Japanese GP 2024

APRIL 7, 2024

Sunday Team Quotes

Charles Leclerc, Japanese GP 2024
© Ferrari

Oracle Red Bull Racing

Max Verstappen (1st): "I could push where I needed to and I could look after my tyres well, so the race went really nicely. Today was simply lovely and I really enjoyed the race. We stayed out of trouble in the first lap and from there, we tried to look after the tyres as much as possible. We made the right calls before we went into qualifying, which definitely helped today and it is very nice to come back and win after Australia. The car just got better throughout the race and, although it took a few laps before I got a nice rhythm as we didn't have many practices on the long runs, on the second stint the car really came alive. I could push where I needed to and I could look after my tyres well, so the race went really nicely. It was a great Team result the whole weekend and brilliant to score a one two here: our third of the season. Suzuka is always a great track to go racing at and overall I am really happy about the performance today."

Sergio Perez (2nd): "We are in a good place and performing at a very nice level, we just need to keep progressing. It was a good day for the Team. We had good pace today, we just struggled with the degradation initially and didn't get enough out of the medium due to the balance and track temperature. We suffered a little on the first stint, it compromised our race a little too much and with Lando pitting early. The second stint was better, but we had to get through a lot of traffic and that made our life a lot harder. On the hard we were back to our best, but things were a little out of sync by then. What is positive and an improvement is that when we have issues like on the first stint, we are able to solve them during the race, which is something we lacked last year. We are in a good place and performing at a very nice level, we just need to keep progressing. My confidence is coming back and the momentum should be with me for the coming races, if I am able to have such a consistent weekend in Suzuka it can only be positive moving forward."

Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "It's an amazing performance here, and one we are very proud of, particularly in Japan at the home of our engine partner, Honda. It was a great team performance today; fastest lap, a one-two finish, fastest pit stop and leading first and second in The Championship. So yeah, it's an amazing performance here, and one we are very proud of, particularly in Japan at the home of our engine partner, Honda. Max managed to control the race beautifully. He was away from the beginning and really looked after the tyres. But Checo has had a very strong agenda here. His qualifying yesterday was good. Better than he has managed in his career. And then his racing was fantastic. He came through the field and was very strong and maintained his pace. A brilliant race across the board, from all the Team. It is great to see."

Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team

George Russell (7th): "We moved forward today and that was positive. The plan to start on the Hard tyre after the red flag was to give us the flexibility to attempt either a one-stop or a two-stop. It was good to have this freedom and ultimately, we ended up on the two-stop strategy as the one stop wasn't working. We had a challenging opening stint but after that first stop, our pace looked competitive to those ahead. It was an exciting race towards the end. It's always nice to be attacking rather than defending, and it was good, hard racing. There was some contact with Oscar, which was a racing incident, but I was glad to get the position in the end. It's close between the four teams behind Red Bull and qualifying is going to be critical at each race. Whoever starts ahead will likely finish at the front of that pack. We know we've got work to do and we will keep pushing. Hopefully a track like the one in China will suit us better."

Lewis Hamilton (9th): "It was a difficult day today. I did my best, but the result wasn't a good one. Unfortunately, that is where our car is at the moment. I didn't feel great on the Hard tyre and picked up a little bit of damage on the restart. I had lots of understeer, particularly during that first stint, which was why I decided to let George past. Once we put on the Medium compound, it started to feel a little better. The final stint was the first time in the race that I felt like I had good grip. We need to keep working hard as today, our pace was likely only good enough for P6. If we want to move up the grid, then we will need to add more performance to the car."

Toto Wolff, Team Principal: "It was a difficult race today. Our second and third stints were quick and were similar to those ahead who were fighting for the podium. A poor first stint cost us today though and we need to find out why that was. Our decision to take the restart on the Hard tyres was the right one I feel, and, in the beginning, our pace was stable with our direct competitors. We suddenly dropped one to two seconds a lap though and at the moment, it was clear that the tyres wouldn't make the one-stop viable for us. Overall, this weekend has been better than the final results suggest. We have lots to learn and there is no track relevant excuse we will use; we need to be quick at all circuits. But from what we've seen here, we can say that the car is becoming quicker. We will continue to work hard, and I am excited to head back to China in a few weeks after such a long absence from the calendar."

