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Team Quotes - Sunday 17 March

SEASON INFORMATION
17/03/2019

Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2019

Team Quotes - Sunday 17 March

Mercedes GP

Valtteri took his fourth career victory today - his first in Australia and first of the 2019 season. Lewis finished in second place, completing a perfect start to the season for the team. Valtteri scored the fastest lap, his tenth with the team, gaining an extra Championship point.

Today's result marks the 45th 1-2 finish for Mercedes in Formula One. Loïc Serra, Performance Director, accepted the Constructors' trophy on behalf of the team.

Toto Wolff: That was a great day and an awesome drive for Valtteri - a perfect rebound after how last season finished. Over the winter, he recharged the batteries, reset, found his joy of driving again with the rally in Finland - then today it all came together for him. I can see again the young boy I first met over ten years ago and who dominated the junior series in 2008; it was a strong comeback and a really well earned win today. For Lewis, it was a harder afternoon - the start was not as good as Valtteri, then we had to pit him earlier than ideal to cover the risk of being undercut by Vettel. That gave him a long stint on the tyres and none of us knew if they would make it to the end, so it was hard to judge the right pace and he wasn't happy with the car balance; my feeling is that it can be tricky to find the sweet spot with these new cars and tyres, and probably we didn't manage that today with Lewis. Overall, though, a fantastic day for the team and a perfect result in the opening race - including the point for fastest lap. I know we have a very big supporter who is in Vienna now and not here with us in Melbourne - to you, Niki, we send all our best wishes and we hope you're happy with this one. But this feeling will only last as long as we stay at the circuit; when the plane takes off for home, our eyes will turn to Bahrain. We know that Ferrari have the speed to fight back, so we won't be jumping to any conclusions after just one race. We have a long season ahead full of twists and turns and challenges; we're looking forward to the fight.

James Allison: Days in motor racing do not come much sweeter than this. A 1-2 finish is a precious thing and to top it off with the cherry of the fastest lap point for the first time, makes it feel even nicer. I guess the main reason it feels so good is that it was unexpected. We came to Australia expecting a very tough fight against a car that had set the benchmark throughout winter testing. But we found ourselves in the happy position of being very competitive from the first time we turned a wheel - and almost spent our weekend waiting to wake up from that state of slight disbelief. However, we should have trusted what our numbers told us, because Sunday turned out almost exactly how an impressive Friday had promised, and it's a fantastic feeling for all of us to achieve this result at the first race. That doesn't mean we will do the same at the next race but it is a good start: it was fantastic to see Valtteri drive so flawlessly to answer some of his critics and remind everybody that he is a class act; Lewis on the other hand was punished for a poor start and had to contend with damage to the floor of his car, but nonetheless was able to drive a strong race to seal off the 1-2 finish for the team, which will see us heading to the next race with very happy spirits indeed.

Ferrari

It was a complicated Australian Grand Prix for Scuderia Ferrari, although it still managed to pick up 22 points that will be important for the championship, with both its SF90s seeing the checkered flag. However, the team had to accept that it was not in condition to fight for the podium positions. Sebastian Vettel finished fourth and Charles Leclerc, on his race debut with the Scuderia, was fifth.

Sebastian and Charles both got good starts, with Vettel able to get alongside Hamilton's Mercedes. Leclerc got past Verstappen in the Red Bull but he was forced to put two wheels on the grass at the first corner and had to give back the position to the Dutchman.

In the early stages, Sebastian was able to keep a good pace, while Charles made a mistake on lap 8 and lost ground to Verstappen. On lap 14, Vettel pitted, switching from the Soft to the Medium tyres, while Leclerc stayed out until lap 28, when he fitted the Hard compound tyres.

In the second stint, the car on Medium tyres didn't perform as expected and so Sebastian had to manage the rubber for the rest of the race. Charles could run a good pace and in the final stages closed on Vettel, but the team decided the drivers should hold position, given that the cars ahead were too far away and so an assault on the podium was unlikely. The next race takes place in Bahrain in a fortnight's time.

