that we are lagging behind in terms of performance: we did not manage that and we must do all in our power to avoid that situation repeating itself. At the same time, we have to seriously ramp up the development of our car to make up the lost ground compared to the best. We will try and complete an analysis of the aerodynamics of the car as quickly as possible and introduce some developments as soon as we can, maybe right from the next race in China."
Pat Fry - assistant techincal director "Today we had the potential to pick up rather more than these 18 points, but we didn't manage it, which leaves a slightly bitter taste in the mouth. Fernando could have made it to the podium, but the coming together with Hamilton, which led to the front wing breaking, meant he had to make an additional pit stop. Unfortunately, the Spaniard had to tackle the duel with his former team-mate at a disadvantage, as he was unable to use the DRS which failed after a few laps because of a mechanical problem. Felipe lost valuable position at his first pit stop because of a problem with the wheel nut on the left front wheel, otherwise he too could have been fighting for a podium place.
From a strategic point of view, we scheduled three stops and that proved to be correct. Today, tyre degradation was less than what we had seen on Friday afternoon. The 150º Italia showed it had a good race pace, as indeed was the case in Melbourne. We leave Malaysia aware that we have a lot of work to do to raise our performance level and there can be no doubt about that, but it is also the case that, in the race, the gaps are not as big as in qualifying."
Adrian Sutil - 11th "The first few laps were not brilliant as I lost my front wing touching Barrichello's rear tyre. Then we had a two-stop strategy, I went into the pits for the soft tyres, then another set of hard and another set of soft, and made them last well, which is positive. We could have been in for a much better finishing position, which is a shame. Overall it was a disappointing weekend for me, but the team did a great job with the pitstops so I'd like to thank them for that."
Paul Di Resta - 10th "I am quite happy I must say. The team did a good job with the strategy. I just could not hold off Michael at the end, he had fresher tyres and we had to stop a bit earlier for my third stop than predicted. But I also did not want to risk the championship point as well. I think the DRS showed some good racing today, so maybe we can be confident that in China our race pace may even be a little bit better. We were battling with cars that were a little bit quicker than us today, so overall I think we had a great race."
Vijay Mallya, team principal "Once again, it was a satisfying race for the Force India team. The boys did a great job with the pitstops in very difficult weather conditions and the team's strategies worked very well. Paul did an excellent job coming home in the points once again, while I believe that Adrian would also have finished in the top ten had it not been for the early nose change which altered his two-stop strategy. I am very proud of what the team has achieved here in Sepang this weekend and hope that we can carry this momentum, and great team spirit, with us to the race in China next week."
Narain Karthikeyan - DNF "I would have definitely liked to have finished the race and done more miles but this was not the case. There were some problems with the water temperatures so we had to abandon in order to not damage the engine. The car balance was not the best but we have some information from Tonio because he almost completed the race. It's a shame because I was just settling in when I was forced to abandon but anyways, now I'm focused on China where I will be looking to finish the race."
Vitantonio Liuzzi - DNF "It's a shame we didn't finish by 8 laps because our target was to reach the checkered flag. We had a small issue with the rear wing and were forced to stop. It's a shame because we had a really good start where I was able to pass a few cars. It was an interesting first lap but then our pace wasn't too competitive and those cars were able to overtake me. After that, it was a really complicated race because the car was struggling with the rear end, it was drifting a lot during the three stints we did. We have to work a lot on the balance and the set up for the future. We knew we weren't exactly where we wanted to be but today it was important to achieve mileage and get some information on the car. So now we have some data to work with for the future."
Colin Kolles, team principal "We stopped both cars just to be safe. Narain's car had very high water temperatures so we advised him to stop. Tonio was close to the finish the race and felt an unstable rear. We pitted the car twice to check the problem and found out that there was a damage on the rear wing so we decided to stop just for safety reasons. Overall it wasn't a bad day considering this was our first proper race and our first chance to test the car in a race situation. There were no major issues so we need to try and improve for the next race in China where we hope to finish. Our lap times were not bad compared to the front runners, this shows there is some light at the end of the tunnel."
