Formula 1

What They’re Saying After the Spanish Grand Prix – Team Principals and Engineers

10 Mins read
Credit: LAT Images

Toto Wolff – Team Principal – Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team

Winner: Lewis Hamilton, Third: Valtteri Bottas

“I’m very happy for the team,” said Wolff.  “To have understood the difficulties from Silverstone, recover from them and come back with a great set-up and fantastic tyre management – that just shows the strengths of this team.

“A massive well done to all the people at the factories and here at the track for their hard work. Everyone pulled together and overcame what we have seen as our biggest weakness.

“Lewis was in a league of his own today; he controlled the race very well and did a brilliant job. He managed the tyres extremely well and ultimately his call to go to Mediums for the last stint was the right one. Valtteri unfortunately suffered a tricky start and lost a few places which is a shame, because he had the pace to finish second.

“The Soft tyre wasn’t the best compound to attack Verstappen in the end, so we need to understand why that was the case. But overall, first and third and the extra point for the fastest lap makes for a great recovery after Silverstone and an almost perfect result.”

Andrew Shovlin – Chief Race Engineer – Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team

Winner: Lewis Hamilton, Third: Valtteri Bottas

“There’s been a lot of work going on in Brackley over the last week to understand what went wrong in Silverstone, so it’s really satisfying to win here in hot conditions,” said Shovlin.  “It’s been a challenging weekend given the temperatures.

“We did good work on Friday and had a clear understanding of how hard life was going to be for the tyres with the track at nearly 50°C, but we didn’t know how we’d be on relative pace. That certainly turned out towards the better end of our expectations; Lewis managed for the first ten laps, but when he started to pick up the pace we had a bit of an edge in terms of pace and degradation. He drove a perfect race and managed the tyres brilliantly.

“Valtteri’s day wasn’t so straightforward. He lost places off the line and got squeezed into Turn 1 so had to work through a couple of cars early to get back into the fight at the front, all without taking too much out of the tyres. He was able to follow Max closely and we may conclude that there was a small window where we could have gone for an undercut in that middle stint, but Red Bull covered the situation well.

“A reminder that they race well and never give us anything for free. Valtteri had the chance for to go for fastest lap at the end on fresh Medium tyres and it was some consolation to see him break the lap record and get the extra Championship point.

“We’re looking forward to a few days back in the UK to prepare for the next triple-header. There are some amazing tracks coming up with Spa, Monza and Mugello and they all present their own unique challenges, so we’ll be using this time to understand how to get the best out of the W11 in each of those races.”

Christian Horner – Team Principal – Aston Martin Red Bull Racing

Second: Max Verstappen, Eighth: Alexander Albon

“Once again Max extracted the absolute maximum from the car today and to split the Mercedes, which was the faster race car, it’s the best we could have hoped for,” said Horner.  

“After making a good start, using the slipstream and getting ahead of Bottas into Turn One, Max settled into the race and on a two-stop strategy he pushed as hard as he could to keep the pressure on Lewis and stay ahead of Valtteri.

“For Alex, he made a good start but got boxed in at the first corner behind Valtteri and he then seemed to struggle with degradation on all tyre compounds. P8 was the outcome of that and now we’ll need to go through all the information from the race to try and understand what created that degradation on the three compounds of tyre.

“The mechanics did a standout job once again today with more sub-two second pit stops and now I’m sure they are all ready for a well deserved weekend off before we head to Spa.”

Christian Horner was delighted that Max Verstappen was able to split the Mercedes drivers to finish second – Credit: Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool

Otmar Szafnauer – Team Principal and CEO – BWT Racing Point Formula One Team

Fourth: Lance Stroll, Fifth: Sergio Pérez

“Fourth and fifth place is a deserved result and there’s no doubt we maximised the points that were available to us,” said Szafnauer.  “It was difficult to fight the top three on pure pace, but converting our qualifying positions into race results feels very satisfying – especially with split strategies.

“Lance made his usual strong start off the grid and then both cars ran in close company for most of the race. Lance maintained his advantage over Sergio during the first pit stops, until we switched him to a two-stop race, while Sergio tried to make the one-stop strategy work.

