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Team Quotes - Sunday 5 December

SEASON INFORMATION
06/12/2021

STC Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Team Quotes - Sunday 5 December

Mercedes

Lewis took victory in Jeddah, and put in the fastest lap of the race, to move level on points at the top of the Drivers' Championship heading into the season finale in Abu Dhabi next week.

On his 100th race for the Mercedes F1 Team, Valtteri finished in P3 after a hard-fought battle with OCO culminated in a dash for the finish line which the Finn won by 30m.

A series of safety cars, red flags and restarts dominated the race with a number of incidents being referred to the Race Director and Stewards.

Lewis is level with Max Verstappen (369.5 points) in the Drivers' Championship, with Valtteri claiming a definitive P3 for the season (218 points) here in Jeddah. The Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team (587.5 points) lead Red Bull (559.5 points) by 28 points in the Constructors' Championship.

Toto Wolff: Winning the race today, in such a dramatic way, I think Lewis deserved it. We could have been out a few times with a broken front wing - it was a spectacular race, if not necessarily a good one. We obviously had frustration at the beginning with the red flag but today was a difficult race to manage for Race Control - when is a virtual safety car is called, when is a safety car called, when is a red flag? It's so tough, and I'll reserve judgement until I watch the race back tomorrow.

Both our drivers kept their cool heads, and kept pushing and pushing. Lewis drove so intelligently and with patience. Valtteri made a great comeback and to take P3 on his 100th race for Mercedes is just brilliant, a big haul of points for the team. At the end it's all going down to the wire, that's how the sport should be and we love it!

Andrew Shovlin: We came in this morning expecting an eventful race but didn't see that coming. Firstly, well done to the team and drivers; it's been the most challenging weekend we've had for a long time but great to come away with a win and both drivers on the podium. It was very encouraging to see how strong the car was in the race today, we were left a little deflated after qualifying having seen the pace of the Red Bull on a single lap. However, it seemed that the gap shifted in our favour today and Lewis was able to easily control the gap in stint one.

The safety car followed by the red flag put us on the back foot and with all the interruptions, we'd lost temperature in the tyres for each restart but in the long run, the Hard tyre was the right choice for Lewis, allowing him to attack towards the end. Valtteri did a fantastic job to get that podium place right at the end, we selected the Medium to give him better grip at the second restart but it wasn't as strong on the long run which made that pass on the final lap even more of an achievement. Now our focus shifts to Abu Dhabi, today reminded us just how unpredictable the sport can be and we can't carry an ounce of complacency into next weekend. But if we can get the car working as well there as we have done in the last three races then everything is possible.

Red Bull

Christian Horner, CEO and Team Principal: "There was obviously an awful lot of damage and debris for Race Control to deal with because of all the incidents, so it was a frustrating race in that respect and we were probably lucky to come away with second, especially given the amount of damage we had to the back of our car. I don't know what Lewis was doing because Max was trying to give the place up as instructed by Race Control, he lifted and you can hear that, it was clear we were trying to give the place up and we'd informed Race Control. I don't know if Lewis didn't want to pass before the DRS zone, but it was very strange to have him drive straight up the back of Max. We got a five second time penalty, I thought it was on the harsh side, they both went wide and were racing. Max has fought like a gladiator this weekend and given it everything. It was frustrating to drop points in the constructors' championship with Checo being taken out at the restart, so we now have one chance. We have a week to regroup and now it goes down to the wire at Abu Dhabi. It's a straight-out fight as it has been for the entire year. For the fans it is fantastic, it keeps the championship dream alive and we have one shot and it's time to take it."

McLaren

Andreas Seidl, Team Principal: "Mixed feelings this evening. However, I'm very happy that, after three very challenging weekends during the triple-header, we've responded with a strong performance here in Jeddah. After starting P11 due to his damaged floor yesterday in qualifying, Daniel had a very competitive race to finish P5. Lando made a strong start and unfortunately was very unlucky with the red flag that cost him a lot of positions - but he fought back well for a point.

