Team reaction after the Turkish GP (part 1)

McLaren, Red Bull, Mercedes GP, Renault, Ferrari & Force India

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By Franck D.

30 May 2010 - 17:49
Team reaction after the Turkish GP (...)

McLaren Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton: “It was quite an eventful race. I didn’t get a great start, it looked like I had a better reaction than Mark [Webber], but the car just didn’t seem to be going anywhere. Fortunately, I was able to attack Sebastian [Vettel] into Turn Three – I got past him, which was a relief, then I was challenging Mark for a long time, before I lost some time to him at the pitstop, when my right rear took longer than normal to go on.

“So then I had to battle two Red Bulls rather than just one; it was hard enough trying to overtake one of them, so trying to overtaking two was really tough. But the good thing is that I had the race pace to keep up with them, even though I was having to keep an eye on my fuel consumption from early on. But anyway, unfortunately for them, they collided – and enabled us to get past.

“After that, I felt confident we could get a potential one-two, and we were trying to look after the tyres and save the fuel to the finish. The [laptime] target they gave me was perhaps a little bit slower than they’d meant, so Jenson was suddenly on my tail. I had a great battle with him, and was happy to get past because it was quite a surprise.

“We’re allowed to race out there, but we have to be sensible. At the end of the day we’re a team: we both want to win the constructors’ title and we both want to win the drivers’ title. But we’re not stupid. I wouldn’t do anything dangerous to touch Jenson – and vice versa – and that’s the great thing about racing each other. We know we have that cushion and that respect for each other, so we don’t really have a problem with it.

“Having said all that, winning today doesn’t feel quite as good as it sometimes does. That’s because it’s a little bit different from some of my previous race victories: ideally, the racer in me wants to win by overtaking the guys in front, not by seeing them crash out in front of me. Rather than inheriting a win, it’s much nicer to fight your way past your rivals and earn the win the hard way.

“Still, I’m very happy for the team. My girlfriend is here too, which is nice, and my dad is on holiday and I really wanted to win today so that I could dedicate the win to him. It’s his 50th birthday tomorrow, you see, and a grand prix victory is the best birthday present I could ever give him.”

Jenson Button: “What a crazy race! I got a good start, but I was stuck behind Lewis going into Turn One, and then Michael [Schumacher] was able to get round the outside of me. I got Michael back into Turn 12, though, which was very rewarding after Barcelona, and then it was four of us, two McLarens and two Red Bulls, who pulled away.

“It was very difficult to get close enough to overtake, but I was able to look after the tyres, and then just before the stop I pushed and was able to close up to Sebastian – I thought maybe I could jump him but that wasn’t the case in the end. Even so, we were all running pretty close and anything could have happened at the end of the race – which it duly bdid when the two Red Bulls got together, which gave Lewis and me a good one-two.

“We were then both told to conserve fuel – although I’d already been conserving fuel for about 30 laps at that point actually – and we never imagined the pace of the race would be so fast.

“At the end, I had a run on Lewis out of Turn Eight. I don’t know why he was a bit slow, but I got a good run into Turn 12 and managed to get past him. We had a good little battle and we were wheel-to-wheel for three corners, but it positioned me wrong for the final corner, I got a poor exit and he was able to get back past me along the pits straight and on the inside into Turn One.

“After that, I was told to save even more fuel because I was pretty close to critical. It was a tough battle, but we didn’t touch and we still finished first and second, so that’s how you do it.”

Martin Whitmarsh, Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes: “Today’s race had everything: drama, suspense, excitement and a perfect result from a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes point of view. The 43 world championship points we earned from our one-two finish have propelled us to the top of the constructors’ world championship. But we’re particularly encouraged by the fact that, despite our having to ask both our drivers to drive with fuel conservation in mind from early in the race, it was immediately clear that Lewis had the pace to pull away if only he could have passed Mark – and he very nearly did on a number of occasions. It was edge-of-the-seat stuff – and Jenson was pushing Sebastian pretty hard just a few hundred metres behind.

“After the Red Bulls fell over each other, Lewis and Jenson raced each other pretty hard whilst still driving with fuel conservation in mind, and I imagine their dice made hugely entertaining TV, too.

“On the slow-down lap, Jenson congratulated Lewis on the radio, which is an eloquent illustration of the affection and respect they have for each other.

“Looking forward to the Canadian Grand Prix in two weeks’ time, we’re pleased to have closed the performance gap to Red Bull, and are hopeful of bagging another hefty haul of world championship points in Montreal. But I want to stress that I can only say that as a result of the fact that everyone in the entire Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team – our drivers, our engineers, our mechanics and every single person who works so hard back at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking [Surrey, UK] – is so motivated, so driven and so committed to the cause.”

