Sebastian Vettel proved a happy man after today's Malaysian Grand Prix. In a competitive race he managed to get on the podium, behind the Mercedes AMG drivers. Team mate Daniel Ricciardo encountered bad luck with a trouble pitstop and a front wing failure leading to his retirement.
On top of Ricciardo's troubles, the FIA handed a 10 seconds stop-and-go penalty to him and the team for the unsafe release at a pitstop where the front left wheel proved not to be fitted correctly. As Ricciardo was unable to serve it during the race, it is automatically converted to a 10 place grid penalty at the next race, which is the Bahrain Grand Prix in 7 days time.
Red Bull was additionally given a reprimand as one of its engineers was found to not be wearing a helmet during the race.
Sebastian Vettel, 3rd: "We have certainly made a good step forwards, but we still have a lot of work to do. It’s great to get a podium finish today. Considering where we were, not even two months ago, I think this weekend is a massive step in the right direction. It's a shame we didn't finish with both cars, but it’s good to see the car is quick and we need the laps; for now it's important to collect points. The guys are pushing back in the factory and at Renault – it’s been a massive job from them – and we’ll try to be up there very soon again. It was a shame to lose a place at the start, but third was our maximum position today, so I'm very happy with that. It’s a shame for Daniel with what happened, he drove really well.”
Daniel Ricciardo, DNF: “It was looking like we could have a solid points finish today; the race was going pretty well. The start was really good and I made up a couple of positions and I was starting to, let's say, mix it up at the front, which is nice. It’s fun being up there and fighting for the top few spots, but then we had a problem at the last pit stop and then we had a puncture. I think we had a front wing failure and a few other things went on and then the stop-go penalty, so the race ended pretty quickly for us, it went from looking good to looking pretty bad in a short amount of time. I’m really disappointed, but at the same time there’s a little bit in me which is happy because I think I’ve come out the first two races how I wanted to, in a way. I still want to improve, but we’ve started off on the right foot, so for that I'm pleased and with a little bit of luck we’ll turn things around soon and I’ll get some points. I love racing up the front, it’s been a privilege so far and a lot of fun in the last couple of races. It’s a bit addictive actually, I want more, so you’ll see me up there plenty of times this year.”
Christian Horner, Team Principal: “Considering where we were a month ago, to be on the podium with Sebastian in Malaysia in a dry race, is an incredible performance. We knew that we had some ground to catch up to the Mercedes, so to finish as close as Sebastian did today was a really positive performance and, while we know we’ve got a lot of work to do, we can begin to realise the scale of our challenge. It’s a great shame for Daniel who did everything right today – a great start and a great first lap and a really impressive opening part of the race. It was unlucky that when he came in to a pit stop; the front left didn’t go on properly and the car was released, it was judged to be an unsafe release and we had a drive through penalty. Thereafter the wing failed – we don’t know what caused that yet. I think Daniel’s clearly shown his potential and that the Australian GP wasn’t a one off; it’s great to have two guys pushing like they are.”
Thierry Salvi, Renault Team Support Leader: “A great race for Sebastian to get his first podium of the season. Everything worked as expected on the Power Unit and we managed the fuel and energy well. One of the main concerns in the heat here is the charged air temperature to the turbo, but we didn’t have any issues today. Daniel was unlucky again – he lost time in the pits and then retired. But we have seen that we have the potential to challenge for the podium with both cars now, which shows the huge effort put in since winter testing by both Milton Keynes and Viry.”