Driver reaction - Belgium GP

The men in the cockpits have their say

By William Esler.   Last Updated: 02/09/12 6:35pm

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The drivers give their reaction to a thrilling race at the Belgian Grand Prix, where Jenson Button took his second win of the season.

Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel: "I'm happy with that today. Qualifying wasn't as we planned it to be yesterday, but today the car seemed to be back to as we know it. The start was poor; I think I was the only one not to gain positions through the first corners, so we had to fight our way back, which wasn't easy, but I enjoyed it a lot.

"The strategy worked perfectly for us and we had the pace, which was the best thing about today. The car worked well and we didn't struggle. Congratulations to Jenson and Mclaren on the win. We've got a lot of back to backs this season and I'm looking forward to Monza later this week. We had a great race there last year - it's always a great atmosphere and we'll be pushing hard."

Mark Webber: "The start was pretty wild, which can happen at La Source. We settled into a race, but it became obvious quite early on that it was difficult for us to overtake. Obviously Seb and I had a little battle, which was fine - but after that, it just wasn't possible to fight other people on the straight line, so that made it tough.

"We tried to under-cut some people and roll the dice... I had Petrov on the out lap, which is fair play to him as he's just doing his thing, but we lost time there. We had a bit of luck at the start, but after that we didn't get the most out of the situation - but it was good to finish six places higher than I started and get points."

McLaren

Jenson Button: "I'm sorry to all the fans if it wasn't very exciting at the front!

"However, winning a grand prix is never easy: you've always got to look after the tyres and keep an eye on the gap behind. Today's race was particularly tricky to read, in fact, because lots of cars were on different strategies so you never knew exactly where you stood.

"Turn One looked pretty crazy - in my mirrors, I could see cars all over the place. For me, it was all pretty straightforward though. Having said that, without having been able to gather long-run testing data from Friday, it initially looked like it was going to be a hard race to call. In fact, as things panned out, it was the opposite.

"It was unusual to be able to run a one-stop strategy. We got to lap 12 and the team asked me how the car was feeling; I told them that the balance was getting better and better, so we were able to get to lap 20 before pitting.

"We need to score big points in both world championships - and today was exactly what we required. I'm a massive team-player, and I fight for the team; I want us to win both world championships and, until I can't mathematically fight for the drivers' world championship, I won't give up on it. I think I showed that today."

Lewis Hamilton: "First, I want to offer my congratulations to Jenson. I watched the whole race on TV and he did an absolutely brilliant job. It's great for him and fantastic for the team. It also gives me huge confidence, going into the next race, knowing that our car has got fantastic pace.

"If we can get it right on our side of the garage, then we ought to be capable of scoring a strong result in Monza. In fact, I'm already channelling all my energy into doing just that.

"It's been a difficult day for me - my race was so short that I didn't even break a sweat out there. I don't really want to talk about the start - I think everyone saw what happened - it's just a shame.

"This wasn't a great day for my world championship hopes either, but I certainly won't be giving up."

Ferrari

Felipe Massa: "It was a nice race and fifth place is a great result, if you think of where I started. At the start, I managed to pass both Red Bulls, but then I had to move right over to the left side to avoid the tangle of cars that included Fernando and I lost almost all the ground I had made up in the opening metres. I am very sorry about what happened to my team-mate, because I think he could indeed have got a good result, given the race pace we had. It's true that also today, I was suffering a lot in the second sector but in the first and third I was very quick.

"The one stop option was not practicable for us, so we made the right choice, managing to be very quick when we really needed to be. I don't know if this race changes anything regarding my future, but I am very satisfied, just as I was very disappointed yesterday afternoon, because on this track, I have always gone very well. Now we go to Monza, our home race: the track is different to all the others and so it is very difficult to predict what the hierarchy might be among the teams. Of course it would be wonderful to be competitive and get a great result in front of our fans who, I'm sure of it, will show us their passionate support."

Fernando Alonso: "I'm fine, except my left shoulder hurts a bit: I went to the medical centre immediately after the accident but everything is alright, the pain only comes from the whiplash. I had no idea what happened: I had overtaken the two Saubers when I felt as though I had been run into by a train! Immediately after the impact, I stayed in the cockpit for a few seconds, but then there was the start of a fire and the foam from the extinguishers meant I couldn't breathe.

"I tried to tell the team on the radio that I was alright, but I couldn't. Now I can say that, given the misfortune of having had an accident like this, I am lucky to be able to get back in the car in just a few days. The level of safety of these cars is very high and today we saw further proof of that. I am not angry with Grosjean, he definitely didn't do it on purpose: it was a case of me being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Rather, I think that certain drivers should try and take fewer risks at the start: it's a bit of a tendency currently in the junior formulae, but it would be better, if right from the start of their career, they got used to respecting more strictly the rules relating to behaviour on track.

