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    • Formula 1 2013 - Vettel takes the victory in the Belgium GP but Mercedes AMG gets on the podium

      Mercedes has been racing well as of late but Red Bull Racing continues to show it is their championship to lose. Mercedes once again showed their qualifying dominance with Lewis Hamilton taking the pole position for the Belgium Grand Prix with Nico Rosberg qualifying in fourth place. The problem though was that in between Hamilton and Rosberg sat the duo of Red Bull Racing drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.


      Vetter quickly passed Hamilton right on the opening lap. Hamilton was not able to hold off Ferrari's Fernando Alonso either who finished in second place. Hamilton did get on the podium finishing in third place followed by teammate Nico Rosberg in fourth place. Webber ended up behind Rosberg in fifth.

      Mercedes remains in second place with 235 points and Red Bull Racing remains in first place with 312 points. There are 8 races remaining but is that enough for Mercedes to make up the difference? An uphill battle to say the least.

      Results, standings, and quotes below.




      Red Bull
      Sebastian Vettel, 1st
      “I don’t think we expected to be dominant here, and it surprised all of us actually; it's a great result. I think we knew going into the race that our race pace, compared to Mercedes, maybe gave us a little in hand, but we didn't know where we were compared to the others, especially Ferrari, and Lotus looked very quick in dry conditions also. It wasn't clear if the rain was going to come at the end of the race, so we kept pushing, but the gap we had by that stage meant we were able to control the race from there and the last couple of laps weren't too stressful.”

      Mark Webber, 2nd
      “The two practice starts before the race weren’t great and so we were a bit worried about the clutch going to the start, which put us on to the back foot. We tried our best, but lost a couple of rows off the line which is not good. We then had to try and clear people on the track, which was difficult, as we had set up the top gear to race in clean air, rather than to pass. The bad start put us out of position and it snowballs from there, as you use up the tyres trying to get back into position.”

      Christian Horner, Red Bull team principal
      “It was a fantastic win for Sebastian and the team, which came down to the first lap. He had an average start, but managed to position himself well going through the first corner and he knew that the first run through Eau Rouge up the hill was going to be critical. He went for it, got in the tow and managed to make the move stick round the outside of Lewis and then got his head down and built up a great lead. For Mark, his clutch wasn’t good in preparation going to the grid. We did our best to tidy it up but he conceded a place to Rosberg off the start. Once he was comprised in his positioning within the pack, he wasn’t able to get a clean run through La Source and Alonso managed to get a run on him down the hill and pass him into Eau Rouge. Thereafter it was a matter of trying to find a way through, past the Mercedes and Ferrari ahead, but unfortunately whenever we got close enough we seemed to lose aero performance and so Mark couldn’t get close enough to make a move. We didn’t come here expecting to win today, so it’s great to get a victory to start the second half of the season”

      Thierry Salvi, Renault support for Red Bull
      “Spa highlights strong chassis-engine packages so winning here means perhaps more than any other circuit for the Red Bull-Renault partnership. The car has performed well all weekend, with consistently fastest end of speed straights and good traction in the corners. Congratulations to Seb for his second win in three years here and to Mark for a solid fifth. Getting this result here looks good for the next race in Monza.”

      Ferrari
      Fernando Alonso, 2nd
      “Today’s result shows that the outcome of qualifying bears little relation to the result on Sunday, although I think that even if I’d started from pole I would still have finished second, because Vettel was quicker. At the start we immediately made up some places and all in a rush, first passing Button, then Rosberg and Hamilton, so I found myself six seconds behind Vettel, but if one looks at the final gap of 16 seconds, we can but congratulate him and his team. The car worked well in all conditions, with a full fuel load at first and then with a lighter one at the end and, on top of that, the extra speed we had on the straight meant I could overtake without taking too many laps to do so. We know we have made a step forward and that we have recovered some of the competitiveness we had lost in recent races. In Monza and Singapore we will see the next steps in this process. The updates used in this race worked well and, even if they were aimed at this particular circuit, they are the results of work that goes on twenty four hours a day, at home and at the track. That makes us optimistic for the coming races, because our goal still remains the same, namely to fight for the title right to the end”.

