Bahrain GP - Driver reaction
The drivers have their say after a thrilling race at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, where Sebastian Vettel took victory.
By William Esler
Last Updated: 22/04/12 6:12pm
The drivers have their say after a thrilling race at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir.
Sebastian Vettel: "It was an incredible race, extremely tough. A good start was crucial and I was able to pull away from the pack, which was a big advantage as we always had to go on scrubbed tyres due to the fact we had used almost all of them in qualifying yesterday. Kimi was very quick and so was Grosjean. But everything seemed to work well today; strategy was good and I can only say a big thank you to the whole team and the guys in the garage. I said it yesterday, but they have done an incredible job over the last four races, the amount of work they had to do was so much.
"We asked them for this and for that, for tweaks here and there and they came with new parts, then old parts, then news parts again, back and forth and spent a lot of time in the garage trying to get the car to our liking. But we got there. I was very happy with qualifying today and all throughout the race. Kimi was fast today and it was close, but I am extremely happy and very proud of the team."
Mark Webber: "It wasn't a bad start. I didn't have KERS for the first lap, so it was difficult to put pressure on Lewis, but then I got it back. In the first two stints, I couldn't stay with those guys - the two Lotus' and Seb - so I had to consolidate from there. Lotus has a tidy car and when everything comes together, it works well - they did a good job today and it shows how tight the Championship is; there have been four different winners. I got some good points today and both drivers and Red Bull Racing are doing well in the Championships. It wasn't the most exciting race for me, but it's been a good start to the Championship. I'm looking forward to getting back to racing in Europe."
Jenson Button: "I didn't have a very good balance today: I was struggling all afternoon with oversteer. We were taking front wing out of the car all the way through the race, in fact. However, my final stint was a long one, and, if I hadn't struck trouble, I reckon things would have got quite interesting in the final laps. Some drivers had pushed harder at the start of that stint, but I'd been looking after my tyres. Into the last five laps, I started pushing pretty hard, and I caught up with Paul [di Resta] and Nico [Rosberg]. But, just as I braked for the final corner [on lap 53], the right-front corner lifted up in the air and I realised I had a [left-rear] puncture. So I quickly radioed the team, and pitted.
"In the last few laps, the car sounded really noisy. I think the initial problem was an exhaust failure, then my puncture, and then a differential failure; so I had to retire. It's been a pretty difficult weekend for the whole team."
Lewis Hamilton: "There are good times and bad times in motor racing. I guess this was just one of those days. By rights we should have been fighting to finish in the top four today, but it didn't work out like that in the end. The delays in the pits were a big part of that, of course. For the driver sitting in the car, that's always frustrating, because you're just waiting and there's nothing you can do to help.
"We lost a bit of world championship momentum today - but, on the plus side, we still picked up four world championship points, and every point you score is valuable in a season as close-fought as this one. Now we'll head into the European season, and it's clear that we've got to do two things: we've got to work on the pace of our car and we've got to improve our pit stops."
Fernando Alonso: "It went a bit better than we feared and we managed to limit the damage. We had arrived here eight points down on the championship leader and we leave only two more points adrift. To finish this run of four races in this situation is positive, even if there is no point in denying that we cannot be happy with it in general terms. Now, it's clear we have to make a step forward, because we cannot always count on the failings of others. For example, we closed the points gap to McLaren, something which I certainly would not have believed possible if it had been suggested yesterday.
"At the same time, we finished the race almost a minute behind the winner, which had never happened so far this year. I expected Lotus to be very competitive because they have been all weekend. So far it's been good that there hasn't been just one driver picking up the maximum points, as happened for example last year. As for the race, I can't say anything I didn't say already a week ago in Shanghai: the car is practically the same. At some points we were strong, in others much less so, all dependent on tyre behaviour. We lack top speed and when you are in a tight duel, that is penalising.
"As for the incident with Rosberg, I can only say that if, instead of such a wide run-off area there had been a wall, I'm not sure I'd be here now to talk about it. A shame that I was missing one more straight to get past Di Resta in the end: we could have picked up a few more little points which would have been handy. I said it earlier, we have to improve the car as quickly as possible: in Barcelona, we will have some major updates but so will the others and how good a job we will have done we will only discover on track at Montmelo."
Felipe Massa: "It was definitely not a very easy race, but in the end, we managed to do a good job and, for the first time this year, finish in the points. It's a nice result at this time, but we are well aware that it is not Ferrari's style to be happy with a ninth place. Having said that, it is a performance that gives me confidence for the rest of the season. Clearly we have to improve the performance of the car as soon as possible to be able to fight for worthwhile positions. In Barcelona, everyone will bring major updates and we will have had to do have done a better job than the others because we have to make up the ground lost at the start of this championship.
