Reaction round-up: Chinese Grand Prix
The 2014 Chinese Grand Prix was dominated by Mercedes, with Lewis Hamilton storming to victory by almost 20 seconds from his team-mate Nico Rosberg.
The Brit was unchallenged from start to finish, although he was accidentally shown the chequered flag one lap early, and put in an almost faultless drive. Rosberg’s second place helped the Brackley-based outfit secure another 1-2 finish, with Fernando Alonso in third. Here is a round-up of the driver’s reactions following the race:
“I moved over for Daniel once I knew that we were on different strategies. When I was first asked, I didn’t understand as we were on the same tyre, unlike in Bahrain, so I double checked. When the team said we were on a different strategy, I moved over and then, as the race went on, I saw more and more that I didn’t have the pace.
“There was no point in holding Dan back. I’m not yet where I want to be with the car, but it’s an on-going process; hopefully at the next few races we will make some more steps in the right direction. Our weakness isn’t in the corners, but on the straights. The first stint today was okay but after that I’m not sure what happened.”
“I started on the dirty side of the grid and had quite a poor getaway; I was spinning up on the line a bit too long and lost the two places. From then on however, I thought the race was good.
“With Seb, we were racing and you always want to hold on to your position, but the team radioed and he let me through. I did what I could after each stop and we improved the car; at the end I was doing all I could to catch Alonso and I think we got to within a couple of seconds of him as we went over the line. It’s going well with the team, I feel comfortable here and I did the best I could today. I really want that podium and we’re getting close.”
“The team have done an amazing job and all the hard work both here and at the factory is really paying off at the moment. This car is just unbelievable; in the final laps, I was pushing a little bit more to keep up the tyre temperatures and it just felt great to drive. I’m so, so happy today. We had to make a lot of changes after P2 in terms of the set-up of the car but after it rained on Saturday, we didn’t know exactly how it would go today.
“There was a lot of hard work done, sitting down with the engineers so that we didn’t guess anything and just made the right steps in anticipation for today. We are definitely on a roll right now; I’m working hard, the team is working hard and we just want to improve even further when we get back to Europe.”
“That was not a perfect weekend for me. Too many things went wrong, beginning with a technical problem and a less than perfect job from me in qualifying. Today I didn’t have any telemetry, so there was no communication from the car to the pits. My engineers couldn’t see what was going on in my car and therefore they couldn’t set up my clutch for the start. The clutch was completely on the wrong place, which is why I had a really bad start.
“I had some contact with Bottas in Turn 1 and I thought that was it. Luckily my car wasn’t damaged and in the following laps the pace in the car seemed good, which meant I was able to climb some positions. To finish second in the end, on a weekend of damage limitation, is great. I collected some important points again, which makes me happy. It’s great to go back to Europe with the lead in the Championship.”
“After a difficult start to the season, this podium is a confidence boost for the whole team, providing extra motivation for all those who are doing their best to close the gap to the front. And I think this podium should be dedicated to Stefano, as everything we do up to July will also be the result of his efforts. We have definitely made a step forward, because compared to two weeks ago, we have partly closed the gap to the leaders, but we are well aware there’s still a long way to go and we have to keep our feet on the ground.
“In general, this has been a good weekend for me, as everything went well right from Friday, although the rain made qualifying more complicated than expected. I was on the limit all race long and I really don’t think I could have done any more. This is quite a unique track of its kind and now we must make the most of the long break before the next race to prepare as well as possible for whatever situation arises.
“This has been a really difficult weekend. Right from Friday morning, I suffered with problems that we didn’t manage to solve completely and today in the race, I couldn’t get the result I wanted. The start was good, I made up two places but then I couldn’t make up any more ground, as I just didn’t have the pace, nor much grip at the front or the back. In the final stint on new tyres, the car handled better, but then, as the tyres degraded the situation got complicated again.
“I think the difficulties I encountered here stem from a combination of various factors, from my driving style combined with the low temperatures and the characteristics of the track. Today, we brought home valuable points thanks to the intense efforts of the whole team and now we will continue to work ceaselessly to improve. Fernando’s result is very encouraging and proves we are moving in the right direction.
