Today’s Chinese Grand Prix was Mclaren’s strongest result this season, with Heikki Kovalainen 5th. However the race must be viewed as one of missed opportunity for Lewis Hamilton. The World Champion had the chance of 4th place, but dropped to 6th with a number of costly errors as his tyres wore.
Heikki Kovalainen – 5th: “The visibility was unbelievably poor – especially during the first few laps after the Safety Car came in. But our pace was good and, during the last laps of the race, I could get close to Rubens just not enough to start an attack. Our strategy was spot on: finishing higher than fifth was not possible today and I’m very pleased to have scored four solid points without making a single mistake despite some massive moments!”
Lewis Hamilton – 6th: “I made a few too many mistakes today. It was very slippery and my front-left tyre was finished long before the end but I still gave it my best. This afternoon was a real struggle but I’m glad I got some points for the team.”
Martin Whitmarsh team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes: “First of all, I want to offer our hearty congratulations to all at Red Bull Racing on the occasion of their first grand prix win. Sebastian drove a great race and well done, too, to our old friend Adrian Newey. As for our team, Heikki scored a very well deserved four points for an impressive fifth place. It isn’t at all easy to drive a faultless race in conditions like those we faced today, but Heikki did just that. Lewis pressed hard all afternoon and, when you do that, occasionally you run wide or spin. Lewis duly did so but, in truth, his was a great drive, too.
“We were never going to be able to live with the Red Bulls or the Brawns today, which is why we chose a one-stop strategy. The track was wet throughout the race, and the longer stints that our strategy dictated inevitably caused more wet-tyre wear than that experienced by the two-stoppers; but, despite the challenges posed by that extra wet-tyre wear, our drivers both coped very well. So, overall, an encouraging result: getting two cars into the points shows that we’re making good progress, but there’s more to come and we’re working flat-out to develop the improvements that will deliver it.”
Norbert Haug vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: “More than fifth and sixth places are not possible for us at the moment and this has to change. Congratulations to Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing for a faultless race hats off. Again everybody experienced difficult conditions like in Malaysia. At least, seven points are better than nothing, but our speed has to improve significantly. We had four cars with Mercedes-Benz engines in the top six, so thanks to all our engine guys in Brixworth and Stuttgart for the good job.”