Reaction round-up: Spanish Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton secured his fourth victory of the 2014 season and his first at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya by just six tenths of a second from his team-mate Nico Rosberg after a thrilling end to the Spanish Grand Prix.
Daniel Ricciardo finished in a popular third place, ahead of his team-mate Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas. With mixed fortunes up and down the field, here is a round-up of the driver’s reactions after the race:
“All in all I think that was the best that we could do today; the start was not so great and I lost a place, but then I was able to get it back towards the end of the lap; it’s always tricky when you are further back. It was a very busy first lap. I was then sort of stuck in the train, so I couldn’t really feel how far we could go today and how quick we were, but once we came in I was on the harder tyre and was able to stick with the people in front and even catch them a little bit.
“I think we realised that the pace was there and after that we had two fresh sets of tyres from yesterday, so we could go even further up the road! I enjoyed it a lot and I think fourth was the best we could do today. Daniel drove a good race today and I think, from a team point of view, third and fourth is what we could get today.”
“The race was not overly exciting, although I don’t know how it was behind, maybe there were a lot of fights going on and for viewers there was a bit more to watch, but for us it was a good result. We knew we could not catch the Mercedes, but we believed we had better pace than the guys behind, so before the race we’d said that third was going to be a good day.
“It’s nice to stand back up on the podium – I actually still feel a bit awkward up there, but I’m sure I will get more comfortable. It seems at the moment it’s Mercedes who are battling between themselves and they are doing a tremendous job. With Seb coming through the pack for fourth today, it seems we have been the second best team this weekend. I think it is still going to vary a bit, but maybe it will be a battle for that last place on the podium with me and Seb in Monaco, we will see.”
“The race was so close at the end today and with one more lap, I could have tried to overtake Lewis for the first time. My start was bad. It is a weakness that we have and we will try to improve.
“Once it was clear that I was in second place, we chose to go with the slower strategy using the prime tyres in the middle stint to get a shot at Lewis at the end when I was on the options. It was very close but not quite close enough so naturally I’m disappointed but I can take a lot of positives from this weekend. We have an amazing car and my pace was really strong here so I just need to find an extra little edge to capitalise on.”
“It’s fantastic to get my first win here after eight attempts and it’s really difficult to put that feeling into words right now. Nico drove a fantastic race and I struggled to keep him behind, but I just managed it at the end. I had the same problems with the car this afternoon that I found yesterday in qualifying: I couldn’t attack the corners properly because of snap oversteer and that’s where Nico was catching me.
“I’m just so proud of this team: we are looking very strong and I’m enjoying every moment and every step of the way. There’s still a long way to go this season, though, so we are staying humble, getting our heads down and working hard. I still have a bit more time to find from the car because it’s very, very close with Nico, so I have to keep working on that. But it’s a great feeling to be leading the championship.”
“Of course I’d have liked to have done better here in my home race, but I knew right from the start that it would be difficult. Our pace was too slow compared to the leaders and on top of that, not making up any places at the start didn’t help.
“The gap to the best is nothing new and today’s result confirms the fact our rivals are strong on both the performance and the reliability fronts, but until it is mathematically impossible to catch them we will continue to believe and do all we can to catch up. The decision to go for a three stop strategy was taken in an attempt to cover Vettel, but unfortunately I lost the place at the pit stop and I only managed to make up one on Kimi, who was impossible to pass when we were on the same tyres.”
“That was a complicated race for me, with the main problem being a lack of grip and in general, it was very difficult to find the right balance on the car. Going for a two stop strategy proved to be the wrong choice because tyre degradation meant I couldn’t push all the way to the end.
“Overall here, we went better than in the last race, maybe because the characteristics of this track are very different to those we have raced on so far, but we cannot be happy with sixth and seventh places, because we are a long way off where we want to be. It will take time, but we will do our utmost, because we know where we must keep pushing if we want to improve.”