"As for the race, I think the decision to save a set of new Softs yesterday was the right one. A shame I lost a place to Rosberg in the pit stop: if I had managed to stay ahead of him, maybe I could have got a better result. I suffered especially with the rears and, in the end, I was not going flat out because I did not want to end up in trouble with tyre degradation."
Nico Rosberg: "I had a pretty bad first lap today, but after that I was able to recover and get the most of our race. We had a good strategy and the pace of the car was pretty strong compared to the start of the season, although it was difficult to make progress as there were a lot of cars fighting for the same positions. Overall I'm happy with our weekend as fifth place gives me a few more points and I can see that we are making progress.
"Now we have a short break where we can work hard in the factory ready for the start of the European season. Before that, I'm looking forward to visiting the DTM opening race in Hockenheim next Saturday. It's my first chance to return to Germany after two good weekends, particularly of course the win in China, and I look forward to celebrating that together with our fans."Michael Schumacher: "Considering where I started the race today, it's a positive that I was able to fight up to 10th place, score a point and finish a dry race this season. The tyres obviously played a large part in the race today, and in the conditions here, we had to adapt the driving style to keep the tyres together. It will be good to have the time now before Barcelona to sort out some issues and prepare our updates for the test days in Mugello. Next weekend, the DTM starts in Hockenheim and I am looking forward to my first visit to a DTM race for twenty years."
Kimi Raikkonen: It's a great result for the team and we deserve it as everyone has been working very hard. To be honest, I'm slightly disappointed we didn't take the win because we had the pace. I only had one chance to overtake Sebastian (Vettel) and unfortunately I chose the wrong side to try and get past. If I hadn't made a small mistake at the start and allowed Felipe (Massa) to get through then maybe it would have been a different story, as we spent quite a lot of time fighting with him. At the end of the day, it's good to have both cars on the podium, especially after last race which didn't go to plan, but I honestly think we could have taken the victory today."
Romain Grosjean: "It's a great feeling to get my first podium, and I'm really proud of the whole team for doing an incredible job today. We've known all season how quick the car can be, but with such a tight field any small mistakes can make a huge difference. Today I think we got everything right, and we've finally been able to prove how competitive we are. Last week I was aiming for my first points, this week I was hoping for top five, but here we are on the podium so who knows where we can go from here! We can be very happy with what we've achieved today; hopefully we can now head to the Mugello test and find that last bit of to push us right to the top."
Paul di Resta: "The result today is massive for us. The team did an amazing job all weekend, the strategy came together and the pit-stops were perfect. We knew it would be a big ask to make only two stops and it was a close run thing at the end because my tyres completely went away on the final lap. I had Fernando [Alonso] very close behind me, but I saved a bit of KERS coming out of the final corner and managed to stay ahead. Apart from that, the car has been awesome. So we go away from here as a very happy team with a few weeks to reflect on things and determined to arrive in Barcelona in fighting form."
Nico Hulkenberg: "I think my race was decided at the very start when I had some clutch issues and the anti-stall kicked in, which really compromised my getaway and dropped me right to the back of the pack. From then on it was a long, hard fight back through the field, and it was hard work coming through the traffic. I made it to P12, but there wasn't much more I could do. So a tough race for me, but great to see Paul pick up some points."
Sergio Perez: "We knew this circuit would not be an easy one for us and we were just too slow today. We tried both strategies and split them between the cars but today there was nothing that could have really helped us. I had a lot of tyre degradation and due to a problem at the pit stop we lost a place and a point to Michael (Schumacher). He was very fast on the straights. I had no chance to get him. Next time we'll do better again."
Kamui Kobayashi: "Well, for me the start was too slow. I had too much wheelspin and we will look into that. I started on a set of new medium compound tyres and we tried a two stop strategy but in the end it didn't work out. The tyres degraded quicker than we hoped and I had to do three stops as well with the last one seven laps before the end. I can't see anything that we could have actually done better in today's race. Our problem was a general lack of speed and we will work hard to fix it."
Bruno Senna: "We did everything right on the first lap but unfortunately I was struggling to keep the pace to the cars in front. I think we were quite aggressive with the set-up today but sometimes you don't get it right. Towards the end I started feeling a lot of vibration in the brake pedal. The engineers were looking at it, so I kept pushing as you never know what will happen, but the vibration got worse and the decision was made to pit to avoid risking an accident. It's disappointing after two points finishes, but it's a long season."
