Japanese GP 2023

SEPTEMBER 24, 2023

Sunday Team Quotes

Carlos Sainz, Japanese GP 2023
© Ferrari

Oracle Red Bull Racing

Max Verstappen (1st): "What we are showing this year is pure dominance, we can all be extremely proud. What an incredible weekend! It's been a massive Team effort, there are a lot of people involved in getting us to where we are today. You only really see very few people here at track, there are lots of people working tirelessly at the factory to make sure we are always performing at our highest. What we are showing this year is pure dominance, we can all be extremely proud. It was an amazing feeling to see the Team celebrating in the garage on the track TVs during my in-lap. We're definitely enjoying it but we won't take anything for granted."

Sergio Perez (DNF, Damage): "I am proud of each and every single one of the team; they have done a really tremendous job. It would have been nice to clinch the Championship in a different way but it has been an incredible year and I am so happy for the Team today. My race ended up not being straightforward at all; we had a poor start and everything went downhill from there unfortunately. The collisions caused too much damage so we brought the car in to assess. After fixing the car we then had a penalty to serve, which we did, and then brought the car in. Despite this, it has been a really great day for the whole team and to finally get that title is really special. I am proud of each and every single one of the team; they have done a really tremendous job."

Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "Only a Red Bull driver can win it now so there will be more celebrations to come in what can only be described as a monumental season in the team's history! Once again it was a phenomenal performance from the Team. I have been saying it all year, but really, this kind of season would be impossible without the hard work that goes on behind the scenes from all the different departments both back at Milton Keynes and here at track. From the crazy hours that they work through to the relentless pursuit for better, it is a true Team effort and one to be immensely proud of. So that is 6 for us and an amazing moment for the Team. We will take tonight to celebrate and regroup tomorrow as we look towards Qatar and a possible driver Championship. Only a Red Bull driver can win it now so there will be more celebrations to come in what can only be described as a monumental season in the team's history! Ichiban Oracle Red Bull Racing."

Scuderia Ferrari

Charles Leclerc (4th): "It was a good race and, even though I am not completely happy with a P4, we brought home the best possible result today as McLaren were strong and we just didn't have the pace to fight them harder. I had a fun battle with George (Russell), who did a great job in managing his tyres, especially the rears, which made it challenging to pass him. I took the opportunity to pass him in turn 1 when I saw a gap and it worked out well. We improved our understanding of this car and what we've learned will be useful in the future. It will be interesting to see how our competitors progress in the upcoming races."

Carlos Sainz (6th): "I think today we had better pace than the result suggests. We had a very good start and we were quick straight away. During the first two stints I managed my tyres well and had good pace, but we got undercut by Lewis (Hamilton) after the second stop and that compromised my race. I tried to extend my stint to have better tyres at the end and gave everything to close the gap quickly. Unfortunately, the race was a couple of laps too short for me today and we had to settle for sixth. As always, we will analyse the whole weekend when we are back home to see if we could have done something differently, but on the positive side I think the pace was there today. We will regroup and recharge our batteries before heading off to Qatar."

Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal: "First of all, congratulations to Red Bull for winning the Constructors' title. They have done a great job this season. As for our race, I think we did the most we could have done today, making up another four points on Mercedes. At a track we knew would be difficult for our car, we always had our situation under control: Charles did well to manage his tyres, while after Carlos was undercut by Lewis (Hamilton), we decided to extend his stint on the Mediums, hoping to get the benefit towards the end. It's very close between ourselves, Mercedes and McLaren and the order can change depending on the track, as we saw in Singapore. Obviously, we can't be happy with a fourth and a sixth place but, having gained some ground on our closest rivals, we will stay focussed and prepare to give our very best at the upcoming races."

Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team

Lewis Hamilton (5th): "I'm exhausted after that one! Ferrari brought an upgrade this weekend and they were just that little bit quicker than us here this weekend. It was a hell of a fight. I was really trying to hold on. We did manage to get ahead of Sainz which was great teamwork and good work from the guys in the pit stop and the strategy group. That was the maximum we could have achieved today. We know how important the battle for second in the Constructors' Championship is. I know how hard everyone at Brackley and Brixworth is working to achieve that. Minimising our points loss to Ferrari today was critical. There is still a long way to go until the end of the season."

