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Stroll unhappy with first F1 chequered flag finish

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The Canadian F1 rookie Lance Stroll finished with 11th despite spinning out on the opening lap for his first race finish on the F1 circuit.

“Just saw the checkered flag for the first time, which is nice,” said Stroll. “But disappointing with the spin. Could’ve been better, but we’ll take a first finish.”

Lance Stroll: It was so unfortunate. I had a really good start and think I was around P8 at one point, and then I got squeezed on the kerb, there wasn’t much grip and the car just got away from me. I knew I didn’t have any damage, but I fell to the back and it was just one of those things that happens. After that, it was a difficult first stint because I had that spin and then had to spin the car round to keep going, and I overheated the rears quite a bit so I had poor grip.

But then I recovered a bit on the second stint and saw the chequered flag for the first time, which was nice. It was a bit disappointing with the spin, as I think it could have been quite a bit better, but we will take our first finish.

Williams F1 race report

• Felipe Massa finished ninth and Lance Stroll 11th as misfortune hindered WILLIAMS MARTINI RACING in the Russian Grand Prix

• Felipe passed Ricciardo at the start and kept him at bay through the opening corners to hold sixth, while Lance made up two places off the line but dropped back to P14 with a spin later during the first lap

• Felipe ran sixth for most of the race but was forced to pit for a second time on lap 41 with a slow puncture, which dropped him to ninth place

• Lance managed to pass Kvyat for 11th, thanks to some quick laps before his only pit stop, and he was catching Sainz to challenge for the final points position in the closing stages

• Felipe also caught Hulkenberg and Ocon towards the end, but ran out of laps before he was able to regain any of the places lost to his puncture

• Felipe scored two points but drops to eighth place in the Drivers’ Championship, behind Perez, while WILLIAMS MARTINI RACING remains fifth in the Constructors’ Championship, now 13 points behind Force India

Paddy Lowe, Chief Technical Officer: It was a very disappointing day because we were in great shape for some good points. Felipe drove a fantastic race, but we had two slow punctures on his car. The first one wasn’t too damaging because it came at a reasonable time for a one-stop strategy, but the second one took him well out of position to ninth, which is a much worse result than the sixth place he was on for.

On Lance’s side, he had an unfortunate spin very early on, but drove a good, solid race after that and narrowly missed out on the points. Without the spin he could have certainly been in the points, but he put in some pace when he needed to and gained a position through the pitstops, and it’s great that he’s got his first race finish of his career. Overall we’re disappointed, we need to understand the reasons for the punctures as there may be more to it than bad luck. We’ll look into that, and look forward to getting better results in Spain, which the car and the drivers deserve. Finally, congratulations to Valtteri for his first race win. We consider him a home driver, he learned a lot of his craft at Williams and we’re delighted to see him get his first victory in Formula One.

Felipe Massa: I’m disappointed, we were just unlucky with the tyres. I was really taking care of the car and the tyres, keeping the gaps in the right place, and we had a sixth position in our pocket today. It is unfortunate and painful for the team that we have lost good points, but we can’t do anything about it.

The car felt good, it was consistent with a good pace, I had a good start and first lap. I was around eight seconds ahead of Perez, we were just unlucky. I’m so happy that Valtteri managed to get his first victory. I knew when he signed for Mercedes that he was going to do a good job there, like he did for Williams, and he’s doing it. He will be a different driver now with that first victory in his pocket.

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