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Team Quotes - Sunday 29 September

SEASON INFORMATION
29/09/2019

VTB Russian Grand Prix

Team Quotes - Sunday 29 September

Mercedes GP

Lewis claimed his 82nd win in Formula One, his eighth of the 2019 season and fourth at the Russian Grand Prix. Valtteri came home in second place after starting fourth on the grid, securing the eighth 1-2 for the team in 2019.

Today's result marks the 143rd race led for Lewis, breaking the record for most laps led.

Lewis (322 points) leads the Drivers' Championship by 73 points from Valtteri (249 points). Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport (571 points) leads Ferrari (409 points) by 162 points in the Constructors' Championship.

Fred Judd, Chief Engineer Trackside, Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains, accepted the Constructors' trophy on behalf of the team.

Toto Wolff: Today is one of those races that go to show the points are won on Sunday and not on Saturday - and that, most of all, you can never give up. We managed to take a one-two finish today even though we didn't have the quickest package and that is a very special feeling. We started on the Medium tyre and one of the reasons we did that was to have the flexibility to stretch the opening stint - both to take advantage of a possible Safety Car after Ferrari had pitted, but also to have the option of using the Soft in the final stint. So we were running it long, hanging it out there a bit and then the race came right towards us with the VSC for Vettel's failure. Both of our drivers did a fantastic job today: Lewis was relentless, keeping the pressure on and holding onto the Ferraris in the opening stint, then able to manage things well after the stop. As for Valtteri, we saw two years ago that he knows his way around this track with a Ferrari breathing down his neck, and he didn't put a foot wrong this afternoon even with huge pressure from Leclerc. But even in the joy of this win, we must not lose sight of the fact that we didn't have the best package here this weekend. We have some updates to come in Suzuka, but most of all we need to put our heads together over the coming days and understand how to maximise our package in Japan, so that we extract every bit of potential from it and come back stronger.

James Allison: It feels like an awkwardly long time since we last won a race - and this result is all the more welcome for that. This wasn't an easy, dominating, commanding from the front type of victory - but when you are up against it and still manage to win, it actually feels really sweet. When we approached qualifying yesterday, we did so with the feeling that, wherever we qualified, we were unlikely to lead out of Turn 2 because of the long run from the start and the powerful slipstream effect. So running the Medium tyre in our opening stint gave us possibilities to recover and we were fortunate in how that played out. Both drivers put in immaculate performances today: Lewis was error-free throughout and Valtteri did a very good job controlling the gap to Leclerc and keeping him out of DRS range. He was under immense pressure, especially in the early laps after the Safety Car, and he didn't stumble under a long period of sustained pressure. Well done to the entire team today, both here at track and back at the factories: after a tricky start to the weekend, it's a special feeling to be heading home with the silverware and plenty of useful learning to be applied to the upcoming races.

Ferrari

It was a frustrating Russian Grand Prix for Scuderia Ferrari. Charles Leclerc finished third, but Sebastian Vettel had to retire because of a problem with a hybrid component of the Power Unit. The outcome of the race at the Sochi Autodrom was particularly annoying for the Italian team, because what caused Charles to fall back behind the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas was the Virtual Safety Car period called to deal with Seb's SF90 parked at the side of the track. During this time, the others were able to pit for tyres, losing around half the time that it cost those, including Charles, who had pitted during normal race conditions.

At the start, the team strategy worked perfectly: Charles had a great getaway from pole and Sebastian was in his slipstream, which pulled him past Hamilton. The towing effect was so powerful that the German even went into the lead going into the first real corner at the track. Seb then started to push on at a cracking pace and pulled away from his team-mate, who was leaving the pack behind.

Charles was the first of the two Ferraris to pit, coming in on lap 22 and switching from Soft to Medium tyres. Four laps later, Sebastian came in, to run behind his team-mate. However, in the third sector, a problem suddenly occurred on the SF90 linked to the hybrid part of the Power Unit and he had to park the car at the side of the track. The Race Director called a Virtual Safety Car, which gave those who had not yet changed tyres the opportunity to do so, losing only half the time of a normal stop, as the Mercedes went from Medium to Soft. This left Hamilton leading from Charles and Bottas. At this point, the Monegasque driver decided to go for a win or bust move, coming in again to switch to the same Soft tyres as his rivals, even though it meant dropping being the second Mercedes.

Over the last 21 laps, Charles tried to attack Hamilton and Bottas, but the performance levels of the car were so similar that, even with DRS, Leclerc was unable to try an overtaking move, thus crossing the line third, five seconds off Hamilton and under one and a half behind Bottas.

