Race - 2018 Australian GP team quotes

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By Olivier Ferret

25 March 2018 - 10:22
Race - 2018 Australian GP team (...)

Williams

 Lance Stroll finished 14th in the Australian Grand Prix, with Sergey Sirotkin retiring on his Formula One race debut
 Both cars started on the supersoft Pirelli tyre, with Lance starting in 13th and Sergey 19th
 Lance lost a place to the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas early on whilst Sergey retired on lap four with a rear brake failure
 Lance first pitted on lap 25 for a set of soft tyres
 The safety car was deployed on lap 28 when the Haas of Romain Grosjean stopped out on track, allowing Lance to make a second and final pitstop for ultrasoft tyres

Paddy Lowe, Chief Technical Officer

That wasn’t an afternoon to remember. Firstly, for Sergey, very early in the race he had a failure of the rear brakes. Our provisional analysis is that a plastic bag has been collected on the circuit, completely blocking the brake cooling, so that the right rear corner caught fire and eventually failed the hydraulics circuit. His brake pedal went to the floor and he had to go down the escape lane. That was the end of his race which is very unfortunate because it was his first F1 race and what he really needed to do was get some distance behind him so he could come back for the second event with race experience our objective, which we didn’t achieve for him today. In Lance’s case, we were struggling a lot with pace throughout the afternoon. Like a number of other teams, we’re managing fuel consumption. Our fight was for 13th and unfortunately Lance lost the position to Leclerc under the safety car restart. He had a number of attempts to retake the position but with managing temperatures we had to drop back two or three times and we never made it stick.

Lance Stroll

We were in the wrong mode on the first lap and that is the reason Ocon got me. We also have none of the extra power we need for the safety car restart which is where I lost the place to Leclerc. We are just basically trying to get the car to the end of the race instead of racing. There was a lot going on today with big issues that cost us a lot of race time. I hope we can find the solution before Bahrain.

Sergey Sirotkin

It didn’t go as expected and I’m not even talking in terms of the results, which we obviously wanted to achieve but didn’t. I’m talking about the learning, which we didn’t get. It’s a bit of a shame and I’m quite disappointed with that because it’s not ideal and it was not the easiest weekend for me. It was quite important to do a good race. Preparing for the Bahrain weekend, at least I know I have a good chance so we’re looking forward. In just two weeks we’ll be back at the track and we’ll work harder than ever. I’m sure we’ll get to where we deserve to be.

Haas F1

It was a gut punch. After running fourth and fifth with 35 laps remaining in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix Sunday at Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean suffered separate retirements, jettisoning what was slated to be Haas F1 Team’s strongest result in its still young history.

The speed displayed in winter testing at Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya carried into Australia, where Magnussen qualified sixth to equal the American squad’s best qualifying effort to date. Grosjean qualified right behind his teammate in seventh, and with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo incurring a three-spot grid penalty, the Haas F1 Team duo moved up to fifth and sixth, locking out the third row.

The speed of the Haas VF-18 paired with the calculated aggressiveness of Magnussen and Grosjean paid off at the start.

Magnussen grabbed fourth place from Max Verstappen as he deftly overtook the Red Bull driver on the outside of turn one and then held the spot as they motored off the corner and into turn two. Grosjean, meanwhile, held steady in sixth.

Verstappen doggedly pursued Magnussen, but on lap 10 that pursuit sent Verstappen spinning off turn one. Magnussen drove away while Grosjean picked up the position, putting the Haas F1 Team drivers fourth and fifth with 48 laps to go.

The pressure from Red Bull was still on, however, as Verstappen’s teammate, Ricciardo, was sixth, right in the tire tracks of Grosjean.

Soon, it was time for pit stops. Scuderia Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen opened the pit window when he stopped for service on lap 18.

Magnussen, having wrung all the performance remaining from the Pirelli P Zero Purple ultrasoft tires on which he qualified, pitted for a new set of Red supersofts on lap 22. But as he headed down the pit lane and ventured back onto the track, a frantic radio call came from the pits to Magnussen. “Stop the car! Stop the car immediately!” It was a loose wheel. Magnussen’s day was over.

