Reaction round-up: Austrian Grand Prix

Reaction round-up: Austrian Grand Prix

Despite both drivers failing to make the front row in qualifying, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton secured the top two steps on the podium in the Austrian Grand Prix.1000LB1D5052

They dominated the final stages of the race to take maximum points away from the weekend once again, with Valtteri Bottas scoring his first podium in third. With mixed fortunes up and down the field, here is a round-up of the driver’s reactions after the race:

Sebastian Vettel

“We stopped because we wanted to save some mileage. We were hoping for a safety car but it wasn’t coming. Obviously, it has been a bad first half of the season with a few retirements and other problems, but I guess it’s part of the game. Equally we were able to learn a lot today and it’s good that Daniel got some points for us.

“It would be bad to say I got used to it, but obviously we have had a lot of problems so far already and I got calmer when the problem occurred. Our pace looked alright and we were able to go quite far on the soft tyre, but we were a lap down so in the end we decided to save some mileage.”

Daniel Ricciardo

“It was frustrating today; it’s never nice going backwards on the first lap. Off the line, it was actually one of our better starts this year, although I think Kevin (Magnussen) on the inside got a better one. I tried to hang around on the outside, which was the wrong thing to do, because you basically lose too much on the exit. So I then got swamped on the long straight. We already struggle on the long straights as it is, but even more when you get a poor exit.

“So I was frustrated with myself and I will have to look if maybe I could have cut to the inside and done anything better. From that point on we tried to push and catch the others, but we just didn’t have that much pace. It wasn’t until the last bit that we were able to overtake the Force India. The last lap move put a little smile on my face, but other than that it wasn’t a great race for us – we’ve got a bit of work to do.”

Nico Rosberg

“That was an amazing weekend for us here. It was so great to be back again in Austria – for me, it felt almost like being at my home race in Germany! This is a great track, with amazing fans and at the end also with a great result for us. I have to thank the team for a great car and a perfect strategy.

“We chose the aggressive way to pit earlier and to overtake the Williams that way and that worked out quite well. We had to look after our brakes, which was a big job for the whole race. Also this worked out perfectly for me. Before the weekend, my target was to extend the lead in the championship, which I achieved. So I can be quite confident before the next home race for our team in Silverstone.”

Lewis Hamilton

“After what happened yesterday in qualifying, today was all about damage limitation for me, so I’m as happy as I can be with a P2 finish. I have had the pace in the car all weekend here but I wasn’t able to capitalise on that, so getting second place from a bad weekend is pretty good, I guess.

“I had a rocket start – it’s something we’ve be working hard on all year and it was one of the best I’ve ever had. You can’t ever plan what’s going to happen but I managed to put the car in all the right places and climb to P4 by the end of the first lap. We were managing the brakes a lot today, because I was in traffic for most of the race and it was the most important thing to bring the car home, so that was a real balancing act.

“But the strategy worked really well for me to get into second position, then I tried to start pushing Nico – but he didn’t make any mistakes and I didn’t have the chance to overtake. The guys did a fantastic job today to get us another one-two and the fans here in Austria have been insane. Next race is in Silverstone and all the positive energy from my home fans; it will be a special time and I’ll be going all out for the win.”

Fernando Alonso

“I think that I can consider this to be my best race of the season, because finishing eighteen seconds off the Mercedes in a race without a Safety Car or any particular incidents, is a good result. It was impossible to keep Hamilton behind me and fifth place is really the best we could do today, because the first four cars were quicker and therefore deserved to finish ahead of us.

“We pushed hard all race without any problems, which means that little by little, we are improving. Sure, there’s still a long way to go but the aim is still to do well and score points. Each track is a different story and we will always try our best.”

Kimi Raikkonen

“This was another very difficult race for me, despite having gone in a different direction yesterday to try and improve the performance. Unfortunately, it did not bring the improvements I’d hoped for and again here I found myself fighting the handling of the car. At the start I made up one place, but already on the second lap I began to have a problem with the brakes overheating and this meant I had to slow down.

“At the time of my first pit stop, my tyres were completely worn and on my in-lap alone I lost two places. We should definitely have stopped sooner. Compared to the start of the season, progress has been made, even if there’s still a lot to do as our speed still doesn’t allow us to fight for the top places.”

Pastor Maldonado

“For me in the car it was actually quite a good weekend. We finished the race which is positive and we made the most of the package we had today. We are losing a lot of time in the slow speed corners and we need to keep improving in this area to be more like our good high speed corner performance.

“Unfortunately we had some brake issues from very early on in the race so I wasn’t able to fight others around me, even though it was nice to be running in the top ten during the course of the race. After that, it was a case of saving fuel and brakes to get to the chequered flag. I think Silverstone will suit us much better.”

