2014 Malaysia Grand Prix - Driver reaction
The 22 drivers have their say on the action at Sepang
By William Esler
Last Updated: 30/03/14 2:16pm
Sebastian Vettel: "We have certainly made a good step forwards, but we still have a lot of work to do. It's great to get a podium finish today. Considering where we were, not even two months ago, I think this weekend is a massive step in the right direction. It's a shame we didn't finish with both cars, but it's good to see the car is quick and we need the laps; for now it's important to collect points.
"The guys are pushing back in the factory and at Renault - it's been a massive job from them - and we'll try to be up there very soon again. It was a shame to lose a place at the start, but third was our maximum position today, so I'm very happy with that. It's a shame for Daniel with what happened, he drove really well."
Daniel Ricciardo: "It was looking like we could have a solid points finish today; the race was going pretty well. The start was really good and I made up a couple of positions and I was starting to, let's say, mix it up at the front, which is nice. It's fun being up there and fighting for the top few spots, but then we had a problem at the last pit stop and then we had a puncture. I think we had a front wing failure and a few other things went on and then the stop-go penalty, so the race ended pretty quickly for us, it went from looking good to looking pretty bad in a short amount of time.
"I'm really disappointed, but at the same time there's a little bit in me which is happy because I think I've come out the first two races how I wanted to, in a way. I still want to improve, but we've started off on the right foot, so for that I'm pleased and with a little bit of luck we'll turn things around soon and I'll get some points. I love racing up the front, it's been a privilege so far and a lot of fun in the last couple of races. It's a bit addictive actually, I want more, so you'll see me up there plenty of times this year."
Lewis Hamilton: "I'm incredibly happy today. This is my first win in Malaysia after eight attempts and to do it for our PETRONAS family in their home country makes it even more special. It's all down to the team. They have done a fantastic job and I have to say a huge thank you to everyone here at the track and back at our factories who have been pushing non-stop to get the car where it is. The race was tougher than it perhaps looked today and the conditions here always make it a great challenge.
"But I was able to look after the car, the tyres and the fuel and still keep a bit of pace in hand which made my job that little bit easier. It's great to see Mercedes leading the championship but we know that we have to make these early races pay. Anything can happen as we saw in Australia, so this is an important result for us. One-two finishes don't happen very often and this is a real achievement for the team. Finally, I would like to offer this victory in tribute to all those affected by the tragedy of MH370. A special mention also goes to my step-mum Linda for her 50th birthday tomorrow!"
Nico Rosberg: "This is an incredible day for our team and for Mercedes-Benz. Everyone back at our factories in Brackley and Brixworth, and all employees of Mercedes-Benz, can feel very proud today. For the first time in the modern Silver Arrows era, we have achieved a one-two finish which is an incredible result. The team did a phenomenal job over the winter and my thanks once again for that. I also want to thank our partners PETRONAS.
"They have given our team so much support, along with the best products for our power unit, so we are proud to be associated with them and I hope they enjoy the celebrations today. I had a great start again, even though it was tight with Sebastian. It was very close at the wall and I just closed the eyes, went for the gap and did it. Later I was able to control the pace and to defend my position against Seb but Lewis was out of my reach, so congratulations to him for his win. I really look forward now to next weekend in Bahrain."
Fernando Alonso: "The points scored today are the result of a trouble free weekend, in which the small improvements on the car worked as we had expected and it ran very reliably. We definitely have a lot more work to do, because while we are moving forward, the others are doing the same. Everyone in our team is doing their utmost to close down the gap. There's still a lot to learn in these early races, but it's no secret that we definitely need to improve our top speed, as could be seen from my duel with Hulkenberg.
"I was able to get him thanks to fresher tyres, but we definitely need to up our performance right from the very next race. It will be very hot in Bahrain and the tyre compounds are softer. This might be an advantage to us, because on the harder tyres we are sliding a lot. Also, from the data we gathered there during winter testing, we might be able to extract more of our potential, but that will apply to everyone."
Kimi Raikkonen: "I am very disappointed with how this race turned out, because I got a good start, but then the collision with Magnussen damaged my right rear tyre, which meant I had to make an extra stop. That wiped out any chance I had of fighting for a good finish. After the accident, the car's handling was not the same, as the tyre had caused damage to the floor, which led to a loss of downforce.
"On my first set of tyres, I had some difficulties and it was only after the final stop, when I fitted the Mediums that it went better, but by then it was too late. Hard to say how things might have gone without that problem, because our rivals were very quick, but maybe I could have finished close to Fernando. It was a really unlucky day, but overall we managed to improve our performance and now we must concentrate on the positive aspects of this weekend and work to improve starting already next week in Bahrain."
Romain Grosjean: "Eleventh place is good for all the guys at Enstone and at the track, and it's good for me too. Finishing the race was our first objective and then we wanted to see where we were with our car. It's not perfect yet but it's good to be where we are at this stage. I had a big loss of downforce around eight laps to the end especially in the rear of the car which made things difficult, especially when I had to defend.
