What a feeling! What a result! What a race! After months of hard graft, the W08 has its first win thanks to a Lewis Hamilton master class in China.
Lewis: I want to keep that up!
The pressure ahead of the race was immense, with the garage a cocktail of emotions. Would we be able to maximise the car’s potential? And was that potential enough to tame those mega rapid prancing horses?
After a phenomenal effort in Qualifying on Saturday, the win was there for the taking if the team performed at its very best in the tricky drying conditions at the Shanghai International Circuit. And in the end, it was indeed the Silver Arrows that soared highest.
In the end, Lewis took a commanding victory – seeing off the threat first of the Red Bulls and then Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari en route to his 54th win and the 65th victory for Mercedes-Benz as a Formula One Constructor.
“My pole lap put me in a great position and then the start was just fantastic,” he said. “I'm really happy with my starts right now so I want to keep that up!
Lewis: It has been a fantastic weekend
“During the race I needed to keep my composure in some really tricky conditions out there. After the pit stop under the Safety Car the speed was low and the tyres were very cold, so it would have been very easy to make a mistake, so I'm just grateful that I didn't.
“In those final 20 laps Seb and I were just pounding around as fast as we could, exchanging fastest lap times. In the future there will be times when we don't have a Safety Car and we won't have that gap, so I'm excited for that. It's very close and there were times when it was hard to match Sebastian.”
The triple World Champion took the opportunity to thank the team for all of its efforts in turning the W08 into a winner.
“It has been a fantastic weekend and I'm so grateful for the effort the team has put in for us to be where we are today,” he added. “It's very overwhelming when you have a weekend like this, because I'm just a single link in the chain and there are hundreds of people who are involved to put me up here on the top step.
“Big congratulations to everyone, especially those back home, I hope they're celebrating and feeling the spirit of the fight.”
Valtteri: I'm very disappointed with today
After the high of collecting silverware on his Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport debut in Australia, Valtteri had to settle for just sixth on a difficult Sunday in Shanghai.
An issue at his opening stop cost him time, before a mistake of his own making dropped him right down the order – spinning behind the Safety Car while trying to pump heat into his tyres.
His race compromised, Valtteri got his head down and surged up the order, setting a series of fastest laps. But ultimately, the Finn just missed out on catching compatriot Kimi Räikkönen for fifth.
“I'm very disappointed with today,” admitted Valtteri. “I made a good start but it didn't go so well from there. Yes, we lost some time in the pit stop – but it was nothing compared to what we lost with my mistake.
Valtteri: It was entirely my fault
“I was trying everything I could to get temperature in the tyres behind the Safety Car but went too aggressive and lost control of the car. It was entirely my fault. I'm really sorry for the team and the points we lost today.
“It took a few laps to get the tyres working after the spin but in the end my pace was okay. I think we made the right choice sticking with the Soft tyre for the second stint. The car was good today - a winning car, obviously. But the laps were running out as I was getting closer to the cars in front and I couldn't recover enough of the time I lost.”
“I'm leaving for Bahrain tonight and I'm glad the next race comes soon,” he added. “Once you've done a mistake it's done. You try to forget it and do everything you can to make up for it next time, so I will take a look in the mirror at myself and come back stronger.”
Toto: Overall it's now 1:1 for us against Ferrari
Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Toto Wolff was full of praise for his drivers after the race, congratulating Lewis on his victory and expressing his pride in Valtteri for the manner of his fightback.
“This was a great drive by Lewis and a great result,” he said. “Pace-wise, things looked pretty good out there today in all conditions, although there wasn't much between us and Ferrari when we were running in free air.
“For Lewis, it was a pretty drama-free afternoon: he was managing the pace in the right way, our strategy was spot on and, on an afternoon when there was lots of scope for making mistakes, he didn't put a foot wrong.
“As for Valtteri, his spin behind the Safety Car was unfortunate and cost him a lot of time. Mistakes like this happen but it was encouraging to see he had the pace in the car after that and could at least battle back to the position he held before the spin. Now he needs to forget about it and concentrate on the next race.
“Overall it's now 1:1 for us against Ferrari and the development race is on. This is just the beginning...”
James: Every single victory in Formula One feels great
For Technical Director James Allison, Sunday marked a special milestone – his first win with the team. While the victory was an especially sweet one, James insists his focus is already on Bahrain.
“Every single victory in Formula One feels great – but this one is particularly satisfying after coming away from Melbourne without the win. It's nice to get that monkey off our back,” he said. “Our strategy calls were all tidily executed in what was a complicated race early on with the wet-dry track.
“Lewis drove faultlessly today. Valtteri unfortunately paid a heavy price for a small mistake behind the Safety Car. He raced well from that point forwards but his Grand Prix was heavily compromised by his early spin.”
“We head to Bahrain on a high but we know we will be back to square one in terms of fighting a very strong opposition. We know that we will have to be absolutely on top of our game to do well there. All focus now on the next race and trying to repeat this great result.”
There’s a rapid turnaround tonight for the team, as the garage comes down around us. The freight heads out to Bahrain, where the Silver Arrows will be back on track next weekend. Formula One 2017 rolls on!