"A big thank you to everybody: the team here at the track working in very hot conditions, everybody back at the factory and our colleagues from Mercedes HPP. Operationally, we executed a clean race despite challenging circumstances with the red flags, which was vital in order to get the good result we had with chaos all around us. Finally, congratulations on a successful first Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, here at this new and exciting venue in Jeddah. One more to go in 2021: let's go for it."

Aston Martin

Otmar Szafnauer, CEO & Team Principal: "After an incident-packed evening Sebastian eventually had to retire a few laps from the end, his car too damaged as a result of contact with other cars, particularly Kimi's [Raikkonen] Alfa Romeo. Lance might well have scored points but, unfortunately, he was disadvantaged when we tyre-stopped him during a Safety Car deployment triggered by Mick's [Schumacher] accident, a logical strategy that was stymied by the red flag that followed soon after. In the end he finished a plucky 11th. From here we go straight to Abu Dhabi, where we hope to finish the season in better style, ideally with a double points finish."

Alpine

Alpine F1 Team departs from the first-ever Saudi Arabian Grand Prix with 12 points after Esteban Ocon came within touching distance of his second podium of the season. The Frenchman finished fourth at the finish line of the 50-lap race after losing out in the last straight to the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas. Fernando Alonso finished in thirteenth after a tough race for the Spaniard.

Alpine F1 Team now heads into the finale of the 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship in a stronger fifth position in the standings, 29 points ahead of Alpha Tauri.

Esteban and Fernando started their races strongly and both climbed two places into seventh and eleventh respectively during the opening lap. Fernando soon joined Esteban in the top ten after he charged past Antonio Giovinazzi into Turn 1.

Fernando was unable to hold position and dropped down to thirteenth after he fell victim to the power advantage of DRS. Just as the race was settling into a rhythm, a Safety Car was called out for Mick Schumacher, who ended his race after hitting the barrier, and Fernando took this opportunity to box for fresh Hards.

A red flag was waved shortly after which negated Fernando's earlier stop, while Esteban moved into fourth with others also pitting for fresh tyres.

The race restarted after a short delay and Esteban managed to cut his way up to second after the two title protagonists were busy battling it out into Turns 1 and 2. Chaos then ensued behind the top three, as several cars tangled and immediately brought another red flag out to clear the resulting debris.

Ahead of the restart, it was announced that Esteban would start in first place after a dispute between Mercedes and Red Bull for the previous incident. At the restart, Esteban fought three abreast with Hamilton and Verstappen, and battled toe to toe with the championship contenders, but eventually dropped to third.

Fernando spent the remainder of his race in thirteenth and couldn't make much progression as he boxed for fresh Softs.

Esteban was looking good in third position and was showing strong pace to keep the McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo comfortably behind. Valtteri Bottas then got past Ricciardo, and spent the final stages of the race chasing down Esteban ahead. Despite his best efforts and some solid defensive driving, Bottas made his move on Esteban at the finishing line. It's the Frenchman's best result since the Hungarian Grand Prix in July and adds valuable points to the standings.

Marcin Budkowski, Executive Director: "Some good points today to consolidate fifth in the championship... but that result does hurt! What a race from Esteban - he drove exceptionally well and only just got beaten by a much quicker car on the line. He had a very good start and gained two positions in the first lap, then kept the pace up until the first race interruption. We elected to stop Fernando during the Safety Car because we didn't think it would turn into a red flag, and this compromised his race as he wasn't in a position to get back into the points. We didn't stop Esteban to preserve his good track position, which even turned into pole position at the second restart. He managed his race perfectly and really deserved a podium today. Losing it for a few metres is a bitter feeling, especially since after the race we discovered he had picked up some damage to his floor on lap 48, which cost him lap time, but to be disappointed with fourth shows how strong a race we had. After two very good races for the Team, we aim to finish on a high in Abu Dhabi."

Ferrari

The outcome of the first Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was bittersweet for Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow, with a seventh place for Charles Leclerc and an eighth for Carlos Sainz. On the plus side was the overall result in light of the battle for third in the Constructors' championship with McLaren, as the team goes into the final race with a reassuring cushion of 38.5 points over its opponents. Charles has moved up to fifth in the Drivers' classification, now 4 points ahead of Lando Norris, while Carlos has reduced the gap to the English driver to 4.5.

