Australian Grand Prix Reaction: Press Conference & Driver Interviews
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Race: Australian Grand Prix
It was an exciting start to the 2018 Formula 1 season and if you joined us earlier (check out this article) you will have seen Sebastian Vettel winning the 2018 Australian Grand Prix for the Scuderia Ferrari team.
In this post, we’re bringing you the immediate reaction from the paddock – including podium interviews, the driver press conference and team reaction.
PODIUM INTERVIEWS: 2018 Australian Grand Prix
Podium interviews conducted by Mark Webber
Q: Sebastian, 48th victory, 100th podium, a couple behind Alain Prost, so run us through it – what a race.
Sebastian Vettel: “Yeah, obviously pretty good. We got a bit lucky with the safety car but yeah, really enjoyed it. A great turnout today, you saw in the grandstands, I really enjoyed the lap back in. And for the race, I mean my start, I was hoping for it to be a little bit better, but it didn’t really work, so I had to settle for third.”
“Then, towards the end of that first stint I lost a little bit the connection to Lewis and Kimi ahead. I was struggling a little bit with the tyres. I felt happier with the soft tyres, with the yellow tyres at the end, for the second stint.”
“Obviously I was praying for a safety and there was a car that stopped in Turn 4 and I was like ‘no, it’s not coming out’ and then somebody stopped, I think it was a Haas, in Turn 2, and then when I saw it I was full of adrenalin, even though the race is frozen, but still to come into the pits, everything on the limit, trying to get back out, because they told me it was really close with Lewis.”
“And when we got out ahead I knew it was difficult to pass but he kept some pressure on, especially at the beginning of the last stint and then at the end, during the last five laps at least I could enjoy it a little bit more.”
Q: Well done. Lewis, God, what a weekend you’ve had! Give him a round of applause. He’s been incredible this weekend, absolutely on fire yesterday in qualifying. You’ve been on this podium eight times, more than any other driver in history in Australia. I thought you drove phenomenally this weekend, mate, it got away through tactics in the pit lane. Talk us through the race, how was it for you?
Lewis Hamilton: “It’s been an incredible weekend, honestly. To arrive and have the performance we had today. A big congratulations to Sebastian and Ferrari.”
“Today, obviously, they did the better job and we have to go back to the drawing board and work on it. We still have great pace, our qualifying was great, I think through the race I was able to apply some pressure towards the end.”
“This is one awesome circuit but it’s so hard to overtake, even with the extra DRS, obviously with the cars being as close as they were.”
“At the end it was really trying to live to fight another day, save the engine and we’ll try to regain the point later on. But a big thank you to everyone that has come out this weekend. We’ve got so many British flags and for the Australians for having us this week.”
Q: Kimi, my man. How was it? Sixteen times this man has raced in front of you guys. He’s an absolute legend. Up here on the podium for the first time since he won in 2013. Kimi, how was your race?
Kimi Raikkonen: “I think it was OK. We didn’t have the most luck but what can you do. Luckily it was Seb that got the luck and it was our team at least. I think I had decent speed all day long and just difficult to pass.”
“I got a good go in the second corner and then just tried to follow and see if we could do something in a pit stop. Obviously with the safety car it’s pure luck.”
“We could hold onto third place. Got some pressure in the end, from the Red Bull with little bit more fresh tyres, but I’ll take it the third place. I think I’ve been happy with the car and it’s nice to go onto the next races.”
Q: Sebastian, we meet up again on this podium with (you) victorious. It’s a nice meeting point in terms of Ferrari winning, the season starting off on the front foot, last year it was a titanic battle with Lewis, off to Bahrain in a few weeks. How do you see it playing out?
Sebastian Vettel: “Obviously we were a little bit lucky today. Lewis had a great lap yesterday. He deserved pole position. He drove a very good race; controlled it in the beginning.”
“As I say, we got a bit lucky, but we’ll take it. We put a flag up in Maranello for every win and I asked them to do that this morning back in Europe. We’re not yet there where we want to be. I’m not yet exactly there with the car, you know.”
