2011 Chinese GP, Race: Team quotes 

Written by David on April 17th, 2011 at 3:10 pmLast Update: April 17th, 2011 at 3:10 pm

John Booth: “Obviously today was a very good result for Jérôme in only his third race. His two-stop strategy proved far superior to the three-stop strategy we decided upon for Timo and more suited to what our competitors were doing around us. All credit to Jérôme for getting a two-stopper to work. Following some feedback in the race from Timo regarding the degradation he was suffering with the rear tyres, we were perhaps a little too quick to convert him to three stops. Our predictions pre-race were that this would be worse and with the benefit of hindsight we can see it was not the way to go. We didn’t help Timo and when he had a problem during his final stop he lost quite a bit of time and had to fight hard to catch the HRT again and overtake. Overall we have had a better weekend in reliability terms and it has proved a useful development opportunity as we have faced several challenges that we will learn from. This is the last of the season-opening long hauls and, as is the case up and down the pit lane, the race team are ready for a bit of a break, particularly after the back to back between Malaysia and China. Meanwhile, as you would expect, everyone at our technical base is nose to the grindstone ensuring that the Turkey upgrade goes according to plan and delivers the performance gains we expect so we can get back to where we should be for the start of the European season.”

Martin Whitmarsh: “In grands prix nowadays, there is so much action that, if you get it slightly wrong, you’re toast. Today, I think both Lewis and Jenson drove brilliant, charging races, just fantastic. This was our first win of the year, a really important one, and a reward for all the work that everyone at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes has put in over the last six weeks. Before the race, we tried to start Lewis’s engine, but his car suffered what we believe to have been a fuel flooding issue. At a certain rate, a pressure release valve pops and lets fuel out. It let fuel out into the engine’s airtray, flooding it. With too much fuel, the engine won’t start, so the mechanics hurriedly took the airtray out – cleaned up the excess fuel and fired it up. We quickly assembled the car and sent it to the grid with 60 seconds to go. The mechanics did an absolutely superlative job to identify the problem and rectify it within a very stressful timeframe – they really showed today that they are the best in the world. I take my hat off to them. Both drivers’ races were eventful: Lewis responded magnificently to the pressure to record one of his most finely judged and aggressive race wins. He really is a magnificent fighter and this victory was the perfect way for us to head into the European season. Jenson also drove a fine race, although he was hampered by tyre drop-off issues that sadly left him unable to counter the attack of Mark Webber in the closing laps. That was frustrating, but it’s racing. I think today showed that Formula 1 can deliver spectacular, fast, close, nailbiting racing. That must have been one of the most exciting races I’ve ever seen. It’s incredibly rewarding to know that our sport is in good shape and that Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is a winning force in Formula 1 – today will be a fantastic boost for every man and woman in the team, and it will only motivate us to achieve even greater things in Turkey next month. Now we’ve just got to win some more!”

Colin Kolles: “We reached our target, which was to finish the race. We planned a one stop strategy for today. Narain went for this strategy but Tonio had a drive-through penalty for a jump start and lost some positions so we switched to a two stop strategy with him. Tonio’s times were impressive at the end, he was doing similar times to the middle of the field which is positive. All in all, we had a normal weekend where we did a lot of miles and the improvement of the car is visible. We had no technical issues and both drivers did a good race so we’re happy with the weekend. The aerodynamic and mechanical upgrades for Turkey will put us closer to the field.”

Stefano Domenicali: “Fourteen points is definitely not what we wanted to come away with from this Grand Prix: there is no use denying we are disappointed. We will have to study carefully the way this race evolved and understand why, having started off by being competitive, especially with Felipe, after around two thirds of the race, we saw others produce a more competitive finish than we did. From a strategic point of view, I don’t think it would have changed much if we had done three stops instead of two: when the final result shows such small gaps, some incidents would be enough to make the difference and with hindsight, it is easy to judge. Felipe drove a great race and was fighting right up to the closing stages for a place on the podium, getting to 15″ off the winner, while Fernando’s race was affected by his duel with Michael after the first pit stop. This championship has not started the way we would have wanted or hoped for. Our car definitely needs to improve its performance, especially in qualifying. We must work very hard over the coming weeks, especially on the aerodynamics. We know our problems can’t be solved by waving a magic wand, all in one go, especially as our rivals are not going to sit around twiddling their thumbs: all the same, we need to take a step in the right direction, right from the next race.”