“Sergio’s race was compromised by the five seconds penalty for blue flags, but in the end it didn’t cost the team points because Lance finished just ahead of him. The team called the race very well today and, in the end, there was little to choose between those two different strategies.

“The 22 points scored – our best result of the season – take us into third place in the championship.”

Andreas Seidl – Team Principal – McLaren F1 Team

Sixth: Carlos Sainz Jr., Tenth: Lando Norris

“Finishing P6 and P10 today is a great result at a race we expected to be very challenging,” said Seidl.  “This second triple-header of the season has been tough, and this is a reward for all the hard work the team at the track and back in in Woking, the drivers and Renault have put in over the last few weeks. 

“We’ve had great reliability so far this year – six races without any issues – which is testament to the great work being done across the team, from design and production, to the build of sub-assemblies and the full car and logistics. We must keep up such performance and reliability.

“Today, the strategy team and the pit-stop crew performed really well. Carlos put in a great drive and maximised everything we had to beat one of the Red Bulls. Lando was unlucky to lose a couple of places at the start, but after that drove with really good pace.

“We want to use this momentum, keep pushing and further develop the car. It’s been another hot, exhausting week and the team have had to get used to working under difficult conditions and covid protocols.

“Now, we’ll take the time to recharge, as it isn’t long until we head out to Spa and start the next triple-header.” 

Carlos Sainz Jr. scored good points for McLaren in Spain – Credit: Steven Tee/McLaren F1 Team

Mattia Binotto – Team Principal – Scuderia Ferrari

Seventh: Sebastian Vettel, Retired: Charles Leclerc

“A very disappointing weekend, not just because of the result, but also because of the way we managed it,” said Binotto.  “In qualifying yesterday, we didn’t make the most of the potential at our disposal and we know how important grid position is on this track where overtaking is so difficult.

“Despite that, in the race we had a genuine chance of fighting for fourth place with Charles, but a reliability problem put him out of the running. A malfunction in an electronic control unit resulted in his car shutting down, causing him to spin, effectively ending his race. 

“Sebastian moved up the order well, showing great tenacity and driving very cleanly: doing a 36 lap stint on used Soft tyres is quite something. The same observation goes for him as well as for Charles: starting further up the grid he could have aspired to do better than seventh.

“We have dropped out of third spot in the Constructors’ classification, even if by just a few points. We must always get all the potential out of our car if we want to achieve this goal and we must continue to work hard to close the gap to those who today were out of reach for us, namely the only three cars that completed all the laps of this Grand Prix.”

Guillaume Dezoteux – Head of Vehicle Performance – Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda

Ninth: Pierre Gasly, Twelfth: Daniil Kvyat

“The very hot conditions favoured the two-stop strategy today, although some cars managed to make the one-stop work,” said Dezoteux.  “As for Pierre, the first stint was strong as he managed to keep Leclerc behind and maintained a gap to Sainz.

“We had to manage the car a bit as the brakes and tyres were on the hot side. We stopped him as soon as we were clear from Grosjean and we tried to use our tyre advantage, as we had two sets of medium tyres available. Unfortunately for Pierre, his entire second stint was in traffic and he got stuck in a train with Albon and Norris.

“The last stint was very similar, but we thought we could pass Vettel who was losing quite a bit of time as he trying to make the one-stop work. Overall, we bring home some points which reward a strong weekend on Pierre’s side of the garage.

“Daniil’s race was more complicated. He started to lose ground at the end of his first stint, so we decided to box him for medium tyres. His second stint was okay, but not enough to beat Ricciardo, who was going for the one-stop. In the final part of the race, he was very close but the leaders coming by were forcing him to drop and attack again.

“Obviously, after showing a competitive performance over the entire weekend, we would have preferred to bring home more points, but overall, it’s a positive result that confirms we are a strong midfield contender. We will go on working hard to keep the good momentum going and increase our advantage over our direct competitors.”