"Without that issue, I'm sure we could have finished higher. It's good to be back and close to the points so it's a positive for all of us. It was a good battle at the end. I kept remembering our past battles to make sure Kimi couldn't go through!"
Pastor Maldonado: "After the start we were losing a lot of power so we'll have to investigate later to see what the issue is and analyse the data. This problem meant I had to retire in order to protect the engine. Despite that, this weekend has been clearly a step forwards. Since Saturday, we've been able to run far more with the car and Romain was able to finish the race.
"Today obviously was not so good for me, but we're not the only ones with issues so early in the season. This is all related to all the complex packages in the car, but we have learnt a lot this weekend and will make progress for the next."
Jenson Button: "It was hot out there this afternoon! And when you've spent all that time watching the two Williams battling in your mirrors, it makes it feel even hotter.
"Still, it was an enjoyable race, and I couldn't really have expected more. I think we got the most we could out of the package this afternoon, and I didn't think I'd be finishing sixth after the way the car had performed earlier in the weekend.
"It's encouraging for all the guys that we called both the pit-stops and the fuel usage perfectly throughout the race. I also want to say a big 'thanks' to everyone back at the MTC [McLaren Technology Centre] for working so hard to bring the updates to the track. Every little helps.
"Nonetheless, there's no getting away from the fact that we're still weak in the high-speed corners; this car does have its strengths, but we've got a lot of work to do. We got the best out of the car today, but we know we still need to improve."
Kevin Magnussen: "I'm sorry for the team that I messed things up going into the second corner, with the incident with Kimi. I think we could have scored some good points today, so I'm disappointed with and for myself, too. Grands prix are long races, so I shouldn't have made a mistake like that so early on in the afternoon.
"But that sort of stuff happens sometimes - and, when it does, you just have to learn from it, and I will.
"After the incident, it wasn't easy to recover, and we struggled with the high track temperatures, and in the high-speed corners, too.
"As I say, I'll learn from this race and I'll see what I can do at the next one. It's good that the Bahrain Grand Prix is so soon; it'll feel good to put this one behind me, and move on."
Nico Hulkenberg: "Today was a super team effort and I'm very happy with fifth place. We were the only team among the frontrunners to do a two-stop race and we had good pace all afternoon. It shows that the team's hard work over the winter is paying off and it feels great to be so competitive and fighting up at the front.
"We showed that we could manage the tyres well, although I felt a bit more comfortable on the medium compound tyres than on the hards, but we always had the tyre management under control. So I'm feeling happy that we can take all these positives to Bahrain and leave Malaysia with a good helping of points."
Sergio Perez: "I'm disappointed not to have a chance to race today. We are still investigating the cause of the problem but the car kept going into neutral when I was downshifting on the way to the grid. I made it back to the garage but we could not find a solution.
"I need to focus on the positives because we learned a lot from the weekend so I hope we can come back stronger in Bahrain. It's been a frustrating weekend for me but at least we are racing again in seven days and can look forward to putting the disappointment behind us."
Esteban Gutierrez: "After quite a long stint, I made a pitstop and couldn't engage first gear. I tried it many times, but it didn't work, so there was not much I could do. In the end we made a step forward this weekend. Obviously it was not a good race, but we have to keep positive. We must solve our issues so we are consistent and reliable at the track and have no technical problems. We still have a long season ahead and I am confident we can improve."
Adrian Sutil: "In my last lap I lost power and then suddenly the car switched off. I don't know what happened, so we need to analyse it. It is a shame. Many things don't work well at the moment, so we need to learn from that. In general, our pace was too slow and the grip level was poor. This was unusual for us and we didn't expect that.
"We will keep working on the issues we have and we will be back stronger for the next races. We don't have much time until Bahrain, so we don't expect to have many updates there. However, for the upcoming races we have a plan which we are working on in order to improve."
Daniil Kvyat: "It's good to finish in the top ten for a second time in a row now. This afternoon's race was very difficult and intense with a lot of fighting. The first two stints were hard when I was fighting the Williams and McLaren in the early stages, but they were faster than me on the straight. I was quite happy with the final stint and having managed to defend my position.
"Overall it was a good weekend and I hope we continue to improve like this as the car definitely has potential. So I'm looking forward to going straight to Bahrain to race again in a week's time. It will be interesting to be on a track where we have actually tested with this car."
Jean-Eric Vergne: "I think I had a great start today but very soon I felt some problems with the car. I lost power in the car and I just saw everybody overtaking me. Then I found myself in a sandwich between a Caterham and Bianchi and maybe I was a bit too ambitious to think I could try and pass the two cars. It was just not possible and this resulted in the collision, which damaged my front wing.