Pastor Maldonado: "I had a puncture in the exit of Turn 1 and then spun on the straight. I'm disappointed for the team as the performance was there. Starting from the back of the pack I was fighting every lap. The car was responding well and I was able to make up many positions. I feel today we could have scored more points but unfortunately it wasn't to be."
Jean-Eric Vergne: "It's the same pattern as in China, in that I manage to have a good pace in the race, but I'm slow in qualifying. We must find a solution to this, because if we can start further forward with the pace we have, then we should see a more positive result on Sunday. I gave it my all today, even though I started from far back. Now we have a bit of a break in terms of races, but we will have the test at Mugello where we must look carefully at what we can do, hoping to arrive in Barcelona with an even better car for the Spanish Grand Prix. As for myself, I need to analyse what is not working for me in qualifying. As a Frenchman, I have say I think it's great that Romain is on the podium and I am super happy for him. It would be nice if I can end up with a car as competitive as his and fight with him for a podium place!"
Daniel Ricciardo: "That was not what I was hoping for after starting from sixth on the grid. The opening lap changed my whole race. My initial launch off the line wasn't great and after that I seemed to go backwards, which made for a very frustrating afternoon. The front wing damage also made matters worse. I had a good chance to have a strong race today, but losing all those places at the start cost me dear. I need to be hard on myself now and find out what I did wrong to make sure I don't do it again. It was a race to forget."
Vitaly Petrov: "That was a really interesting race, particularly at the start when there was a lot of overtaking and it was good to be right in the middle of the early battles. We made some very good pitstops, quicker than in China and good enough to help me stay out ahead of Ricciardo who I had a good battle with for quite a lot of the race. It was only towards the end when we had to let the leaders pass that we started losing a bit of time but today's performance shows again how strong we can be on Sundays. This has been a good weekend all round and a great way to end the first four flyaway races. We have a couple of weeks now until the next race in Spain and we'll head there feeling very positive about how we keep progressing."
Heikki Kovalainen: "I had a good start but then had contact with a car behind in turn 10 which caused a rear left puncture. We pitted immediately and from then on it was basically about putting in as strong a race as I could. I passed Glock quickly and pulled out a good gap to him and then went after my team mate and Ricciardo. It's obviously a bit frustrating to have had the puncture on the first lap, but we can take a number of positives from this weekend, particularly from the pace we showed in qualifying and from the way we were able to look after the tyres, so overall it's been pretty good."
Pedro de la Rosa: "It was a tough race, but we finished with both cars and that is positive for the team. The truth is that our rhythm wasn't what we'd hoped for. We have to gain some speed per lap, more than anything because we want to be fighting our rivals on a consistent basis. In today's race we didn't have sufficient rhythm. Looking back it's true that we've taken a giant stride but we can't be satisfied with just that. We've improved a lot but we're at the starting blocks, where we should have been in Australia. We've got very good individuals on board, a new workshop where we can build on a solid base, and that is the most positive thing. Now we want to get back to work on the car and try new things out. We're really looking forward to Europe".
Narain Karthikeyan: "The start today was good, but then the first few laps were quite tough because there was dust everywhere. I settled behind Pedro but I think I pushed too hard in the first stint because my tyres were dead very quickly. After my first pitstop, I improved a lot and from there my lap times were consistent. We did a four-stop strategy, which I think went very well, and in the end we were only half a second behind Pedro at the checkered flag. My race performance was extremely good, I'd say it was my best Grand Prix so far this season, so I'm very happy about that".
Timo Glock: "It was a very difficult race today. I had no balance in the car, no speed and no chance to push after the second or third la. The rear tyres dropped off massively and every time I did try to push, the rears locked under braking and I had no braking stability. Unfortunately this is a weekend to learn from then put behind us quite quickly. We have had a complex journey from Friday to Sunday and we need to retrace our steps and look at the set-up decisions we made in order to understand how we can improve and apply the updated package from Spain."
Charles Pic: "Naturally I am disappointed, as the race was tough but I was quite happy with the car and managing the tyre wear quite well. Despite the challenging track conditions I was still able to push and I think we were sitting quite well versus the pace of the Caterhams. Unfortunately on lap 24 I had a problem with the Air Valve System and I had no option but to retire the car, which is frustrating for me and the team as they have worked very hard to keep us moving forward here all weekend. As we head to Europe now I have to be pleased with the opening few races in general, but we need to be focused now on improvements for Spain. "