      Felipe Massa, 7th
      “That was a difficult race for me right from the early stages, because after managing a good passing move at the start, I then had to slow and drop back four or five places, to avoid a collision with Grosjean at the exit of the first corner. From then on, things got complicated because for a few laps I had a problem on the steering wheel linked to the KERS operation and I wasn’t able to communicate well with the team. When everything was back to normal again, it wasn’t easy to catch up, because even if the decision to bring forward the first pit stop allowed me to get past several cars, the pace wasn’t good. In the final stint on the Hard tyres, the car was very competitive and I managed to gain some important places, with a nice passing move on Grosjean. I definitely can’t be pleased with seventh place, because today, our car deserved better, but the fact we’re more competitive than at the last few races makes me think we are working in the right direction and so we can hope to make progress throughout the second half of the season”

      Pat Fry, Ferrari chassis director
      “The performance level we saw in today’s race is what we were unable to demonstrate yesterday in qualifying and it was certainly worthy of a front row. We knew that with a competitive car on this track, we would be in the game, even if moving up from ninth and tenth places and coming out of La Source in one piece is no easy task. Fernando got a great start, being both aggressive and steady at the same time, even if unfortunately, it was not enough to get past Vettel. In the middle stint of the race, their pace was very similar and it was only in the closing stages that the gap grew. Felipe had a harder time, especially at the start when he got caught up in traffic. We tried bringing forward his first pit stop to make up some places, but in the end, the time lost at the start prevented him from getting into the top five. Now we will tackle two very important races and only by improving the car will we be able to fight for the lead in the championship”

      Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari team principal
      After qualifying hadn’t really given a true picture of the hierarchy down pit lane, today’s result showed just how competitive is our car. This second place wasn’t easy to come by and follows on from a difficult month and comes after plenty of speculation, which we prefer to reply to with results on track. Certainly this result alone is not enough, because we cannot claim to be satisfied until we manage to reduce the gap to Red Bull and be able to fight for first place. In the coming races, we will try to improve the car to give Fernando a chance of fighting for the championship title and for Felipe to deliver performances which can help the team: those are our goals, the rest doesn’t matter”.

      Mercedes
      Lewis Hamilton, 3rd
      “I got everything that I could out of the car today but we just weren't as quick as Sebastian and Fernando. I made a nice start and it felt like the exit out of turn one was good, too. But Seb just caught me on the run out of Eau Rouge and there wasn't really much I could do to defend: I moved once, like we are allowed to, but then I just had to watch him glide by. From that point, it was very difficult to hold on to him, and the same thing happened with Fernando, too, later in the race. We have done a good job this weekend but Spa and Monza are always unique tracks because of the low-drag requirements and I expect we will be more competitive in Singapore again. It's still a great team result to finish third with Nico right behind me in fourth, so we will take the positives from this afternoon into the next races.”

      Nico Rosberg, 4th
      “Fourth place was a reasonable result for me today, and it's great that we achieved a strong points finish for the team with Lewis' third place as well. The whole weekend hasn't gone perfectly for me and you are always slightly on the back foot in the race when qualifying doesn't go as well as planned. I had a great start but I wasn't able to go as long as planned on the second stint and I had to cover Felipe. But in the end, it was nice to keep Mark behind me and get fourth place. We have a lot of work ahead of us now and we need to look into why we weren't as competitive as a couple of the other teams today.”

      Ross Brawn, Mercedes team principal
      “It is a measure of how far we have come in the past 12 months that a race which would have been our result of the season last year now feels slightly average. However, we must keep things in perspective: this was a good team result, we scored a good haul of points for both championships, but we were on average half a second off the pace we needed to fight for the win at this track, especially when the tyres were new. The performance of both cars was pretty respectable by the end of the race but we were not quick enough in the early stages. Both drivers delivered a fault-free performance and the team performed well at the pit stops, so we got the maximum out of the car this afternoon. It's a good foundation for the second half of our season and we now need to find a little more performance for the next races.”