“If I don’t feel what I need to feel then it’s a bit tricky. I think we all know. But I think it gives us a good start, a good wind and fresh motivation for the coming weeks.”
DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE: 2018 Australian Grand Prix
Q: Congratulations Sebastian, your second win here in Australia and the 43rd of your Formula One career. Great start to your year. Talk us through the conversation on the radio after Lewis made that early pit stop. What were deliberations in terms of the strategy? And when you came in and went out on the soft tyres, to try to warm that thing up, you had quite a bit of action behind you, tell us about how tense that got?
Sebastian Vettel: “I think we realized fairly on that we had decent pace. I was able to follow Lewis and then I think after 10 or 12 laps he was really pushing, trying to open a gap, and he succeeded a bit.”
“I was struggling to keep up, but still hanging in there. And I knew if there was anything to happen around the first stop then I need to be right behind him to either put them under pressure or have a chance to jump into the pits earlier to pass him through the stop.”
“Once it was clear that he went in, there was no point to follow. We stayed out, the tyres were still holding on and the pace looked alright. I wasn’t aware of the traffic situation at that point and I just tried to calm down a bit because I was quite hot on the previous laps, but still keep the pace up ad hope for an ‘overcut’ so to say.”
“Then I was told he was facing some traffic, which I didn’t know who and how fast the traffic was and whether he would clear but I just tried to hang in there. And then obviously we saw the gap, went into the pits and it worked.”
“It was very tight. I lost a lot of time on the in-lap because I had a lapped car, I think it was a Williams. I lost about a second so I was a bit angry but that’s how it goes sometimes and still it was just enough and I had Max right behind me and Lewis as well, so that was quite tight.”
“Turn One was a bit slippery, but I managed to get a decent exit and a decent run down to Turn Three. I just held the inside. I knew that Max would probably try something but I just kept in front. That was obviously crucial for our race.”
“I tried to push for as hard as I could for the one or two Max was still out because he was slower on the older tyres, to open a bit of a gap and control the race.”
“The car was really good, working well and I could control the gap and the pace, going through traffic and just bringing it home. It was very pleasant. A different race to last year, where you had to manage a lot.”
“Now I think it was a bit more raw, especially the beginning. Even if it wasn’t a wheel-to-wheel fight I could see Lewis was pushing really hard. There were some corners where he was on top of me and other corners where I was catching up. It was nice that we could just push and race to let’s say the first stop.”
“Then obviously we got a bit lucky with him facing some traffic. But equally we pushed him to the pits and did well. Otherwise, if he had a big lead after 15 laps then he could stay out, control the race and pit into free air.”
“We did a very good race. I’m very happy with the calls today. It worked brilliantly and as I said, big thanks to the team.”
“We say this all the time but I think if you’re not part of the team I think it’s difficult to realise but what this team has done in the last six months has been really tough, rough as well, not easy to manage the whole team but I think the new car, in general… obviously today is fantastic, a big reward a big relief for everyone.”
“It’s just the tip of the iceberg. The foundation has been laid a long time ago and really proud to see it coming together. This is just one race. I’m sure we’ll have a great night, we’ll create… we did already, but we will create some great memories tonight and we’ll take it from there.”
“I think we enjoy what we do, the spirit is great in the team and that’s for us to keep it up.”
Q: Congratulations. Lewis, a lot of pressure on your at the start but the getaway look pretty flawless so talk us through that. Then Sebastian said he felt he pushed you into the pits and you came in relatively, lap 18, did you have to come in?
Lewis Hamilton: “We had a really good start, which is fantastic; it’s good to have a good getaway. After that, I was struggling with the grip from the get-go.”
“Sebastian was able to always answer in terms of lap time and the majority of the time do faster lap times and then towards the end I got a bit in traffic and the car started to overheat the tyres and I was struggling with grip and it was to the point that I needed to come in. Plus, the gap was closing up and I was sliding around.”
“So it was my call because otherwise he probably would have come by anyway.”
