Post-race comments from the men who finished 1-2-3
Vettel: ‘We have to keep coming here’
Race winner Sebastian Vettel had a very clear set of priorities when he faced the world’s media after winning the Australian Grand Prix for the first time.
“First of all I’m very happy because I think all of us in the team had a lot of fun today and we won the Australian Grand Prix – it’s really always very nice to come here, the atmosphere is something special,” the 23-year-old Red Bull star said.
“On the drivers’ parade you see the people going crazy, obviously Mark is the local hero – I was slip-streaming him on the drivers’ parade and it’s nice to see so many people coming and cheering for our sport. That’s something we don’t get everywhere so we really enjoy that and we have to keep coming here.”
Turning to the race, Vettel was keen to keep things in perspective despite his crushing display:
“I don’t really like the word ‘dominant’ at this stage: there’s a long, long way to go,” he maintained.
“It’s a long, long season and I try to keep saying to the team that we have to keep our feet on the floor. It was a very good race today, a lot of points, very important, and I think we enjoyed ourselves, which is even more important. But this is a special track, so we have to keep focused for the next one. “It was not an easy race. The start was crucial. I had a good getaway, but didn't know if it was enough until I saw Lewis and Mark battling for position. On the first stint I was trying to hold a gap -- then at some point you reach a cliff and the tyres see some degradation!
“Lewis caught up and we came in. I could not have done more laps and after my stop it was crucial to get past Jenson (Button), which I could do immediately so that was very, very important. After that, in the second part of the race, I didn't know what was going on behind Lewis and, with him dropping off in terms of amount of pressure, I could control the situation a bit better.
Hamilton: “We can be very proud of ourselves”
Second-place man Lewis Hamilton was “privileged”, he said, to be on the podium after pre-season doubts about McLaren’s state of readiness for the 2011 contest.
“I definitely think we can take this and be very proud of ourselves,” said the Briton after finishing just over 22 seconds behind Sebastian Vettel.
“The guys did a great job coming into this weekend and just a week or two ago we were not expecting to be anywhere near the top five. So to come away with a second…
“The car was reliable – it’s the longest the car’s ever lasted, so I’ll take it. Strategy is one that for sure we can work on but generally we’ve got good pace and I’m looking forward to the next race.”
Hamilton said he had to manage the late stages of the race carefully after suffering damage to the underside of his MP4-26: “The plank and the front of the floor is massively damaged,” he explained.
“I don’t know when it happened, maybe when I went off, but I think it maybe happened before that, and I was obviously losing quite a lot of downforce with that. At the end I was just trying to nurse the car home and bring in those points because we’re going to need them for the rest of the year.”
Petrov: To Russia with love…
Vitaly Petrov proved that even the darkest of clouds can have a silver lining on Sunday when he secured an unexpected first podium position for Renault.
The 26-year-old Russian, who endured a topsy-turvy debut year with the team in 2010, came home third at Albert Park behind Sebastian Vettel and the 2008 champion Lewis Hamilton.
"I am very happy to be sitting here with these guys," said Petrov, grinning, in the post-race news conferences. "All the weekend has been pretty good for me, but even after good practice and qualifying, we were not sure where we are...
"Qualifying was not so bad. Then we focussed on the race and today we did everything perfectly. I think we must be proud of our place."
It was his best result in Formula One and the finest by a Russian driver.
Petrov started sixth and survived a first corner battle with Alonso and 2009 champion Briton Jenson Button of McLaren to emerge ahead of them both.
He said: "The start was not bad and I tried to attack Fernando and then I saw Jenson in front - so why brake earlier? I eased the brake and tried to pass both of them. It was great."
Asked if he now felt equipped to lead the team now, in Kubica's absence, he said: "I don't think I need to answer anything. You can see this also... But: yes!"