(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)
The Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team had to settle for a double podium finish at the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday after the Brackley based outfit were beaten by Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel who took victory by 8.569s.
Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton started the race from pole position and made a good getaway off the line however Vettel and Ferrari in race trim were just out of reach for the Silver Arrows on Sunday. Despite finishing the race in second place, Hamilton remains in the lead of the championship leading Vettel by three points.
Speaking following the race, Hamilton stated:
‘First of all, huge congratulations to Seb and Ferrari. You have to hand it to them – I wasn't expecting them to be as quick as they were today but they had some serious pace and deserved the win. It’s great for the fans to see them up here. It was a tough race out there. I was struggling with the balance today and never really felt comfortable with the car. There was so much understeer that tyre management was really hard. When I went to the option it was much better, so I thought we'd use it again at the end and was surprised we went with the prime. But I made the best I could with it and ultimately I'm sure the team made the call for the right reasons. There was a bit of confusion on the radio at one point where I wasn't quite sure what we were doing on the strategy but I’m not sure if pitting with Seb would have made the difference anyway. They were as fast if not faster than us today and once I had that gap to make up it was just a step too far. I'm now looking forward to the next race and fighting to get back to the front again.’
Nico Rosberg went on to finish the race in third place which is where the German started the race from. A clearly disappointing Rosberg stated:
‘That wasn't a great weekend for me and I cannot be happy with third place. When the Safety Car came out I lost a lot of time in the pits. I expected to have to wait behind Lewis but it was letting some other cars by that cost the places – especially waiting for the Red Bull queue to move, I think it was. So I had to fight through to the top positions which was tough but my race pace was okay, so I can build on that. We have to congratulate Sebastian and Ferrari. They had a great race pace today and it’s very impressive how they improved over the winter. Now this will be a fight against Ferrari I guess – and we want to strike back in Shanghai.’
Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team’s Executive Director (Business) Toto Wolff felt that the outfit suffered from a lack of race pace and felt that they had made the right call on the strategy side for both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
Speaking following the race, Wolff stated:
‘Our first feeling today is obviously one of disappointment. We were beaten fair and square by Ferrari and Sebastian, who did a fantastic job, and I’m not sure we could have matched their long run pace at any point. They took a well-deserved win. We saw on Friday that Kimi was really strong in these hot conditions, with the track over 60 degrees, and that was confirmed in the race. Of course, it’s easy to be clever after the race looking at things we could have done better and there are certainly plenty of points that could have been optimised. But we take these decisions together as a team and this is the moment to stay calm, do our analysis and learn what we can improve for next time. It was a complicated race for the team to read – and for the drivers, too, from the cockpit. We had some interesting radio discussions and both guys did a great job to deliver the double podium at the finish. But I think we can also take a step back and look at the sport today. Always it seems that when people are making the most noise about changing the rules, Formula One delivers. It was the case in Bahrain last year and we saw it again today. It wasn’t a perfect day for Mercedes but it was a good one for Formula One.’
It was the first time since the Belgian Grand Prix last year that Mercedes failed to take victory and they were as Toto Wolff stated beaten fair and square by Scuderia Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel. Despite not winning the race, the Silver Arrows have extended their lead in the championship to 24 points over Ferrari.
Speaking following the race, Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team Executive Director (Technical) Paddy Lowe stated:
‘First of all, congratulations to Ferrari and Sebastian on an impressive victory. Coming into the race, there were two main choices to be made: whether to make two or three stops, and whether the Prime or the Option would be the better race tyre. It was clear yesterday that opinion was divided on that question, as we saw the leading teams using different tyre compounds in Q1. We saved new Prime tyres for the race, while others saved new Options. We planned a three-stop strategy favouring the Prime tyre and, although the Safety Car came out early, it was late enough to be used as the first of our three stops. With hindsight, the advantage this gave to Ferrari on their two-stop strategy, and the time we lost in traffic in the first laps after the Safety Car, left us with a gap to Sebastian that proved too much of a challenge for us to recover – especially considering that we did not have an underlying pace advantage to Ferrari, who were very competitive this weekend. Nonetheless, we scored a good haul of points with P2 and P3 and I must also say well done to the team, who performed brilliantly on one of the most difficult weekends for human endurance.’
© Ben Johnston 2015