Grosjean pitted two laps later, as he also needed to exchange his ultrasofts for a new set of supersofts. Then a case of déjà vu after the stop, as a loose wheel forced him to stop on the racetrack.

Just like that, after being this close to the podium, Haas F1 Team’s third appearance in the Australian Grand Prix ground to a halt. Grosjean was listed with a 16th-place finish and Magnussen was credited with a 17th-place finish.

Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel won the Australian Grand Prix over Lewis Hamilton. Vettel’s margin of victory over the Mercedes driver was a stout 5.036 seconds. The win was the 48th of Vettel’s Formula One career, his second straight in the Australian Grand Prix, and his third at Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit.

Formula One takes a weekend off before returning to action for the Bahrain Grand Prix April 8 at Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir.

Romain Grosjean

“We had a good car all weekend. I was happy with our low- and high-fuel pace. I had great pace today, and I’m sure I could have stayed a bit more with the frontrunners if I’d been in front of Kevin early in the race. We’ll now analyze everything and work out what happened exactly. We’ll come back stronger as we always do. It’s a lot of points lost today, but if we can repeat that performance over and over, we’re going to forget this very quickly.”

Kevin Magnussen

“It’s a very tough one to swallow for the whole team. To have both cars not finishing – having been in such good positions and with so much anticipation – it’s just heartbreaking to finish like that. We’ll get on top again. We’ll fight back. I’m beyond disappointed right now, but we’ll get over it.”

Gunther Steiner

“It was a disappointing end to a very promising weekend. We had two failures on the pit stops – didn’t tie the wheels on correctly, so we had to stop the cars. As much as you don’t want to say it, it’s racing. It happens, even though it shouldn’t. It’s almost unbelievable to have this in one race, and on two cars, while running fourth and fifth. It’s very disappointing. The good thing we can take away from this is that the car is competitive. We just need to get our heads up again, to get well prepared for Bahrain. We’ll focus on that one and get our pit stops sorted out.”

Force India

Force India completed today’s Australian Grand Prix with Sergio Perez racing to P11 ahead of Esteban Ocon in P12.

SERGIO PEREZ

“It was quite an unlucky weekend for us, but there are still positives to take from this race. We came close to bringing home a point although it was just out of reach. I was pushing throughout the whole race and especially chasing Sainz in the final laps. I got really close to him, but it wasn’t enough. Overtaking in Melbourne is very difficult – you could see the same with Bottas who couldn’t pass me during the first stint. The Virtual Safety Car also didn’t help us at all, but that’s just how things go sometimes. I am still happy with my performance and the job we did as a team. We will need to move on and keep improving, but I believe we will soon be in a position to battle for points. Hopefully our improvements will come as early as Bahrain. It’s a race where you can overtake and strategy plays a bigger part compared to Melbourne.”

ESTEBAN OCON

“Not an easy race today. It was very difficult to overtake and even though I managed to jump ahead of Lance [Stroll] on the first lap, everybody quickly spread out until the safety car. I had a fight with Bottas for a while and after the safety car restart I was close to making a move on Sergio. We certainly had better race pace compared to our qualifying pace, but we are just missing some performance to be up there in the top ten at the moment. Things can turn around quickly in Formula One and we will keep pushing over the next two weeks to bring something extra to Bahrain.”

ROBERT FERNLEY, DEPUTY TEAM PRINCIPAL

“Ultimately we didn’t have the pace this weekend to fight in the top ten and so we’ve ended our day on the cusp of the points. It’s early days in the season and with twenty races to go there will be plenty of opportunities to develop this car and show our strengths. As I said yesterday, we’re on a learning curve with the developments we introduced this weekend and there’s more in the pipeline for Bahrain. Both drivers drove well today, but the luck didn’t play into our hands with the timing of the safety car, for example. Following other cars closely was tough and Sergiom n was right on the tail of Sainz in the final few laps but there was no way to overtake. We will work hard to be stronger at the next race in Bahrain.”

