Drivers view: Malaysian GP comments

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1. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull): “What a day! At the start, I realised that I had a good start past Nico (Rosberg). I was then able to gain on Mark (Webber); it’s a long sprint down to Turn 1 and I had an advantage, so I took the chance into Turn 1 and just made it through! Mark had a better exit out of Turn 2 though Turn 3, but it was very slippery and we both tried to push. We are here to fight, but you should always keep respect and I think we both had respect for each other. If Mark had been in my position I’m sure he would have done the same. After that it was a question of getting away from our competitors. I could see that Mark and I had the same pace – he was a little quicker in the beginning, but I was trying to save my tyres so I could pull away before the stop. The second stint was extremely long and it’s very hot here – I didn’t stop sweating. It’s very physical and at some stages I was hoping for rain just to get a bit of a cool down! Yesterday was extremely difficult with the conditions, but today it stayed dry. We have a magnificent car and the key once again was to pace yourself and watch your tyres. Bridgestone did a good job bringing two compounds here that worked well. It’s a very good result for us after two races where we didn’t finish where we wanted. Thanks to the team – it’s crucial not to panic in that moment and stay relaxed as it’s a long season. Sitting here on Sunday afternoon after finishing in first position is the best result we can get. On top of that, Mark is in second place. It’s a big plus for the team and a lot of points for us, I’m very, very happy.”

2. Mark Webber (Red Bull): “We know these days with the strategy and the way the races unfold that the first part of the race is crucial. I got a bit of wheel spin at the start and Seb got a tow into the first corner. I didn’t know where Nico was, so I braked late. Both Seb and I were on the limit to make the first corner. I had a little bit better exit coming out of Turn 2 and the fight continued into Turn 4. We had a chat to Christian (Horner) at the start of the race and he said ‘Boys, behave yourselves!’ and we did. The spirit and the chemistry in our team is awesome and we fight very hard. You saw that today – it was a good fight between Sebastian and I. It could have gone either way, but in the end he did the job at the crucial stage and deserved the victory. A one two finish for us as a team is sensational. The cars ran very well and it was a nice come back for us after a tough few races where we didn’t finish as we wanted to. I’d like to be one spot further up, but it’s a great result for the team. We executed a beautiful weekend, so well done to Red Bull and also to Renault, the engines were great today.”

3. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes GP): “It’s a fantastic result today to achieve our team’s first podium at the home race for our title partner, Petronas. I want to thank the whole team for all of their hard work this weekend and over the winter. This result is the start of the reward for our efforts. It’s a great feeling to be back up on the podium again and to have so much support from the Malaysian fans here. My start didn’t go that well today as I had a bit too much wheelspin and once I was in third place, I knew it would be difficult to follow the leading cars. I struggled a little with the options in the first stint which allowed Robert to stay quite close but once we switched to the primes, I felt really comfortable and we could manage the race home to third place. This is a great end to a strong weekend for us. We’re not quite where we want to be yet so we need to push on but I’m confident that we’ll get there soon.”

4. Robert Kubica (Renault): “It was another enjoyable race and the car was consistent with good pace all afternoon. The start of the race was really important because I managed to get ahead of Hulkenberg into turn 1, and then I got a good exit out of Turn Two, which helped me overtake Sutil. After that I managed to build a good gap to the cars behind me, but we didn’t have the pace to catch Rosberg. Fourth place is a good result and gives us some more important points.”

5. Adrian Sutil (Force India): “The race was exciting and fifth place in the end was a great achievement. I was hoping for a good race as we were so close in the first two races but then had a little bit of back luck that stopped us scoring. It was a good overall performance from the team. It was always very close with Lewis (Hamilton) just behind in the closing stages but I knew that if I didn’t make any mistakes I wouldn’t have any problems, so it was just trying to concentrate. I had to push, of course, but it was under control. I think we can now carry this forward to China: we are still a good top 10 competitor and we need to continue like this – Q3 and a few points each race would be great at this stage in the season.”

6. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren): “I had a great start, went down the inside and got past a lot of cars on the first lap. I was able to keep going for much of the race on my first set of tyres, and even nearly got past Sebastian (Vettel) after his pit stop. After my pit stop, I tried my best to get past Adrian (Sutil), but he was very smart at getting clean exits and was simply too fast down the straights. He drove a fantastic race, actually; faultless, in fact. From 20th on the grid, I think sixth was a brilliant result. I reckon we showed today that we were fast enough to compete with the guys at the very front – and, that being the case, if we’d started farther up we could’ve had an even better result this afternoon. Overall, then, I’m well happy with my race – I couldn’t ask for any more to be honest. The team really deserved this, and we’re now closer to the top in the constructors’ championship than we were before the race. So we’ll take forward a lot of positives with us into the next race.”

7. Felipe Massa (Ferrari): “It was a very exciting race. To finish seventh after starting 21st is definitely positive. We scored some points, which is always important, and it was a race in which you could (easily) not have scored any points. We need to work not to repeat what we did yesterday in qualifying, and we need to improve the car race by race, because Red Bull is very strong and McLaren is strong as well. It’s always very nice to lead the championship, but we still have 16 races to go and we need to improve step by step because there are many drivers up there and many things can change. So we need to keep our feet on the ground.”

8. Jenson Button (McLaren): “My first stint was very tough. I went for the outside at the first corner – and as things turned out it wasn’t the right place to be. So I fell back, and was then stuck behind Fernando, who I just couldn’t overtake. I found the option tyres quite difficult in the early laps – I had no rear grip in the high-speed stuff. I couldn’t overtake, and lost lots of time, so I took the gamble to pit early and drop back into a clear track. I made up a lot of ground, but I was on the Primes for so long that it became difficult to hold back cars that were two seconds a lap quicker than me. Felipe (Massa) eventually got past. Fernando (Alonso) tried a couple of times – the last time he went really deep into Turn One, but I managed to repass him on the exit – and then suddenly his engine was gone. I don’t know what happened to him, but we had a good fight. I didn’t realise that fighting for eighth was going to be so difficult! However, it’s good to get some points again.”

9. Jaime Alguersuari (Toro Rosso): “I am very happy to have scored points today and I have to say I never expected to do it so early in the season. A big thanks to everyone in the team who have worked so hard to achieve this result. Step by step, I have improved my performance, but this weekend was very tough because I didn’t know the track. I enjoyed this race, especially the fights I had with some of the others: I think I learned a bit about the art of fighting with Michael (Schumacher) last weekend in Melbourne. Towards the end, I was a bit worried about how the tyres would last, as I was on the soft ones, but I had no degradation. It is very satisfying and I feel a lot more confident now going into the upcoming races.”

10. Nico Hulkenberg (Williams): “We picked up a point today, maybe because our car was more reliable, but that’s racing. It was a tough race because we just don’t have the pace at the moment. I wish we could do better, but we have some work to do to catch up.”

11. Sebastien Buemi (Toro Rosso): “This race didn’t go so well for me, because, after quite a good start, my front wing was damaged on the first lap when I made contact with Kobayashi. It meant that from then on, I lacked grip and had a lot of understeer. I ended driving for much of the race with a damaged wing, but once it was changed I was able to put in some very fast lap times, but by then it was too late to do much. A one stop strategy in any case was not on for me, as I did two stints on the option tyre. In general, these two races in one week have not gone well for me, but we can be optimistic about Shanghai, as the whole package, the car and the team seems to have made a step forward this weekend. And congratulations to Jaime for his first F1 points.”

12. Rubens Barrichello (Williams): “I don’t know what happened at the start, I’ll go through that with the team. From there I went to the back of the field. We tried a different strategy to get us back up, but our car was just not competitive. We lost a nice opportunity today.”

13. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari): “From the start things went wrong. On the formation lap my gearbox broke and I had no clutch during the race, so I had to brake in a weird way. I had to first gear down and then push the throttle hard so it would engage the gear for that corner. So it was probably the hardest race of my whole life in terms of driving, because I had to improvise for every corner. But even so we were going to get a few points, which in the end was not possible because of the engine. But if the gearbox and then the engine are going to break, it’s better than in happens when you are ninth than when you are leading and you lose 25 points. A tough weekend. Sometimes it’s us, sometimes it’s other. You have to take the opportunities.”