“It’s been a tough battle for us to get points this season and that was certainly one of the hardest races I’ve contested in a long time. I did everything I could to drive around the power unit issues, which really made things difficult when battling the other cars. It’s good for all the crew at the track and at Enstone to finally get a reward for all their hard work. There are still a lot of areas where we can improve and certainly the car wasn’t as quick today as it was yesterday, with the different track conditions as well as the other issue.”
“The start and the first lap cost me a lot of time, and my second pit-stop compromised my strategy. During the first two stints, it felt like we were making progress, because we were faster than the cars in front.
“But we gambled on taking the second stop early, thinking we could jump one of the Force Indias, but Daniil’s [Kvyat] Toro Rosso followed me in, and caused my release to be delayed by a few seconds while he came past me in the pit-lane. Then I came out of the pits just in front of Lewis [Hamilton], who was lapping me. He was running old tyres, while I was on fresh rubber; I had to let him past, but it delayed me a bit more.
“Nonetheless, I think we learnt something useful today. I’ll be staying on here for next week’s test, so hopefully we can learn a bit more again and make further progress. The test should be useful – not necessarily for Monaco, but for two or three races down the road. The midfield is extremely close, so even small improvements will make a difference.”
“It was a case of damage limitation today. We knew from the early practice sessions that this wasn’t going to be our strongest track so to get two cars in the points is a positive result.
“The tyre degradation was high and the car was not so easy to drive, but I think everybody was struggling in the final part of the race. I thought we would need to make a third stop, but fortunately the tyres held on and I was able to score a point. We will use all the data we got over the weekend to improve for the next few races where we hope to be a bit more competitive.”
“Obviously, we cannot be happy with this result. It is not where we want to be. It was a good start, and I managed to gain some positions. After that I just kept dropping back. During the race it was very challenging to keep the tyres alive and to have good speed on the straights. I was trying to defend my position. Nevertheless, we should not lose our motivation. We have the test this week and we need to have the right programme to get things sorted out.”
“To be honest it was quite a difficult race today. We lacked pace, even though I must say that the first stint was quite positive and it seemed possible to even fight for some points. In the end, tyre wear was quite heavy and together with the lack of pace, it turned out to be a tough race.
“The opening lap was okay and there were lots of battles, in which I managed to overtake a few cars on the outside line and by the end of the first stint I even managed to close in on both Force India cars. But unfortunately it was not enough and even when I put on a fresh set of option tyres for the last stint and overtake a couple of cars towards the end of the race, it was not possible to make it into the points today.”
“Today we did our best. The strategy was correct and the team did really well in the pitstops, I made no mistake on the track so we made the maximum of what was on offer and got some good points from it. It’s pleasing to be in the points and it equals my best ever result. It was a shame Vettel was so quick at the end, I tried to defend, but he had fresher tyres. The atmosphere in the team is fantastic, we are all pushing forward and points feed that hunger.”
“It was a good race today in which we saw clear signs of our improvement. I was able to get ahead of my team-mate at the start, which was my first objective, and to stay ahead of the Caterhams which was the next. Our other objective was to take the fight to Sauber and while we were able to match their pace, the gap to them ahead was too great to be able to take a position from them. That time will come, I’m sure and maybe a race like Monaco will give us a better opportunity.”
“My start was pretty good and I was up to 18th by the end of lap one having passed Chilton, but I couldn’t keep Maldonado or Vergne behind me and lost places to them by lap five so just focused on my own race.
“The car felt okay but I still had the same traction issues as we’d had all weekend so it was still a bit of a handful, but the deg levels on the first set of medium tyres that we’d started with were good so we could run a very long first stint, finally boxing on lap 23 for another set of mediums. The car felt better on the second set of tyres and I was able to make up some time to Bianchi ahead, but then on lap 44 I had a pretty scary moment going into turn one when the left front brake failed and I was just able to keep the car out of the wall.
“That was the end of my race and the end of a difficult weekend. We clearly don’t have the performance we’re targeting, but changes have been made to help us sort this out and the whole team is working harder than ever to make progress, and we have two days of testing here to help us learn more about the new parts we brought to Spain, so we’ll aim to fight back in Monaco next week.”
Images courtesy of Octane Photographic
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.