Driver comments after 2019 Australian F1 GP
Valtteri Bottas nailed it today! He never had a lead like today on his team mate Lewis Hamilton.
At the finish line he was over 20 seconds in front of the 5 times world champion Hamilton.
Bottas did only 1 pitstop and had a better start than Hamilton. Hamilton also had to cover the early pitstop of Vettel and had to drive much more laps on the Medium tyres than he thought he could. Bottas then stayed out longer, stretching his lead over his team mate.
The final driver of the top four to make a stop was Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on lap 26: a strategy that helped him to a podium from fourth on the grid. Verstappen drove a very strong race in which he was able to attack the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel.
The Dutchman scored the first podium for Honda in their V6 hybrid era. The last podium before today podium was scored by Rubens Barrichello back in 2008 when the Brazilian driver scored a 3rd place during the 2008 British GP.
Bottas is the first driver who claimed the extra point for fastest lap. The Finnish driver went fastest with the mediums on the penultimate lap. He also beat last year’s fastest lap, but the official lap record of 1:24.125 driven in 2004 by Michael Schumacher in the Ferrari F2004 still stands.
All the drivers made just one stop apart from Williams: George Russell made two and Robert Kubica made three.
This what the drivers said about their first 2019 race in Melbourne, Australia:
Valtteri Bottas (1st - started on P2)
"This feels so good – I don’t think I’ve ever had a race like this! We could not have asked for a better start to the season – getting maximum points for the team is a perfect result and we couldn’t be happier. It’s also an important result for me personally, I’m really pleased with how the race went. These things don’t just happen – both the team and I have worked hard for this and it seems like the hard work paid off today.
The key was the start; I think Lewis may have had a bit of wheel spin, so I was able to take the lead. My race pace was really strong, I could pull away and build a gap. In the end, I managed to get the fastest lap as well, which of course means an extra point this season, so I went for it. It can be a little risky with worn tyres, but I had it all under control. I’m very, very pleased with today, but it’s only the first race and we have another 20 races to go."
Lewis Hamilton (2nd - started on P1)
"It was an incredible weekend for the team, we’re leaving Melbourne with maximum points. Valtteri did an exceptional job today – congratulations to him. I had a pretty straightforward race today; I lost position at the start and my race was pretty much done and dusted after the first corner. Afterwards it was really about bringing the car home and bagging the points.
I had to pit early to cover the pit stop from Ferrari, so I had a long second stint and drove super carefully to make sure I had tyres left at the end of the race. I’ll bag the eighteen points I got today, keep working and come back recharged for the next one. It was a really great weekend for the team and I’m really happy for everyone. We showed a great performance today and we need to continue to build on this – we have a long season ahead of us."
Aston Martin Red Bull Racing
Max Verstappen (3rd - started on P4)
“I am very happy for the Team and also for Honda to finish on the podium today. Since we started working together it has been amazing and I am really enjoying the partnership, so this is a well-deserved third place for all of us. To be able to challenge Lewis at the end of the race and overtake Seb on-track, which around here is very difficult, is very positive.
We had a little advantage with the tyres but it was satisfying to pressure Lewis even though I couldn’t get quite close enough to overtake him. The car was working really well and we also look strong on the straights which is hopefully a good sign for the rest of the season. I heard this is the first podium for Honda since 2008 so I am very happy that I managed to achieve this for them today.”
Pierre Gasly (11th - started on P17)
“It was a pretty difficult race. With the new bigger rear wings, I couldn’t see the lights on the grid so I had to react with the cars around me and I lost a couple of places. Then I got stuck in traffic and even with the DRS, it’s super difficult to overtake here plus I had some debris in my front wing which didn’t help. I spent the whole race five tenths from the car in front but my tyres were just sliding and I couldn’t get past. I pushed as much as I could and I tried everything but it wasn’t enough to make it into the points.
In general, the pace over the weekend was really good. In qualifying, we got knocked out of Q1 but I was happy with my first lap and it was just unfortunate that we didn’t make it through. Bahrain is a race I really like and we’ve seen the car is competitive so we’ll keep our heads down, stay focused and give a big push in two weeks’ time.”