Red Bull Renault

Mark Webber: “Sebastian had a bit of a top speed advantage, he went down the inside and we were side by side. I was surprised when he came right suddenly, as I was holding my racing line. It happened very, very fast and it’s a shame for the team. Not an ideal day. The McLarens were solid and it was a good race between all four of us up at the front until then, neither of us wanted to make contact with each other. It’s obviously not ideal, but it happened. There was a long way to still go in the race, but that was an interesting few metres on the track between both of us. In the end it wasn’t the result that either of us wanted. We’ve got great character in our team and two fast drivers at the front – we’re not dicing for 15th and 16th – we’re going for victories so there’s clearly a lot at stake. I’ll have a chat with Sebastian about it, we might have a difference of opinion but we’ll be adults about it and press on.”

Sebastian Vettel: “If you watch it on the TV, you can see what happened. I’m not in the happiest of moods. I was on the inside going into the corner. I was there, I was ahead and focusing on the braking point
and then we touched. Mark’s car hit my rear right wheel and I went off – there’s not much more to say. We were all on the same pace during the race, I think I was a bit quicker than Mark for two or three laps, I was catching him and thought I could get him on the back straight. I was
very close and passed him on the left, that’s the story. This is something that happens, no one needs it, but there’s not much you can do now.”

Christian Horner, Team Principal: “It’s disappointing for the team to have got into that position today. The one thing I always ask the drivers is that, yes, they can race each other, but give each other room, and that’s exactly what didn’t happen. They were too far over on the left, Sebastian got a run on the inside of Mark, but then came across too early. They didn’t give each other room; it’s as simple as that. It was a massively close race between us and the McLarens up until that point. We managed to get ourselves ahead with a better pit-stop and a better strategy for Sebastian and were first and second. Sebastian was a bit happier on the
prime tyre than Mark and was looking quicker at that point in the race. He got a run on Mark up the inside and we saw what happened. It’s massively disappointing and the situation shouldn’t have occurred. To give McLaren 28 points on a plate is very frustrating for everyone in the team – especially after so much hard work. We’ve lost a lot of points today with what’s happened. We need to learn from it, so we don’t find ourselves in this position again.”

Fabrice Lom, Renault, Principal Engineer Track Support: “Today’s result is a big shame. We had a very good result in our hands, but unfortunately we didn’t cement it. But, if we want to keep the positive, we have to underline that both cars were trouble free mechanically
today – the engines performed very well and we gave a very good defence on the long straight against the McLarens. We are still in a good position in both Championships, so let’s put this behind us and recover for the next race in Canada.”

Mercedes GP

An eventful Turkish Grand Prix at Istanbul Park today saw Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg bring their MERCEDES GP PETRONAS cars home in fourth and fifth places, an improvement of one position on their respective grid placings.

The pair had a fairly quiet race with Michael moving up to fourth briefly after a first lap battle with Jenson Button but he was unable to hold the position that he took in turn one. Michael made his only pit stop of the race on lap 14 with Nico following one lap later where a quick in-lap and excellent work from the pit crew kept him ahead of the chasing Robert Kubica.

Rain threatened in the middle of the race but only a few light spots eventually fell around the circuit. The collision of the two Red Bulls on lap 40 promoted Michael to fourth place and Nico to fifth position where they remained until the chequered flag.

Michael Schumacher: “My race started as I had hoped when I was able to catch Jenson right at the start. Unfortunately I did not have a lot of grip with the tyres as the formation lap was quite slow and the pressures had gone down which combined with the top speed of the McLarens meant that I could not hold Jenson behind me for long. I was even struggling to keep the car on the track during the first lap. From there onwards, I was in my starting position and when Sebastian retired, we were able to pick up a place. That was about it. It was a straightforward race for me without any more possibilities. I understand at the front there was quite a bit happening so for the fans, it was a good show. All in all, I think we had a positive race and we clearly made a step forward towards Red Bull and in front of Ferrari, so we can be quite happy about that.”

Nico Rosberg: “I am reasonably happy with fifth place today although it was an uneventful race for me. I was slightly faster than Michael for much of the race but it was not possible to overtake and I had to be careful as Robert was pushing hard behind me. For me, the most exciting part of the race were the in and out laps for my pit stop which were pretty fast and together with the great work from the team, that enabled me to stay ahead of the cars just behind me on track. Although our general pace still has to be improved, I’m satisfied that we have taken what we could from this weekend.”

