Stefano Domenicali: “The first race of the championship has provided a clear picture of the hierarchy at the start of season. It’s also shown which teams appear to have done the best job of dealing with these new regulations. Today, we achieved our objective in terms of reliability, but the gap we need to make up, especially to Mercedes, was clear to see. The information we have gathered this weekend clearly points to the direction we must take and what areas need the most work. It will be important to catch up as quickly as possible and react in the way this team has always proved capable of doing. Our engineers know what the priorities are and which areas need the most immediate attention.”
Fernando Alonso: “I’d have liked to start the season with a podium, but getting both cars to the flag is a good result, which can give us confidence, especially on the reliability front. I had some problems with the electric motor at the start and had to make a few changes from the steering wheel, but after the first ten laps everything went well. When I managed to pass Hulkenberg after the pit stop my pace was definitely better, although it was impossible to overtake. 35 seconds down on the leader is too big a gap and to work out what we need to do to close that gap, we will need to analyse the race, work out what are the strong and weak points on the car and with that in mind, the laps I did behind Nico can provide very useful information. We are a great team and I have total faith in our guys, because they did a great job today. We still have lots to learn about this new Formula 1, as the race was very strange and very difficult. But it’s only the start. We must concentrate on doing better in Malaysia.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “That wasn’t a straightforward race. At the start, I managed to get away well and even though I was hit from behind by another car at the first corner, my car was undamaged. The speed was good, but at one point I was suffering with graining on the front tyres, I had very little grip and a lot of understeer. From then on, the car’s handling was not the same. When it was time for the first stop, we had to do a double stop and that cost me a place. It’s definitely too early to make any definite judgement, because even if at the moment we don’t seem to be in great shape, we still managed to finish the race, scoring valuable points. We can’t be pleased with this result and we know there are many areas where we need to improve. But I’m sure that analysing the data from this first race will give us a clearer idea of the direction to work in.”
Pat Fry: “Going into this race, getting both cars to the finish seemed like the most difficult task, but in the end, we managed it. Today we saw how reliability can never be taken for granted: it caught some people out and it also affected our performance at some stages of the race. On both the F14 Ts, we had some electrical problems, especially on Kimi’s car, which meant he couldn’t use all the car’s potential. Fernando found himself behind Hulkenberg for many laps and he was only able to show what the car was capable of once he got ahead thanks to a spot on pit stop strategy. Kimi got a great start, but then for much of the race he suffered with graining on the front tyres and thus found himself having to defend, without being able to attack. There is much work ahead if we are to improve the car’s performance. We are up againstseveral very strong opponents, but we have all the right tools to get the job done of closing the gap between us.”
Australian GP – Points but problems too
Scuderia Ferrari leaves Melbourne with 14 points in the bag – Alonso fifth, Raikkonen eighth – but with a clear sign there is plenty of work to do in the ten days before the action starts again for Round 2 in Malaysia.
As expected, Mercedes was the dominant force, with Nico Rosberg taking the win, the fourth of his F1 career. To the delight of the Aussie fans, Daniel Ricciardo finished second on his debut for Red Bull Racing, while the star performance of the day came from 21 year old Kevin Magnussen, third for McLaren on his maiden F1 outing. Electrical glitches on both F14 T and some tyre graining problems for Raikkonen meant the Prancing Horse was unable to show its true performance level in the first race of the season.
In the championships, the two Prancing Horse drivers are naturally where they finished today, while the team is fourth in the Constructors on 14 points.
It was a cool 19 degrees for the start, with a few rain clouds posing a threat that never materialised all afternoon. With a Marussia stuck on the grid, it took two starts to get the field away and in fact, the extra formation lap, combined with several laps spent behind the Safety Car meant that the anticipated need for drivers to slow and save fuel was less visible than expected.
After the lights went out, Fernando dropped one place to sixth but retook Hulkenberg to go fifth, while Kimi stormed up to eighth, lucky to survive being hit by Kobayashi’s Caterham at Turn 1. Hamilton made a bad start from pole so that Mercedes team mate Rosberg led, from Ricciardo in the Red Bull, with Magnussen up to third for McLaren. Fernando dropped behind the Force India again, held up in a duel with Vergne’s Toro Rosso, with Kimi behind the Frenchman. Kvyat and Bottas completed the top ten.
Hulkenberg was going to hold up Fernando all the way to the second pit stop, when the Ferrari managed to get out ahead of the Force India, by staying on track a lap longer, pitting on lap 34. Nearly the entire field had come in for their first tyre changes on lap 12, during the Safety Car period, after Bottas lost a wheel. In fact, this cost Kimi a bit of time, as he was briefly “queued” behind his team-mate. Button in the McLaren built his fourth place finish on those pit stops, being the first driver to come down pit lane for both tyre changes.
Going back to lap 3 and Kimi was seventh, passing Vergne, as Hamilton pitted the Mercedes to retire, so the Finn in the Ferrari was sixth behind his team- mate. Vettel the reigning world champion, retired the Red Bull in the pits on lap 6, after dropping down the order. Next time round, Bottas got his Williams ahead of Kimi’s F14T, relegating the Ferrari to seventh. Hulkenberg, Fernando and Bottas were nose to tail down the pit straight on lap 10, with the Finn having a look down the side of the Spaniard at one point, but the Williams man hit the wall, losing a rear wheel, which promoted Kimi back to sixth. He got up to fifth by lap 34, but he was again passed by fellow Finn Bottas. Kimi’s second stop came on lap 36, one lap after Fernando, which dropped him to ninth, which he improved to eighth by passing Vergne again.
Australian GP – Alonso 5th, Raikkonen 8th
Melbourne, 16 March – Ferrari had a difficult time of it today in Albert Park, with Fernando Alonso coming home fifth, three places ahead of Kimi Raikkonen. The race was won by Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes, the German’s fourth career victory. Daniel Ricciardo was second for Red Bull, while Kevin Magnussen was third on his Formula 1 debut with McLaren. Button was fourth in the other McLaren, finishing 6.2 seconds ahead of Alonso. The rest of the points went to Bottas, Hulkenberg, Raikkonen, Vergne and Kvyat.
The Scuderia leaves the Antipodes with 14 valuable points and plenty of data to analyse, as it strives to sort out a few teething troubles it encountered during this the first race for the highly complex 2014 cars.