Pierre Gasly scored two more points for AlphaTauri in Spain – Credit: Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool

Cyril Abiteboul – Team Principal – Renault F1 Team

Eleventh: Daniel Ricciardo. Thirteenth: Esteban Ocon

“We concluded our first weekend of the year without scoring any points,” said Abiteboul.  “This is not for a lack of effort or execution from the race team and I believe we extracted all we could from the car this weekend.

“Put simply, the car is not good enough at a track like this one. Barcelona is a good test when it comes to the aerodynamic efficiency of the car, so it says something about the areas we have to improve. We’ve made some steps in the winter, but not enough to be on the leading side of the midfield here.

“It’s all very tight; two tenths yesterday in qualifying made a big difference and, again, it was tight today in the race. That’s not an excuse, though. We should be at a point where we could be doing better than that. We have a clear area of focus and we will be pushing to accelerate the next upgrades on the car.”

Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal – Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN

Fourteenth: Kimi Räikkönen.  Sixteenth: Antonio Giovinazzi.

“It’s disappointing not to bring home any points after a race weekend where we looked more convincing than in previous weeks,” said Vasseur.  “Both drivers executed a good race, attacking where needed and pulling off some very good overtaking moves, but in the end that was not enough for a place in the top ten.

“It is important, though, to keep moving in the right direction: we have seen an improvement both yesterday in qualifying and in today’s race, so we need to build on this for the next triple-header.”

Kevin Magnussen was Haas’ best finisher in fifteenth on Sunday – Credit: Mark Sutton / LAT Images

Guenther Steiner – Team Principal – Haas F1 Team

Fifteenth: Kevin Magnussen. Nineteenth: Romain Grosjean.

“It wasn’t the result we wanted to have,” said Steiner.  “It’s just always trying to execute, do something to find some magic – but the magic didn’t work today. This is where we are at for now.

“In Belgium we will see what the change in the engine modes does. I don’t want to jump too much for joy, as I want to see first how it works out and what it does. I don’t think everything is the engine, I think we’ve got work to do on the car as well.

“It’s difficult for us this year in the circumstances we’re in. The positives, our drivers drove hard today – they did the best they could. Everybody worked hard to get the best out of our package, this is the best we can do at the moment.”

Dave Robson – Head of Vehicle Performance – Williams Racing

Seventeenth: George Russell. Eighteenth: Nicholas Latifi

“Today was another tricky day at the end of three weeks of racing,” said Robson.  “Our performance was better than on Friday, showing that we understood some of the issues we had and that we made some good improvements to the car ahead of qualifying. The tyres remained a little difficult, but it made for some interesting racing, with a variety of strategies attempted across the field.

“We enjoyed racing with Haas and Alfa Romeo, and although we couldn’t beat them today, we were much closer than we feared after Friday, which is an encouraging sign. We ran slightly different strategies on our two cars with Nicholas starting on the Medium and finishing with a short stint on the Soft.

“George ran the opposite tyre order, with a short middle stint on Medium as we looked to cover the cars that had pitted behind us. As ever, both drivers did well with the car that we were able to give them today, including some good overtakes from George.

“Coming back to Barcelona at a different time of year has given us a good opportunity to evaluate the car performance in different conditions and has helped our understanding of the tyres at this circuit. We now have a short break before we embark on the third of the triple-headers, which begins at the iconic Spa circuit in two weeks’ time.”

Mario Isola – Head of F1 and Car Racing – Pirelli Motorsport

“Managing the tyres in these demanding conditions with nearly 50 degrees of track temperatures was a big challenge, especially on the soft tyre,” said Isola.  “Nonetheless, we saw stints of more than 30 laps on them, which was extremely impressive, leading to some  one-stop strategies that we didn’t expect.

“In particular, Racing Point’s Sergio Perez was fifth with soft-medium one-stopper, while Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel also stopped once with a brave strategy, going from medium to soft.

“Despite the hottest temperatures that many of the drivers have ever raced and a wide range of demands, the tyres stood up extremely well to the challenge.”

George Russell finished seventeenth on Sunday – Credit: Williams Racing
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