Pat Fry: “After three races it’s clear our priority is to try and improve the performance of our car. Today, we opted for a two stop strategy and now we have to look carefully at the evolution of the race to understand if a different choice would have changed things: at first glance that does not seem to be the case. Both Felipe and Fernando made two stops, using the hard tyre in the final stint of the race. Unfortunately, their degradation on our car was significant and Felipe did not manage to fend off the attacks of those behind him. Fernando was battling with Schumacher for at least eight laps and his tyres suffered because of that, to such an extent that he was unable to push as hard as he wanted once he had a clear track ahead of him. Towards the end, he too was struggling and just managed to hang onto seventh place. We have a lot of work to do and we must keep our cool in this situation. There is still a long way to go this season and things can change quickly.”

Dominic Harlow: “P11 and just missing out on a point for Paul, and P15 for Adrian is not the reward we’d hoped for after a fantastic effort from the factory and the team this weekend. The race started well with both cars on the option tyres for their first stints. Once the higher degradation set in we elected to pit Paul on lap 11 and Adrian on lap 15 with a second stint on the soft tyre. Two stops was just possible, and after a switch to prime for both drivers we held on to our track position for as long as we could, with Paul only loosing out in the final laps. Adrian was the victim of an incident with Perez, which dropped him a little further back. Overall though we’ve shown better pace in qualifying, and that we can still race very strongly. We’ll look at what we’ve learned today and aim to continue improving when we next race back in Europe.”

Eric Boullier: “Starting where we did, it was always going to be difficult to repeat the results we have had already this season. In the end, it turned out to be quite a frustrating afternoon for us and we didn’t really make the progress we expected in the race. Part of the reason was that overtaking was not as easy as we thought it would be, even with the DRS. Also, we need to review our strategy because it wasn’t easy to make the calls today and it’s clear you need to switch tyres at exactly the right moment. Still, it’s good to pick up more points with Vitaly and we now have three weeks to regroup before Turkey to make sure we can be fighting closer to the front.”

Alan Permane: “It was a tricky day for us, which wasn’t helped by our poor qualifying yesterday, but ultimately we struggled for pace and both drivers found it quite difficult to overtake. Vitaly didn’t make a great start and he was stuck in traffic during his first stint. At that point we were thinking about whether to do two or three stops, but when he finally found some clean air his pace looked reasonable and we decided it was best to do two stops. However, he struggled for pace on the soft tyres during his middle stint. As for Nick, we chose to run the same tyre strategy as Vitaly, but he struggled with KERS overheating problems, which meant the system could only be used intermittently and made it even more difficult for him to come through the field.”

Ricardo Penteado: “A long and hard race for the team, with battles on every lap for both drivers – including the last one! We can be pleased to be in the top ten after the difficulties yesterday. Vitaly and Nick gave it everything and both finished up on their starting positions, with Vitaly taking some more valuable points in 9th. Temperatures were significantly higher than yesterday but the R31-RS27 chassis-engine package performed well, although we know that we are capable of finishing higher than 9th and 12th.”

Peter Sauber: “It was an exciting race and very difficult today for us to score points. However, having said that, we are satisfied with this one point. Our car had more potential than this result shows, but both drivers got stuck in traffic for long periods during the race.”

James Key: “It is nice to come away from here finishing in the points. I think it was always going to be a bit tricky from where we were on the grid, but our intention was to give it our best shot at top ten positions. Both drivers did a good job. It was unfortunate with Sergio’s incident, but we will look at that afterwards. It is only his third race so perhaps he was a bit optimistic but, other than that, again he drove a really good race and I think his pace was very good. Kamui did a great job to do a lot of laps on the hard tyre at the end. We pulled him in early and he did okay. He brought home a point for us. However, Mercedes has taken a good step forward here and is ahead of us in the championship, so we have got to react to this as best we can and have a better weekend in Turkey.”

