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2024 Australian Grand Prix – What the Team Principals are Saying after the Race

Round three of the 2024 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season is in the books, and for the first time this year, Carlos Sainz Jr. and Scuderia Ferrari found their way to victory, who took his third career win just two weeks after surgery for appendicitis.

Max Verstappen’s dominant start to the season came to an end after brake issues saw the Oracle Red Bull Racing driver retire after just three laps, while the podium was rounded out by Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris.

Perhaps the biggest talking point came on the penultimate lap, with Fernando Alonso being given a time penalty equivalent to a drive-through penalty after stewards deemed that he was the reason why George Russell crashed out at turn six.

Here what those from the pit wall and garages had to say after the conclusion of the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park.

Frédéric Vasseur – Team Principal, Scuderia Ferrari

“Today, I want to congratulate the whole team, because everyone did a perfect job and this one-two is the reward for the amazing work which began last season and is now ongoing both at the track and back in Maranello. Of course, Carlos deserves a special mention because a little over two weeks ago he was undergoing surgery. Now it’s as if that never happened and he managed to stay focussed throughout, to round off a sensational weekend.

“Charles also produced a solid performance because, after a less than perfect qualifying, he had to manage the tyres, but he was able to fight back thanks to the performance he got from the car. He did really well in the first and last stints and the fastest race lap he picked up right at the end confirms the progress we have made in terms of tyre management.

“We have been quick all weekend right from the first free practice and I think we have made a good step forward compared to where we were one year ago, when we left Melbourne having failed to score points. We were not disappointed with our results in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, nor are we getting carried away because of this one-two finish. We must continue with this approach in the coming races because that’s the only way we are going to get the results we want.”

Andrea Stella – Team Principal, McLaren F1 Team

“Our first podium of the season has come with a very strong performance here in Australia. Albert Park definitely seemed to suit the MCL38 but finishing P3 and P4 also required the team to do an amazing job delivering performance and reliability, while the drivers were excellent today in how they coped with the tyres.

“It is a big team effort, on both sides of the world. I would like to thank all the men and women at McLaren and HPP who have worked very hard so far to consolidate and continue the positive journey that we started in 2023.

“I hope the team at home, and our partners, enjoy this podium as much as the trackside team. We now look ahead to our next double header starting in Japan.”

Christian Horner – Team Principal & CEO, Oracle Red Bull Racing

“Our first DNF since 2022 which coincidently was also here in Melbourne. It was not the race we were looking to run. Firstly with Max’s car it was obviously really disappointing to have that brake issue. I think actually from the start of the Grand Prix, it felt like the brakes were locked on which obviously created an issue as it is effectively like having the handbrake on throughout the race.

“And then with Checo, we picked up some floor damage, he lost quite a lot of downforce from the underside of the car and we just became hard on the tyre which is very unusual for us. So yeah, really frustrating to get our first DNF in two years, a lot to understand from that race but disappointing to be leaving here with just a bit less than usual.

“Huge respect for Carlos though, coming back from surgery and putting in a drive like that is remarkable. It was a great performance from him and Ferrari, they took their opportunity and got the result they deserved.”

Sergio Perez was almost a minute off winner Carlos Sainz Jr. at the chequered flag – Credit: Zak Mauger / LAT Images

Mike Krack – Team Principal, Aston Martin Aramco Formula 1 Team

“A strong race in Albert Park today and we have scored 12 championship points. Full credit to both drivers, who converted our grid positions into points, making use of two very different tyre strategies.

“Lance has driven well all weekend and carried that form through to the chequered flag. Fernando’s race benefited from the Virtual Safety Car – it was surprising to see him drop to P8 with the post-race penalty, but we have to accept the decision.

“This will not distract from a positive day. The calls from the pit wall were spot on and operationally the whole team has been excellent.” 

Laurent Mekies – Team Principal, Visa CashApp RB

“It’s a very positive result for us today. Yuki executed a fast and well-controlled race to top the whole midfield group and got us our first points of the season. He did not put a foot wrong all weekend, and with calm and determination got faster session after session.

“Daniel’s pace was also strong, and we can only regret that we had to start from the back. He fought his way back to P12, and there were certainly points available today for him as well, had he started from a better position.

“The team performed very well all weekend and it was only by getting a near-perfect weekend that we could score points here, given how tight the mid-field is. So, a big well done to everyone in Faenza, in Bicester, and at Honda.