Sebastian Vettel (4th - started on P3)
“We were not happy with the car the whole weekend but today we struggled a lot. The reason I was so slow in the race was mostly due to the fact that the car could not find enough grip with the medium tyres that we fitted at the pit stop. As a team, we still got a decent amount of points from our fourth and fifth places, but this is not the result we were aiming for just a few weeks ago.
So in the coming days, we will analyse the data in detail so as to be ready for the next race, which is not far away now. I’m sure that looking at all the information we have gathered here will give us a better understanding, but today, the result we got was the best we could do.”
Charles Leclerc (5th - started on P5)
“I made a good start, to the extent that I managed to pass Verstappen and found myself alongside Sebastian, who was fighting a Mercedes. That meant I had to put my wheels on the grass at the exit of the first esses, which allowed Max to get in front of me again. At the start, the car was not so easy to drive and that led to me making a small mistake at the first corner, which cost me a handful of seconds.
We decided to fit the hard tyres at the pit stop and, I have to say, that from then on, the car improved a lot and I was able to push. Towards the end, I closed on Sebastian, but the team decided to keep our positions, given that the top three places were not within our grasp today. Now, we will work with the engineers to try and understand why we were not as strong as we had hoped to be, even though we brought home a good points haul.”
Kevin Magnussen (6th - started on P7)
“I’m very happy about today, it was a good result. I’m obviously sad for team not to have both cars get to the finish. Surely Romain (Grosjean) would have been in a good position as well, especially after we both had such good qualifying yesterday, so I’m gutted for his side that they didn’t get anything out of today.
P6 for me is very good, I’m happy with the day. I made a good start and had a really good car from there. I was able to push the whole race and look after my tires. I’m really happy to start the year like this.”
Romain Grosjean (DNF - started on P6)
“I don’t know what happened exactly yet. It just felt wrong. It’s not been a good day. Before all that I was happy and up behind Kevin (Magnussen). The new rules are great for following another car, but the tires are still what they were last year, as you push, you slide, then you lose grip.
Even though we can follow easier than in the past, overtaking is still complicated. Overall, today’s a shame as we’ve looked strong all weekend long, we were strong in the race as well.”
Renault F1 Team
Nico Hulkenberg (7th - started on P11)
“It’s a good start to the season with some solid points on the board. It was a tricky race – especially the final 10 laps – I was under pressure and really had to fight to hang onto seventh place. I’m pleased to pull that off.
The start and the first lap made our race; it’s so crucial to have track position around here and from there it was about managing the car and the tyres. We can be pleased with today, it’s a positive result, but it also shows we have a lot of work ahead of us. We need to dig deep and continue finding performance especially to improve the car balance.”
Daniel Ricciardo (DNF - started on P12)
“I’m gutted, that’s for sure. I made a good start, managed to get a good run on Perez and then moved to the side. I put a wheel on the grass, which didn’t concern me, and then a massive bump caught me by surprise.
It’s unlucky more than anything and, unfortunately, that was our race run there and then. It all happened very quickly and it was a shame we finished like that. Nico showed in the race that the car belongs in the top eight and we’ll be aiming for a smoother weekend in Bahrain and a strong result.”
Kimi Raikkonen (8th - started on P9)
“Our car was pretty strong in the race, but then we got stuck behind cars and there is not much you can do. It seems that it is easier to get closer to the car in front of you but it’s still very hard to overtake.
In addition, we had an issue with the temperature of the rear brakes as one of the tear-offs from the visor went in and that’s why we had to pit earlier than planned. But as I said, the car has a lot of speed and it felt good, so I’m looking forward to the race in Bahrain.”
Antonio Giovinazzi (15th - started on P14)
“It was a tough race. I picked up some damage to my car on lap 1 and after that it was challenging to stay up to speed. There were some battles and I did my best to defend my position.
It was only the first race of the season, so I look forward to fighting for a stronger result in Bahrain.”
SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team
Lance Stroll (9th - started on P16)
“I am really pleased with my race today – it has been a great day at the office. It’s really nice to pick up some points on the first weekend of the season, but it wasn’t easy. It was a really challenging afternoon, chasing Hulkenberg and Raikkonen ahead of me while also keeping Kvyat and Gasly behind me for most of the race. I was under a lot of pressure and it was very tight, but I am glad we managed to pick up two points.