Andrew Shovlin: "It wasn't an easy race today. We weren't quick enough in qualifying so were starting too far back to challenge for the podium. Early in the race, our pace was simply not good enough too. We'd decided to go to the Hard tyre at the red flag as we felt there wasn't much threat from behind, and it was our best way to offset and try something different. Towards the end of that stint we were really struggling with low grip. We couldn't stop early as there was too much traffic in the window, so we stayed out until we had cleared it. Unfortunately by then, we had lost a chunk of time. The second and third stints were more encouraging, but we'd lost too much time by that point to get back into the mix. We know that we are not quick enough at the moment, so we will continue work hard to improve that. Despite the challenging result, it has been a useful weekend to learn more about our car and develop our understanding of the W15."

Scuderia Ferrari

Carlos Sainz (3rd): "It was a good day for the whole team. We executed a very solid race and brought home a lot of points, maximising the potential of our package. A strong couple of starts kept me in a good position and from there onwards we managed it perfectly with very strong pace on both compounds and good overtakes to make the strategy work. We obviously want to fight a bit further up, but if we keep pushing like this, I'm sure we will have more opportunities. Now it's back to the factory with the team and from tomorrow we'll start preparing for China."

Charles Leclerc (4th): "Looking just at today's race, I'm quite happy, because there is nothing that we could have done better. Our pace, tyre management, communication and strategy were all really good. However, what prevented us from getting a better overall result mostly comes down to our qualifying yesterday. Since Australia, we've had some difficulties putting the tyres in the right window on the out laps in qualifying, which is something we never struggled with before, so we really have to focus on that in the next few days to make sure we can put it all together in China."

Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal: "Today, our team worked in a calm and focused manner to achieve its goals. We made a real step forward over the winter and the results of that can be seen on track. We had a very solid Sunday, securing the best result possible after a difficult qualifying yesterday and that's something we definitely have to work on. The team did everything perfectly in the race, from strategy to tyre management. Both drivers did an excellent job in managing their respective strategies. With Carlos starting nearer the front we could be more aggressive so that he finished on a charge, pulling off several great passing moves. We were a bit more limited with Charles, as he was down in eighth on the grid, but he drove an excellent first stint and so we were able to execute a one-stop strategy that meant he made up a lot of places. Looking at the result, it's clear there is still room for improvement if we want to put Red Bull under pressure and that's what we'd like to do as from the next round in China."

McLaren Formula 1 Team

Lando Norris (5th): "Tough race! We gave it a good try, but we just didn't have enough pace today, so trying to cover and stay ahead of the Ferraris was challenging. I think we still did a good job and maximised the points but starting third and finishing fifth is never the nicest thing to happen. It's the maximum of what we could achieve today though, so I think we have to be happy with it as much as it doesn't feel like a great result."

Oscar Piastri (8th): "It was a difficult afternoon. Things didn't quite click into place and we weren't fighting for the positions we wanted to. However, it's four points finishes on the bounce this year and there's plenty to take away and try to learn from. We'll go back to the factory and turn our attention to China where we'll look to secure more valuable points for the team."

Andrea Stella, Team Principal: "Overall, it's a positive outcome to the race here in Suzuka in terms of scoring valuable points with both cars. Obviously after a strong qualifying, we could have hoped for trying to consolidate a podium finish, but it wasn't on the cards, in terms of car performance today. I think, if we look at the classification, at least for the first five, it's in competitiveness order. We tried to go for a podium with Lando, stopping early, making sure we stayed ahead of Carlos, but ultimately, we didn't have the pace. It also meant that we found ourselves on a slightly slower strategy and we finished behind Leclerc. But we are happy that we are pushing for podium finishes even if today it was out of our grasp. On Oscar's side, it was a busy race for him, always in direct competition with some cars around him. It was a little bit of a shame with the final lock-up at the chicane, which cost him the position to Russell, but it was important points for the team today, which consolidates the third position in the Championship. Now we refocus and we look ahead to China."