Heikki Kovalainen - 15th "That was a pretty good race all round. The balance was good on both sets of tyres and I think the strategy worked well for us - we pitted at the right times and we didn't have any problems all afternoon. I think we can be pleased that after a difficult Friday we showed the sort of performance that the winter tests had given us hope we could do so now it's about continuing development of the car and keeping up the pressure on the guys ahead. China will be a good test of how the car behaves in cooler conditions so the goal will be to repeat this kind of performance there and keep on pushing."
Jarno Trulli - DNF "Unfortunately a clutch problem brought my race to an early end which is pretty bad luck as we were looking ok at our home grand prix. I had a tricky start with the anti-stall kicking in but I recovered and then after the first pitstop I locked a front wheel coming out and had to make up ground again. I got past Timo but then the clutch gave up, which is a shame as we looked like we have started to show what the car is really made of."
Mike Gascoyne, chief technical officer "A very strong race from both drivers although unfortunately Jarno stopped in the garage with a clutch sensor problem. We looked to do a two stop strategy with both cars. We might have struggled with Jarno as his tyre degradation was slightly higher, but it worked well with Heikki. Overall our pace was very good at the end, particularly when we were with the leading cars, and we were very close to passing one of the Torro Rossos as we came over the line which shows how we have progressed. This weekend has been by far our strongest race performance since we came back into Formula One, so it is good to be racing again."
Tony Fernandes, team principal "Well I think we can officially say we were racing today! It was a real shame about Jarno as I really wanted two cars to come home but Heikki drove a fantastic race and it was exciting to see that he was really pushing the Toro Rossos in the final few laps - maybe with a couple more laps he would have passed one of them. He kept pace with cars that were much faster than us during qualifying so I'm thrilled that we have recorded 15th at what was a very tough circuit, so huge congratulations to the whole team and well done to everyone."
Jenson Button - 2nd "This has been an extremely encouraging weekend for us. It's very satisfying to come away with a good lot of world championship points - everyone in the team has done an amazing job and we should feel very proud of ourselves. Today's race was all about looking after the tyres. On the way to the grid, I purposely took a lot of front wing out of the car, which was a mistake because I had massive understeer for the first stint, which also hurt the rear tyres. I just got the balance wrong.
So at each pitstop, I dialled in more front wing and my pace kept getting better and better. At the end, the Prime tyre was really working for me. I knew Lewis had a problem in one of his pitstops and that I would be able to come out in front of him, but my pace was very good anyway. It was a great afternoon. In the closing laps, the team told me to take it easy on the tyres, but I chased down Sebastian [Vettel] as much as I could all the same - still, it wasn't quite enough.
We should all feel very encouraged that we have a good, strong package. I still don't think we're getting the best from it yet - but I hope we will in China, and that Lewis and I will both have great races."
Lewis Hamilton - 8th "Today was just one of those days. It's never satisfying to start second and finish seventh, but that's racing. We just have to take it on the chin and move on from it. At the start, I was on the outside going into the first corner, I got squeezed and it was difficult to defend without risking hitting Jenson or Nick [Heidfeld]. Then, during the race, my tyres kept dropping off; we pitted earlier than was optimal, and ran out of tyres at the end. I'd hoped to make the end of the race on a set of used Primes, but they didn't last so we had to pit right at the end of the race.
There were a lot of factors that made this afternoon very difficult: the delay at the pitstop, being chased by a couple of cars when I was trying to look after my tyres, and being hit from behind by Fernando [Alonso]. I think he got a bit too close, and, when he pulled out, he just clipped me with his wing and broke my car's rear floor. I don't how much downforce that lost me. Today wasn't the greatest of days, but I'm going to China aiming to win; I'm only looking forwards."
Martin Whitmarsh, team principal "Jenson drove a truly excellent race today, pushing hard when it was appropriate to do so but also conserving his tyres when necessary, and the result was a very well deserved second place. Lewis had a difficult afternoon, his frustrations beginning at the very first corner of the very first lap, when Nick unexpectedly nipped past him from way back in sixth place on the starting grid. After that, he [Lewis] tried his utmost to reclaim the place, nearly doing so on a number of occasions, but inevitably his tyre conservation was compromised in the process.
