“WE WENT FOR IT!”
Monte-Carlo, Sunday May 29
“First of all, I’m pleased to hear that Vitaly [Petrov] is okay after we saw another big shunt this weekend. “As for my race, I didn’t put a foot wrong out there, pulled away into a good lead… but came
away with ‘only’ 15 points in the end. But that’s Monte-Carlo.
“We jumped Sebastian [Vettel] at the first stop and I then pushed like crazy on the Super-Soft, even tapping the wall a couple of times. The car was good and I pulled out a big lead, about 15 seconds, so it was all looking great at that point.
“Then we made another tyre stop – just moments before the Safety Car was deployed. By that stage, we still hadn’t run the Prime, which meant we still had to fit another set of tyres to finish the race.
“With 10 laps to go, it was looking like either myself, Sebastian or Fernando [Alonso] could win the race: Sebastian’s tyres were going off and Fernando was pushing him really hard. I could tell that Fernando was getting ready to have a go into Turn One – it was fun to watch because they were either going to crash or there was going to be an opportunity for me to try and get through as they battled each other. Any of us could have won at that point.
“But after the red flag for Vitaly’s big accident, all the teams were able to fit fresh tyres – which meant we couldn’t do anything because the three of us were all on the same pace and I’d lost my advantage.
“The team did a great job this weekend and I’m very happy. We really went for it and had to try something different in order to beat Sebastian here. It was looking good, but it didn’t work out in the end…”
“It’s been a disappointing weekend, really. “This afternoon, in the race itself, I made some strong moves on three drivers – Michael [Schumacher], Felipe [Massa] and Pastor [Maldonado] – and I got penalised for two of them.
“With Felipe, I went up the inside at the hairpin, he turned in early and we touched. With Pastor, again, he turned in and I was pushed over the kerb. “The penalties were frustrating: it’s really tough to overtake around here, and you rarely get an opportunity to do so. I was racing my heart out and just wanted to put on a good show for everyone.”
MARTIN WHITMARSH, Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
“Our car had a lot of pace here in Monte-Carlo today – race-winning pace in fact – and I guess we’d therefore have to count ourselves as a bit unlucky not to have been able to convert that pace into the race win it could well have achieved.
“We selected a three-stop strategy for Jenson – and, had the race not been red-flagged just as Jenson had caught Sebastian and Fernando, I think that that selection would have been revealed as the right one. Now, of course, we’ll never know – but it’s undeniable that Sebastian and Fernando were both on very worn tyres at the end, whereas Jenson’s were pretty fresh by comparison, so we definitely fancied his chances of being able to press home that advantage by overtaking the Ferrari and the Red Bull in the final laps. But, as I say, the red flag scuppered those chances.
“Having said that, Jenson drove not only faultlessly but also very, very fast here this afternoon. Indeed, he posted the team’s 10,000th lap in the lead of a grand prix today, a stunning statistic. On his charge, he caught the Sebastian-Fernando battle by almost two seconds per lap whilst still managing to conserve his tyres. It was a truly excellent performance.
“Lewis, by contrast, had a frustrating afternoon. I guess the reality is that, if you start anywhere other than at the front of the grid here in Monte-Carlo, you’re always going to run the risk of getting involved in incidents – especially if, like Lewis, you’re a forceful driver who never, ever, gives up. But that’s Lewis. That’s why he’s such a fantastic driver – and that’s why watching him race is so thrilling. So, yes, he’s disappointed, because he’s been seriously quick all weekend here, but that’s Monte-Carlo; that’s racing; that’s life.
“Immediately after the race he was very down, and during a post-race TV interview he made a poor joke about his penalties that referenced Ali G. However, I’m pleased to say that he chose to return to the track a little while later to speak to the stewards about the joke. They accepted his explanation.
“In summary, then, Sebastian was probably a bit luckier than Jenson today, but he drove well to win so congratulations are due. In Montreal, though, let’s hope it’s our turn to have a bit of luck on our side.”
Fastest lap: 1m16.463s (+0.229s, 3rd)
Pitstops: Three: laps 15, 33 and 48 (Op-Op-Op-Pr; fitted Pr for restart)
2011 points: 76 (4th)
Fastest lap: 1m17.847s (+1.613s, 5th)
Pitstops: Two: laps 22 and 49, drive-through on lap 43 and post-race drive-through for causing collisions (Pr-Op-Pr; fitted Op for restart)
2011 points: 77 (2nd)