Aston Martin Aramco F1 Team

Fernando Alonso (6th): "It was a great weekend for me with fifth position in Qualifying yesterday and sixth place in the race. It was one of my best for a while. I think we slightly outperformed our true position here this weekend, but we are executing our races very well this season and scoring good points for the team. Our plan for today worked well and a special thanks for the pitstops which were very impressive, so credit to all of the team for that. We still need to analyse our update package, so we'll have a look at all our data from this weekend in Japan ahead of our return to Shanghai."

Lance Stroll (12th): "It was a great weekend for me with fifth position in Qualifying yesterday and sixth place in the race. It was one of my best for a while. I think we slightly outperformed our true position here this weekend, but we are executing our races very well this season and scoring good points for the team. Our plan for today worked well and a special thanks for the pitstops which were very impressive, so credit to all of the team for that. We still need to analyse our update package, so we'll have a look at all our data from this weekend in Japan ahead of our return to Shanghai."

Mike Krack, Chief Operating Officer: "P6 was the best available to us today and a solid result. The updates we have brought seem to be a positive step and we have been able to finish ahead of our nearest competitor Mercedes and come home with eight points. Fernando drove really well today and the team executed flawless and consistent pitstops. With Lance he was fighting with Tsunoda who started six places ahead of him on the grid after Qualifying. He battled well and made some impressive overtakes in the Esses but unfortunately, we couldn't take the fight to him today. We have a short turnaround now back at the Campus and we look forward to returning to Shanghai and the first Sprint weekend of the season."

BWT Alpine F1 Team

Esteban Ocon (15th): "It was not an easy race today. We picked up some damage at the start, and after that we tried some different strategy options to give us a fighting chance. But, ultimately, we were not quick enough today to compete with those around us and keep them behind after the restart. It was unfortunate to pick up damage, however, I do not think it made a huge difference to the overall picture of the race. We struggled with race pace compared to Qualifying, so we have a lot to review and hopefully we can come back stronger at the next race in Shanghai."

Pierre Gasly (16th): "Unfortunately, it's been a long afternoon for us in Suzuka. There are some positives, including having two very strong standing starts. At the second one, after the red flag, I overtook the Haas, then Esteban and then got myself alongside Yuki [Tsunoda]. At that point, I was sandwiched between both in an unfortunate racing incident. It meant I had significant damage to the floor – costing around 30 points of downforce – and therefore lap time as a result of the damage. From then, it was a very difficult race, there was not much we could do other than push as hard as possible. It's not where we want to be, but it's good that we brought the first upgrades to the car this weekend. We have to keep developing the concept, keep bringing parts as soon as possible as we need it in order to improve our current position."

Bruno Famin, Team Principal: "Our race was compromised by the damage sustained to both cars at the second standing start in a racing incident. Both cars suffered significant losses in downforce, which cost us performance and lap time. Even so, we are lacking pace and we must keep improving in all areas and bringing upgrades to the car."

Williams Racing

Logan Sargeant (17th): "After that second stop, I was pushing as hard as I could to catch the group ahead and make something happen. I bottomed on the exit kerb, locked up and went straight. That moment was disappointing but leading up to it there were some positives. We had a bold strategy trying to do the Hard, Hard race which I think would've worked. Of course, the lap we try to pit everyone pits and instead of jumping four cars, we got jumped by four cars which can make or break a race. Had that gone to plan, the race would've played out very differently. Nonetheless, we tried to adapt to the situation by boxing again. We still could've had a decent result, but I made that little mistake."

Alexander Albon (DNF, Accident): "I didn't have a great start but being on the Hard tyres, I had good traction coming up into Turn 2, but I don't think Daniel [Ricciardo] saw me and it was a bit of a pinching moment… I tried to back out of it but I couldn't quite get out of the way quick enough. It's a tough one to take, so all in all a very frustrating and disappointing weekend. It wasn't a big crash but the way I hit the tyre wall, the car gripped and went under it, and I came to a hard stop really fast and aggressively, so that won't help with the damage to the car. Looking ahead, we'll assess the damage and get the car ready in time for China."