      Toto Wolff, Mercedes team executive director
      “We expected the race would be tougher for us in dry conditions compared to the mixed wet-dry weather we experienced yesterday in qualifying. Even so, we now have to analyse why we were lacking some performance relative to other teams when we debrief this evening and back at the factory next week. Third and fourth positions represent a very solid team result and good points for the Constructors' Championship, so we can be happy with what we achieved this weekend. And we will keep working hard back at base for the next races.”

      McLaren
      Jenson Button, 6th
      “We were trying for a one-stop strategy at the start of the race, then we adapted that to a two-stopper later on. We gave it a go, but our pace still wasn’t quite as good as that of the cars in front of us, so we couldn’t really chase them down at the end of the race. Having said that, it was a decent race for us. Moreover, as always, it was really fun to race around this magnificent circuit – I really enjoyed driving the car today. In terms of performance there’s been a small but definite improvement, so we should be pleased with the progress we’ve made. I’m pretty happy with the feel of the car now, in fact; okay, there’s still room for improvement in terms of pace, but the good thing is that we know which areas we should be focusing on. So I’m looking forward to Monza – another great circuit – where hopefully we can take another small step. We’re not going to be fighting at the front, we know that; instead we’re concentrating on ourselves, gradually understanding more about the car, and progressively improving things. There are still a lot of grand prix left this season, and we can enjoy some of them, I’m sure.”

      Sergio Perez, 11th
      “My race started pretty well. I managed to make up a couple of positions at the start, and then a few more in the first 10 laps, and at that point things were looking pretty good. I was happy with the balance of the car and we were on a good strategy. Then came the drive-through, and after that it was always going to be tricky to score any points. What happened with Romain [Grosjean] was unfortunate. I got ahead of him, and took the corner, but I now understand where the penalty came from, even if I’m naturally disappointed for myself and for the team. These things are always difficult, but the team spirit at McLaren is unbelievably strong and now, together, we simply have to move on. What we must now do is look ahead to Monza, and do our very best to make up for the points we missed out on here at Spa.”

      Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
      “Jenson made a brilliant start to move from sixth place on the grid to fourth after the first corner, and thereafter he drove a typically faultless race to finish just 13 seconds behind a podium finish. At one point we were considering opting for a one-stop strategy for him, and, if we’d been able to do that successfully, he may well have got that podium finish. As things turned out, it wasn’t to be; but, as I say, he drove an excellent race, and the eight points he scored were richly deserved, lifting our constructors’ world championship ranking to fifth place. Clearly, fifth place isn’t where we want to be, but it’s one place higher than we were this morning. As for Checo, he’ll be disappointed with having got involved in an incident with Romain, because, had he not done so, he’d definitely have scored points too. So we’re a bit disappointed, overall, of course we are, but equally we’re pleased to see firm evidence of underlying improvement in terms of pace. We’re still not where we want to be, but the trend is clearly in the right direction. Looking forward, then, from here we go to Italy, where we hope that that underlying pace improvement will produce better on-track results. Having said that, we never under-estimate our opponents, and we’re far from complacent about our chances. Nonetheless, we’ll be doing our utmost to put on a good show at Monza, a magnificent racetrack whose unique ambience always creates a very special vibe.”

      Lotus
      Romain Grosjean, 8th
      "We had a difficult first lap where we lost a few positions and then dropped back a couple more places in the incident with Sergio [Perez]. We decided on a one stop strategy today and with the new tyres I felt that the grip was much higher than before but I knew that it would be difficult to get the time back. We tried something different and you never know; had it rained in the middle of the race we could have been well-placed to take advantage. It is good to finish the race without any mistakes, even if eighth place isn’t what we were hoping for this weekend; it’s also a shame that Kimi didn’t finish the race, but we go to Monza hopeful of better things.”

      Kimi Raikkonen, DNF
      “I had a brake failure so there was really no point in trying to continue. We both got good starts off the line but there wasn’t enough space into the first corner where I went over the kerb and lost some time, but after that I was pushing as hard as I could. There were some brake issues at the beginning of the race but we were managing them and it was going okay until we had to retire. We’ve finished a lot of races and had some good reliability; one day your luck has to run out and today was that day.”