14. Lucas di Grassi (Virgin): “It was a very tough race today – physically and mentally – but I’m so happy to bring the Virgin Racing car home to the finish. I had a great start and was able to make up five places on the opening lap. We had very good early pace and continued to be strong, despite losing my front wing end-plate when Heikki tried to overtake me. We had a good pit stop and we were still looking very strong in the second part of the race. We were well ahead of the other new teams, which meant that we could afford to ease off a little to make sure nothing got in the way of our result today. It has been a long wait and we’ve had some tough times in the past few months, but we know that we’re making progress and we can go on to achieve better things. Today showed that we are truly competitive and it’s a great feeling that our fight has really started now. Timo’s DNF was a real shame but I think we can start to look forward together to some great racing now.”

15. Karun Chandhok (HRT): “I am fantastically happy to have finished my second race today after our difficult debut in Bahrain. I kept out of trouble and pitted on lap 17. On lap 45, I had a tricky moment, passing Trulli’s Lotus. A great thank to the team who did a fantastic job. To finish was very difficult today but I am happy to have done it.”

16. Bruno Senna (HRT): “I had a good start and gained as much as I could. I am really pleased for the team to have finished the race with both cars. It has been another positive weekend for the team taking a good step forward.”

17. Jarno Trulli (Lotus):
“We made a good start, but then on the second lap I was hit by Glock, which made me spin, and from then on my race was compromised. Despite that I got the car home to the end and that shows our focus on reliability has been worth the effort.”

18. Heikki Kovalainen (Lotus):
“It was still a very positive race for us, despite the issues. My start wasn’t fantastic and it meant I dropped immediately to the back. After that I got into a good rhythm, but started to see some issues on the dash. I tried to make a move on Di Grassi, but clipped his front wing when I was going past and damaged my left rear tyre, so had to come in to pit. Even with the problems we had the car was competitive and I was very comfortable. Compared to the other new teams our times are very competitive indeed, so I’m not going to let this race trouble me – we learned a lot and now we’ll move on and look ahead to China.”

DNF: Vitaly Petrov (Renault): “The first half of the race was great fun and I enjoyed fighting with the cars around me, especially the battle with Hamilton. Then, in the middle of the race, the car just stopped and I think it was a problem with the gearbox. I’m disappointed to retire, but I now have some more experience and I learnt a lot about managing the tyres, which will help me improve for the next race.”

DNF: Vitantonio Liuzzi (Force India): “I had had a good start from tenth and was in seventh place and had a good pace, although I was stuck behind Hulkenberg in the Williams. I was struggling to pass even though I was quicker but we were optimistic for a good race. Unfortunately I had a problem with the throttle after about 12 laps. We didn’t understand exactly what it was but overall we lost drive and that was the end of it. It’s disappointing for me but I’m pleased that Adrian could score a lot of points as that helps us in the constructors’ championship.”

DNF: Michael Schumacher (Mercedes GP): “It was a shame that I could not finish the race but unfortunately the wheel nut on the left rear wheel was lost. The car suddenly became very unstable in turn six and I could hardly steer and had no drive left. I initially thought it was something to do with the suspension but after I stopped and had a look, it was evident that was a wheel nut missing. It is something very unusual to happen and in testing we never had problems so we have to look it. I would have obviously wanted to finish the race and I think it could have worked out quite reasonably well. But in the end that is motor racing, I remember that very well. It makes no sense to get angry about it, you have to accept it as part of the game and look ahead. At least Nico scored our first podium finish and I am happy for him and the team.”

DNF: Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber): “The retirement came as a total surprise to me. After turn one I suddenly had no more power. This is really bad luck. Today I was in a good position to fight for points, although I lost two positions at the start when Rubens Barrichello didn’t move in front of me when the starting lights went out. It is a real shame € retired from today’s race, but now we have to concentrate on the next one in China and do better.”

DNF: Timo Glock (Virgin): “I had a pretty good start and the first laps were quite fun with a lot of fights going on. I dropped behind Jarno and in general I was quite a lot quicker than him. I tried to overtake but locked the rears and for some reason the anti-stall didn’t kick in. Unfortunately I hit Jarno and it was my mistake. But it’s great that Lucas finished the race, and ahead of Lotus, which is good for the team. I hope that in the next race we can get both cars to the finish.”

DNS: Pedro de la Rosa (BMW Sauber): “Of course it is very disappointing not having competed in this race. This Grand Prix is one you prepare for all year because of the physical demands and you really want it to be driving in it. The failure was unusual, unexpected and unlucky.”

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