Drivers: Button hails winter progress

Sun, 18 Mar 11:04:00 2012

Reaction to the Australian Grand Prix, with Jenson Button saying McLaren's victory was sealed by hard work in winter.

Red Bull Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel (L) of Germany, McLaren Chief Aerodynamicist Doug McKiernan (2nd L), McLaren Formula One driver Jenson Button of Britain and team mate compatriot Lewis Hamilton (R) wave from the podium after the Australian F1 - 0

Jenson Button (McLaren) - 1st: "Every victory means a lot - but today shows just how important it was to have a strong winter. The starts of the past two seasons have both been tricky for us, so today is really encouraging. My biggest worry was the late-race Safety Car: I had a 10-second advantage, which was pretty healthy, but the Safety Car cut that to nothing. And, since it was 6.00pm, with the sun going down, it was quite difficult to keep temperature in the tyres when we were running slowly behind the Safety Car. That was a big worry for me, but it worked out okay in the end."

Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) - 2nd: "I'm very happy with myself today - I think it was the most we could have achieved. I felt good in the car. Even before the safety car, I think we would have had a good shot at Lewis towards the end, as we were getting close. I decided to stay out when he went to the pits and we would have had a crack even without the safety car."

Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) - 3rd - "While it's a bit disappointing not to have been able to convert pole position into victory, I'm not downhearted – there are still plenty of races ahead and lots more opportunities to score points. I struggled out there a little – it wasn't my day. But what's most important is that we showed today that we have a very quick racing car."

Mark Webber (Red Bull) - 4th: "I had a poor start, so I need to see what happened there and then I got sandwiched at Turn 1. I didn't want the race to be over; I was able to keep going and then started to build from there. The car felt quite tricky on the options in the first stint and I wondered if I had some damage from the first corner, but then when I got the primes the race came alive for me."

Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) - 5th: "We knew it would be a very complicated race and I am happy I managed to bring home a useful number of points. I got a great start and managed a few passing moves in the early stages and later, after the Safety Car, there was a tough fight with Maldonaldo: when I saw he'd gone off the track I breathed a sigh, because he had been really close to me for quite a few laps up until then. I was slower than him and all I could do was defend my position."

Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber) - 6th: "I was on a two stop strategy, with two sets of softs in the beginning and the medium compound for the last stint. With my second pit stop I had bad luck with the timing because the safety car came out just after I had pitted. Then I was running in ninth position until the ultimate lap when Pastor (Maldonado) crashed and Sergio had a battle with Nico (Rosberg). I went past and finished sixth."

Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus) - 7th: "It feels like I've never been away. Yesterday we made some mistakes which cost us quite badly so it could easily have been better in the race. I made a good start but then there was an accident in front of me at the first turn, so we lost a few places there as I had to almost stop and move onto the grass to avoid it. That made the race harder again as we had the speed, but a lot of traffic to get through. When you look at all these things we could have finished in a much better position. We had the safety car which I think actually hurt us a bit as well. Overall the weekend was far from ideal, but the car feels good and to come back to 7th means we at least come away with some points."

Sergio Perez (Sauber) - 8th: "After I had to start last on the grid because of changing the gear box I knew I had to try everything to gain positions right after the start. I managed to get into 12th behind Kamui and touched his car while he had to avoid crashing into the Williams car in front of him. My front wing was then damaged and this was only one of the difficulties I had today during the race. I also had to save tyres, also for some time fuel, and I had to fight to defend my position. It really was a tough race for me."

Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso) - 9th: "I don't really know how that happened on the last lap. I saw blue flags and a lot of cars in front and I was sure I could make up at least one place because it was chaos. I was a bit lucky to be the last one in that group because I could have a clear picture of the other cars going off in front."

Paul Di Resta (Force India) - 10th: "It's always nice to start the season with a point, but it was not looking too promising until the last few laps when my engineer told me that I was catching the cars ahead of me. Fortunately I had saved quite a bit of KERS for the last corner, which helped me get a good run on Vergne and beat him to the line for tenth. So it was a pretty exciting final lap. It's clear we have a lot of work to do because we were struggling for pace at the start of each stint, which hurt my overall race pace. Even so, considering where I started and the weekend we've had, I don't think I can be disappointed to have come away with a point."

Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso) - 11th: "Even on dirty tyres, I was doing some very quick times. It's just a shame that at the end I tried too hard and lost too much ground. That's racing, I learned a lot on my first Formula 1 weekend and there are still nineteen races in which I can score points. The car seems to be working well and we were competitive all weekend."

Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) - 12th: "I had a perfect start today and was able to gain three positions, however unfortunately we weren't able to maintain that pace, and the race did not turn out as we had hoped. The end was particularly unfortunate with Perez when we touched on the straight, causing a puncture which took away a points scoring finish. We have a lot of work to do to understand what went wrong, and how we can use the full potential which our car definitely shows."

Pastor Maldonado (Williams) - 13th: "The car looked good today. Our pace was quick and consistent and we were looking competitive right up until the moment I had on the last lap, which is very important. Unfortunately, I just lost the back of the car while pushing Alonso and I had nowhere to go."

Timo Glock (Marussia) - 14th: "A great race for the team and a huge reward for all the hard work and pressure over the last few months. It's important to remember that we came here with no real running with the new car. Add the potential for reliability problems – because they always happen with every team in pre-season testing – and it has been quite a special weekend to get the car home in the first race with no issues."

Charles Pic (Marussia) – 15th: "I am quite happy with my first race and very pleased for the team to have such a good debut for the car also. Everything was quite positive during the race; I had a few problems in the beginning and then I had to pull in a few laps from the end due to an oil pressure problem and the team wanted to be cautious with the car. It's a shame I wasn't able to take the chequered flag but I am happy to end the race in 15th position after the difficulties leading up to the start of the season."

Michael Schumacher (Mercedes) - DNF: "It was an unfortunate end to my race when I lost drive going into turn one. I was trying different gears and occasionally the drive came back, but in the end, I had to go onto the grass to avoid the risk of the car being forced into a spin. It was especially unfortunate as we have not had this problem during the winter tests and were very reliable."

Felipe Massa (Ferrari) - DNF: "This has been a really poor weekend for me. Already yesterday I suffered because the car was badly balanced and today, it was probably even worse, because after a few laps I was struggling with the tyres. I had got a great start and had managed to make up a few places and I was hoping to finish in the points."

Bruno Senna (Williams) - DNF: "I had a great start, but I tried to take the outside line at the first corner and I felt someone make contact with me. I then had to do an extra pit stop which made things difficult. My race was looking better but then I had a tangle with Massa so luck wasn't on our side today. That's racing though, and we now look forward to making up for it in Malaysia next weekend."

Nico Hulkenberg (Force India) - DNF: "I don't seem to have much luck at Albert Park. My first race here in 2010 was less than a lap and today was a repeat of that. I'm still not really sure what happened, but I got hit when I turned into the first corner on lap one. It's such a shame because I had made a great start, moved up a couple of positions and then I just felt somebody tap me from behind. There was a puncture and the suspension was damaged so my race was over and I had to park up. These things happen when 22 cars are battling going into a tight first corner, but it's really frustrating to miss out after such a good qualifying session. The good thing is that I will be back in the car in five days' time, which is the best way to bounce back and get over the disappointment."

Romain Grosjean (Lotus) - DNF: "My start wasn't great so we'll need to have a look at the data. Then of course there was the collision with Pastor (Maldonado). From what I saw he braked far too late and hit my right front wheel which broke the steering and that was it; my race was over."

Heikki Kovalainen (Caterham) - DNF: "Both Vitaly and I had to avoid the problems in turn one at the start and then I lost a bit of time behind Glock, but got past him quickly and then started to show good pace, enough to close the gap to the cars ahead. I lost DRS until about lap six, and had to switch off KERS right at the start, so the sort of times we were doing were clearly competitive. Both stops went well but then I felt the car starting to pull left under braking so we brought the car in to take a look and it seems like a front left suspension problem was causing the handling imbalance I'd felt for a few laps before we had to retire."

Vitaly Petrov (Caterham) - DNF: "I was having a fantastic race and it's such a shame we had to retire the car. Until that point everything was going exactly to plan. The team did a great to job to help me pass Heikki in the first stop, I was catching Senna and Massa ahead and the car felt really well balanced. I was managing the tyres well and we definitely showed the sort of pace that can bring rewards this season, so while it's obviously not how we wanted the first race with my new team to go we can take a lot of positives from this and move on to Malaysia where we know we can put in a strong performance."

HRT did not compete in the race after failing to qualify within 107% of the leading time.

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