George Russell (7th): "We will take the positives from today. The one-stop strategy didn't seem to be the optimal one at the start of the day, but we made it work better than expected. Ultimately though, we just didn't have the pace this weekend to challenge those ahead. I'm glad we tried something different, but the end result was a fair representation of where our speed was. I think we achieved the maximum we could today. There was plenty of hard but fair racing today. In the beginning, I felt like I had good pace so was trying to make progress. In the closing stages, we were pushing but ultimately, I don't think anything we could have done would have changed the result. That's all good and it's all part of motorsport. It's been a challenging weekend for us here at Suzuka, overall. We will try to understand why that was and come back stronger for the next race in Qatar."

Andrew Shovlin: "We realised early on that we were not going to be able to challenge those further ahead for the podium. Our race today therefore ultimately turned into minimising our points loss to Ferrari. We split our strategies to give us the best opportunity to do this. Being able to get one car in between the Ferraris was useful damage limitation, given they both started ahead of us. At the end of the race, the odds of George holding back Sainz were relatively small because his one-stop strategy left the Ferrari with a sizeable tyre advantage. The reason that we committed to that strategy though was that we had very little to lose. He had no threat behind Sainz; it was a difficult strategy to pull off and he did a good job. Ultimately though, the tyre degradation was too high to make it work. Given this, we had to protect Lewis from losing the position to Sainz, as he was the more likely car to finish ahead, and therefore gave the instruction to invert the cars on track."

BWT Alpine F1 Team

Esteban Ocon (9th): "First of all it is great to have both cars back in the points. I think the team did well to optimise a challenging strategy today and we performed well, in general, on track. We had a tricky start with the racing incident on lap one, which could have easily put an end to our race, but we were able to recover well, manage the tyres, have some good pit stops, and end our day with some points. It was good teamwork in an attempt to grab more points as a team and, in the end, we probably maximised what we had today. We have many things to learn and to discuss and we aim to come back stronger in Qatar in two weeks' time."

Pierre Gasly (10th): "Firstly, we've made it back-to-back points from the double header after going from twelfth on the grid into the points. From my side, I felt it was a very positive race with strong stints on both the Medium and Hard tyres to put ourselves into points scoring contention. We seemed competitive, closely matched with Fernando [Alonso] ahead, and closing him down might have been possible. As a team, we have some things to review to see what we can do better for next time. In the end, it's a double points finish for the team and that's the most important thing."

Bruno Famin, Interim Team Principal: "It's been a positive Sunday effort from the team today with both cars in the points and it was good to put behind a slightly out-of-position Qualifying. It was an interesting race for strategy with many different plans across the field. Towards the end of the race we looked to capitalise on our tyre advantage and pace from Pierre by targeting eighth place. The opportunity was a close one and we decided to swap positions on track with a view for maximising the team result by giving Pierre the chance to chase eighth place. In the end, we ran out of laps and pace and we made the decision to swap the drivers back. Making these calls is never easy, however, all decisions are taken with the best interest of the team first and foremost. It's been a busy two weeks – points on the board and certainly encouraging signs across two different circuits and conditions – so credit to the entire team for delivering upgrades and slick execution towards these results. We all need to keep pushing for more."

McLaren F1 Team

Lando Norris (2nd): "Another amazing day for us. A P2 and a P3, the team did an amazing job and I'm very proud of the steps forward we're making every weekend. We're getting there. The pace was extremely strong today. We're not close to Max but we're not miles away either, so it was a very good day and I'm very happy. Congratulations to Oscar, his first podium in Formula 1, our first double podium together. A good moment for us."

Oscar Piastri (3rd): "This feels pretty special, and I'll remember it for a long, long time. I can't thank the team enough for giving me this opportunity. Not many people get to have an F1 podium, and I've managed it in my first season, so thank you very much team. It wasn't my best race ever, but it was enough to get a trophy. Our pace was strong, and I think in the second half of the race I got more into a rhythm. I'm super-happy and very excited to try and get some more."

Andrea Stella, Team Principal: "This week in Japan we've reached an important milestone in our journey at McLaren. For the first time this season, we finished with both cars on the podium. It's also the first podium for Oscar in Formula 1. That's a phenomenal achievement in his rookie season. We're delighted for him and so pleased as a team that we've been able to make it possible. The remarkable job done by the whole team trackside and factory side is what has made the difference; I want to thank all of the team once more. We look forward to the remainder of the season with optimism. It will be tough to repeat this kind of result, but we'll give it our best shot and hope we can take that final step in performance."

Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake

Guanyu Zhou (13th): "I had a very good start, and I was attempting to charge my way through the pack and gain some positions: then, four cars touched in front of me, and a rather big piece of carbon got stuck right in my front wing. From that moment onwards, my race was compromised, and I had to take it easy in order not to damage the car. Performance wise, I think our pace today was alright, likely quicker than the Alpha Tauris, which seemed to have a more competitive package this weekend. In terms of our own package, we sure made a further improvement from Singapore, and it will be important to analyse the data we have gathered: in general, I reckon our speed now allows us to fight just outside the top ten, and it will be fundamental to keep on working towards improving that. Unfortunately, this weekend hasn't been the best: my qualifying chances were compromised yesterday, and ultimately, my race as well. Now, we will head back to Europe, getting some rest after a challenging double-header, and then work hard to prepare the races ahead."

Valtteri Bottas (DNF, Damage): "It's been a pretty eventful, yet short race for me today: I actually had a great start right off the line, but then I found myself caught between two cars, a Williams and an Alpine, going into Turn 1. There wasn't enough space, and that resulted in a collision which caused a puncture on my front right tyre. We immediately pitted and I went for a nose change as well; then, just after the end of the Safety Car, I tried to overtake Sargeant from the outside, and made sure to leave enough space – unfortunately, he locked up and ended up taking me out. We pitted again to check the damage on the car, and found it wasn't possible to go further. Today just wasn't meant to be for us, which is a shame, as I reckon our car had potential to do well at the start of the weekend. Overall, this back-to-back unfortunately didn't go how we expected: now, it will be important to reset, in order to come back ready in Doha in a couple of weeks, and tackle the remainder of the season."

Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Team Representative: "There are still some positives to take with us from this weekend, although we come back from Suzuka with no points: we had reasonable race pace today, compared to our direct competitors; Zhou was able to perform a solid race, despite having been forced to pit to change his front wing because of damage. After the opening lap accident, Zhou managed to regain positions on track, thanks to a two-stop strategy which saw him running on soft tyres for most of the race and then change for hard in the final section, ultimately crossing the line in 13th place. After a very good start in which he gained two places, Valtteri was squeezed between Albon and Ocon, and forced to an early pit to change the damaged parts on his C43. Even though he was able to quickly recover thanks to the Safety Car period, Valtteri's race unfortunately came to an end when Sargeant took him out: the damage on the car was too heavy, and it was not possible for him to continue. Still, our team proved once again to be able to recover from less-than-ideal qualifying placements, which is why we must look at the next races with optimism: we are not too far from our direct competitors, as it is often just a matter of hundredths of a second. If we work at the top of our performance from FP1 on Friday onwards, we'll be able to extract more performance from our package and make that extra step forward to get back into the top ten."

Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team

Fernando Alonso (8th): "It was a good race today: a mega start moved us up to sixth and the car felt good despite a lack of performance yesterday. Having started on the Softs, we pitted a little earlier than those around us and we struggled a bit once we switched to the Hard tyre. On the second set of Hards, we were quite competitive, so we were able to push and keep the Alpines behind at the end. Everyone is working flat out at the track and at the AMRTC, so we will keep pushing and look forward to Qatar."

Lance Stroll (DNF, Rear wing): "My race was ended by a rear wing failure today. It's disappointing because I had a good start, making up five places on the opening lap, and I think a point or two would have been possible. That's racing sometimes. We'll investigate what happened and go again in a couple of weeks' time in Qatar."

Mike Krack, Chief Operating Officer: "Realistically, with the performance we had this weekend, we achieved the maximum possible result with Fernando this afternoon – there wasn't much more he could have done out there. He brought home some useful points for us. Lance also raced well – he made a good start, passed some cars and was on course for a top-10 finish when we noticed an issue with his rear wing. We chose to make a precautionary stop and had to retire his car. He deserved more from today. Now it's time to refocus ahead of the next race in Qatar."

