Kimi drove a strong race to clinch another podium position in difficult circumstances, while Romain’s race was over before it had begun after a collision at turn one ruled the Frenchman out of the Belgian Grand Prix.
Warm and dry conditions at the idyllic Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps provided a perfect backdrop for the Belgian Grand Prix. Unfortunately for Lotus F1 Team however, the race itself did not get off to such an ideal start.
Within metres of the start, Romain’s day came to an early and abrupt end as a collision heading into the first corner took both the Frenchman, Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez out of action.
Kimi by contrast had managed to jump a position to P2, and remained pinned to the back of leader Jenson Button as the safety car circulated allowing the marshals to clear the debris. At the re-start however, the Finn lost ground to the McLaren ; subsequently being passed by Nico Hulkenberg and shortly afterwards Michael Schumacher.
With his white marked medium compound Pirelli tyres not giving the levels of grip desires, the team pitted the Iceman for a fresh set of hard rubber on lap eleven and immediately reaped the rewards; Kimi setting the fastest lap of the race, leapfrogging Nico Hulkenberg and flying past Nico Rosberg with just a few laps.
After pitting once more for another set of hard tyres, the Finn found himself embroiled in an intense battle with Michael Schumacher ; the Finn pulling off a great pass around the outside of the final chicane before being re-passed by the German down the Kemmel straight thanks to issues with the E20’s KERS.
Undeterred, the Iceman pulled of a daring and spectacular move into Eau Rouge to reclaim P3, where he would remain for the remainder of the race to claim a hard-earned podium.
Kimi speaking to BBC: “We did not have much speed. Considering how difficult the handling was and how tricky the car was to drive I am very happy to finish third. I wasn’t expecting a very easy race and it turned out to be very difficult. The first few laps on new tyres were good and then I started sliding. We had a bit more high downforce to get more grip which meant we struggled in a straight line. Michael passed me once and then he got me back. Even with DRS I could not pass him, so I had to take a chance to overtake him with KERS into Eau Rouge and he still almost got me back. It is better to finish third than not to finish. We didn’t win but we didn’t have the speed to win so we didn’t deserve to win. The last two races we had the speed but in races that you could not overtake. Here we did not have the speed.”
Classified: Pos Driver Team Time 1. Button McLaren-Mercedes 1h29:08.530 2. Vettel Red Bull-Renault + 13.624 3. Raikkonen Lotus-Renault + 25.334 4. Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes + 27.843 5. Massa Ferrari + 29.845 6. Webber Red Bull-Renault + 31.244 7. Schumacher Mercedes + 53.374 8. Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 58.865 9. Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1:02.982 10. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes + 1:03.783 11. Rosberg Mercedes + 1:05.111 12. Senna Williams-Renault + 1:11.529 13. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari + 1:56.119 14. Petrov Caterham-Renault + 1 lap 15. Glock Marussia-Cosworth + 1 lap 16. Pic Marussia-Cosworth + 1 lap 17. Kovalainen Caterham-Renault + 1 lap 18. De la Rosa HRT-Cosworth + 1 lap Fastest lap: Senna, 1:52.822 Not classified/retirements: Driver Team On lap Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 30 Maldonado Williams-Renault 5 Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1 Alonso Ferrari 1 Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1 Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1 World Championship standings, round 12: Drivers: Constructors: 1. Alonso 164 1. Red Bull-Renault 272 2. Vettel 140 2. McLaren-Mercedes 218 3. Webber 132 3. Lotus-Renault 207 4. Raikkonen 131 4. Ferrari 199 5. Hamilton 117 5. Mercedes 112 6. Button 101 6. Sauber-Ferrari 80 7. Rosberg 77 7. Force India-Mercedes 59 8. Grosjean 76 8. Williams-Renault 53 9. Perez 47 9. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 12 10. Schumacher 35 11. Massa 35 12. Kobayashi 33 13. Hulkenberg 31 14. Maldonado 29 15. Di Resta 28 16. Senna 24 17. Vergne 8 18. Ricciardo 4
Video: Start crash, Kimi passes Schumacher in Eau Rouge, BBC post-race interview, Sky Sports post-race interview
Kimi Raikkonen – 3rd: “I made a pretty okay start, similar to Jenson [Button]’s 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 – DNF: “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]’s. 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.”
Eric Boullier, Team Principal: “It’s been a tough day for the team but we fully respect the Stewards’ decision. Romain won’t be driving at Monza but he still has our full support. We’ll announce the name of his replacement a bit later in the week. As far as the race is concerned, unfortunately we didn’t have the pace for Kimi to challenge Jenson [Button] or Sebastian [Vettel]. We had to look closely at the strategy during the race to see if we should switch to one stop, but in the end a podium finish still brings us some good points. Of course, everyone talks about ‘the win’, and this is something we all want. We were not fast enough for it today, so we all need to keep working hard for this goal.”
James Allison, Technical Director: “Kimi did a really good job to salvage third position today with a car which really wasn’t quick enough, contrary to all our expectations coming into the event. In actual fact, this has been one of our tougher weekends and we’re thankful that Kimi did his best to limit the damage to our Championship aspirations. Fortunately, Spa can be viewed as sufficiently distinct in its characteristics to mean that we’re not unduly worried about the car’s potential performance heading to the next races.” Ricardo Penteado, Renault Sport F1 Team Support Leader “Getting a podium here is satisfying considering the challenge of the track, with nearly three quarters of the lap spent at full throttle. We introduced new units this weekend to maximise power on the straights and help overtaking. Wwe needed it today when Kimi made an awesome move to overtake Michal [Schumacher]. It bodes well for Monza though where a similar emphasis is placed on outright top speed.”
James Allison talks after the race about the weekend and Lotus development: