Cut To The Race Podcast

Drivers’ reactions to the 2021 Qatar Grand Prix

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Formula 1’s debut in Qatar can be considered a success. Most drivers loved the track and the race provided more overtakes than expected. However, tyre resistance proved a problem in Losail. What did the drivers think of their race?


Williams

2021 QATAR GRAND PRIX
Image Credit: Williams

NICHOLAS LATIFI:

“We tried to make the one-stop work knowing that it would be on the limit with tyres, but we thought we could manage it as a strategy call. The surprising thing was that I had no idea that the tyre was about to suffer a puncture, so unfortunately, we weren’t able to adjust our strategy in time. Even once George had to pit again, I still thought that I’d be able to finish the race on my current set as they felt absolutely fine. Overall, I think the strategy was worth the risk, especially once we’d lost track position to the Alfa Romeos, because we couldn’t have done anything more. It’s a shame that the race didn’t work out as the car felt really good around this circuit, but that’s how things go sometimes.”

GEORGE RUSSELL:

“We had an aggressive strategy today and we were trying to push our final stint as long as possible. With the really high-speed right-hand corners at this circuit, the tyres were always going to be pushed to their limit but we had to be that aggressive to be in the fight with the Alfa Romeos. Unfortunately, the left front tyre punctured a few laps from the end so it’s one of those things. It was a shame for our race to end that way but ultimately, it’s nothing gained nothing lost, as our nearest rivals didn’t score any points.”

(Quotes from Williams press release)


Haas

Nikita Mazepin, Uralkali Haas F1 Team
Image Credit: Haas F1 Team

NIKITA MAZEPIN:

“We expected the tires to do one thing and we went medium to soft, and it felt like the balance had a lot of understeer at the end of the first stint. I did decent laps towards the end of the last. I certainly didn’t drive like they were race tires, I drove like they were qualifying tires, learning the track with every lap out there. It was a very hot race. Our big goal was to do laps and maximize. Not the easiest one out there but another new track in the mix next time.”

MICK SCHUMACHER:

“It was good, and we can be happy with what we achieved today. We made the strategy that we chose and committed to work. The start was pretty decent, we got Latifi at the beginning. The performance of the car was there, and we were right in the window. We were very close to the Alfas which is what we were expecting but on the other hand, not from the beginning of the year. It’s down to our teamwork committing to understanding the car as well as we do and having to work with what we have. We’re still now finding new things, finding new ways of improving.”

(Quotes from Haas press release)


Alfa Romeo

Image Credit: Stellantis Media

 

ANTONIO GIOVINAZZI:

“We did the maximum we could, I don’t think anything more than P15 was possible today. We had a great first lap, gaining four places, and then we were in some nice battles for the rest of the evening. We struggled yesterday, but we knew with a good race we could finish ahead of both Haas and Williams – and that is what we delivered. We went for a two-stopper as we knew the degradation was high and the kerbs were hard, and at the end we were quicker than our rivals. Given where we started, we have to be satisfied with our race today.”

KIMI RAIKKONEN:

“I was surprised by the overtakes we could do, in the end it was an entertaining race. I didn’t expect much at the beginning, perhaps to be able to race with some people as the car was pretty much the same as yesterday, but we had a good start and then things kept improving as the race went on. I had some good battles and by the end we were catching the McLaren and AlphaTauri ahead. I think we got everything we could out of this race.”

(Quotes from Alfa Romeo press release)


McLaren

Copyright: McLaren
Image Credit: McLaren Media Centre

DANIEL RICCIARDO:

“Unfortunately, a pretty disappointing end to the triple-header today. We ran into some issues with fuel, and we had to save which dictated our race. So, not sure what happened but we obviously need to look into it. I’m looking forward to moving on. I think a weekend off is necessary for everyone involved. We’ll debrief now, try to understand the issues today and then we’ve got some sim time next week to get ready for the last two. Let’s finish strong.”

LANDO NORRIS:

“A disappointing race. We could’ve scored some good points today. The car was very strong, I felt confident and we had good pace compared to everyone behind. Only Fernando [Alonso] had slightly better pace. I’m not sure we could’ve challenged for the podium, but we had good pace to go for P4, or at least P5, which would’ve been a great result for us. We lost that position through no fault of our own. It’s a huge shame, as the team worked really hard all weekend, but there was nothing we could do.”