Ross Brawn: “A solid performance today in which we achieved the potential of the car with both drivers. We had a purposefully quiet early part of race as we were unable to challenge the leading group and therefore decided to save our tyres for the second half. Michael, Nico and the team did an extremely good job with the car that we had and once again our pit stops were very impressive. Compliments to them all today. We have made reasonable progress with our latest set of upgrades thanks for the hard work of everyone at the factory but clearly we have a lot of work still to do.”

Norbert Haug: “Fourth and fifth positions for Michael and Nico were the best results we could achieve today as our pace was only ok in the last third of the race. We are aware that we need further improvements and we definitely will get them. Congratulations to McLaren Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton for achieving the 71st victory for Mercedes-Benz since our first win with David Coulthard in a McLaren Mercedes in Melbourne 1997. Four Mercedes-powered cars came home in the top five today which is a remarkable result, especially for our hard-working engine guys, so well done to you all.”

Renault

Robert Kubica: It’s been a good weekend for us and it’s nice to score some more points today. Unfortunately we started the race behind the Mercedes and I remained stuck behind them all afternoon, even though my car seemed to be quicker because I could keep up with them easily. I knew we had a chance to get ahead of them during the pit stops and I had a very good out lap, but their pit stops must have been a bit quicker and so we couldn’t jump ahead. The car felt good during the race and the updates we brought here improved the car which is encouraging for the next few races.

Vitaly Petrov: Although I’m disappointed to miss out on points today, I really enjoyed the race and the car felt really good. During the race I thought there was a chance of rain, which would have made things interesting, but in the end it was very light and didn’t have a big impact on things. At the end of the race my tyres were really worn when I was fighting with Alonso. He tried to go around the outside of me in turn three and my car pushed to the outside so we made contact which caused the puncture. It’s bad luck and I’m disappointed to miss out on scoring points, but there are a lot of positives from this race because the car has the pace to fight in the top ten. Hopefully we can be strong in Canada as well and I can score some points there.

Eric Boullier, Team Principal: Overall it has been a very satisfying weekend. Both cars have run well and we had both drivers in the top ten in qualifying for the first time this year. In the race today we again showed the strength of our car and the progress we have made recently, but it was a shame that we couldn’t jump ahead of the Mercedes with Robert during the pit stops because we felt we were quicker than them. As for Vitaly, he has been excellent this weekend and drove a very strong race, pushing Massa hard and fighting well against Alonso. It’s cruel luck to pick up a puncture so close to the end because he really deserved a good result after such a strong weekend.

Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer: We’ve had a really strong weekend here and until the last couple of laps it had been a fairly straightforward race. Both cars spent most of the race stuck in the train of cars behind the Mercedes and so it was difficult to see the true pace of the car. We therefore need to work on our qualifying pace to try and get ahead of them on the grid so we can realise our full potential. Robert was as solid as ever and hasn’t put a foot wrong all weekend so it was good to score some more points with him. Vitaly was also very impressive today and had very strong race pace. It’s a real shame that he picked up a puncture while he was fighting with Alonso, but he can be very proud of his performance today.

Rémi Taffin, Head of Engine Operations: Vitaly had a fresh engine for this race, while Robert was on his third race and will have a new engine for Canada. We had no concerns during the race and that allowed Robert and Vitaly to push hard all afternoon. Both cars were working well and both drivers did a great job, but it was such a shame for Vitaly to get the puncture so close to the end. He has done an excellent job this weekend and really deserved to score some points.

Ferrari

Ten points was the meagre tally for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro on the day of its eighth hundredth Formula 1 Grand Prix. Felipe Massa finished the race in seventh place, just ahead of his team-mate Fernando Alonso. Having started from eighth on the grid, Felipe stayed in this position almost throughout, until he inherited one place thanks to the misfortune of others. Fernando maintained his twelfth place at the end of the first lap and made up a few in the run of pit stops. Then, he was right behind Petrov for much of the race, attacking on lap 54 thus taking eighth place. After this race, the Spanish driver is fourth in the Drivers’ classification, while his team-mate is sixth. The Scuderia is third in the Constructors’ championship.