Toro Rosso

Brendon Hartley

“It wasn’t a great race for me today, I locked the brakes into Turn 1 at the start and flat-spotted the tyres, so I had no choice but to pit because it was probably the biggest flat spot I’ve ever had. Then on the second stint I had a puncture, so it was game over from that point onwards and I think I had a little bit of damage on the rear from that, so I was driving around by myself all day. It was always going to be tough to get into the points today.”

Pierre Gasly

“It wasn’t a great start to the season for me. After Turn 12 the engine just switched off, it came back on again but I was really slow and I couldn’t upshift. I tried to return to the pits and then I was told to stop. It’s a shame, especially since we didn’t have anything go wrong in testing. I think everyone in the team is disappointed to have an issue at the first race but we need to look at the positives and learn from the negatives to come back stronger in Bahrain.”

Franz Tost (Team Principal)

“As we had a successful test in Barcelona, we expected of course a much better race result in
Melbourne, but for various reasons we couldn’t get it together. For sure it didn’t help that it was raining in FP3, because we would have needed a dry track to evaluate the tyres and to find out if our set up changes were going in the right direction. As for Qualifying, Brendon did a reasonable job but Pierre had a problem in Turn 3 so today we had to start from the back of the grid. Pierre had a good start and gained some positions, but unfortunately we faced a power unit issue that forced him to retire. As for Brendon, he locked the front tyres in braking for the first corner - he got a flat spot and we had to call him in to change the tyres and from then onwards he was at the back of the field. Now we can put behind a disappointing weekend - we have a lot of work to do to hopefully achieve a better result in Bahrain.”

Toyoharu Tanabe (Honda F1 Technical Director)

“It is disappointing that Pierre Gasly had to retire on lap 15 with an MGU-H problem. We now have to investigate the precise cause and then we have a few days of hard work to ensure we do not have a repeat of the problem at the next race.

As for Brendon, after his early pit stop, because of a flat spotted tyre, he raced consistently, but with the difficulty of overtaking here he was unable to move up the order.

It was a tough start to the season, however we have to move on from this and keep a positive frame of mind as we immediately start preparing for the second round of the championship.”

McLaren

An encouraging inaugural race of the season for McLaren and its new relationship with Renault. Both Fernando and Stoffel started the race one place ahead of their original qualifying spots thanks to Bottas’ grid penalty, and made solid starts, narrowly avoiding any drama at turn one.

Both drivers drove a strong race, and a solid pit-stop for each under the Virtual Safety Car ensured Fernando and Stoffel maximised their respective strategies.

Race pace was promising, and gives the team optimism for the future. Despite strong advances from the cars around them, both Fernando and Stoffel could attack as well as defend their positions and maintain pace with the surrounding pack. Although the team benefitted from a couple of retirements further up the field, the drivers kept their heads down, stayed out of trouble, and enjoyed a clean race to cross the line in fifth and ninth positions respectively – a double points finish and a positive start to the season for the whole team.

Fernando Alonso

“It was a good race today, especially considering where we started.

“The last couple of years have been difficult, and I think the winter has been difficult as well. We switched to the Renault engine quite late and the team had to react very quickly to redesign some of the parts at the rear end, and now we’ve come here and both cars have scored points – one in the top five.

“We should be proud of that, but I think there’s a lot more to come from McLaren. We didn’t maximise the full potential nor squeeze everything out of the package today. This is only our first race together with Renault, and some updates will come in the next few races. We can start to look ahead a little bit and Red Bull will be the next target.

“As I said before, this race is probably our lowest performance of this season as things are going to get better and better.

“Obviously, today we got lucky with the two Haas cars retiring, Carlos’ [Sainz] problem in turn nine, and then overtaking [Max] Verstappen under the Safety Car. Let’s say four positions came thanks to some favourable conditions, but we made no mistakes and we capitalised on everything. A perfect job from the team.”

Stoffel Vandoorne

“It’s a great result for the team to have both cars in the points today. It’s a big contrast from last year, and I think there’s massive potential for the future. From my side, I was a little bit unlucky with the Virtual Safety Car, as I think we could have finished even higher up, but for the opening race I think we can be very happy.