Mattia Binotto Team Principal: "Right from Friday, we didn't feel comfortable at this track. Even though we did a lot of work on set-up, we didn't find the right balance and even our qualifying performance demonstrated that we were struggling to adapt to the Albert Park track. Then, in the race, in the first stint, we tried to keep up. Charles made a slight mistake, which meant he could not stay with the leaders. After his pit stop, Seb's car never found the right grip level on the Medium tyres and so the driver was unable to attack those ahead of him. When he could no longer fend off Verstappen, we decided the most important thing was to get to the end, managing the tyres. When Charles caught up to him, it seemed wise not to take any risks. We leave Australia with a lot of data to analyse and we will use that to work out how to get back to our actual level of competitiveness for the race in Bahrain in two weeks time."

Red Bull

Christian Horner: "A fantastic start to the season with a podium finish at our first Grand Prix with our new power unit partner Honda, who haven't finished in the top three since 2008. Max put in a remarkable performance today, and after a decent start and one of the day's fastest pit stops, he was able to take advantage of the C3 tyre and make a great pass on Sebastian. He went on to put Lewis under pressure for the rest of the race, but didn't get quite close enough. Pierre battled his way from P17 to finish just outside of the points, but at this track it's notoriously hard to overtake. He drove the wheels off the car and it's a shame that it wasn't rewarded with a point. He raced hard and I'm sure his time will come. After a promising season opener, we now look ahead to Bahrain."

Renault

Renault began the 2019 FIA Formula 1 World Championship with a solid points finish courtesy of Nico Hulkenberg's seventh place in the Rolex Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park, Melbourne.

Nico made an excellent start from eleventh on the grid, rising to eighth on the opening lap before driving a conservative race to the flag in seventh place, a repeat of the result recorded in Australia last season.

Team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, making his debut for the team at his home Grand Prix, retired on lap 28 as a precaution following damage to the car suffered during an unfortunate lap one incident. After making a bright start off the line, Daniel lost his front wing after running wide on the main straight, forcing him into an early pit-stop for a front wing change. He was consequently forced to retire later in the race as a preventative measure.

Nico started from P11 on Pirelli's Soft (red) tyres, battling his way to eighth on the opening lap. He inherited seventh after pitting for Hard (white) tyres on lap 13 and defended that position to the end.

Daniel started from P12 on Soft tyres, pitting at the end of lap one for a nose and front wing change, as well as Hard tyres. He retired on lap 28 as a precaution for his lap one incident.

Cyril Abiteboul, Team Principal: "We're leaving Australia with mixed feelings and a contrast of positive and negatives. The main negative was Qualifying, where we had a number of issues that impacted our potential and starting position. That made Daniel's first race complex and we tried to recover positions at the start but we ultimately had to retire his car due to the damage. Nico managed to turn around the situation and had a very strong race. He was very smart and drove a good race to finish seventh. We know the car has much more pace than we have shown, especially in Qualifying, and it will be the priority of the next race to extract more from the initial platform with a smoother execution across the weekend while we work on our planned upgrades."

Haas

Rich Energy Haas F1 Team driver Kevin Magnussen delivered a strong points-paying performance Sunday in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit by finishing a best-of-the-rest sixth in the 58-lap race around the 5.303-kilometer (3.295-mile), 16-turn track. Teammate Romain Grosjean was unable to join Magnussen in the points, as a loose left-front wheel ended his race after 29 laps.

The trio of perennial series leaders - five-time and reigning champion Mercedes, 16-time champion Scuderia Ferrari and four-time champion Red Bull - comprised the top-five, making sixth the best result possible.

Magnussen earned the finishing position thanks to his start. After qualifying behind Grosjean in seventh, Magnussen overtook his teammate on the straight down into turn one as Grosjean was forced to fend off a charging Nico Hulkenberg, who had taken his Renault from 11th on the grid to eighth.

Magnussen soon pulled out a comfortable margin, allowing him to pit on lap 14 for a new set of Pirelli P Zero Yellow medium tires. This dropped Magnussen down to 12th but ahead of Hulkenberg, who made his scheduled pit stop a lap earlier. Still, the difference between the two combatants was extremely tight. As Magnussen came off pit road, he had to keep Hulkenberg at bay even as the Renault driver tried to get alongside Magnussen in turn three.

Grosjean, meanwhile, made his pit stop on lap 15, but it proved to be a long one as there was a delay in getting the left-front tire attached. This dropped Grosjean to 14th and served as a precursor to his retirement.