"What happened is a shame, because I think a podium was indeed within my reach, especially when you see what Felipe demonstrated on track. Today we paid a high price through bad luck and luck owes us now: let's see what happens in the rest of the season. We lost a bit of the advantage we had over Vettel, Webber and Raikkonen, but we have lost nothing to Hamilton who, given how the McLaren went, is possibly our most dangerous rival. Now we go to Monza, Ferrari's home race: traditionally the Reds are always strong there, so let's hope we can have a nice weekend and give our fans something to cheer about, making up some of the advantage we lost today."

Mercedes

Michael Schumacher: "I quite enjoyed my 300th race, and it was good fun out there with all the battles. In the end, you have to be realistic, and getting into the points from where I started is not too bad, even if you obviously hope for more when I was second at one stage. But then, it was more than we had expected. It looked pretty reasonable at the start, and we were following our one-stop strategy.

"In the end though, it did not quite work out so we decided to go for fresh tyres and attack with them. If we had not done that, I might have ended up further back. But then I lost sixth gear and there was no way to attack. We will now have to do that next week in Monza."

Nico Rosberg: "It's been an eventful but disappointing weekend for us, and it's a shame to have finished just one place outside of the points today. Without the gearbox change and penalty, I probably could have scored some decent points this weekend. I had a good start today and moved up ten positions into the midfield.

"We were running a one-stop-strategy because I needed to take the risk to move up but it didn't work out and we had to come in again quite late on. Now I'm looking forward to Monza and we will push hard for a better result there next weekend."

Lotus

Kimi Raikkonen: "I made a pretty okay start, similar to Jenson's (Button) and I overtook the Sauber. I saw a lot of action in the mirrors but luckily it missed me. Unfortunately, we didn't have the pace today. My car wasn't great all weekend and we couldn't find a competitive setup. On new tyres it was okay, but we had to use a lot of downforce to prevent sliding. That meant we were very slow on the straight.

"You could see this in my battle with Michael (Schumacher). Each time I passed him he just went straight back past down the Kemmel straight. My only chance was to go for a gap at Eau Rouge. Luckily it paid off and I managed to stay ahead of him that time. We didn't have the pace today and it wasn't an easy race, so P3 was not too bad."

Romain Grosjean: "When your life is all about racing, not being allowed to attend an event is probably one of the worst experiences you can go through. That said, I do respect the verdict of the Stewards. I got a good start - despite being disturbed by Pastor's early launch, which I think was the case for everybody at the front - and was heading into the first corner when the rear of my car made contact with the front of Lewis' (Hamilton).

"I honestly thought I was ahead of him and there was enough room for both cars ; I didn't deliberately try to squeeze him or anything like that. This first corner situation obviously isn't what anyone would want to happen and thankfully no-one was hurt in the incident. I wish to apologise to the drivers who were involved and to their fans. I can only say that today is part of a process that will make me a better driver."

Force India

Nico Hulkenberg: "I'm delighted with the result today - my best finish in Formula One. It's a result that the whole team has worked hard for and I want to say a huge 'thank you' to all the guys because everything went perfectly today. The start was eventful, but fortunately I avoided all the debris and was able to take advantage of the situation.

"I was up a high as second and for a while I was even thinking we could finish on the podium. But the race was tough; I had some great fights with Kimi and Michael, and I was always on the limit. For us it was clear that we had to stop twice and we made the strategy work. So I've got a big smile on my face today because it's just the result we needed for our fight in the championship."

Paul di Resta: "A tough race for me largely due to the KERS failure on the car just before the race, which really hurt my performance and speed on the straights. I couldn't really attack or defend, which is a shame because I was up to fourth place at the start, but we couldn't capitalise on it. I kept battling and tried my best to come away with the final point, but so much more was possible today."

Sauber

Kamui Kobayashi: "This is a terrible race result after we had been doing so well in qualifying. There was nothing I could do when a car came flying into mine after the start. I had to pit once for some repairs and then again after seven laps because of a slow puncture. During the race I didn't really know how bad the damage to the car was, but I could see a tyre print on the cockpit all the time. Later in parc fermé I understood why I was so slow, as the side pod and some other bodywork had gone. Apparently before the start my car drew a lot of attention because of the smoke. The brakes were too hot, but I was still able to finish the race with them. I don't know why I then also had more wheel spin than expected, so we are looking into that as well."

Sergio Perez: "I am very disappointed for myself and the team as it was such a good opportunity for us to fight for a victory today. Pastor Maldonado had a jump start frist of all. I went on the inside of Fernando Alonso. I was going into turn one, braking and then suddenly the cars came from behind and hit me and it was a big mess. I am now looking forward to the next race in Monza."

Williams

Bruno Senna: "We went for an aggressive strategy and it looked like the safety car was going to help us, but in the end the pace difference between the cars with newer tyres was too big. We then had a slow puncture which meant we needed to pit again before the end. Overall it's a day we want to move on from but we need to learn as many lessons as we can and make sure we're in the best position possible for Monza to score some points for the team."