Charles' third place is his ninth podium finish of the season, the team's sixteenth. He picked up 15 points today, which puts him ahead of Max Verstappen in third place in the championship, with a total of 215. Scuderia Ferrari is still second in the Constructors', behind Mercedes and ahead of Red Bull. The next round, the 17th of the season, takes place on 13 October in Japan.

Mattia Binotto Team Principal: "We are disappointed because we did not do a perfect job today. To win, you need reliability and today we didn't have it. Unfortunately, it's not the first time this season that's been the case.

"Before the race, as always, we spoke with the drivers and we asked Charles to give Seb a tow, because that would be the best way for him to get ahead of Hamilton and for the two of them to be first and second come the end of the opening lap. In fact, Seb got a fantastic start, which allowed him to pass Hamilton even before the entry to the corner.

"Seb was very quick today and I am very happy with the way he drove. I have said it many times before, his strong point is the race and he proved that, running at a great pace. It was a real shame we had to tell him to stop. We asked him to park the car at that point for safety reasons, which obviously takes precedence over everything else.

"It's not the result we were hoping for, but after today, we are even more prepared for the fight. Our car is strong, as is the team and we are ready to give our all in the coming races."

Red Bull

Christian Horner: "It was a good performance from both of our drivers today. For Max, P4 was the maximum on the table having started from P9 and he made some great moves early in the race to move up the order. His pace at the end of the race was respectable but not quite enough to challenge the top three. Meanwhile Alex, who started from the pit lane, performed well to make his way through the field, making some great overtakes in what was another mature drive. To finish up in P5 was an impressive race from him and fourth and fifth was probably the maximum achievable for us today. We now look forward to the Japanese Grand Prix, Honda's home race."

Renault

Renault F1 Team salvaged one point from an arduous VTB Russian Grand Prix with Nico Hulkenberg crossing the line in tenth position. Daniel Ricciardo, however, retired on lap 25 after sustaining heavy damage to his car in a first-lap incident.

The race had promised much for the team, with Nico lining up in sixth and Daniel tenth. A difficult start for Nico saw him lose three places, before a slow first pit-stop dropped him out of the top ten. Further misfortune followed when an ill-timed Virtual Safety Car (VSC) allowed others to pit and gain positions, but Nico fought his way back up the order to finish tenth.

Daniel was involved in a first-lap collision at Turn 4, which caused a rear-left puncture. It then became obvious the damage was much more widespread, with huge aerodynamic and balance loss. Unable to make any progress from the rear of the field, he was retired from the race.

Cyril Abiteboul, Team Principal: "Today's result is frustrating. Since the summer break, we've been strong in qualifying with both cars in the top ten. But, in three races out of four, things haven't gone our way and that was the case again today. The lap one collision forced Daniel to retire with damage, while Nico's race was compromised by a slow first-stop and an unfortunate VSC where he lost places with cars ahead able to pit under it. Once again, it's easy to blame various circumstances, but it would be too easy to rely on that. We simply need to do a better job and offer our drivers even better starting positions and straightforward races. The car has the pace, we need to focus ourselves on achieving that."

Haas

Haas F1 Team driver Kevin Magnussen brought home a finish of ninth in the Russian Grand Prix Sunday at the Sochi Autodrom while teammate Romain Grosjean retired after an opening-lap incident. It was the 16th round of 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship.

Both Haas F1 drivers started today's 53-lap race around the 5.848-kilometer (3.634-mile), 18-turn circuit on Pirelli P Zero Red soft tires, Magnussen from 13th on a new set and Grosjean from eighth on a set used during Saturday's Q2 session.

Magnussen had a fantastic getaway, moving from his 13th grid position to 10th. Grosjean's day, however, came to an abrupt end on the opening lap when he was punted off the track and spun into the turn-four barrier by Alfa Romeo driver Antonio Giovinazzi, who crept between Grosjean and Renault's Daniel Ricciardo to make it a three-wide situation navigating the tight, right-hand turn. The damage to Grosjean's Haas VF-19 was terminal and caused his seventh DNF of the season.

Meanwhile, Magnussen held firm in 10th place throughout the early stages of his opening tire stint, briefly grabbing ninth on a lap-four restart when he got by Nico Hulkenberg but then losing the position back to the Renault driver two laps later. Magnussen continued to hold position and, as the field began its opening round of pit stops, crept as high as fifth when he pitted on lap 28 for a set of Yellow medium tires during a virtual safety car for a pair of single-car incidents involving Sebastian Vettel of Scuderia Ferrari and George Russell of Williams Racing.