There's a sense of disappointment because the performance level in the race and also yesterday in qualifying, is not reflected in the result, which could have been better, because the SF21 clearly had the pace to be the quickest car, apart from the two teams fighting for the titles, on both the Medium and Hard tyres, as was clear to see in the first stint.

Charles and Carlos were always on the attack, even fighting each other on a couple of occasions. However, the first red flag and the two restarts were the key moments. This was especially so for the Monegasque as it kept him away from the top five for a long time, while in general, his team-mate can be pleased with a drive that took him from 15th to 8th at the flag.

Mattia Binotto: Today, the potential was there to bring home more points than we did. The many incidents in this Grand Prix did not play out in our favour, but the performance level of the team and the car was clear to see.

Now we head to Abu Dhabi with a comfortable lead over McLaren in the fight for third place in the Constructors' championship, while Charles has moved up to fifth in the Drivers' standings. We must continue to concentrate and prepare well for one final effort, before putting this season behind us and focussing solely on 2022.

AlphaTauri

Franz Tost (Team Principal): "Firstly, congratulations to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for this fantastic event here in Jeddah. They've built a really great track, although if I had to suggest an improvement that could be made for next year I would say to bring in some more cranes, so that any car involved in accidents can be cleared away quicker, avoiding long red flag periods.

"From our side today, Pierre started from P6, but his first start was not so good, and he finished the first lap in eighth position. Yuki started in P8 and also lost some positions on the first lap, but both drivers were able to regain some of them thanks to the red flags. Pierre especially did a really good job coming back after the second red flag and regained P6, which he was able to defend until the chequered flag. He drove another fantastic race today and showed a very strong performance yet again, so well done to him. Yuki also improved a lot in the final stint of the race and was able to overtake a few cars to make his way up to P9. Unfortunately, he then had the collision with Vettel in corner one. I think he did the right thing to try and overtake but, unfortunately, they touched and he sustained damage to the front wing. He had to come in to change it, we put him on the hard tyres and, from then on, he drove a good race with strong lap times. Overall, it was a good first experience in Saudi Arabia for us, with a sixth position from Pierre and with Yuki also showing a really great performance throughout the weekend. We're now looking forward to the final race in Abu Dhabi, where we hope to have another good last event of this season."

Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN emerged with two points from a spectacular Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as Antonio Giovinazzi finished ninth, with team-mate Kimi Raikkonen 15th after a contact excluded him from the fight for points.

On the newest venue in Formula One, the team performed strongly, surviving several restarts and always being in contention for the top ten positions. Following the team's best collective qualifying performance of the season, yesterday, both drivers gained ground at the start and displayed good pace. Antonio ran most of the race in seventh place, only ceding places to the two Ferraris in the closing stages but managing to hold off Norris's McLaren to the chequered flag for his best result of the season.

The two points claimed in Jeddah bring the team's total to 13: buoyed by tonight's performance, the team will aim to add to this tally in next week's final race of the season, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in Yas Marina.

Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal: "First of all, what a great show tonight was, what an ad for our sport. In this incredible new venue, we delivered a strong race to bring home two points thanks to Antonio's great performance. It's a good reward after we've been on pace all weekend, straight from FP1: we knew we had the speed but we still had a big job ahead of us to deliver it, keeping clear of the chaos and making sure we extracted everything we could from our package. We had two cars running in the points at one stage and, even though Kimi dropped out of the battle after contact with Vettel, Antonio was able to run as high as seventh for most of the race. To finish right behind two Ferraris and hold a McLaren at bay was the most we could do so we can be pleased with our performance. It's a confidence boost ahead of the final race, let's finish the season well now."

Haas

Uralkali Haas F1 Team drivers Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin were both unable to finish the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Round 21 of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

Schumacher started from 19th place on Pirelli P Zero Yellow mediums and made up one spot at the start to hold 18th position. Unfortunately for Schumacher his race came to a premature end after 10 laps thanks to an off through the left-hander of Turn 22. Schumacher impacted the barriers, sustaining race-ending damage to his VF-21, but was fortunately able to walk away from the scene of the accident.