“We started by losing fourth gear but it got worse and essentially we lost all gears. It’s the first time we’ve had a problem like this so we’ll have to understand what happened. It had been quite nice in the race as we’d been fighting for ninth position so we were in the points, which is a good improvement from before. We didn’t make it to the end of the race today but let’s hope we finish in the points in Barcelona.”
“It felt like a long race, because there wasn’t much I could do out there. Our car lacks downforce – that’s its main problem. The way it’s set up, and how it feels, has always been positive; it’s just low on grip, that’s all. So, clearly, we need to work as hard as we can to create that missing downforce. I know the guys back in Woking are doing their best, and I have faith that they’ll deliver that downforce before too long.”
“To start from P16 and finish in ninth place is a good recovery after a difficult qualifying session yesterday. I made a good start and after that I just focussed on making the two-stop strategy work. I think everybody suffered with tyre graining and I picked up a few flat spots, but we still made it work. It was not easy to overtake today, even the cars on a different strategy, so I think ninth place was the maximum.
“It means I’ve scored points in three out of four races, but I was hoping for more today after the weekend we had in Bahrain. It’s also clear that all the teams around us are finding pace so we have to keep working hard to be ready for Barcelona.”
“Unfortunately it was a very short race for me. During the formation lap I already had problems. As it was a quite slow formation lap, I was not able to identify what the problem was. I just realised the engine was not working properly. At the start I had almost no power. Going into the first corner I noticed there was a problem with the engine. I lost a lot of positions during the first lap and fell back to last.
“I did a few more laps, but then went back to the pits. The team tried to solve the issue, but we could not do it quickly. I had to retire. However, I am still positive and looking forward.”
“It felt great today and I’m very happy with my performance. I had a good start and I managed to make up some positions during the first lap. Our pace was very strong today and I enjoyed the fight with Jenson pretty much throughout the race. We did a good job with the tyre management, so we were able to stay out longer. Even though it all went very well today, I think there’s still a lot more to come from the car, so I’m really looking forward to starting the European part of the season, where I hope to get some more points.”
“I had another great start today and we were fighting at the top. I felt some contact with Fernando but luckily the car wasn’t damaged so I could carry on. There was a mistake at the first pitstop and that effectively lost me the race as I came back out on track in last position. It is a frustrating situation and something we need to work on to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. We have time now to work hard and improve the car for Spain.”
“I had a good fight with Kobayashi throughout the race and I’m very happy to be leaving China having finished ahead of him. This was my first straightforward race of the season so far and it is a big relief I have to say. The start was good and I got ahead of Kamui off the line but he regained position quite quickly. I stuck with him until the second stint when with Maldonado between us I dropped back a little but then I caught up again and we continued to enjoy a good battle.
“When he stopped for a third time for the option tyre we saw the opportunity to manage my tyres and stay out to get ahead. On new option tyres he was catching quite quickly and I had to work really hard to keep in front and not lose the place. Unfortunately, he caught me with only two corners left but in the end we keep the position, so I’m happy and have a good feeling with which to end the first long haul rounds of the season.”
“Finishing 18th isn’t the final position we’d want, but after a really good battle with Jules I’m relatively pleased with how today’s race went. However, it’s a real shame that my move on him on the last lap now doesn’t count due to the mistake with the chequered flag, something we had nothing to do with.
“Even though we had good race with Maldonado for the first third of the race it’s clear we don’t have the outright pace to fight Lotus or Sauber yet, but we have a good package coming for Spain and we are determined to try and close the gap. The first four races have been hard, but having both cars finish today shows the progress we and Renault have made with reliability. Now we have to build on that and use the next couple of weeks to recharge ourselves so we can come back stronger in Barcelona.”
Images courtesy of Ferrari, Sahara Force India F1 Team and Marussia F1 Team
Jack Leslie is a freelance motorsport journalist. He has been part of the Richland F1 team since the very start and made his debut in the F1 paddock for the website at the 2014 Austrian Grand Prix. Jack also writes for Car Throttle and RumbleStripNews, as well as running a popular blog.