“I’m very optimistic for the rest of the year. We know there is more to come from us this season, and the partnership with Renault is still very new. This was our first race, we know that there are new parts coming over the next couple of grands prix, and I really hope we can show that on track too. The baseline is good, we have something to work with and now we need to keep improving and deliver more performance, and ultimately points.

“Our performance in the race was pretty good – we were fighting with the Renault and Red Bull cars which is positive, and we think there is definitely some margin for progression. “It’s a great start to the season, and after this race I feel there’s a lot of potential for the future. We need to be ambitious as a team, and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s around the corner.”

Eric Boullier

“A good result for us today. We benefitted from every opportunity that was thrown at us – the first being Haas’ double retirement. We really feel for them because we know what this is like; a double DNF is hard to take, but this is racing.

“As we said yesterday, we knew we had some potential and further speed to unlock from the car today. We took every chance we could and both drivers drove superbly. We showed good pace, enjoyed some good fights, and we completed two decent pit stops which helped us keep our strategy on track.

“I want to say a huge thank you to the whole team, here and back in Woking, not only because we’re encouraged by the potential our car has shown in the first race of the season, but also reliability-wise we had a trouble-free weekend, which is a relief after the issues we had in winter testing. It’s all thanks to a huge amount of hard work from everyone in the team, who have done a remarkable job since Barcelona.

“Now we need to keep pushing, and work on readying the upgrades we have in the pipeline as soon as possible. Our priority is to get closer to our nearest competitors in front, especially those who have the same engine in the back of their car.”

Sauber

The Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team showed progress throughout the weekend with the race looking promising as Marcus Ericsson and Charles Leclerc lapped with good pace. Ericsson made a good start and had already gained one position to 16th when he had to retire on lap six due to a hydraulic issue on his car, which is now undergoing further investigation. On the other side of the garage, debut Formula 1 racer Charles Leclerc had a strong race during which he put in a consistent performance that enabled him to finish 13th. The Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team leaves Australia feeling positive and heading to Bahrain with confidence for the second round of the FIA Formula 1 Championship.

Marcus Ericsson

“It was a disappointing race for me after the good job done during the race weekend. I had a solid start and the car felt really good – really strong and I was ready for the fight. Unfortunately, on lap six I had a hydraulic issue on my car and I had to retire from the race. Now, the team will analyse all the data. We were in the fight and this is positive so all I can do is to look forward to Bahrain.”

Charles Leclerc

“I am very happy about my day. The start was not ideal – I had to catch up with the competitors ahead of me and slowly work my way forward. We maximised our potential and had a consistently good pace. I was able to overtake some of the cars, which was fun. Overall, it has been a positive weekend. We have made good progress since Friday and are at a good starting point. I have learned a lot and feel confident going into the next round in Bahrain.”

Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal

“The balance of the whole race weekend is positive, especially considering the good progress we have made since Friday. Regarding the race we have mixed feelings because Marcus was doing an impressive job after a good start. We will now analyse all the data. Congratulations to Charles for his first race in Formula One. It was important for him to finish and he did a great job with tyre management and fuel saving. All in all, it’s a good feeling for the team and we are very motivated as we look forward to Bahrain.”

Renault F1

Renault Sport Formula One Team opened up its 2018 account with both Nico Hülkenberg and Carlos Sainz finishing in the top ten in today’s Australian Grand Prix.

Nico started from P7 on the grid and finished in that same position whilst Carlos started ninth and finished tenth. Both drivers ran to a one-stop strategy in a race where all the Renault-powered cars finished in the top ten.

 Nico started the race from P7 on his qualifying Ultrasoft (purple) Pirelli tyres, pitting from P6 to change to a set of new Soft tyres on lap 24, rejoining the race in P10.

 Carlos started the race from P9 on his qualifying Ultrasoft tyres pitting from P9 on lap 22 for a new set of Soft tyres, rejoining the race in P14.

Nico Hülkenberg

“We should be pretty happy with today. The pace of the car was strong and competitive, but we know we still have a lot of work to do. I’m happy with how the weekend has progressed, Friday wasn’t great for me, but we’ve turned it into a decent result and a satisfying Sunday. We got lucky with retirements, but also unlucky with the safety car, but that’s racing and taking six points home is a just reward for the team’s hard work.”