Mazepin took the start from 20th on the grid, also on medium tires, and held position before moving up to 16th following the red flag period that was caused by Schumacher's accident. Mazepin took the restart on hard rubber but was caught up in an accident on the approach to Turn 5 when the pack slowed up due to the spinning Sergio Perez. Mazepin struck the back of George Russell and sustained terminal damage to his VF-21, retiring from the race.

Guenther Steiner: "A disappointing day today with two crashed cars in the penultimate race of the year. Mick just tried to keep up with the Williams, which didn't work out, and Nikita got himself into a position where he couldn't do anything about it - he was a passenger of whatever happened in front of him. Unfortunate but one more to go and then we move on."

WilliamsF1

Nicholas Latifi finished 12th in a chaotic Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, whilst George Russell was forced to retire following a collision with Haas' Nikita Mazepin on lap 15. Both drivers started the race on the medium Pirelli compound tyre, with George lining up 14th and Nicholas 16th.

Both drivers switched to the white-walled hard tyre under an early Safety Car Period, George on lap nine and Nicholas on lap 10 respectively, before the race was red flagged.

On the restart, George suffered terminal damage in an accident with Mazepin and the race was subsequently stopped once again. Nicholas started the second restart In P15 and kept a cool head to come home in 12th.

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance: The race today was even more busy than we had anticipated with the track proving difficult to clear once debris had been deposited. We were unfortunate when the early safety car became a red flag, but we had little to gain from staying out and potentially a lot to gain by pitting. The restarts were difficult with the tyres not quite at peak grip after a single lap to the grid behind the safety car.

George was very unfortunate to have his race ended when the Haas hit him; he could see a collision ahead and so didn't approach the corner flat out, but the Haas behind was unsighted, and the collision was terminal. Fortunately, nobody was hurt, and the car doesn't seem too badly damaged.

Nicholas drove a very strong race, stayed out of trouble and showed good pace, matching Giovinazzi. Knowing that it would likely be a battle of attrition, he handled the race very well, benefited from incidents ahead and took excellent care of the car and tyres during the numerous VSC periods. Unfortunately, today, it wasn't enough to score any points. However, Alfa Romeo were only able to score two points and so we head to Abu Dhabi with a ten-point lead to defend.

Next week is set to be a spectacular end to the season with an incredible battle at the front. The recent changes to the Yas Marina circuit will add to the challenge for all the teams and we are looking forward to testing the car and drivers on this faster, more flowing version of this well-known track.

Pirelli

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton won a dramatic race characterised by two red flags, as well as extensive safety car and virtual safety car periods that interrupted the action and disrupted strategy. Hamilton changed from medium to hard tyres (on lap 10) before the first red flag period, and then maintained them until the end.

His title rival Max Verstappen, who finished second for Red Bull, swapped from the hard tyres he had selected during the first stoppage to mediums during the second red flag period, making one more change than Hamilton.

The race was red-flagged for the first time after the Haas of Mick Schumacher hit the wall. The teams were allowed to change tyres as well as carry out other maintenance. After a second red flag, Hamilton re-started on the hard, with Verstappen able to use the extra speed of the medium to get past him off the grid.

Apart from Hamilton, nine other drivers used just two sets of tyres. Seven drivers used three sets of tyres, and two drivers used four sets.

Weather conditions remained consistent with the rest of the weekend and throughout the grand prix: the almost two and a half hour race started in 29 degrees ambient and 31 degrees of track temperature.

Mario Isola: "We witnessed an action-packed race that was filled with drama, incidents and safety cars. Under those circumstances, strategy becomes a question of reacting to rapidly changing events as quickly as possible and making the right calls under pressure, also considering the individual allocation available. With such an unpredictable situation, there were a number of unknown factors, and the track was also extremely dirty with a lot of debris from all the incidents. In the end, we saw a spectacular duel with no holds barred between the two championship protagonists, on different tyres. The hard tyre was one of the keys to the race win thanks to its low degradation level and consistent performance until the very end. Now we look forward to a thrilling championship finale at the last race for our 13-inch tyres in Abu Dhabi."

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