Magnussen resumed in sixth when the race went back to green on lap 33 and held off Alexander Albon for the next nine laps before the Red Bull Racing driver took advantage of DRS and soft tires to slip past. Two laps later, Sergio Perez got by to take seventh when Magnussen drifted wide at turn two. A five-second time penalty was issued to Magnussen, now running eighth, for an improper return to the racetrack.

The checkered flag flew with Magnussen crossing the line eighth, some four seconds ahead of McLaren driver Lando Norris, but the time penalty dropped the Haas F1 driver to ninth. It was Magnussen's fourth points finish of the season and the team's seventh.

With today's results, Haas F1 Team remained ninth in the constructor's championship with 28 points, seven behind eighth-place Alfa Romeo and 27 ahead of 10th-place Williams.

Lewis Hamilton scored the victory in the Russian Grand Prix by 3.829 seconds over his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas with polesitter Charles Leclerc of Scuderia Ferrari taking the final podium spot another 1.383 seconds back. It was Hamilton's 82nd career Formula One victory, his ninth of the season and his fourth at Sochi. Guenther Steiner: "Unfortunately, Romain (Grosjean) was caught up in a crash on the first lap which ended his day, but obviously no penalties were given there, it's all good. Kevin (Magnussen), at the end lost a position, then he was given a five second penalty - which I think was completely inappropriate. Anyway, we got two points for ninth place, that's better than nothing. Kevin fought very strongly at the end and the whole team worked hard for these points."

McLaren

Andreas Seidl, Team Principal: "Today we got back to having two cars finishing in the points. It's a great team achievement particularly because everyone around us benefitted from the Virtual Safety Car and Safety Car at our expense. These 12 points are crucial in our ongoing battle to secure fourth position in the Constructors' Championship.

"Both Carlos and Lando did a great job today. They made excellent starts and put up a great fight throughout the race. It was also important that we had two solid pit-stops helping to contribute to today's results. We had a difficult Friday, but with support from home, the team managed to turn it around. We now look forward to Japan having scored over 100 points in the Constructors' Championship for the first time since 2014."

Racing Point

Otmar Szafnauer: "We raced well today, making the most of the race circumstances, and splitting the tyre strategies across the cars. Strong opening laps from Sergio and Lance helped our cause, but the mid-race Safety Car kept the pack close together and allowed some of our competitors to make a second stop for fresher tyres - Hulkenberg, for example. The timing was not ideal for either car, especially Lance. We showed good pace over the final 20 laps with Sergio overtaking Magnussen for seventh place and Lance battling with Norris and Hulkenberg over the final points. It's a shame to miss out on getting both cars in the points, but given how the race unfolded, we welcome the additional six championship points."

Sauber

Sochi is a lovely location: warmly on the shores of the Black Sea, with an impressive mountain backdrop and a growing sporting heritage at the Olympic Park - we can't think of any other sporting venue that hosted the Olympic Games, World Cup matches and a Formula One Grand Prix.

Unfortunately, the pleasantness of the setting didn't translate in a happy race weekend for the team. A difficult qualifying was followed by a very unlucky race, where our good pace was nullified by a wretched opening lap. By the time the field crossed the finish line for the first time, we had one car with a damaged front wing and one burdened with a drive-through penalty - enough to make even the staunchest optimist reconsider the chances of a good end result.

We fought. We got back into the race, even, thanks to the Safety Car bunching up the field. But in the end, that wasn't enough to get to the points we so desperately wanted. We leave for Hinwil eager to get back on track and prove our doubters wrong, but there's no denying our mood is pretty dark right now. The Sea is not the Blackest thing around here tonight…

Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal: "Unfortunately, this was another race that was compromised in the opening lap. Antonio made a good start and looked set to gain some places, but he found himself squeezed between Grosjean and Ricciardo. There was nothing he could do to avoid contact and sadly this damaged the car. We pitted Antonio for hards and a new nose, and then later on for softs during a Safety Car period, but he was always going to struggle to make up the gap. As for Kimi, a penalty for a false start meant coming back into the point from the back of the field was a tall order. It has been a few tough races, so we need to regroup and find our groove again for the final races of the season."

Toro Rosso

Claudio Balestri (Chief Engineer - Vehicle Performance): "Even if we started today's race on the back foot, our aim was still to try and score points. Unfortunately, we couldn't manage to achieve our target. In the opening laps both drivers did a good job staying out of trouble and gaining track positions. In the first stint, our pace was similar to those of our direct competitors but then, later on, we lost some ground to Stroll and Magnussen, and this is the reason why we decided to pit Pierre for Options. When the Safety Car came out, we made the right decision to call Daniil in for Options but, unfortunately, we identified a problem on tyre pressure. On the positive side, the gap was enough to do a second pitstop for another set of the same compound without losing anything. In the second part of the race however, both cars didn't have the pace to close the gap and overtake the cars in front. We finished out of the points, which is a bit disappointing, but now we need to focus on preparations for Japan, where we will try and bring home a much better result."

