Vettel most encouraged by pace
German takes great heart from Red Bull race performance
Last Updated: 02/09/12 6:56pm
Sebastian Vettel says the strong pace which allowed him to surge to second place at Spa, rather than the fact he has closed back in on Fernando Alonso in the championship, gave him the most satisfaction from the Belgian GP.
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The World Champions went into race day on the back of a heavily disappointing Qualifying session on Saturday in which Vettel first failed to make the cut for Q3 and Mark Webber then only managed to qualify seventh, which became 12th on the grid following a gearbox change penalty.
However, with the multiple-car first corner collision turning the weekend on its head for a large proportion of the field, Red Bull ultimately came away from the weekend in healthier positions in both championship battles after Vettel finished runner-up to Jenson Button and Webber also picked up crucial points with sixth place.
And with points leader Fernando Alonso the main casualty of the early carnage, Vettel, who has now closed to within a win of the Spaniard at the top of the Drivers' Championship, declared it a big result - particularly in terms of the RB8's pace on a one-stop strategy he admitted he hadn't excepted to work.
"It's good news," he told Sky Sports F1. "Not mentioning the number of points, it was more important we had a good race today.
"The start was not so good and turn one was petty confusing with a lot of debris and not a lot of free gaps to go into, but fortunately we got through and didn't pick up a puncture.
"After that the pace was there; we stayed out fairly long on the first set of tyres which allowed us in terms of strategy to make the one-stop work which to be fair we didn't expect before the race. But it was the right call so a good job from the team on the pit wall and as I said the pace was there which was the most important thing."
Both Red Bull drivers were forced to pick their way through the scattered carbon fibre debris at La Source following the dramatic four-car pile-up.
Given so many cars ahead of him had been eliminated on the spot, Vettel admitted the fact he still ended the first lap in a lower position than he had started highlighted just how poor his getaway had been. Nonetheless, the World Champion conceded he was still lucky to emerge from the chaos ahead unscathed.
Asked to explain his experiences at the start of the race, the German said: "Not that easy. First of all I had a poor start so I had to see how many places I was going to lose until braking. Then you try to gain a couple of places back, plus try to find a gap that probably allows you to get a good exit and another couple of positions.
"Fortunately I didn't decide to brake too late so I was able to get away with not running into any other cars. I think Mark and myself were very lucky - just in front of Mark there was a car that spun and was the other way round. A lot of things come up [in front of you] very quickly and there's not a lot of time to make a decision. But fortunately it worked.
"We lost too many positions at the start so in combination with the fact that there were a lot of cars retiring in the first corner we still managed to lose places on the first lap which was not good news."