      Eric Boullier, Lotus team principal
      "It was a disappointing weekend, with qualifying not as good as we had expected and then a difficult first lap in the race. Kimi suffered from a brake failure which, of course, is a concern. We already believe we know why it happened and we will investigate this in detail to prevent the situation arising again. Romain finished eighth which clearly isn’t the sort of position we hope for at the end of a race weekend. Today we lost some pace and part of that might be due to the low temperatures. We must now look ahead, learn from this weekend and make sure that next year we can deliver on a medium downforce track.”

      Alan Permane, Lotus trackside operations director
      “It was a difficult race for us. We didn’t have the pace in qualifying yesterday and didn’t seem to have the pace today. We had a difficult first lap where we lost a few places and found ourselves sat behind slower cars. After that it was difficult to make up any ground. Unfortunately Kimi retired from the race with a front brake failure which we are now investigating. Romain was on a one stop strategy which was the right thing to do today. We look forward to starting again in Monza where we will bring new developments to the car and can hopefully have a better weekend.”

      Ricardo Penteado, Renault Sport F1 team support leader
      “Spa is traditionally very hard on engines, with long sections at full throttle, changes of altitude and compressions putting the engines under pressure. The RS27 has performed well all weekend and we were hopeful of a better result. The starting positions put us down in the pack and despite Romain’s efforts we could not make up any places. It’s a shame for Kimi but at least we come away with some points this weekend, which is important for the championship.”

      Force India
      Adrian Sutil, 9th
      “An interesting and exciting race, and it’s good to come away with two points. At the start I didn’t make the best getaway and lost a few places, but after that I settled into the race and was able to get ahead of a few cars and move into the top ten. I always enjoy driving here at Spa and I had some exciting overtaking moves today, which felt very nice. The two-stop strategy was the best way to go and it worked out well because I think we achieved the maximum that was available to us. We are still in a close fight with McLaren so it was important to get back in the points today after a couple of tough races.”

      Paul di Resta, DNF
      “I got a lot of wheel-spin at the start of the race and was down in about tenth place going into turn one, but during the first lap I managed to recover to seventh. After the second pit stop I was racing closely with Adrian and there was a train of four cars battling as we went into the final chicane. Pastor [Maldonado] went in deep and missed the apex so I tried to get the cut-back and was going around the outside of him. He then decided to try and enter the pit lane, which was impossible given his track position. As a result he hit me, which took the rear corner off my car. It’s a real shame because the speed was quite strong today and I think there was definitely a point or two up for grabs.”

      Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India team principal and managing director
      “I’m pleased to see Sahara Force India back in the points after a fine performance by Adrian. He clearly enjoyed himself out there today and his overtaking moves were a highlight of the race. The strategy calls from the pit wall helped him stay in the hunt for points and his race pace was good. The incident with Maldonado hitting Paul was very disappointing because Paul was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. It certainly cost us the chance to get both cars in the points. Going forward we will take the positives from the weekend and look to build on this performance level in a couple of weeks’ time in Monza.”

      Toro Rosso
      Daniel Ricciardo, 10th
      “It was nice to get that point! We ran a long first stint on the hard tyres and I think that helped us build a good base to have a strong pace in the final stints on the medium. I felt much more comfortable on the Option tyre and that’s when my race really started. With the last set of tyres I was knocking out maybe ten or so qualifying laps and managed to pick off some cars in front to bring home that crucial point. We knew we had to move on from yesterday. I had said that starting where we were, getting in the points would be good, so I’m happy with that and with the pace we showed while fighting to get there.”

      Jean-Eric Vergne, 12th
      “I think we could have done a bit better than this twelfth place, because my pace was good until the final stint when I had a slow puncture almost right from the start of it, which meant my performance dropped off. I managed to get past Hulkenberg with an exciting move, but I could not close to Perez ahead of me and then my team-mate Daniel came up behind me on new tyres. It was hard for me to be competitive therefore in the final stint. A bit of a weekend to forget as it could have ended so much better, if we had not made a mistake in qualifying, but at least when things were going well it seems that our car has picked up some speed that was lacking just before the break.”