“So then I came in and then I got obviously stuck in traffic, which is a little bit unfortunate but that’s motor racing. But a big congratulations to Sebastian and Ferrari.”
“I know it’s been a long time coming for them to get a result like this. It shows we are going to have a race on our hands, which we are very happy to have, which is great for the fans.”
Unfortunately it’s harder than ever to get close to cars, which is a shame. We can’t even have a close battle but who knows, maybe in the future we will.”
Additional Question From The Floor About The Halo – Press Conference
Q:Firstly congratulations to Seb, now for all three drivers, how did you find the Halo in race conditions.
Kimi Raikkonen: “No different than in testing or at any other point. I think it definitely doesn’t disturb at all.”
“I think it was helpful here because the sun, when it’s coming in the right height, it’s blocking the sun in the eyes. So, I think it was only beneficial here, and it’s safer.
“Maybe people don’t like how it looks but y’know it might make a difference for us one day and it’s a good thing to have.”
Sebastian Vettel: “During the race, it was no issue. As Kimi said, it even helped. I don’t know what you call the thing in the car… it worked like a sun visor, that helped.”
“In the parade lap, that’s when it was bothering because you couldn’t see so well the people in the grandstands. Was trying to find, is it better to look below, or… wasn’t tall enough to get above.”
“Other than that, no difference.”
Lewis, anything to add?
Lewis Hamilton: “I don’t think so.”
TEAM REACTIONS: 2018 Australian Grand Prix
MERCEDES – 2018 Australian Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton: “I did everything I could today but it’s not what anyone expected to happen. I’m still in a little bit of disbelief as I don’t really understand what happened yet.”
“Once I get back with my engineers, they’ll do a debrief and obviously I’ll find out what happened and why. This weekend there was so much talk about party mode or if Ferrari would be quick enough.”
“I don’t think the gap was as big as it seemed yesterday, it’s just that I had a good lap and maybe Sebastian didn’t have a good lap but today they were very, very quick.”
“I put up a bit of a fight towards the end but the were within a tenth of us today – at least in my heat, I know that I gave everything this weekend. I’m sure the team is feeling the pain with now but we’ll regroup and we’ll work on it.”
Valtteri Bottas: “It was a bit of a frustrating day. I got some points but not as many as I was hoping for, even starting 15th on the grid. We had a good car, it felt just like in qualifying.”
“The team did a really good job on that, unfortunately we just couldn’t make anything out of it because it was so difficult to overtake on this track. I also struggled a little bit with overheating issues on the engine when I was following other cars so I had to back off many times.”
“It’s been a disappointing weekend and certainly not an ideal first race, we still have 20 races to go and we need to learn from this weekend and try again in two weeks in Bahrain.”
Toto Wolff: “This was one that got away and it’s a bitter pill for us to swell. Following Lewis’ pit stop, we believed that we had the scenarios of both the Safety Car and the Virtual Safety Car covered so that Sebastian could not pit and come out ahead of Lewis on the track.”
“We should have been seconds safe and then suddenly on the TV screens, we were not – of course, under the VSC sometimes you benefit and sometimes you lose out but it was clearly a problem on our side and we need to analyse what happened, understand and correct it.”
“It’s all the more frustrating because we had the pace to win today. Lewis was in control through the opening sting and then after the pit stop as well – looking on house for a strong victory but it wasn’t to be.”
“On Valtteri’s side, we knew the would be a tough race to cover much ground – the margins between the teams are closing up and this is one of the most difficult tracks to overtake on.”
“Congratulations to Ferrari on their win today, for us, it’s a tough one to take but there are lots of lessons to be learned so we can come back stronger next time.”
ADDITION – Right after the race, Toto Wolff confirmed that there was a a system error (a glitch) on the computer system showing the wrong calculated time.
(Toto Wolff: “I think we have a software issue. A situation that we haven’t had yet with constellation of the cars n track and the gap that we needed was wrongly calculated on the systems. The way the algorithm is set up – we always had a green light and then we saw the TV pictures and the timing wasn’t enough.”
