Report – Kimi Raikkonen came very close to a podium finish in the Belgian Grand Prix at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps track. Having started eighth, the Finn did an excellent job of making the most of every opportunity that came his way in an action-packed race, in which he spent much of the time in third place. Fernando Alonso on the other hand, had a decidedly difficult time of it, eventually finishing eighth.
A problem on Alonso’s F14 T before the start meant the mechanics had to stay on the grid over the time allowed. He managed to get away before the last car passed him and so was able to take up his correct fourth place on the grid. However, because of the rule infringement, the Spaniard was given a 5 seconds stop-go penalty, which he took at the first pit stop.
The opening laps were action packed, as the two Mercedes collided, so that Hamilton had to pit with a puncture and Rosberg struggled with front wing damage. That meant it was all very close at the front, with both Scuderia Ferrari drivers in the mix, as the top six were all within 3 seconds of one another.
Raikkonen was always a front runner, even getting as high as second for a while, spending much of the race in third. However, in the closing stages, Kimi had to give best to the Williams of Valtteri Bottas and settle for fourth, which is nevertheless his best result of the season so far. Alonso paid a heavy price for that 5 second penalty, finding himself locked in battle with Kevin Magnussen in the McLaren who was still in front of Fernando after the second pit stop. That cost the Spaniard a lot of time and in the closing stages he was involved in a four way fight, but had to also give best to Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) and Jenson Button (McLaren) thus finishing eighth. Daniel Ricciardo took the third win of his career. The next round is at Monza in a fortnight’s time.
Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1h24m36.556s 2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes +3.383s 3. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes +28.032s 4. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +36.815s 5. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault +52.196s 6. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes +54.580s 7. Fernando Alonso Ferrari +1m01.162s 8. Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes +1m04.293s 9. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault +1m05.347s 10. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes +1m05.697s 11. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault +1m11.920s 12. Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes +1m14.262s 13. Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes +1m15.975s 14. Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari +1m22.447s 15. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari +1m30.825s 16. Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari -1 lap 17. Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault -1 lap 18. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari -5 laps
Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1h24m36.556s 2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes +3.383s 3. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes +28.032s 4. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +36.815s 5. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault +52.196s 6. Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes +54.262s 7. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes +54.580s 8. Fernando Alonso Ferrari +1m01.162s 9. Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes +1m04.293s 10. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault +1m05.347s 11. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes +1m05.697s 12. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault +1m11.920s 13. Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes +1m15.975s 14. Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari +1m22.447s 15. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari +1m30.825s 16. Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari -1 lap 17. Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault -1 lap 18. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari -5 laps Retirements Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 38 laps Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 332 lap Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 1 lap Andre Lotterer Caterham-Renault 1 lap Drivers' championship Constructors' champiuonship: 1. Nico Rosberg 220 1. Mercedes 411 2. Lewis Hamilton 191 2. Red Bull/Renault 254 3. Daniel Ricciardo 156 3. Ferrari 158 4. Fernando Alonso 119 4. Williams/Mercedes 150 5. Valtteri Bottas 110 5. McLaren/Mercedes 111 6. Sebastian Vettel 98 6. Force India/Mercedes 100 7. Nico Hülkenberg 69 7. Toro Rosso/Renault 18 8. Jenson Button 66 8. Lotus/Renault 8 9. Kevin Magnussen 45 9. Marussia/Ferrari 2 10. Felipe Massa 40 10. Sauber/Ferrari 0 11. Kimi Räikkönen 39 11. Caterham/Renault 0 12. Sergio Pérez 31 13. Jean-Éric Vergne 11 14. Romain Grosjean 8 15. Daniil Kvyat 7 16. Jules Bianchi 2
Kimi: clean race all I needed – “The race was clean, no issues like in the past, we always had something happen. It was probably the first [clean] race of the year. That helps. We could do our own race, and the result was a bit better. At the last few races we had a better feeling, but a lot of things happened in qualifying and the races. We had some damage on the wings by getting hit by other cars, and it compromises your race because you can’t run your own speed. The main thing is we had a clean race with no issues. We could push. There was still difficulties with the car handling-wise, but we expect that. Sure there are things that we have to improve, but the feeling has been there for a while, it’s just been comprised by the mistakes or things happening to us. Hopefully we start getting more clean weekends. It would make life easier, and probably the results better.”