But that's racing - and, for Lewis, I guess it was just one of those days. For example, we performed a total of seven pitstops today, six of them in under four seconds but one in around six seconds, and as luck would have it that slower one was one of Lewis's pitstops. Equally, we weren't able to give him a second stint on Option tyres today because they'd been damaged in qualifying yesterday. Towards the end of the race Lewis was struggling on Prime tyres - and, although from a conventional point of view a further pitstop looked like an unattractive option, it was what he was calling for and in truth it was probably therefore the safest thing to do. Tyre drop-off was a problem for everyone today, and ultimately you have to listen to your driver in such situations.
Having said all that, 22 world championship points is a useful haul, and it gives us something to build on when we arrive in Shanghai in a few days' time. The team has done a fantastic job over the past few weeks - well done again, guys - and, if we can maintain that momentum from here on in, then we can definitely take the fight to Red Bull next weekend."
MercedesMichael Schumacher - 9th "I had a straightforward race today which was even a bit exciting towards the end but really full of ups and downs before. The start was quite good and then it was mainly about managing the tyres. We probably couldn't have expected to take more than two points today and we certainly have to work on our race pace which is not yet where we want it to be. We are all aware of that and we are more than ready to keep working hard to make the necessary steps forward. Over one lap, we can already be at a good level when the car is working well, but we need to continue to work on our race performance."
Nico Rosberg - 12th "It was not my race today and it's been a tough weekend. I had a poor start and lost positions which made it very difficult to try and get into the points. Our race pace was not good enough, and it was very difficult to push, so unfortunately we could not perform at the level that we wanted to here. Looking at my qualifying laps, we can take heart from a small step forward from Melbourne so we will keep the hard work up to make further improvements."
Ross Brawn, team principal "The team and drivers did a great job today but obviously we are not fast enough at the moment. We had a couple of stints which proved to be a little too long, as we stayed out to see if the weather might bring an opportunity. That was our decision, and when it didn't rain as had been predicted, we paid the price with the loss of perhaps a position or two. Overall, the work from the team was strong today with good pit stops and the cars were reliable in very challenging conditions. We will continue to work at it and I look forward to having a more competitive car and being able to mix it where we want to be."
Norbert Haug, motorsport director "After a difficult weekend, the first points are a small reward for all our team members. Of course, we know that there is a lot of work ahead of us, and that we have to improve the speed of our cars by quite a margin. Clearly we are not satisfied but the positive is that we recovered today from very difficult circumstances and I would like to thank everybody for their relentless efforts. Michael drove a good race, gaining three places at the start.
We speculated on rain and stretched the first stints of both drivers as long as possible. Nico's race for points was basically over going into the first corner. If you lose four places with our current technical package, it is difficult to recover. But Nico made some very committed overtaking manoeuvres and his lap times looked better today than they did a fortnight ago, compared to the quickest cars on the same strategy. A lot of work lies ahead of u, but we all are fully motivated to get the job done. We are now looking ahead to next weekend in China and our aim is to improve a further step."
Red BullSebastian Vettel - 1st "The start was crucial. I thought it was a very good start, but then I saw Lewis lining up behind me. I was surprised going into Turn one, as all of a sudden I saw something black in my mirrors - I knew it was a Lotus. For the first stint it was a good thing to happen, as I could pull away lap by lap. The entire race was quite different to what we saw two weeks ago - it was a lot closer and there were more pit stops due to the tyres. With the stops, you don't want to be first in, as you want to do as few stops as possible, but also you don't want someone else to go in, get an advantage with new tyres and undercut you. It wasn't an easy race, but in the last section Lewis had a problem and was then behind Jenson. I'm very pleased with today's result. I love what I do and don't think I could be happier at this stage. It's been close here, so we need to keep cool and keep pushing, but the guys know this is the way forward, so I'm not worried. But for today we will enjoy it and be very proud."
Mark Webber - 4th "It was a tough race today. It wasn't a good start out of the box and we had a failure with the KERS, so I was out of position on the first lap. For the first three or four laps, I was trying to pass people, but they were coming back at me on the straights; it was tough to clear people when I didn't have KERS. Anyway, I fought back with a good strategy and got some good points at least. It wasn't our day today and I was disappointed not to get on the podium. It was close, but not close enough, But, it will come and now we go to Shanghai."
