Sunday: Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull

Date published: April 9 2017

Lewis Hamilton claimed his fifth career win in China, while Max Verstappen finished on the podium after starting P16.

Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton: “My pole lap put me in a great position and then the start was just fantastic. I’m really happy with my starts right now so I want to keep that up! During the race I needed to keep my composure in some really tricky conditions out there. After the pit stop under the Safety Car the speed was low and the tyres were very cold, so it would have been very easy to make a mistake, so I’m just grateful that I didn’t. In those final 20 laps Seb and I were just pounding around as fast as we could, exchanging fastest lap times, that’s what racing is all about. In the future there will be times when we don’t have a Safety Car and we won’t have that gap. I’m excited for that. It’s very close and there were times when it was hard to match Sebastian. It has been a fantastic weekend and I’m so grateful for the effort the team has put in for us to be where we are today. It’s very overwhelming when you have a weekend like this, because I’m just a single link in the chain and there are hundreds of people who are involved to put me up here on the top step. Big congratulations to everyone, especially those back home, I hope they’re celebrating and feeling the spirit and the fight.”

Valtteri Bottas: “I’m very disappointed with today. I made a good start but it didn’t go so well from there. Yes, we lost some time in the pit stop but it was nothing compared to what we lost with my mistake. I was trying everything I could to get temperature in the tyres behind the Safety Car but went too aggressive and lost control of the car. It was entirely my fault. I’m really sorry for the team and the points we lost today. It took few laps to get the tyres working after the spin but in the end my pace was okay. I think we made the right choice sticking with the Soft tyre for the second stint. The car was good today – a winning car, obviously. But the laps were running out as I was getting closer to the cars in front and I couldn’t recover enough of the time I lost. I’m leaving for Bahrain tonight and I’m glad the next race comes soon. Once you’ve done a mistake it’s done, so you try to forget it and do everything you can to make up for it next time, so I will take a look in the mirror at myself and come back stronger.”

Ferrari

Sebastian Vettel: “We can be happy with today’s results. The race was a lot of fun, very entertaining. Conditions were tricky at the start, you never know what can happen in those moments, so I was perhaps a bit too conservative. Then we chose to change tires since the track was quickly drying out, so that we could take advantage from the slicks; but luck was not on our side as the safety car came in right after. I can’t say how much this affected the final result, it was still a long way from there to the finish, but I think it had an effect. From then I had to work my way through the field, and I had a tense wheel-to-wheel fight with Ricciardo. I like this way of overtaking, when gaining position comes at a price and not simply by opening up the DRS. At that moment though, the gap to Lewis had widened, and I kept pushing to keep some pressure on him, while asking my engineer what pace was needed for me to catch him. I think that pace-wise we were a match today, sometimes he was faster, sometimes I was: if we can fight with Mercedes also in Bahrain that will be again good news. We can still improve.”

Kimi Raikkonen: “It was not a very strong race, the car felt good with fresh tires, but we seemed to lose the front very quickly and I was struggling; in a place like this that’s very tricky and gives a lot of laptime away. I feel that, even with that, we should have had a better result: maybe we could have changed the tires a bit earlier, but it’s always easy to speak after the race, now we have look at the data and understand. This result is far from ideal but this is what we have got today, hopefully next week we can make things better.”

Red Bull

Max Verstappen: “That was a very special race. When I woke up this morning I never expected to be on the podium. It was a very good first lap, I passed nine cars I think which is very positive. The conditions really helped me get past the cars as quick as I could, that was important as I knew it would only dry up and get tougher to pass. I always enjoy driving in the wet so I made the most of the fun conditions early on. I think in the first eleven laps I got up to seventh place which set me up for a strong finish. We were a bit unsure of how the balance of the car would be towards the end of the race as I didn’t run much yesterday in Qualifying and the temperature is a lot lower today. We had quite a bit of understeer but just about managed to hold on to third place. These balance issues combined with being within two seconds of another car in the closing stages of the race made it really hard to drive, there were blue flags out but I still couldn’t get past, this needs looking into. The battle with Daniel at the end was hard as my car was not fun to defend in. I’m glad we hung on and obviously it was a great race to watch and for the team. I think on pure pace in the dry we are still a bit slow for a podium but all things considered today we definitely MAXED it out.”

Daniel Ricciardo: “I have mixed emotions, it’s obviously disappointing to miss out on the podium as it was so close today but as a team it’s a good result to finish third and fourth. I lost a lot of time in the first stint as I struggled to keep my front tyres alive and that pretty much put us out of a podium position. After the first pit stop I had good balance and speed which meant I could claw some time back and close the gap to the leaders. Towards the end of the race I could see that Max was struggling with his tyres but as soon as I got close to him I also began to struggle with mine. The team let us race but even though I was in the DRS zone I was not really close enough to pull off a convincing move.  I had a look but the inside lines were still quite slippery into the hairpin and I was honestly never really close enough to make a move stick. It was also quite noticeable that the DRS effect is far less on the cars this year which didn’t help. As a team we should be pleased with the result and we learnt a lot today but we still have some work to do to close the gap to Mercedes and Ferrari.”