“We go to Japan with some good encouragement from the Australian round here, and we are very conscious of how hard we will need to push there to get again a very tiny edge onto the midfield.”

Ayao Komatsu – Team Principal, MoneyGram Haas F1 Team

“It was a great day with a double points finish, the first time since Austria 2022. Especially after yesterday’s qualifying, I said we expected to have better race pace – but to be able to get double points is better than expected – so it just goes to show that you need to be there.

“You need to do everything perfect to be able to pick up those last available positions. It wasn’t perfect today, so there’s some things that we need to improve, but overall, I’m so happy for the team.

“Both drivers drove a brilliant race, and the pit stop crew, when it was critical, they delivered, they got our drivers out in front of the competition. What a great team effort, I’m very happy.” 

Nico Hülkenberg scored points for a second consecutive weekend – Credit: Mark Sutton / LAT Images

Dave Robson – Head of Vehicle Performance, Williams Racing

“Having not done any meaningful high fuel running until today, we started the race on the backfoot. We knew that graining would be an issue, especially after the mandated tyre pressures were increased on Friday night, however, we didn’t do enough to mitigate the issue and this left Alex stuck between front graining and rear tyre degradation.

“The car wasn’t quick enough in race trim this weekend, which left Alex having to find the laptime by pushing the tyres, which accelerated the degradation and left us unable to fight with the cars that we should be able to race with. For this to coincide with a race with so many fast cars retiring is even more frustrating as there is no reason why, with more experience from Friday, we couldn’t have been fighting Yuki for P8. 

“It has been a difficult weekend for obvious reasons and whilst the attitude throughout the team has been very impressive, we all leave Melbourne disappointed by today’s result. We will be in Japan in two weeks’ time, and we look forward to tackling the very different demands of the great track in Suzuka.”

Bruno Famin – Team Principal, BWT Alpine F1 Team

“While we did not score points in today’s race, we are making progressive steps forwards. There are many areas we must improve – and will improve – as it was far from a clean race for both cars today. That said, we probably maximised the result with what we could control.

“We must keep closing the gap to our rivals by chipping away in improving across all areas. Both drivers continue to work collaboratively with the team, so credit to them again for their very good efforts.

“The next race is Japan where we intend to continue showing progress.”

Alessandro Alunni Bravi – Team Representative, Kick Sauber F1 Team

“First of all, we need to apologise to our drivers, especially to Valtteri, who in the first part of the race showed he could match the top ten drivers and was clearly fighting for a points finish, thanks to a good start and strong pace.

“As we said before the race, we had implemented mitigation measures for our pit stop issue, something that has improved the situation but, as we have seen, not completely solved the problem: what happened to Valtteri is a slightly different, but linked, issue compared to what happened in Bahrain or Saudi Arabia, but one for which we paid a really high price and that completely ruined Valtteri’s race.

“We clearly lost a big opportunity to score points, as he would have been there or thereabout with Tsunoda by the end of the race. Zhou, starting from the pit lane, had a different issue as we saw problems with his gearbox throughout the race: when he came to the pits, he was unable to select the gear, before the car finally stalled. It was not the driver’s fault but another frustrating circumstance that damaged our race.

“As a team, we need to take our responsibilities when these things happen: it’s the only way we can improve. It’s really tough not to score points when we had the potential to do it, as we saw we had the performance to be ahead of Haas, RB and our other direct competitors.

“We need to keep working hard, even harder to fix these problems. We regroup, we stay united with our drivers and our team back home in Hinwil and trackside, and together we do all we can to come back stronger in the next race.” 

Toto Wolff, Team Principal & CEO, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team

“That was a disappointing race to end a difficult weekend. After taking a brave decision to start on the Soft tyre, Lewis had made good progress initially. Unfortunately his race came to an end shortly after. We will send the Power Unit back to Brixworth and investigate what caused the failure.

“For George, it was clear that Alonso braked earlier than he had on previous laps. It is now with the stewards to determine what caused that. Nobody feels positive about where we find ourselves right now, but we are focused on turning this around.

“It is tough to take but we will remain calm and composed. We have seen others who have shown that when you get it right, things can turn around quickly. That is what we are aiming to do.”

George Russell was on course to score points until crashing out on the penultimate lap – Credit: Sam Bagnall / LAT Images


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