Haas F1 Team

Nico Hulkenberg (14th): "I think I stayed out of the messy part at the start as on the left, two cars ahead of me, there was contact. I managed to capitalize from that on the inside line and took three or four cars which was quite nice and rewarding. I then gained one further position from someone else, so it was good. We went into the race with a three-stop intention, obviously we're not the best on tire management, so I think it was the right call."

Kevin Magnussen (15th): "I got hit on the rear tire, it was a pretty desperate move, but it is what it is. I got spun around, and then we had to pit – that was too early for the two-stop strategy with the tire degradation that we have on our car. It made the situation a lot worse by pitting at that point and I didn't want to do a three-stop, so it really ended our race."

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal: "It was a tough race I'd say, but the positive is the team did the best they could with what we've got. We got close to fighting our opponents, we were on a different strategy with Nico, and it almost worked out. I know almost is not good enough but with Kevin we lost out because of the spin when Sergio Perez hit him, so we fell back. In the end, we know it's tough at the moment, but as long as we keep on delivering with what we've got that's a positive, and when we get a better car, we'll be there ready to take it."

Scuderia AlphaTauri

Liam Lawson (11th): "We didn't have the performance in the long run today and didn't quite have the speed of the Alpines ahead. The team and I worked hard this weekend to maximise the sessions, and we made steps in each one. The fight with Yuki was aggressive, but I think it was a fair race. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough, and I think neither of us had the pace to make the top 10. I'm still trying to score points for the team and prove myself every time I get in the car, and I think I did that today."

Yuki Tsunoda (12th): "It's frustrating because there was pace today, but I didn't have the opportunity to maximise it. On this track, it's hard to follow because the tyres overheat very easily and I feel like we pitted for the hard compound too late, so I was behind everyone and had to catch up to the pack. I think there was no chance to catch P10 today. It's a shame that I wasn't able to perform well and get a good result in front of the Japanese fans, but I got a lot of energy from them so thank you to all the fans. In the end, it is what it is."

Jonathan Eddolls, Chief Race Engineer: "Having saved only one medium and one hard tyre set for the race, we knew that with these track temperatures, we would be at a slight disadvantage to those cars around who had two hard compound tyres left. Equally, we had expected the medium tyres to behave similarly to the hard compound. It was always going to be a race about tyres. We started both cars on the soft compound, and after the incidents at the start, both our cars emerged in P9 and P10. The stint on the soft tyres was short, and we reacted to Hulkenberg. With good in laps from the drivers and great pitstops, we kept both our cars ahead. Our main issue was the pace of the medium compound in the middle stint. We had high degradation, and this was where the damage was done. This will be the main focus of the post-race work, as other teams were able to make it work. Our pace on the hard compound at the end was competitive, but by this stage, we had already lost out to the two Alpines, ending up with both cars just outside the points. Although we lost some positions in the race, there are some positive signs from the weekend. The package is working as demonstrated by the good qualifying performance and the pace in the race, which has taken a step forward compared to before. We are continuing to develop the car, and we're so close to being able to score points on merit, so we'll keep fighting to the end of the season."

Williams Racing

Alexander Albon (DNF, Damage): "No car is strong enough to survive those kinds of crashes. A bad start kind of triggered it, so we need to work on that, but then we were in the wrong position at the wrong time and I got squeezed. I had damage from lap one and it was pretty much game over so it's a shame. We tried to push on and see if the race would unfold and see what would happen as this race is a bit of a battle of attrition, but ultimately we needed to retire the car."

Logan Sargeant (DNF, Damage): "A hectic first few laps for sure. I came out the pitlane to a lot of debris on the track being worried about getting a puncture. From my side on the incident, I locked the fronts the second I touched the brakes at Turn 11. It's my fault but [Valtteri] Bottas must not have seen that I locked up before making the move. Unfortunately, we had to retire the car following the contact. It's disappointing for a track where we had the car in a pretty good place and decent pace, especially in qualifying, to come away not even finishing the race. We'll move on and focus on Qatar."

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance: "We were forced to retire both cars today after both sustained early damage from contact with other cars. Both sustained front wing and floor damage and whilst we were able to change the front wings, the floor damage worsened, and it was no longer possible to continue with either car. It is very frustrating not to finish the race with either car, but we can now get back to Grove, regroup and get ready to tackle the Lusail International Circuit in Qatar, which we last visited in 2021."