Jenson Button1000LB1D5593

“I’d hoped we could make up some places today, but it’s never easy to overtake around here. We went for a different strategy – starting on Primes – but it didn’t really work for us.

“At the start, Nico [Hulkenberg] pushed me wide at the exit of Turn One – there was no real need for that as there was enough room for both of us – so I lost a couple of places. From then on, my race was all about sitting in the train, waiting for people ahead of me to pit, and trying to make my strategy work – which in the end I couldn’t. It was a long afternoon’s work for 11th place.”

Sergio Perez

“Today we got a very positive result for the team, especially considering where we started the afternoon. When you start in 16th it is always going to be difficult to make up ground, but I had a very strong start and made up a good few positions. It was especially important to pass Jenson [Button] because he was on a similar strategy to mine: it was a key moment for my race.

“The strategy worked; we showed once more that we can manage the tyres well, and we had a very strong race pace, as we have had all year. It was nice to be in the lead for a while, although we obviously knew that the cars behind us were on a different strategy. The only regret is that without the grid penalty I would have been further up the grid, which would have made a big difference because we had the pace to fight for a podium today. It’s nice to be back in the points after two disappointing races: the car is improving and we are in good shape.”

Esteban Gutierrez

“It was not a satisfying race. We made a mistake during the first pit stop, as the wheel nut on the right rear wheel was not secured, so I had to stop in the pit lane and my mechanics had to pull me back. Afterwards, I got a ten second stop and go penalty.

“Apart from this incident, I was trying to get the most out of the car. I got a lot of blue flags, so I had to let other cars by, which resulted in slower lap times. We tried by compromising qualifying in order to get a better race pace, but it didn’t seem to pay off. It was difficult to keep the tyres alive.”

Jean-Eric Vergne

“I have struggled with the brakes from the beginning of the race. It’s difficult to drive the car with such a considerable rear locking. It’s not good for tyre life and for the balance in general so it was really a tricky race. I was doing my best to finish it at least but in the end I just could not bring the car to the chequered flag. Problems happen, it’s a shame that they occurred here but the new aero package is working well and we have a good car to face the next Grand Prix in Silverstone. There are still a lot of races in front of us and I’m sure we are moving in the right direction for the rest of the season.”

Valtteri Bottas1000LB1D5465

“It’s difficult to explain how I feel right now. That was the best champagne I’ve ever tasted. All the hard work that the team puts in shows in moments like this. I had one pitstop that really put in me in the fight and that changed my race, so well done to the boys for that.

“I had put in a good lap before that and so I got in front on Felipe and from there I could manage my pace with the cars in front. Having both cars score good points is what we wanted and so third and fourth for the team is a great result. There are still two places to go up the podium, but for now we will enjoy this moment.”

Jules Bianchi

“We had a very good strategy today which enabled me to keep Ericsson behind and in the latter stages of the race, close the gap to Kobayashi. I had a really good second stint but unfortunately we just ran out of laps as the gap came down to only 2s. Generally I’m pleased with 17th after starting at the back of the grid today.

“It has been a positive end to the weekend but we’ve grown used to being able to focus on the cars ahead, not behind, so we need to recover a bit of ground for the next race to get us back on track. The next round is our home race, for the Team and for me, so hopefully we’ll find a little bit more pace to get us back where we need to be.”

Kamui Kobayashi

“I didn’t have a great start but then recovered and passed my teammate and Bianchi and was running well for the first stint. We’d started on supersofts and they held up well, right until we boxed on lap 14 for a set of softs. Our original plan was for a two stops and with our race focused on the Marussias, as soon as it became clear Bianchi was stopping once, we decided to switch the strategy during the second stint which meant I had to manage that set of softs for 55 laps to the flag.

“Unfortunately that didn’t work as with about ten laps to go I couldn’t hold him back as he was on supersofts and had the pace to pass. We tried something and this time it didn’t work, but ultimately we probably didn’t lose anything as we were really only fighting him. Despite that I think we have to take quite a few positives from this weekend as our performance relative to our nearest competitors improved quite a bit.

“Our reliability has been much better this weekend and the setup change we made on Friday night paid dividends again today as I was pretty easily able to pass the lead Marussia and pull away early in the race. From where we were on Friday, and in the last couple of races, that’s a good sign and we know we can improve again at Silverstone so I’m already hungry to get back and fight again there.”

Images courtesy of Octane Photographic

Jack Leslie

Jack Leslie

Jack Leslie is a freelance motorsport and Formula 1 journalist. He has been part of the Richland F1 team since the very start and made his F1 paddock debut for the website at the 2014 Austrian Grand Prix. Jack also writes for Car Throttle, RumbleStripNews, Formula1Blog, PureF1 and F1 Plus, as well as running a popular blog.