The Australian Grand Prix, the first race of the 2011 Formula One season, ended in disappointment for the MERCEDES GP PETRONAS team this afternoon with Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher both forced to retire from the race.
Michael was hit on the first lap and had to pit with a puncture to the right rear tyre which dropped him to last place. The collision caused damage to the floor of the car which eventually forced his retirement on lap 19. Nico had made his first pit stop and was in P8 when he was hit from behind by Rubens Barrichello at turn three. With a loss of water pressure from the impact, Nico pulled over to retire the car at turn thirteen on lap 22.
“That was a disappointing first weekend of the season. It was a tough race until my retirement with the cars behind me pushing hard. I saw Rubens in my mirror and he was quite far away so I was surprised that he hit me. I immediately thought that was it and I had to pull over to stop the car. It’s very sad for the team as they have worked so hard this weekend and throughout the winter. However we focus on the positive and it will be interesting to see how we perform in Malaysia. Melbourne is a very unique track and we will only know where we really are after the next couple of races.”
“The start of the season certainly has not worked out as we had hoped, and we will tick this race off now and concentrate on the next one in Malaysia. I am very sorry for our guys here and at the factory who have worked so hard and so well over the winter, but for some reason we could not bring their work into results this weekend. As for the race itself, I had quite a good start but was then hit in turn three which punctured the right rear tyre and resulted in damage to the floor. As the damage was quite substantial, we decided to stop the car for safety reasons. It was an even bigger shame that Nico was then knocked out of the race as he could have scored some good points for the team. I still believe we have potential, as we saw during winter testing, and I am convinced we will fight back.”
“This has obviously been a very frustrating weekend for our team. Michael’s race was spoilt almost immediately with a collision which eventually caused sufficient damage to force us to retire the car. Nico was running reasonably well, however an over-ambitious move from Rubens, which the stewards also agreed with, brought his race to an end. It’s a disappointing end to a disappointing first weekend of the season. We will demonstrate our strength as a team, put this race behind us, regroup and go forward from here.”
“This was the toughest weekend of our 20 races as MERCEDES GP PETRONAS. From the first practice session, we had various technical problems which we did not experience during our pre-season testing preparations of more than 5000km. Nico and Michael were handicapped in their ability to set the cars up in the best possible way and our performance was not where it should be. In the race, Michael was hit after the start with the impact damaging his car enough that we had to call him in on lap 21 for safety reasons. Another car drove into Nico shortly afterwards which was the end of his race. We need to resolve our problems ahead of the next race and everybody will work very hard to achieve that within the next ten days. Sorry for all the hard-working people in our team for not having a better start to the 2011 season but we will improve soon.”