Raikkonen added that fourth was the best he could achieve today, and that he did not consider himself to be battling with Valtteri Bottas for third place, given the Williams’s superior straightline speed.
“Not much of a fight, really. In a straight line they are much faster. One lap he almost got me, but I could keep him behind, then on the next lap there was no chance. For me, it doesn’t count. We are a bit down on power. For sure we don’t have the horsepower or the engine that they have, and the recovering that they can achieve, and that’s the bigger problem right now. But we’ve improved that, for sure it is better than at the beginning at the year.”
Kimi: we didn’t deserve any better – “We had good races before and the feeling has been better in the last few races but we put ourselves in a very bad position in the last qualifying and the last race. Obviously when you start behind you’re f****d already at that point so there’s not much we can do. [This weekend] the qualifying wasn’t ideal but at least we were up there. We had no problems in the race and it’s probably the first race this year that is a clean race; we didn’t have damage on the car or any other issues so we could just do our own race. The speed wasn’t too bad but this is still not good enough. I don’t think we deserved any better, if we deserved it we would get it but today we missed by a few laps. They were a little bit too fast for us.”
Kimi: not much of a fight – “It was not much of a fight really, I mean in a straight line they are much faster. On one lap he almost caught me and I could keep him behind but the next lap there was no chance. For me it doesn’t count as a fight. This is what happens [when you are slower]. I think we ran the proper downforce we should have to do our maximum speed over the lap and in qualifying conditions, over one lap, it isn’t too bad. But over the race we are suffering more against those cars, they can charge more and have a bigger advantage than over one lap. We don’t have the horsepower in the engine they have but what they can recover compared to us is probably the bigger problem right now.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “We had decided to tackle this race more aggressively, making an early stop to get ahead of the cars that had yet to pit and that meant I was able to stay with the leaders for much of the race. When Bottas in the Williams began to close on me, I knew I didn’t have the speed to defend on the straight and with a few laps to go, he managed to pass me. In general, I’m happy with how this weekend ended. We knew it would not be easy on this circuit, but we did our utmost and for the first time, we managed to have a clean race without any problems. The car has improved and today the pace was good. Fourth place shows we are going in the right direction, but it doesn’t mean we can settle for that. Today, we scored a good number of points, but we are here to win and we will continue to work to reach the top.”
Marco Mattiacci: “At the end of a weekend in which the topic of young drivers was very much in the news, I want to start by congratulating Raffaele Marciello on his first GP2 win and Jules Bianchi for his strong showing in yesterday’s qualifying. As for the race, we are very pleased for Kimi: today, he came close to the podium and scored his best result of the season, a result which sees us maintain third place in the Constructors’ classification. Unfortunately, Fernando’s race was compromised by a problem at the start. Without that, I firmly believe the podium was within his reach. We know we have missed out on a great opportunity, but we will learn from this incident to pay obsessive attention to our procedures, as we strive to improve reliability. The next race will be complicated because top speed is a strong point of the Mercedes-powered teams. We will try and defend with every means available, because the efforts of the team in terms of improving the car are producing encouraging signs.”
Pat Fry: “Fourth and seventh places can’t be seen as satisfactory, especially given that circumstances today meant we could have delivered more as a team. Clearly, Fernando’s penalty, because of a problem with the charge from the external battery we use on the grid, cost him the chance of fighting for a place on the podium and from this incident we must learn to improve our procedures. From then on, his race was compromised and whatever strategy we went for would have seen him in traffic: that’s how it turned out and unfortunately, he suffered a lot behind Magnussen, who could count on better straight line speed. Despite this, Fernando pulled off several overtaking moves and drove a great race. It’s a shame about the contact with Vettel at La Source, which cost him places right at the end. Kimi ran a clean race and we are pleased his feeling with the car is improving. It was precise and he made no mistakes: we came close to a third place with him, which he maybe deserved. Now we will continue to develop the car to give both our drivers an ever more competitive package, even if we have to be realistic when it comes to the rest of the season. Monza will be a very tough race, but there too, we will try and get the maximum out of our available package.”