(Quotes from McLaren press release)


Aston Martin

Sebastian Vettel, Qatar Grand Prix
Image Credit: Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team

LANCE STROLL:

“The car felt very good today and I am very happy with our performance. I made up a couple of places on lap one and over the first stint it was clear that we had pace to perform well. I overtook [Yuki] Tsunoda on the Mediums and then, after catching the guys ahead, undercut [Carlos] Sainz to move into sixth after stopping for the Hards. Overall, everything went perfectly for us today and scoring eight points at the end of this triple-header is a very satisfying reward for all our hard work.”

SEBASTIAN VETTEL:

“The start of the race proved very costly. We were basically at the back of the train after the first corner. We made a reasonable recovery from P17, but we lost the potential to score more points than we did. On the approach to Turn One, there were lots of cars around me and I was squeezed. I tried to go around the outside but the track was dirtier than I expected and I slid wide. It is frustrating because the car was quick, especially when we were in clean air, and that helped me recover to P10. So, after lap one, it was a strong race, a good recovery, but it hurts when you are on the back foot straight away. It is great to see both cars in the points today so there are many positives to take away from the weekend.”

(Quotes from Aston Martin press release)


AlphaTauri

Image Credit: Red Bull Content Pool

YUKI TSUNODA:

“That was a particularly tough race. I struggled a lot on the soft tyre, especially in the first stint. We really weren’t expecting that, as overall this week we’ve had really good pace, but today in the race it really dropped off. We’ve got to look at the data and figure out why that was. It’s a real shame, as Alpine had a very strong race today, so we need a strong comeback for the last two races.”

PIERRE GASLY:

“It’s a really frustrating day. Both Yuki and myself started in the top 10, but went massively backwards during the race. I was giving everything I had inside the car today, but we were just too slow. Even at the start I wasn’t able to stick with Alonso, so we tried to go for an aggressive two-stop strategy, but the pace just wasn’t there. It didn’t work today, which is really disappointing. After the incident yesterday we changed some parts on the car. I don’t know if these could have impacted our race pace today, but we’ll have to go away and review everything, as I just can’t explain it right now.”

(Quotes from Red Bull press release)


Ferrari

Image Credit: Scuderia Ferrari

CHARLES LECLERC:

“As a team, we ended the weekend on a positive note. Personally, I was happy to see my pace return after quite a frustrating qualifying. I would like to thank our mechanics for the incredible job they did in changing my chassis yesterday. From the first few laps of the race, the feeling I had in the car was already much better and I knew that I could push.
In terms of the overall result, there is nothing to be excited about when you only finish in P8. But considering that I started from a long way back and looking at the strong pace I had, especially in the second stint on the Hard tyres, I think we made a really good recovery. We will now do everything we can to carry this momentum into the final two races of the season.”

CARLOS SAINZ:

“It wasn’t the most entertaining race today for us due to the amount of tyre management we had to do. However, we did a good job and managed to finish on the one-stop strategy, despite the doubts we had prior to the race. As expected, the race start on the Medium tyre was tough for me and I struggled to fight with the cars around me.
From there I just focused on extending the first stint to the maximum and then taking care of the Hard tyre during the first laps of the second stint. When I was told we were safe to push to the end I finally had some fun, catching Ocon and Stroll ahead of me. However, being stuck in a DRS train made it impossible to overtake so that was it.
Overall it’s been a positive triple-header, where I’ve felt confident and fast in the car in every session and race. We have also increased our lead over McLaren so we can be happy about that. Before tackling the last two races of the season a bit of rest is much needed, especially for the mechanics and every member of the race team. Thanks for all the effort guys! Finally, congratulations to Fernando today! Great to see him back on the podium.”

(Quotes from Ferrari press release)


Alpine

Image Credit: Alpine Cars

ESTEBAN OCON:

“Today was a great race on our side and I am very pleased to have finished fifth after starting ninth. I managed to pass Carlos [Sainz] and Yuki [Tsunoda] after a good start. I tried to return the favour to Fernando from Budapest; I asked the team if they needed me to defend from Perez. He was on fresh tyres and it was not easy, but I did the maximum I could. Today’s result is almost like a win for us. Everyone in the team deserves credit for this fantastic effort. Twenty-five points’ gain over Alpha Tauri sets us up very well for the final two races of the year!”

FERNANDO ALONSO:

“It felt fantastic today and to be back on the podium was so good. We deserved this result as a team and I’ve had to wait seven years since my last one. Hopefully we don’t need to wait this long again! We took some risks with the one-stop strategy but it worked out well. We had some strong pace and despite Perez catching us at the end we did enough to hang on. Esteban did a great job in assisting the result and our pitstops were brilliant, so well done to the whole team. I love this track and the car felt amazing all weekend, so I can’t wait to come back here. There was also quite a lot of action and overtakes, which is something we weren’t sure of at the start of the weekend. In the end, it was a perfect weekend for us and we scored lots of points in the Constructors’ Championship, so now we have a good advantage over Alpha Tauri heading into the final two races.”

(Quotes from Alpine press release)


Red Bull

Image Credit: Red Bull Content Pool

SERGIO PEREZ:

“We managed to recover from qualifying and moved through the grid quickly from P11. We were in a very good position to be on the podium, but unfortunately it didn’t work out. It was a very exhausting race. I was flat out the whole time, overtaking and pushing. We were changing our strategy throughout the race; at some stages we were going for one stop and at others two, but others’ tyres were exploding so we had to protect ours to prevent getting a puncture and maximise our position in the Constructors’ Championship. I think we had the podium in our pocket, but for the second week running a virtual safety car has potentially cost us. I don’t know if without it we would have definitely caught up with Fernando, but we would have been close. It is a bit of a shame, but we managed to minimise the damage from Saturday and Valtteri didn’t score any points which is a big benefit to us. Ultimately, I think from a Team point of view we had to play it safe with the constructors in mind. Where we have finished today is a good result for the Team and the longer-term picture, we just have to keep pushing hard and improve our performance in the next two races. Now I am looking forward to Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi because we are going to give it everything. We have a big chance to come on top of the Constructors’ Championship. There are five points in it, it’s all to play for and that is the target.”

MAX VERSTAPPEN:

“I’m of course happy with the result today. This weekend has been quite difficult for us as a Team and we are still lacking pace. I tried everything I could after the five-place grid penalty, so to finish in second and score the fastest lap is really good. I had an exciting start and I knew that the first few laps were really important. I had a good launch and I was fairly quickly back in to second place – from there I tried to keep the gap small and that worked out quite well. I had fun today, especially when going for the fastest lap. It’s a shame that Checo didn’t make it to the podium today, he scored good points for the Team. I’m also happy for Fernando – we all know how good he is, there’s no doubt about that. For now, we need to stay focused, there are still two races left to go and a lot of things can happen. Anything is possible.”

(Quotes from Red Bull press release)


Mercedes

Image Credit: Mercedes AMG F1 Media Database

VALTTERI BOTTAS:

“Obviously, that was a very disappointing day for me and a tough way to end the weekend, after it started so promisingly on Friday. I struggled on the formation lap to get temperature into the tyres and then being on the dirty side of the grid, I had no grip for the start, so I was just wheel spinning, and was skating around on the first lap. Then I got into a bit of a DRS train but once the gaps opened up, I could make progress, the pace was good, and I could go long on the stint. But then, all of a sudden, I had the puncture without any vibration or warning. We knew we were pushing the limit of the tyre, but I was still getting good grip, we still felt comfortable and staying out was our best shot at a podium. It failed just after the pit entry as well, so the most unlucky part of the track, and the car got so damaged on the lap back to the pits we felt it was safer to retire and save the mileage.”

LEWIS HAMILTON:

“It’s been a hell of a year so to be at this point of the season and have back-to-back wins is a great feeling. It was a pretty straight forward race for me, a little bit lonely but of course, we needed those points, so a really solid job by the team. A big thank you to everyone trackside and back at the factories for all their hard work. I’m really grateful for these points and it’s amazing to be able to close the gap so much in the last two weeks. We’ve still got our work cut out, but we’re loving such a close battle and the challenge that it brings. It was a real shame for Valtteri today, having to retire, but the pace was good this weekend and that puts us in good stead for the next two races. We’ll be bringing our triple a-game for those.”

(Quotes from Mercedes press release)


Headline Image: Mercedes AMG F1 Media Database

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