Visa Cash App RB Formula One

Yuki Tsunoda (10th): "I'm feeling relieved. After I lost some positions on the first start, I felt a little disappointment for sure, but at the same time, I just focused on the second start. I had a good one and was able to make up a few positions. One of the big highlights was the pitstop. Our mechanics did a fantastic job, it was such a fast pitstop that allowed us to overtake two cars, and that's insane! Without that, it would've been a lot more difficult to score points today, so the team deserves big credit. So do the Japanese fans, they are great! Obviously, finally being able to score points in front of my home fans, here and those who couldn't make it to the track and watched it on TV, makes me a very happy guy. I felt confident today. I knew our straight-line speed isn't that competitive compared to other cars but at the same time, we know we had a lot of downforce, and the only chance we had was through the esses, normally affected by downforce. It allowed me a couple good overtakes and I definitely enjoyed that. In terms of tyre management, I feel like my driving in today's race was probably my best. I started my career here and to be able to score points here is extremely special. A big thank you to everyone at Honda, Red Bull and Visa Cash App RB who have been involved and supported me throughout my journey. I don't feel like I scored P10 today but P1 – it's a great feeling."

Daniel Ricciardo (DNF, Accident): "After yesterday, where we made some steps in the right direction, I was really excited to come racing today to have a good day. In these cases, a Lap 1 incident is one of the worst things that could happen to a driver, especially as you don't really have the chance to do anything after the massive build-up and energy used to be prepared for the race. It was a shame and an unfortunate one for all of us involved. It was a racing incident, and luckily, after some checks, both Alex and I are okay. The start of the race was really poor as Yuki and I were on medium tyres, and we were struggling so much compared to the other cars behind on the soft compound. In Turn 2, it settled a little bit, but I still felt like I was sliding and then saw an Aston on the outside of me. I was watching him but when I was preparing to enter Turn 3, without using all the track as it was the first lap, Albon got alongside me and had a better exit from Turn 2. I didn't see him and we touched. This is racing sometimes and is part of it; not really anyone to blame, there was just a huge difference in terms of grip out of there. I'm sorry for the team, but China is soon, so we'll focus on that."

Laurent Mekies, Team Principal: "Great result for the team today. Yuki drove a fantastic, well-controlled race in front of his home crowd, managing his tyres and pushing hard when it mattered. Some great overtaking too, and not a foot wrong all weekend. He deserves the superb result of today. Daniel's incident in the first lap was unfortunate. We were quite exposed against our competitors behind us who were mainly on soft tyres, and these things can happen. What is important is that both our drivers had great pace here, as demonstrated yesterday in qualifying. The team performed very well at extracting everything we could from our package this weekend, including a decisive high-pressure pit stop in the race, and many difficult calls. It's only one point for the championship but it is a very important one, especially on a day where the top five teams had both their cars finishing the race. A big well done to everyone in Faenza, in Bicester, and to our partner Honda. We know we need to keep pushing very hard in all areas to be able to keep topping the midfield, and it will be another completely new challenge for the sprint race in China in two weeks' time."

Jody Egginton, Technical Director: "Today's race has been a very close battle from start to finish for the final point, but we came out of it at the front of the group, thanks to what can only be described as a real team effort. Yuki drove superbly, managing his tyres well in the phases of the race when he needed, but also showing good pace when required to maintain the gap. The pitwall adapted the strategy very well following the restart and the pit crew produced a fantastic second pit stop under pressure, to give Yuki track position back in what was a very intense battle with Stroll, Bottas, Hulkenburg and Magnussen. Unfortunately, Daniel's race never got going with his first lap incident putting him out of the race. However, even with no dry running on Friday, he has put together a solid Saturday qualifying, and we are confident we can continue to build on this in the coming events. Everybody trackside and back in Faenza and Bicester has and continues to work very hard, and today's result provides further energy to keep pushing and developing the package and the team. As such, we are all looking forward to the next races."

Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber

Valtteri Bottas (14th): "Our pace overall looked quite strong today, this is the positive we can definitely take out of this race: it should have allowed us to finish higher than we did today – which confirms the step forward we have made in terms of performance thanks to the upgrades we have been bringing recently and the work done to refine our understanding of our package. Unfortunately, our potential for points was scuppered when we suffered the traffic at our second stop: we stopped with a group of other cars, it was not the easiest stop and, once I made it back out on track, I ended up being stuck behind Kevin [Magnussen] for most of the final laps. I am definitely disappointed, as we could have easily achieved more today, and scored our first points of the season. Still, our race pace looked promising, and there is progress made both on and off the track. We can hope for a stronger performance in Shanghai: our priority remains getting more consistent execution across the whole board, and fight for points in what is an extremely tight pack. I am excited to be going back to China after a few years, and it'll of course be a big one for us as a team and for Zhou – hopefully, we'll be able to be back in the fight and put up a decent show and some points."