Pastor Maldonado: I made a slight mistake at the start because the clutch slipped out of my hands before the red light switched off. We then got caught up in the first corner incident and that compromised our race. I'm disappointed because we could have scored some good points here, but it's not long until the next race so we're looking forward now."

Toro Rosso

Jean-Eric Vergne: "I am really happy after what was a fantastic race. I had hoped to come here and score points on my favourite track and I managed it. I had a very good car and I was able to do some good overtaking moves. It was a shame I lost a lot of time behind Rosberg, but I'm not complaining on a day when I finally scored some points again. I did not get a very good start, as I just touched the anti-stall.

"That meant quite a few cars passed me and that's when I saw there was a crash. I braked and took a line as near to the inside as possible and I came out of it without too much trouble. I enjoyed myself today and I think we are on the right track although it's hard to say exactly what was better about our car this weekend.

"We will analyse everything that happened this afternoon with the intention of being even stronger in Monza next weekend. The team worked well and the pit stops were good so well done to them too and it's great that Daniel also scored points. I will leave Spa with a good souvenir of this weekend."

Daniel Ricciardo: "That was good fun! We managed to benefit from the incident immediately after the start, when I had got a good run off the line. Then I managed to move right to the inside going through the hairpin and came out sixth. My first stint was on the Medium tyre and I think I ran as high as fourth at one point.

"However, I was not quite as quick in my last two stints which were on the Prime, so I dropped a couple of positions. You always want to do better, you always want more, but you can't complain with ninth, being back in the points for the first time since Melbourne. Hopefully, it will give us some momentum for the team's home Grand Prix next week."

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Caterham

Heikki Kovalainen: "I had a really good start, avoided all the debris from the startline crash and was up to tenth when the safety car came out. There were a couple of quicker cars behind me who got past when the safety car went back in and then I made a small mistake at the last chicane which put me back a couple of places but I made them up quickly and was into a good rhythm just behind Vitaly.

"At my first stop we had a problem with the release from the box and unfortunately I clipped the HRT as I was heading out, bringing me back in for a new front wing. From that point all I could do was try and get back in front of the cars ahead but I had another spin with a couple of laps to go. I still managed to pass one of the HRTS but with the issues we had today that was pretty much the end of my race. It's not been a good weekend but we'll regroup and come back fighting in Italy at the next race."

Vitaly Petrov: "I had a pretty good race and was pushing as hard as possible all afternoon and I think I finished about as high as we could have expected. At the start I managed to get through the accident without any problems and I was up to 13th, running well. I pitted on lap 12 and had an issue with the release but I managed to stay ahead of the pack chasing us and kept up good pace until the second stop a couple of laps after halfway through the race. We went onto the hard tyres and the degradation rate was good on that set so I was able to push until the chequered flag."

HRT

Pedro de la Rosa: "It was an intense race from start to finish. I didn't completely avoid the accident on the first corner because, besides the pieces of front wing flying through the air, I was trapped between some cars with no space and I got hit a couple of times. That's why I had to stop before planned to change the front wing. It went well after that; we were able to fight with the Marussias and Kovalainen until the end. We've still got a small way to go to be where we want but today was a fighter's race but also a fun one".

Narain Karthikeyan: "I got off to a very good start and the car was fantastic throughout the first stint, enabling me to keep up a good battle with Pic. But after the second pitstop I had some issues with the suspension and spun off track. It's a shame because I was having a good race ahead of a Caterham, but I'm happy with our performance and I hope to continue with this level in Monza next week".

Marussia

Timo Glock: "Not only was it great to be back racing here after the break, but it was great to be really 'racing' again after some very positive steps forward for the team. Not only have we brought some strong updates to the car, the team have worked really hard to get on top of the problem I experienced in the last few races and here it looked positive.

"This is in itself another demonstration of how we are working together to bring the right results. We didn't get off to the smoothest of starts on Friday, but by Saturday morning we were showing our potential. We knew we could be stronger in the race and we were; we could have been stronger still but for the problem with Maldonado which lost me time earlier in the race and created a bigger gap to Petrov at the end than might otherwise have been the case.

"I am very proud that we have worked so hard together as a team to see the benefits we are now seeing and my thanks to everyone trackside and back at base. We are really taking the fight to the competition now and I enjoyed a great race today. Things can only get better for us and today I am very happy to be P15."

Charles Pic: "We didn't get the best start again and then I was stuck behind de la Rosa for quite a while, which lost me a lot of time. We chose a one-stop strategy which for the most part worked well for us, but I was really struggling with the degradation at the end and being on older tyres Timo not only got by but I also lost time to him.

"I have been very pleased with the progress we have made for this race and my thanks to the team for their efforts. We still have to keep moving in this direction to get us to a point where we can finish ahead of all our nearest competitors, but we had some great racing in the team today and this at least showed that we are doing a very positive job as a team. I look forward to Monza now."

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