As other drivers pitted, Magnussen moved back up the leaderboard, but his forward progress was halted on lap 17 as he became stuck behind the yet-to-pit Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi. Magnussen finally made his way past Giovinazzi on lap 18 to take ninth, but the logjam allowed Hulkenberg to close the gap and fill Magnussen's mirrors once again.

But just as Magnussen had to find a way past Giovinazzi, so did Hulkenberg, and this enabled Magnussen to build another comfortable margin.

By lap 37, all the meaningful pit stops had cycled through and Magnussen was back in his rightful position of sixth. He went unchallenged for the remaining 21 laps, crossing the stripe with a nearly four-second advantage over seventh-place Hulkenberg. It was Magnussen's best result in the Australian Grand Prix since he finished second in 2014, and it equaled Rich Energy Haas F1 Team's best finish in the Australian Grand Prix, which came care of Grosjean in the squad's 2016 debut.

The resulting eight points from Magnussen's effort placed Rich Energy Haas F1 Team fourth in the constructors' standings, two points ahead of fifth-place Renault and seven points behind third-place Red Bull.

Guenther Steiner: "Mixed emotions today. Deja-vu from last year on Romain's (Grosjean) car it looks like, a pit stop gone wrong. Last year, after Australia, we went 20 races - the rest of the season, without another pit stop issue. We're a little bit unlucky here, we'll have to investigate what happened, it's too early to say right now. On the other side, Kevin (Magnussen) finishing sixth is a great achievement for the team. We know the car is strong. This year we take eight points away from Melbourne, last year we were last going away from Australia. It's better than 2018. I think with this car we can be strong in all the remaining 20 races."

McLaren

McLaren endured mixed emotions in the Australian Grand Prix today with Lando finishing a creditable 12th on his Grand Prix début, while Carlos retired from the opening round of this year's FIA Formula 1 Championship. The British teenager coped admirably with tyre and fuel management throughout the 58-lap race, run in hot sunshine weather conditions around the temporary 5.303 km (3.12-mile) Albert Park circuit in Melbourne, finishing as the top F1 rookie.

Lando was shuffled down to 10th while Carlos gained three places on the opening lap. The Spaniard moved up to 14th but retired on the 10th lap with a suspected MGU-K failure. Lando ran seventh before a scheduled pit-stop and lay 12th at mid-distance, his pace having been compromised behind a car running on a different tyre strategy. The second round of the 21-race championship is staged in Bahrain (31 March).

Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director: "Overall, I must admit that, although there were several positives to draw from this weekend in general, we come away from the Australian Grand Prix a little disappointed. Carlos had a good start, but unfortunately had to retire with an early mechanical failure. On Lando's side, the race was going well early on, until he was held up in traffic for some laps, which sealed his result outside the points. On the positive side, I'm pleased that Lando was able to put up a fighting performance in his début grand prix and see the chequered flag.

"As predicted, it's clear that several teams are in a tight battle, including ourselves, so any small improvements in our pace and execution can have a significant impact on our ranking. So, head down, and onwards to Bahrain."

Racing Point

Otmar Szafnauer: "I'm delighted to see Lance score points in his first race with us. It was a very mature drive and he thoroughly deserves this result. Scoring points is a great way to start the season after the huge effort back at base and trackside over the last few months. It's a shame Sergio's strategy didn't' work out because we had a chance to get both cars in the points today. We saw, once again, that overtaking is extremely difficult around Albert Park and getting stuck in traffic after his early stop proved very costly. We take away lots of positives from this weekend and have learned a huge amount from all the testing we did in the lead up to the race. Now we switch focus to Bahrain and a very different track. We will keep pushing, keep developing and we hope to take a step forward and get both cars in the top ten in a couple of weeks' time."

Sauber

Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal: "For the first race of the season, it was an ok race. We had some small issues which we could not have anticipated and both drivers put up a good fight. We are returning home with 4 points, which is a positive. To start the season with one car in the top ten is a good achievement and we will push hard to score some more points at the next Grand Prix in Bahrain."