Guanyu Zhou (DNF, Drivetrain): "It has been a difficult weekend for me: unfortunately, we encountered some smaller issues over the weekend, from the reduced run time in FP3, that ultimately impacted my qualifying, to a DNF in a race where I had the pace to make up some positions. I had a good start and first laps of the race, before we noticed that we might have some technical problems and being informed to retire the car. While this is definitely not the start of the year that I hoped for, we keep working hard as we know things will improve: our overall pace looked good, and my focus now is on the preparation for my first home Grand Prix. With the team trackside and back at the factory, we'll investigate our issues and work on them to be in a better position, so I'll be fighting for points at home in China – in Saturday's Sprint Race as well as the Race on Sunday."

Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Team Representative: "After three races in which we were affected by issues at the pit stops, we can see some positive developments there, having four stops with no issues. Of course, right now we are not looking at maximising speed, but rather the consistency and reliability of our stops, which is what happened today. We had to retire Zhou's car due to a problem with the drivetrain, which the team is now investigating; it's unfortunate as he had a strong start and good first laps, and even though he wasn't directly in the fight for points at that stage, with his strong pace he would have been helpful for the team in terms of maximising the outcomes of our strategy. Valtteri had a really solid race, with two good starts and a serious shot at scoring: he was ahead of Tsunoda before the second stop, and Yuki went on to score points. Of course, we know our current limitations and we knew we would get back on track behind them, but we can take heart by the fact that our race pace was matching him, if not better, even if eventually Valtteri ended up stuck behind Magnussen for the remainder for the race, and wasn't in a position to attack him on the straights. As a team, we need to analyse all the data from this weekend: we keep finding better performance with each upgrade that comes from Hinwil, and we know we are going in the right direction. Development is going well and the upgrades are working, our pit stops are improving: we know that to score points this year we'll need to put everything together, and that no details can be missed in terms of execution, performance, and reliability, so we keep working hard. We now focus on two days of testing with Pirelli ahead of coming back stronger in Shanghai. We must retain our confidence: we are getting closer every race, and we see that our pace can be right there with our direct competitors."

MoneyGram Haas F1 Team

Nico Hulkenberg (11th): "I don't think we could've got any higher than P10 probably, and Tsunoda was 50 seconds behind Hamilton, so I didn't have that kind of pace. I had one good start and one really bad start – the car went into anti-stall. After that, I got my head down as I think the pace was pretty good for the midfield. I did a long stint on the hard at first, and a 'splash and dash' on the second set so that I could really show some pace. I take our race pace as a positive, it was better than what I expected before the race so that's a relief and promising for China and going forwards."

Kevin Magnussen (13th): "At one point I was running inside the top 10 – I didn't know what those around me were doing so I wasn't sure if it was realistic or not – but I was trying. With the tires we had, the red flag effectively helped a few people and they were able to do a one-stop from hard to hard, where I had to do two stops from medium to hard, so that was tough. I had to pit quite early for the second stint on the hard tires, so it was a bit tricky. We're there or thereabouts in the races again, so that's encouraging and gives some hope for coming races that we can be in the hunt for points."

Ayao Komatsu, Team Principal: "There are mixed feelings because in the end, we missed out being in the top 10 by five seconds with Nico which is very frustrating. On the positive side, our race pace today was much better than what we saw earlier in the weekend, so the changes the team made after FP3 and before qualifying worked well. We just needed to get there sooner this weekend as we started off with the wrong car balance and FP2 was wet – it put us on the backfoot – so that's something we as a team need to improve. Today with Nico, the first start was fine but on the second start he didn't do the procedure correctly so he went into anti-stall and lost positions. From there to recover to almost scoring points was very encouraging, so that's the positive we're going to take."