We were always planning to go long with our strategy: we were starting out of position so we knew the key was to make a good start and gain some places in the opening stages, which we did. After that, we had good pace and managed to hold off the cars behind us on softer tyres than ours. We saw today that it’s going to be really close in the middle of the grid, but we are definitely in the fight.”
Sergio Pérez (13th - started on P13)
“I’m disappointed to come away from Melbourne missing out on points. It was quite a difficult race for me from lap one because I made a poor start and lost a couple of places before turn one.
Overtaking was extremely difficult, so we tried the undercut with the strategy but it didn’t really work out for us. After my pit stop I was stuck in traffic for the rest of the race. I was able to get ahead of Albon, when he made a mistake, but apart from that it was difficult to really show our pace.”
Daniil Kvyat (10h - started on P15)
It was an excellent race today! I’m happy with the way I drove and it was really enjoyable. There was a lot of positives to come from the race – it’s just a shame about yesterday’s qualifying as we had the opportunity to start a bit further ahead! We had good tyre management throughout the race and we definitely had the pace to fight for higher positions but, as we know, it’s difficult to overtake around Albert Park.
I tried to catch Stroll, but I was a bit on the edge and I couldn’t make it. I had a good battle with Pierre towards the end of the race, I felt like I could fight him well and at the end it was satisfying to keep a quicker car behind almost the whole race. I know we have a good package with the car and the engine, so we need to keep developing it. I’m very optimistic for the next few races and I think it’s possible to achieve good results.”
Alexander Albon (14th - started on P13)
“Mixed feelings today! It was my first experience of a race weekend and I didn’t really know what to expect. The race started off very well, I dropped the clutch and thought ‘great, that was okay!’ I made up two positions straight away and at that time we were in the mix, as I was already one position away from the points. That was pretty much as good as it got for me, though.
We were in a battle with Giovinazzi, I think he was struggling with his tyres and everyone on that strategy lost out. All of the guys who stayed out on the harder compound behind overcut us. That compromised our race but I’m still happy with how my weekend went. I think we could have had points so that stings a little, but it was a good experience and I came away with a clean weekend, relatively speaking!”
Lando Norris (12th - started on P8)
“The team gave me a good car, with enough pace for me to be in the top 10 but I made a couple of mistakes which cost me any chance of scoring points, so I’m a little disappointed. But it’s cool to finish my first [F1] race and get it out of the way.
“I didn’t make the perfect start, struggled to get ahead of a slower car and then had a big lock-up so I need to work on these mistakes. I’m annoyed with myself as there was more potential. Now I focus and look forward to Bahrain.”
Carlos Sainz (DNF - started on P18)
“It’s been a weekend to forget. I think we lost the MGU-K, which was a shame as the race was going well. I’d put yesterday behind me and I was feeling positive going into today. I’d done everything I wanted to do: I made a good start, overtaking four cars, getting in the fight for the points and starting to attack the cars in front. The car felt good, we had strong pace and I was fighting with other cars that ended up in the points today, which shows us that points could have been possible.
“This one hurts, but this is Formula 1. My season has started with a really unlucky weekend but hopefully we can start having more positive results from Bahrain onwards. I’m happy to put this one behind me and keep pushing.”
ROKiT Williams Racing
George Russel (16th - started on P16)
“I feel happy that I brought the car home with no dramas. I physically feel fine and it was a good first race from my side but obviously it is disappointing that we are so far behind the pace. We did an additional pitstop to try all three compounds of the tyres, so that is unfortunately where we are at the moment.
We have got a lot of work to do tomorrow to understand and hopefully improve from there. I am not interested in fighting Robert for last, we need to work together to make this right. Overall, I can be proud and pleased with myself because we went into this weekend knowing what to expect and I achieved pretty much all of my goals.”
Robert Kubica (17th - started on P20)
“It definitely wasn’t an easy race and we knew that before the start. We opted to start on the hard tyre to get experience on them but, I got a good start for those tyres. In turn one, I was on the inside and on the exit of the corner one of the Red Bull’s moved right to avoid another contact and we touched, damaging my front wing so I had to come in to box.
Additionally, on lap three, I lost one of my mirrors, so the blue flags weren’t easy. I was not in the best shape with some damage but, I know it sounds strange and I thought I would never say something like this, although it was very difficult I think there were some positives. I want to thank again everyone in the team.”
✅ Check out Race Results 2019 Australian F1 Grand Prix
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