Toro Rosso

Jody Egginton (Deputy Technical Director): "In terms of pace, the race was very positive for Dany with the prime to base strategy, allowing him to extend his first stint. He then put some very strong times in the second stint to be able to take home one hard-earned point. Alex faced a few more challenges, having to manage brakes in traffic early on. However, he has put in a solid performance in his first F1 race and he learnt a lot, which I am sure he will put to good use in Bahrain. In summary, on one hand we leave Melbourne positive as our new car has shown some good performance. On the other hand, we have not executed the best possible qualifying or race, which is a bit frustrating as there was more on offer. We now switch our focus to final preparations for the next race in Bahrain, the plan being to build on the positive signs shown here."

Franz Tost (Team Principal): "We're always happy to come to Melbourne, not only because it's the first race of the season, but It's a special race with an extraordinary atmosphere and a lot of great fans!

"First of all, I would like to congratulate Honda for finishing on the podium with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, which is certainly a big success for them and they deserved such a result. As for our race, we started 13th and 15th and we decided to go for a different strategy for our drivers: Alex started on the option tyre, while Daniil started on the prime. This turned out to be the right decision, because it gave us the possibility to be flexible with our strategy. Daniil drove a fantastic race, bringing home a point - we must not forget he's been out of the cockpit for a year and a half, so to come back and fight successfully into the top 10 is a good sign for the rest of the season. Alex did a great job too, because this was his first race in F1 and it's not an easy circuit around here. Nevertheless, he didn't make any mistake and learned a lot throughout the weekend. After the first race weekend, we feel we have a strong package, so I'm optimistic for the next races."

Toyoharu Tanabe (Honda F1 Technical Director): "Scuderia Toro Rosso did well this weekend, with Daniil getting the point for tenth place. It was a strong comeback from him after a year away from the sport. It's clear the STR14 car has good potential. Overall, it was a positive start. I therefore thank all the staff who work on our F1 project in Japan and the UK, knowing they will be working hard to help us improve. In two weeks we race in Bahrain, which was a very strong weekend for the team last year."

WilliamsF1

George Russell finished 16th and Robert Kubica 17th in the Australian Grand Prix. George started 19th on the medium Pirelli tyre, with Robert 20th on the grid on the hard. George had a clean two stop race, boxing on Lap 26 for the soft Pirelli tyre and for the hard on Lap 42.

After contact at turn one Robert picked up damage which compromised his afternoon having to pit for a new front wing. He continued to drive a solid race making two further pitstops for the soft Pirelli tyre on Laps 28 and 44.

Dave Robson, Senior Race Engineer: "It was a tough day as you would expect but it was an achievement to bring two cars home. Robert had an unfortunate first lap, but once we got him back out with a new front wing he was able to settle down and he drove a good race on his comeback. It was George's Formula One debut and he has had a solid weekend all round and now has his first race under his belt. This should give both drivers some confidence moving forward. The pitstops the team carried out today were very good as always, and operationally the team did a good job with what we have at the moment."

Pirelli

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas commandingly won the Australian Grand Prix, with a one-stop strategy that was in line with our prediction: going from the soft tyre to the medium on lap 23. This same basic idea was used by the top four, however the timing of the pit stops varied, with Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) and Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) both stopping much earlier than their team mates in a strategic battle.

The first major player to make a pit stop was Vettel, trying an undercut. This prompted Mercedes to cover him by pitting Hamilton a lap later.

Bottas then stayed out longer, stretching his lead over his team mate.

The final driver of the top four to make a stop was Red Bull's Max Verstappen on lap 26: a strategy that helped him to a podium from fourth on the grid.

The first driver to claim an extra point for fastest lap was Valtteri Bottas, who went fastest with the medium on the penultimate lap, also beating last year's fastest lap.

All the drivers made just one stop apart from Williams: George Russell made two and Robert Kubica made three.

Mario Isola: "All three compounds stood up well to the particular demands of Albert Park and they were all used extensively. We saw an interesting variation in strategy, with drivers using different tyres for different stint lengths, and - for those further down the grid - alternative strategies to make their way up the field. Our aim this year was to provide compounds that enabled drivers to push from start to finish of every stint. The fact that Bottas set the fastest race lap of Albert Park right at the end of the grand prix, in a close fight for the extra point with Verstappen, highlights how this objective has been achieved."

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