“The car was good, the time was quick and we were close to Sebastian Vettel. If you look at the lap yesterday – I’m not saying it because he is my driver – the lap was incredible and you have never seen anything like.”)
RED BULL RACING – 2018 Australian Grand Prix
Daniel Ricciardo: “I woke up this morning happy because it’s race day and it’s been too long since we raced so, already before the race I was just happy and smiling.”
“It’s a long wait and in the week leading up to this race, you talk so much about the race and it’s like, let’s just do it. I’m happy with the way I drove today and we had a very fast race car. It’s not often I sit behind someone for most of the race but it’s a tight track and one of the more tricky ones for passing.”
“There were a couple of times I had a look at turn three but Kimi was wise to that and could see what I was planning. Towards the end I applied more pressure on him but he was able to up the pace as well.”
“I think we’re pretty close with Ferrari and our race pace is strong, which I thought would be the case, so we just need to get a few more tenths out of Qualifying and then we should be looking good.”
“Being so close to the podium and getting fastest lap is definitely an encouraging way to start the season.”
“I want to thank all the fans for coming out and supporting us today and now it’s definitely time to go and put my feet up for a couple of days after a busy week!”
Max Verstappen: “The start was ok but I got a bit unfortunate at turn one and ended up in the wrong position so lost out on fourth. I tried to follow as best I could but experienced a few issues with the feeling of the car.”
“I think at about lap four or five I sustained a bit of damage on the car, I’m not sure what from as I didn’t have any contact or hit any curbs hard.”
“When I jumped out of the car I could see some damage and I also think something broke off so we need to investigate what that was. The issue made it hard to hold on mid corner which eventually led to me spinning and then struggling for the rest of the race.”
“Luckily I didn’t lose too many positions due to the spin and still managed to have a battle to the end. It is still really hard to get past the cars ahead as soon as you are within a second.”
“This track is hard to overtake also but when you have limited grip it is extra hard. The car has been running and feeling really good all weekend so it’s a shame to have the damage and then the bad feeling during the race.”
“We are happy to score some points considering the circumstances, as soon as we had clean air the pace was good. Looking ahead I think if we can have a good Qualifying and clean start then everything else should sort itself out in the race and we can be competitive.”
MCLAREN – 2018 Australian Grand Prix
Fernando Alonso: “It was a good race today, especially considering where we started. The last couple of years have been difficult, and I think the winter has been difficult as well. We switched to the Renault engine quite late and the team had to react very quickly to redesign some of the parts at the rear end, and now we’ve come here and both cars have scored points – one in the top five.”
“We should be proud of that, but I think there’s a lot more to come from McLaren. We didn’t maximise the full potential nor squeeze everything out of the package today.”
“This is only our first race together with Renault, and some updates will come in the next few races. We can start to look ahead a little bit and Red Bull will be the next target.”
“As I said before, this race is probably our lowest performance of this season as things are going to get better and better.
“Obviously, today we got lucky with the two Haas cars retiring, Carlos’ (Sainz) problem in turn nine, and then overtaking (Max) Verstappen under the Safety Car.”
“Let’s say four positions came thanks to some favourable conditions, but we made no mistakes and we capitalised on everything. A perfect job from the team.”
Stoffel Vandoorne: “It’s a great result for the team to have both cars in the points today. It’s a big contrast from last year, and I think there’s massive potential for the future.”
“From my side, I was a little bit unlucky with the Virtual Safety Car, as I think we could have finished even higher up, but for the opening race I think we can be very happy.”
“I’m very optimistic for the rest of the year. We know there is more to come from us this season, and the partnership with Renault is still very new.”
“This was our first race, we know that there are new parts coming over the next couple of grands prix, and I really hope we can show that on track too. The baseline is good, we have something to work with and now we need to keep improving and deliver more performance, and ultimately points. “
“Our performance in the race was pretty good – we were fighting with the Renault and Red Bull cars which is positive, and we think there is definitely some margin for progression.”
“It’s a great start to the season, and after this race I feel there’s a lot of potential for the future. We need to be ambitious as a team, and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s around the corner.”
Lots more coming soon!