Christian Horner, team principal "A fantastic result for Sebastian. It was a great performance, a great debut for KERS on his car and he controlled the race in a very mature manner. It was also superb pit work from the guys in the very demanding temperatures here; all seven pit stops were executed brilliantly. The only shame was the start of Mark's race, he had a poor initial get away and unfortunately a KERS issue denied him the use of that, meaning he got swamped down to Turn one. But it was a great recovery drive from him with a different strategy, he really made it work and ultimately he was very unlucky to miss out on the final podium position."
RenaultNick Heidfeld - 3rd "I had a great start just like in Australia, and did not expect to make up so many positions. I moved up to P2, making up four places. After that I did my best to follow Sebastian (Vettel) but he was much quicker. Then, I noticed some drops of rain and my tyres were going off but I stayed out. I lost a couple of places at my first pit stop, but it's clear we had really good pace and we were able to fight with the cars ahead. I got lucky with Fernando (Alonso) having a problem, but it was great fun fighting and getting ahead of Lewis (Hamilton). In the final few laps Mark (Webber) was close behind me but we had the pace to stay ahead. It's another great result for Lotus Renault GP and it's clear the team has taken a big step forward this year."
Vitaly Petrov - DNF "First of all I am happy for the team as we got another podium, so we can consider this a great start to the season for us. It was a strong performance by the team in an unusual race. I made a small mistake which shouldn't have had the consequences it had. I went wide and the car took off on the curb, landing hard. Both cars should have been in the points today, but the good news is that we clearly have the pace needed to compete this season."
Eric Boullier, team principal "That was a tough race with a lot of pit stops, a lot of strategy changes and honestly I don't believe everything was going according to plan for anybody but as a team we reacted very well.I'm pleased of course for Nick but I'm also pleased for the whole team. It's another great reward for us, especially after the tough start to the weekend. It's good to be on the podium again, although it is disappointing to have lost one car with less than ten laps to go. There's no doubt the car is competitive although it is not currently quick enough to be winning races. So, we need to push hard on the development side, but scoring two podiums in a row is definitely very satisfying."
Kamui Kobayashi - 8th "I had a good car, the team did a great job, and I'm particularly happy we were able to score our first points here. The strategy with only two stops was a little bit risky, but I think it worked out quite well. The difficulty about unusual strategies is in the race you find yourself always on a different pace to the competition. I had some nice and fair battles with Mark Webber and Michael Schumacher, which I enjoyed."
Sergio Perez - DNF "Something came off Sébastien Buemi's car, which was just in front of me, and hit the floor of my car. The fire extinguisher went off and the electrics cut out. It was a shame I couldn't finish the race as the car felt good. However, we could have pitted a bit earlier for fresh tyres, but we thought we were going to have some heavy rain."
James Key, technical director "A potentially eventful race turned into more of a normal race, because we didn't see the rain that threatened. We decided we would target two stops because we felt we could get away with that. It was very close to three stops in terms of race time, but we felt it allowed us the opportunity to hold our position at the end of the race.
Both drivers made reasonable starts. Unfortunately for Sergio, who was driving extremely well, he had an issue with his car suddenly losing power and he reported he ran over some debris. That is when the power stopped so we have to look to see if there is any damage to the car. It is a shame for him as he was in a reasonable position and, with his strategy, could have perhaps picked up a few places.
Kamui's strategy worked fine. He knew he had to conserve the tyres, so the lap times were not the quickest because we had to do long stints for a two stopper, but the result was excellent for us. We are happy to get some points after what happened in Melbourne and, if you like, this is where it starts for us."
Sebastian Buemi - 13th "I made a good start, passing Rosberg and was running well, closing up on Kobayashi and Schumacher, but at my first pit stop, I had the impression that the Pit Lane Speed Limiter had not been engaged. I immediately pressed it again, which deactivated it, so I speeded in the pit lane and picked up a ten second stop-go penalty, which I felt was a bit severe, as usually you get a drive-through penalty which loses you less time. After that I gave it my best shot but it was not enough to get a reward for the work, as I felt we could have got the Force Indias and at least finished ninth. I only changed tyres twice and it's true that the last few laps were very difficult because of the degradation."