Carlos Sainz

“It’s a positive start for the team and I’m very happy with the performance of the car. It’s a good job to take home a strong haul of points and we have something to build on ahead of Bahrain. Personally, I struggled a bit out there as I had a drinks bottle issue, the result of which was making me feel pretty unwell. The first stint was also a bit difficult with too much oversteer on the car, especially as there was a lot of wind out there today. We keep learning and we’ll be putting the work in ahead of Bahrain.”

Cyril Abiteboul, Managing Director

“It’s a satisfying result, not perfect by any means, but it shows we’re in line with our targets of making progress. Clearly, for a good result, everything must be smooth, from pit-stops to reliability and this double top-ten finish illustrates a solid start to the season. We’re pleased with today and the result gives us something to build on. In the race, the safety car hurt us slightly, but that’s racing and sometimes these things benefit you. Our focus on reliability has been illustrated with all Renault-powered cars finishing inside the top ten today, which is a good positive. We know it’s going to be extra tight in the midfield battle, and that motivates us to keep working hard.”

Red Bull

DANIEL RICCIARDO

“I woke up this morning happy because it’s race day and it’s been too long since we raced so, already before the race I was just happy and smiling. It’s a long wait and in the week leading up to this race, you talk so much about the race and it’s like, let’s just do it. I’m happy with the way I drove today and we had a very fast race car. It’s not often I sit behind someone for most of the race but it’s a tight track and one of the more tricky ones for passing. There were a couple of times I had a look at turn three but Kimi was wise to that and could see what I was planning. Towards the end I applied more pressure on him but he was able to up the pace as well. I think we’re pretty close with Ferrari and our race pace is strong, which I thought would be the case, so we just need to get a few more tenths out of Qualifying and then we should be looking good. Being so close to the podium and getting fastest lap is definitely an encouraging way to start the season. I want to thank all the fans for coming out and supporting us today and now it’s definitely time to go and put my feet up for a couple of days after a busy week!”

MAX VERSTAPPEN

“The start was ok but I got a bit unfortunate at turn one and ended up in the wrong position so lost out on fourth. I tried to follow as best I could but experienced a few issues with the feeling of the car. I think at about lap four or five I sustained a bit of damage on the car, I’m not sure what from as I didn’t have any contact or hit any curbs hard. When I jumped out of the car I could see some damage and I also think something broke off so we need to investigate what that was. The issue made it hard to hold on mid corner which eventually led to me spinning and then struggling for the rest of the race. Luckily I didn’t lose too many positions due to the spin and still managed to have a battle to the end. It is still really hard to get past the cars ahead as soon as you are within a second. This track is hard to overtake also but when you have limited grip it is extra hard. The car has been running and feeling really good all weekend so it’s a shame to have the damage and then the bad feeling during the race. We are happy to score some points considering the circumstances, as soon as we had clean air the pace was good. Looking ahead I think if we can have a good Qualifying and clean start then everything else should sort itself out in the race and we can be competitive.”

CHRISTIAN HORNER, Team Principal

“A strong recovery from Daniel from P8 on the grid to P4 at a track that is incredibly difficult to pass on. I think the only pass of the entire grand prix was the one he made on Nico Hulkenberg. What we could see in the closing stages of the race was that he was pushing Kimi very hard and he had very good pace, demonstrated by posting the fastest lap, which is encouraging for the season ahead. Max’s afternoon was a frustrating one for him. He made a good start initially but then got boxed in on the right hand side and dropped a place to the Haas. He picked up some damage to the floor on lap four or five that compromised the performance of his car quite significantly but he kept pushing and, despite a spin, was able to bring the car home in sixth place, having fought with Fernando for over 20 laps. He was always within a second but had no opportunity to overtake. We also saw some fantastic work from the pit crew, starting the 2018 season as they mean to go on and scoring the fastest pit-stop of the grand prix.”