Christian Horner: “After losing out a little bit at the start by dropping behind both McLarens, we elected for Sebastian to go onto a two stop strategy. It nearly paid off for us and we got within four laps of making it work but, ultimately, he just didn’t have enough grip to defend that podium place. Second is still a fantastic result and means a lot of points, which are well deserved. With Mark, we effectively ran his race in reverse starting on the prime tyre and running a three stop strategy. It was a phenomenal recovery by him to get onto the podium, so an awesome job and strong pit stops from the team. We had one scare when Jenson stopped in our pit box at the first stop, but overall it is a very strong team result.”

Cyril Dumont: “Somehow today, I feel like the job is not finished even though it is a really good result for the team. To finish second is a good result and the season is still very long – which is good. For Mark, what a race! To come from 18th to third is incredible – it was a really solid race by him, so congratulations to all the team. We now go to Europe leading the Championship.”

Sam Michael: “There is nothing satisfying about finishing out of the points. Reliability-wise, however, it was positive to get both cars to the finish. There were stages during the race when our performance was respectable so we need to focus on those areas and improve our qualifying pace. We have some sound upgrades planned for Istanbul and we will be concentrating our efforts on those.”

Ross Brawn: “We had a very encouraging race today from the point of view of our overall pace and performance. Nico and Michael did a fantastic job in making use of what they had, and our strategy and pit stops were very good. It’s disappointing that we had to start looking at fuel saving with Nico which ultimately cost him at least a podium finish. We need to look into why we suffered so much higher fuel consumption in the race than we had experienced in practice, even allowing for the changes in conditions and grip. There was clearly a problem and it’s very frustrating for Nico and the team. However we can take away positives from this weekend in knowing that if we do a decent job, we can be competitive.”

Norbert Haug: “The speed of our cars today was very good and much better than I expected. Unfortunately both Nico and Michael had higher fuel consumption than expected and both needed to save fuel for many laps. I am sure that otherwise Nico could have finished on the podium and Michael higher in the points. Both drivers drove excellently today, our strategy was good, the pit stops were well-executed and both cars ran reliably, so that is all positive. Thank you to everyone at MERCEDES GP and Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines for their relentless work. A better result was possible today but we will work very hard to get achieve that sooner rather than later.”

Laurent Mekies: “Neither car got a great start, losing us the benefit of our strong qualifying performance. After that, we brought Jaime in fairly early to have him running a three stop strategy. But we had to retire the car soon after the pit stop as we lost a wheel. At the moment, we are examining the exact cause of this incident. Sebastien came in for his first tyre change a few laps later when we discovered that he had some front wing damage, so we called him in again to change the nose as he could not continue like that. From then on, he drove a strong race on a two stop strategy, which was our only chance to get us back in the rhythm of the race after the time lost just 15 laps after the start. He drove well, racing the Williams, getting Maldonaldo and finishing right on Barrichello’s gearbox.”

Thierry Salvi: “That is a very good result for the whole team and it is important we enjoy it. The key goal today was to get both cars across the finish line and to achieve that, and beat both Perez and Maldonado is a big step forward for us. A very satisfying day.”

Mike Gascoyne: “That was an absolutely fantastic race from both drivers and from the pitcrew who performed brilliantly under huge pressure. It is very satisfying to have beaten two other midfield teams on track on pace and strategy and to be able to show that we have bridged the gap to the established teams. Both drivers made a good start and with the higher track temperatures we knew our race pace would be good, and so it proved. With the tyre degradation we were able to stick to two stops, which was always our plan and that allowed us to jump a couple of people, giving us our strongest race in F1. Additionally, we were only lapped once, right towards the end of the race, so I am very proud of the whole team today.”

Riad Asmat: “I am actually lost for words. We were racing today, actually taking on teams who have been in the sport for many years, and even though there is a huge amount of work ahead of us, now we need to enjoy this moment, build on this feeling and keep moving forwards.”

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