Jaime Alguersuari - 14th "I need to analyse this race with the engineers, because to be honest, I don't really understand what happened: we were slow and the tyre degradation was very high, higher than on Friday. I struggled to clean the graining off the front tyres and was losing performance with every passing lap. On the positive side, I made a good start, gaining a few places. But soon I found I could not keep up with the guys in front. Given the difficulties I had, I feel that finishing the race was in itself an achievement and the best I could do today."
Franz Tost, team principal "Both drivers made a reasonably good start, with Alguersuari completing the opening lap in eleventh place, one ahead of Buemi. On lap 8, Sebastien passed Jaime, showing a very good pace at this stage of the race, closing up on those ahead of him. We called him in for his first pit stop, but the Pit Lane Speed Limiter was deactivated and because of this, he exceeded the limit and was given a ten second stop-go penalty. From then on Seb's race was compromised and if it had not been for that, he could have been in the fight for ninth place.
As for Jaime, he struggled with rear tyre degradation and I think it would have helped if we had put him on a three stop strategy, instead of two. Fortunately, our closest competitors in the championship did not pick up that many points today, so we are still in reasonable shape in the Constructors' classification. However, the mid-field is very close at the moment, which means we have to do a better job, starting in Shanghai in a few days time."
Timo Glock - 15th "I got a good start and got ahead of Trulli in the Lotus into turn one and everything was going well, but I was only able to defend the position for so long before he was able to get past. The car was working well and we were able to look after the tyres, so we were able to stick to a two-stop strategy. My engineer did a great job to get me through the traffic and it was a very straightforward race for me.
Great job by the pit stop crew as a very smooth stop helped me to get back out ahead of Trulli. Apart from the steps we still need to make in performance terms, everything is working well, so we are looking forward to what our development package can bring after China in time for Europe."
Jérôme D'Ambrosio - DNF "I'm quite happy with this weekend. I won't be remembering the fact that I stopped with less than 15 laps to go but my goal was to improve on Melbourne on both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday was definitely much better - and the race as well. I was able to keep up a good pace, especially in the second and third stints, so I must say I'm pretty happy about that. But this is just the beginning and I have to keep on working and improving all the time. I've made a step in the right direction so that's good."
John Booth, team principal "On the face of it we are obviously disappointed that we weren't able to get both cars home today, but generally we can be very pleased with a strong team performance in the race. Both drivers drove well and we were a little better off in terms of pace but what worked well for us is the way we have been able to manage the tyre degradation we saw earlier in the weekend and get ourselves to a position where we only needed to stop twice with each car. The pit crew had some tough challenges thrown at them today - some late calls and stops in quick succession - and they responded admirably in what are always tough climatic conditions here at Sepang. In the end Jérôme hit the kerb hard which caused the power switch to toggle off and the car stopped out on track. That aside, he should feel very happy that he is doing a great job overall in only his second race."
Rubens Barrichello - DNF "A hydraulic problem forced us out of the race today. The team are still trying to identify exactly what the issue was. I was running at the back anyway when we had to retire because of an early stop to change a punctured tyre picked up after a collision. This wasn't the start of the season I was hoping for and we need to improve. Right now we don't have a reliable car and we're playing catch up, but the team back home are pushing hard to get things resolved and bring performance to the car. I believe they will be there soon."
Pastor Maldonado - DNF "We had a misfire problem on my car from the third lap. I tried to stay out, but we had to bring the car in. I am now looking ahead to China where I will be pushing to complete a full race distance and get a better result."
Sam Michael, technical director "As a team, we expect to, and must, perform much better than that on all fronts. Rubens had a left rear puncture after an impact with another car in the last turn of lap one. The necessarily cautious in-lap and extra pitstop to replace the tyre put him a lap down. We held out but we then suffered a hydraulic leak, most likely due to the puncture. That ended Rubens' race. An engine misfire, the cause of which we are investigating, put Pastor out earlier on in the proceedings. We'll now move to quickly correct these reliability issues and go to the race in Shanghai with some more performance for the FW33."