Franz Tost (Team Principal): "Because of the PU changes, both our cars started the race at the back of the field. We had a good start and finished the first lap with Pierre in P13 and Daniil in P14. There was contact among some of our competitors in front of us, but our drivers were able to avoid them, so the possibility to score points increased. After the first safety car period, both Pierre and Daniil drove quite a good race. They were on different strategies, with Pierre starting on Prime tyres while Daniil began the race on the Base, as we wanted to have long first stints. This worked out quite well. We were a bit unlucky with Pierre because we called him into the pits on lap 26, just one lap before the safety car was deployed when Vettel stopped on track. Nevertheless, he re-joined the race in a reasonably good position. As for Daniil, he pitted during the safety car to change to the Option tyres, and both drivers restarted the race next to each other. Unfortunately, we detected a problem with that set of tyres so we decided call him in again for a second pit stop, which was a free one as it was during another safety car period. At the end of the race, we didn't have the speed to overtake Stroll and Hulkenberg to finish in the points. Having said this, we are optimistic and looking forward to Suzuka, where we will hopefully be back in the points with both cars."

Toyoharu Tanabe (Honda F1 Technical Director): "After making up three places after the start, Gasly was unlucky, as he made his scheduled pit stop just before the Virtual Safety Car, while others got a "free" stop. Kvyat had to fight hard to come from the back row to 12th. Overall, we had a few PU related issues and we will now analyse everything very carefully to prepare as well as possible for our home race in Suzuka in two weeks time."

WilliamsF1

George Russell and Robert Kubica did not finish the Russian Grand Prix. The Brit started 17th and Robert 18th on the grid, both on the medium Pirelli tyre. George's race ended after locking-up and hitting the barrier, whilst Robert's retirement was a team decision to conserve parts ahead of the upcoming races.

Dave Robson, Senior Race Engineer: Today was tough and deeply frustrating for the whole team. We took the opportunity behind the early safety car to pit Robert twice aiming to complete his race using only Option tyres. Meanwhile we were able to leave George out and run long until a Virtual Safety Car provided an opportunity for a cheap pitstop on to the Qualifying tyre. Unfortunately, an issue shortly after the subsequent restart caused George to lock a front wheel, damaging the car further. We opted to retire Robert soon afterwards in order to conserve parts ahead of the intense flyaway races which end the season. It's a very disappointing way to end two weeks on the road.

Pirelli

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton won the Russian Grand Prix from second on the grid with one pit stop, moving from the medium to the soft tyre under a virtual safety car. His team mate Valtteri Bottas, who finished second, adopted the same strategy. Behind them there was a wide variety of tactics seen throughout the 53-lap race, which featured two safety cars: one straight after the start, and one just over the halfway point.

Mercedes was the only team in the top 10 of the grid to start on the medium tyres. Ferrari adopted a different tactic, starting on the soft.

Both Mercedes drivers ran a longer first stint than Ferrari, and made their sole pit stops consecutively under a virtual safety car, switching to the soft tyres.

With Charles Leclerc ending up behind the two Mercedes following their stops, Ferrari switched strategy to bring him in for a second stop to soft tyres under a full safety car, two laps after the Mercedes drivers had pitted.

The driver to make up most places was Red Bull's Alex Albon, who started from the pit lane and made a single stop from medium to soft tyres on his way to fifth at the finish.

There was an equal mixture of soft and medium tyres seen at the start with only Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat starting his home race on the hard tyre from the back of the grid.

Although a one-stopper was predicted as being the fastest strategy, four of the 15 classified finishers ended up stopping twice: including Leclerc, on the podium. This was heavily influenced by the safety cars.

Mario Isola: "Tactics were an important element to the race, with opposite strategies being selected by Mercedes and Ferrari that resulted in an exciting finish, as Charles Leclerc tried to get past his rivals. The medium tyres selected by Mercedes gave them an advantage in terms of flexibility, but what was perhaps more of a surprise was the life of the soft. This worked better in today's warmer conditions, being less susceptible to graining at higher temperatures. The two safety car periods were a key factor in the grand prix, minimising wear and degradation during important phases in the race, as well as providing opportunities to make pit stops at the right moment to minimise time loss. We came to Russia with a harder tyre choice than last year: this enabled drivers to push hard from the start to finish of each stint, rather than manage their pace."

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