Ferrari

A trip to the Antipodes has delivered Ferrari’s 230th win, a ninth for Sebastian Vettel with the Scuderia (the 48th of his career) at the end of a race that was unforgettable in terms of the excitement it delivered and a perfect job from the team. Starting from third on the grid, Seb made the most of the Safety Car period to pop out of pit lane ahead of Hamilton, while Kimi Raikkonen, from second, rounded off the Australian podium in third place, doing a great job of fighting off an attacking Ricciardo in the closing stages. The Scuderia thus finds itself leading both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ championships on 25 and 37 points respectively.

Sunshine and wind were on the agenda for the start at 16h10 local time. The track surface on the grid provided little grip, but our guys got away well and from second, Kimi even got alongside Hamilton, with Seb third. This is Melbourne, which means it was no surprise that the positions didn’t change much, despite the three DRS zones, seen here for the first time in F1. Even the split times were similar and on lap 9, the two SF71Hs were pushing hard with Kimi and then Seb setting a race fastest lap. Raikkonen closed the gap to the leader, but he also had to manage his race, while waiting for the tyre changes.

And the first of those stops came at the end of lap 18: Kimi pitted as planned, with the mechanics staying put until the very last moment, switching him from the Ultras to the Soft compound, so that the Finn was able to rejoin ahead of the two impressive Haas cars. The opposition reacted immediately, bringing in Hamilton, who went for the same tyre choice. This meant Sebastian found himself leading the GP and he upped the pace slightly. His turn to pit came at the end of lap 26, at the same time as the Virtual Safety Car was engaged, after Grosjean stopped out on the track.

This tactic paid off: Seb made the most of the zone before the Safety Car line and emerged ahead of Hamilton! A short and spontaneous applause rippled through the garage. “Well done team,” said Maurizio over the radio. But it was not even the mid point of the race yet. Immediately after that, the real Safety Car was required and it stayed out up to and including lap 31. All the drivers at the front of the field fitted the Soft tyres – Seb’s had six laps less – and after the restart there were no overtaking moves.

There were fights, thanks to the DRS, but Seb held firm and set the fastest lap on lap 34. As for Kimi he had to fend off Ricciardo for third, as the Australian had closed right up under the Safety Car. Out in front, the battle swung with the moveable wing: whoever was behind could use it, but ran the risk of overheating in the slipstream. Hamilton was not about to give up and Sebastian responded with another fastest time on lap 45. His rival was pushing hard, even losing the front end under braking and that saw the gap go out to almost two seconds. Seb? “The tyres are working very well,” he said over the radio.

Over the final five laps, Seb pulled out a bit of an advantage, while Kimi had a gap of just under two seconds to manage, but then closed on Hamilton who had lost his rhythm. The last lap was a heart-stopper but it finished with a first and a third place. Excuse us, but this time, we are the ones with the smile on our faces.

Sergio Marchionne

"There could have been no better start for Ferrari in this Championship. Listening to Italy’s national anthem echo around Melbourne was an emotional moment for us all, and for every fan of the Scuderia. It’s the best possible reward for the team, which built a competitive car and used a perfect strategy to take advantage of the way the race evolved. Congratulations to Sebastian and Kimi, both drove a great race. Of course there’s still a long way to go in the series, with 20 more Grands Prix. So it would be wrong to celebrate too much. We know that we still have a lot of work ahead of us, but the first step has been taken in the right direction."

Maurizio Arrivabene

”A nice win and a great job from the team, both back in Maranello and here at the track, which led to a fine Sunday for all of us, our drivers and our fans. We have picked up a significant number of points in both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ championships. There is still a long way to go this season, but today we can be happy, knowing that each and everyone of us has done their very best, according to his role, to achieve this result. Now we will start to prepare for the next race, aware there is plenty to do; work which we will tackle with humility and determination.”