Stefano Domenicali: “This was definitely a very poor weekend for us and it’s a shame we were unable to celebrate our 800th Grand Prix in a worthy manner. We did not have the performance level we expected and we were definitely inferior to the two teams which dominated the Turkish weekend. We are at the level of the second group of drivers; those who were fighting throughout the Grand Prix, all within a few seconds of one another. But we know what an influence qualifying has on the final result and yesterday we struggled even more than usual in this area. This afternoon, we did what we could: Felipe didn’t make any mistakes and Fernando managed to make up a few places with the pit stop and by passing Petrov. Now we must make a step forward to close the performance gap: our engineers are capable and ready, as they have shown so often and I am sure they will be able to do it again, improving the performance of the F10. We are entering the crucial phase of the championship and we have to do everything to tackle it in the best possible shape.”

Felipe Massa: “It was a very boring race for me, from start to finish, but it was also very difficult. I was always stuck behind Kubica and the two Mercedes, who were running at a similar pace to me. Very often I managed to get close, but I never had a real chance of overtaking Robert. I knew that, starting from eighth, it would be tough and so it proved. Now we must stay calm and try and quickly improve the car, starting with the very next race in Canada. Here we lacked performance, especially in the fast corners. The rain? The few drops that fell in the final laps had no affect on my driving.”

Fernando Alonso: “It was a case of damage limitation in what was a very difficult weekend for us. Our aim in this championship is to fight with McLaren and Red Bull for the podium, definitely not with a Renault for eighth place, with all due respect to my former team. We have to improve our performance: in Valencia we will have an important update on the car, which we hope will put us back to where we should be. I am convinced that right from Canada things will be better, because the track characteristics should better suit our car. The hierarchy in the field can change from race to race, as we saw in Monaco, where we had the potential to fight for victory. At the end, I attacked Petrov and I hope the two points this brought me could turn out to be useful come the end of the year: I am sorry he got a puncture that stopped him finishing in the points, because he drove a good race. Despite everything, we are still in a good position to fight for the title. However, now is the time to react.”

Chris Dyer: “Given the position of our two cars on the starting grid, this is an acceptable result. What is not however, is our performance level this weekend, given that it definitely did not match our expectations. Felipe was always in traffic and never had a chance to overtake those immediately ahead of him. Fernando drove a good race, making up a few places thanks to the strategy and pulling off a nice passing move on Petrov at the end. When he made contact with the Russian driver’s Renault, he also damaged a wheel rim, but luckily he was able to finish the race and take points that are definitely valuable on a weekend like this.”

Force India Mercedes

The Force India F1 Team has secured another points scoring finish in today’s thrilling Turkish Grand Prix. Adrian Sutil claimed ninth position for two points, his fourth top ten position of the season, while Tonio Liuzzi finished 13th overall, five places up from his starting position.
Both Adrian and Tonio had good starts off the line and were running in tenth and 15th respectively before the first round of pit stops. Adrian stopped on lap 12 while racing Alonso and Kobayashi however a slight delay with the front right tyre change cost him around three seconds and he dropped back to 13th. Adrian maintained his pace and stayed with the Japanese Sauber driver until he could ultimately regain a position on lap 50. Tenth became ninth when Petrov pitted with a puncture on lap 54.
The two points now bring the team’s total to 32 and Adrian’s season tally to 22.

Adrian Sutil: It was a good race in the end, I enjoyed it. I had a good start and first lap and the only real downside was the pit stop when we lost a few seconds at a crucial time. That’s where I lost two positions and had to fight back past Kobayashi. I was quite lucky then to benefit from the tussle between Webber and Vettel and then Alonso and Petrov to make up some places. Ninth position after the weekend we’ve had is the most we could have done. OK, we probably lost a position due to the time lost in the stop but at this stage any points are good. We still have some developments coming for the next race and our next task is to use the SRW on my car - and once we get these done I think it will be looking really good for the next few races.

Tonio Liuzzi: It was a long race, but we knew we would have a difficult one after the qualifying yesterday. We realised that we are struggling with the car and I still don’t have the grip. I tried to push hard at the beginning with the strategy but in the end we knew it would be a big job as when you don’t have the right grip it’s tough. We finished 13th on the road, but the pace was not too bad, particularly at the end. We now need to work back at the factory to understand why it’s happening so I can get back in the points again.

Dr Vijay Mallya, chairman and team principal: After the various issues we’ve had over the weekend, it’s very satisfying to come away from Turkey with some more points to our name. Adrian drove a great race and richly deserved his points today. Tonio has had a harder weekend and we really need to understand why he’s not getting the grip he needs to be able to regain his earlier season form. That will be the focus for next week so when we get to Canada we can have a chance at another double points finish. We’ve also got some work to do on our SRW and when we do, I hope we’ll be mixing it again with the top end.

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