"At this point I knew that my race was compromised, so I was hoping for some rain and maybe a safety car to change the cards on the table and re-join the pack. But then I continued to suffer with the car and my race was over. It's really a shame, as this was a race in which we could have been strong and achieve a good result. The race pace on hard tyres was pretty good. On the positive side, we have a good car and we won't have to wait long before being back on track, as Bahrain is just around the corner."
Felipe Massa: "Getting both cars in the points today is a positive result for the team. I had a very good start and made up some good places on the first lap, but my progress was halted a bit by the McLaren of Magnussen in the first stint which had good traction out of the last corner which made it difficult for me to overtake.
"I also had the same issue later on in the race with Jenson as I was able to get up close to the back of him in the closing stages when on better tyres, but just couldn't get passed. On the whole I don't think this track particularly suited our car, so we have done well to finish where we have, and I'm confident that we will be more competitive in Bahrain."
Valtteri Bottas: "I think we need to be happy about today as moving from P18 to P8 is a good result and we have more points in the bag. The car was not as competitive this weekend as it was in Melbourne, but the team has done a very good in producing a car that is looking like it can consistently fight in the top ten.
"I had a really good start, making up six places on the first lap, and from then on the pace was pretty good and I was able to make up more places without too much trouble by using our very strong straight line speed on the long straights. Qualifying has shown that there are parts of the car we need to address, but the start to the season has been encouraging for us so far."
Max Chilton: "It was a pretty demanding race I have to say. I didn't get a fantastic start and I knew there was going to be trouble in turn one, which I at least managed to avoid. We had a close battle with Ericsson for much of the race and towards the end we were very close and pushing him all the way to the line, eventually ending up just 0.1s adrift. We are a little disappointed today, but we'll regroup and focus on what we can do for Bahrain next weekend."
Jules Bianchi: "Unfortunately the situation with Maldonado was a consequence of what happened off the start, when Vergne hit me from behind and punctured my left rear tyre. Quite simply I could not avoid Maldonado; there was nothing I could do. We came in to change the tyres and to fit a new front wing but when I returned to the track the car was not easy to drive and we suspected a problem with the brakes.
"We could not continue to drive this way and had no choice but to retire. It was disappointing to end my race after 8 laps and this is not the reward the Team deserves after a week where we seemed to make good progress through the sessions."
Kamui Kobayashi: "13th in our second race of the season is a very good result for the team, especially after such a bad weekend until the race! I had a great start, and no brake problems this time going into turn one, and by the end of the first lap I was up to 16th, running at the same pace as Sutil just ahead and with the car performing much better than it had all weekend.
"We were looking at what was going on around us and with the good tyre degradation we had we adapted the strategy and decided to go long on the first stint on options, finally boxing on lap 15, going out again on another set of mediums which were working well right from the first lap of the second stint. I was ahead of Chilton and found really good pace on the new set of tyres and I went after the Saubers ahead and was catching them fast. We stopped for the second time on lap 32 and went onto the primes for the final stint, knowing it would be a long run to the flag but also knowing that if we kept it on the track we could have a good finish, and that's how it turned out.
"13th place in Malaysia puts us back in tenth in the championship and gives everyone the sort of boost we needed. There's still a huge amount of work to do and a lot of today was new for me - that was the first time I've driven the car on full tanks on these tyres and we obviously have to keep putting more performance on the car so we can really fight one or two of the teams ahead. That looks like it's a realistic target at this stage, but for now, focusing on today, finally we've had a good day and we should be happy about that."
Marcus Ericsson: "First I want to thank the boys in the garage for working so hard to fix my car after yesterday's accident. I was feeling a bit low last night, but to have finished my first full Grand Prix in 14th, helping us move up into tenth place in the constructors' championship, is a great feeling, for me and everyone in Caterham.
"My start couldn't have been much better - I passed both Marussias and was right up with Kamui by the end of lap one in 17th having made up five places. I was quickly into a good rhythm and keeping pace with my teammate but about ten laps into the first stint I started having some issues with the rear grip which was costing me a bit of time. We boxed for the first time on lap 11 but had a problem during the stop and I came out behind Chilton and Vergne. The second stint was really good - to be honest I was a bit surprised that I was fighting Raikkonen but he and Vergne made a couple of moves on me which I was able to defend, and then I went after Chilton. We boxed for another set of new options on lap 26 and I came back out ahead of the Marussia and focused on pulling away from him.
"I stayed ahead of Chilton after the third stop for the primes and from there I just wanted to get the car home. It was all ok until the last couple of laps when I started losing power, and I finished just ahead of the Marussia at the line as he'd been almost able to catch me with the ERS issue, but that 14th place, by 0.1 seconds, is what puts us into tenth so I'm really glad I could hang on. That tiny margin also shows that every single detail counts at this level of competition, and the tiniest advantage can make a big difference.
"It's been a tough weekend, really tough for everyone, but we'll head to Bahrain knowing we have something to build on, and something to defend. That's a big positive and I can't wait to get back in the car in a few days' time and start all over again."