Sebastian Vettel

”Today has been our day. The Safety Car helped of course, but apart from that, I think we did everything we could do as a team. So when something happened, we were ready to react. We did our job before the race, evaluating different scenarios, and then in the race we had the pace as well. Lewis was under pressure, he was fast, but not as much as he needed. As for me, I need a little bit more of confidence with the car, which is not where we want it to be yet. There is a lot of work to do, but it is great to have both cars on the podium today. Yesterday in qualifying the car came alive, but it was still a little bit tricky, so we have some homework to do. I still need to drive around the issues more than I want to. I know exactly what I want, and we need to work on it. I believe the car has the potential we need.

Kimi Raikkonen

“A win with two cars on the podium is a very good start of the season for the team. Maybe I have been a bit unlucky today, but at least the luck came to our team. Third place it’s not exactly the result we wanted, but it’s only the first race and the big picture is not too bad. So I happily take the third place. Overall I was pretty happy with my car today, the speed was there all day. It’s nice to have a good feeling. For sure there are things to improve, but if the feeling stays like this we’ll have all the tools to fight. And this is the most important thing. This is a quite special track in many ways, so let’s see what happens in the next race. Bahrain it’s not very straightforward either; from year to year we have seen that the hot conditions don’t give a 100 percent true picture. We need to be patient and do our best wherever we go.”

Mercedes

Lewis comes home second as Valtteri fights back to P8

 Lewis Hamilton came home in P2 in Albert Park to claim his eighth Formula One podium finish in Australia and 118th career podium
 Valtteri Bottas battled from P15 on the grid to claim P8 at the chequered flag
 Lewis (18) sits P2 in the Drivers’ Championship, seven points behind Sebastian Vettel (25), with Valtteri (4) in P8
 Ferrari (40) lead Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport (22) by 18 points in the Constructors’ Championship

Lewis Hamilton

I did everything I could today, but it’s not what anyone expected to happen. I’m still in a little bit of disbelief as I don’ t really understand what happened yet. Once I get back with my engineers they’ll do a debrief and obviously I’ll find out why. This weekend there was so much talk about party mode or if Ferrari would be quick enough. I don’t think the gap was as big as it seemed yesterday, it’s just that I had a good lap and maybe Sebastian didn’t have a good lap. But today they were very, very quick. I put up a bit of a fight towards the end but they were within a tenth of us today. At least in my heart I know that I gave everything this weekend. I’m sure the team is feeling pain right now but we will regroup and we’ll work on it.

Valtteri Bottas

It was a bit of a frustrating day. I got some points, but not as many as I was hoping for, even starting 15th on the grid. We had a good car, it felt just like in qualifying, the team did a really good job on that. Unfortunately, we just couldn’t make anything out of it because it is so difficult to overtake on this track. I also struggled a bit with overheating issues on the engine when I was following other cars, so I had to back off many times. It’s been a disappointing weekend and certainly not an ideal first race, but we still have 20 races to go. We need to learn from this weekend and try again in two weeks in Bahrain.

Toto Wolff

This was one that got away and it’s a bitter pill for us all to swallow. Following Lewis’ pit stop, we believed that we had the scenarios of both the Safety Car and the Virtual Safety Car covered, so that Sebastian could not pit and come out ahead of Lewis on track. We should have been several seconds safe, then suddenly saw on the TV screens that we were not. Of course, under the VSC sometimes you benefit and sometimes you lose out – but it was clearly a problem on our side and we need to analyse that to understand what happened and correct it. It’s all the more frustrating because we had the pace today to win. Lewis was in control through the opening stint, then after the pit stop as well, and looked on course for a strong victory but it wasn’t to be. On Valtteri’s side, we knew this would be a tough race to make up much ground. The margins between teams are closing up and this is one of the most difficult circuits to overtake on in the entire season. He made three passes on track, and benefited from the VSC too, but then was stuck in a DRS train in the final laps. Congratulations to Ferrari on their win today; for us, it’s a tough one to take, but there are lots of lessons to be learned so we can come back stronger next time.

James Allison

Having come to Melbourne with high hopes, it will be a long journey home for us, knowing that we under-delivered as a team. The pace we saw during the weekend was promising for the season ahead but it counts for nothing if you don’t handle correctly the cards that the race can deal to you – and, today, we didn’t. We need to analyse our mistakes, correct them and we look forward to getting to the next race and starting to put things right.

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