Team and drivers report from the Malaysian Grand Prix, Round 2 of the 2013 Formula 1 world championship, at Sepang International Circuit near Kuala Lumpur.
Charles Pic, car 20, chassis CT03-#6: “Off the line I had a great start and was up with Giedo for the first few laps while the track was wet enough for the inters. The team called me in to change onto the medium tyres for the first stint in the dry but as I was coming in to the box I saw Vergne being released right in front of me and I couldn’t avoid him as I was turning in and there was nothing I could do to avoid their mistake. The guys did a brilliant job to change the nose and the tyres and I was out again after losing about 25 seconds – that’s the sort of thing the pitcrew train for and it paid off in that first stop. It’s such a shame that incident happened as we could definitely have finished better if it hadn’t happened. It may have cost us a place and while that’s frustrating it’s also positive to see how well everyone reacted and to see that we didn’t stop pushing, on the pitwall or in the garage. We stopped another three times after that, going onto the hard compounds for two stints and the mediums for the last thirteen laps and the car felt pretty good throughout the whole race. I was able to push right to the flag and without the pitlane issue I’m sure the final result would look different.”
Giedo van der Garde, car 21, chassis CT03-#5: “I had a really good start, really strong and the car felt great on the inters for the first stint. Just when the conditions were going from wet to dry I heard over the radio that I had a front left puncture but it was exactly at the time we were coming in to switch to the dry tyres so it only cost me a little bit of time. I came back out on the mediums and was running well in 17th with really good balance. From there the race was ok. The rain that had been forecast didn’t come so we didn’t have another chance to show what we can do on the inters and that’s a shame as I’m definitely quick on those tyres, but the car felt much better on both the medium and the hard compounds we put on in the second and third stops than it had yesterday. I didn’t have the same oversteer problems I had in FP3 or qualifying but we still have work to do to reduce oversteer on entry into the corners and we’ll look at that again in China. We’re also going to work on improving our setup options for qualifying, maximising every run in the practice sessions to help us get the most out of the car on Saturday afternoons and that will definitely help us put in a stronger showing in quali. I also want to say what a good job the boys did in the stops. It was pretty tight with Chilton each time but I stayed ahead of him after good work on the pitwall and really strong work from the pitcrew. When we finished I thanked them on the radio, and after the race Tony Fernandes told the whole team how proud he was of the work he’d seen today in the stops. He’s right – the boys are pushing hard and it’s good to see the efforts we’re making in the car are the same across the whole team.”
Cyril Abiteboul, Team Principal: “Having both cars finish the first two races, including our home race in Malaysia, is a fair reward for the efforts the whole team has put in, considering where we are performance-wise at this stage of the season. Both drivers again had very good starts and they were running well for the first part of the race. The incident Charles was an innocent victim of in his first stop was a real shame as that seriously hit his chances of fighting against Bianchi, but the team reacted very well and I’m proud of the efforts everyone has put in here and in Melbourne, in races that we knew would be tough. Although the general reliability of the cars has been better than a number of bigger teams ahead, we’re still having to deal with a number of pretty intense situations that are affecting our ability to control the finer details of our races. This time we had issues with our intercom failing, which prevents communication between engineers, our telemetry froze at certain points and the timing software went down which meant we weren’t able to accurately map how the race was unfolding. These things go on behind the scenes and while they don’t directly affect the performance of the cars they don’t help, so we’ll make sure we have fixes for each of those in China. Overall, with the strategy we’ve employed for 2013 and in preparation for 2014 and beyond we knew the first few races of this season would be tough, but we’re not going to deviate from the plan. Even though we’re running a hybrid car for the first three races we’re still close to where we want to be and the updates we have coming will pay dividends. We have a long-term goal, one that is built around the whole group we are part of and one that is realistic, sustainable and which will see us right in the mix in the long run.”