      Franz Tost, Toro Rosso team principal
      “Normally, we would not be happy with a single point for tenth place, but given how things went in qualifying, today we can be relieved that both drivers and the team did a good job to recover, with Daniel going from nineteenth to tenth and Jean-Eric from eighteenth to twelfth. It was always going to be a difficult Sunday, especially as the rain which could have helped us never arrived. But both cars were fast enough to work their way through a large part of the mid field and Daniel and Jean-Eric produced some exciting passing moves to get back in the points zone. We ran different strategies, to try and make the most of any opportunity, with Daniel starting on the hard tyre and running a longer first stint and, by the final stages this proved to be slightly quicker than Jev’s, although they both made two stops. The most positive aspect of today’s performance is that our pace seems to be back at the relative level we had earlier this season. We are now looking forward to a competitive performance at our home race in Monza.”

      Sauber
      Nico Hulkenberg, 13th
      “I was able to improve a couple of positions at the start. It was tight but I managed quite well. I had a good first lap, but the pace was missing pretty much from the beginning. The car was difficult to drive. We were lacking a good balance throughout the whole weekend and during the race, and the tyres started to go off pretty quickly. We had to pit earlier than planned. Overall, we were simply missing speed today.”

      Esteban Gutierrez, 14th
      “From where I started I had to make progress and be clever about how much I could push. It was a matter of finding the right balance between pushing and taking care of the tyres, and I found that balance pretty well. I just focused on being as quick as possible, trying to manage the tyres well and getting the most out of the car. We lost a lot of time in the first stint with the traffic I encountered as I was coming from the back of the field. The strategy we planned was not ideal, so we had to change it and that still wasn’t perfect. I totally respect the FIA ‘s decision to penalise me for overtaking Pastor, but I don’t agree with the penalty. To be able to fight and to extract the maximum today is good to know. Now we have to improve in qualifying, because I think with the pace we have we can still fight for the top ten.”

      Tom McCullough, Sauber, head of track engineering
      “In the end the race was dry, and we opted for a two stop strategy for both cars. For Nico it was clear from the early part of the race he was struggling with the balance of the car, and the second and third stints were simply not fast enough to score points today. We need to understand why that is when we get the car back and analyse the data. It was clear that for Esteban starting so far back would be difficult, but his pace and tyre management was strong, and it was unfortunate he ended up with a drive through penalty. Otherwise he would have been close to the points towards the end of the race. Now we will regroup and are looking forward to Monza in two weeks time.”

      Monisha Kaltenborn Sauber team principal
      “We expected more this weekend. On a performance level, we were able to close the gap to our direct competitors. However, we weren’t able to translate that into points. We have to have a look at the data as to why Nico’s performance decreased during the race. Esteban did a good job, but the drive through penalty made it impossible for him to score points.”

      Williams
      Valtteri Bottas, 15th
      “Today’s race was not the easiest for us. We were struggling for pace in sector two and this made it difficult to get close to the cars in front and once I had been overtaken it was very difficult to regain the place. We will have to go away and understand why our race pace was not as strong today as it has been and try to make improvements in time for Monza.”

      Pastor Maldonado, 17th
      “I had a good start and I immediately picked up a number of places, but we struggled for pace in the second stint and I was not able to push and overtake the cars in front. I then had a collision with Di Resta in the final corner when our lines crossed as I was entering the pits. It was a difficult situation because I was fighting hard with the Sauber and I didn’t see Di Resta on the outside as I turned toward the pit lane. I tried to brake to avoid the accident but it was too late. It wasn’t a good weekend for us but we need to keep working hard and improving the performance of the car.”

      Xevi Pujolar, Williams Chief race engineer
      “Pastor and Valtteri both made good starts on the medium tyre and our initial pace was good. We switched to the hard tyre for the second stints to allow us more flexibility if the forecasted rain arrived in the late stages, however the race remained dry and our pace on the hard compound tyres wasn't quick enough compared to our nearest competitors. We also had the added challenge of a radio problem with Pastor which began shortly before the second pitstop and then as he came in for his pitstop he was involved in an incident with Di Resta which resulted in him needing a new front wing. Pastor then received a 10-second stop-and-go penalty for the incident which dropped him down the order. Valtteri had a clean race but after being held up initially during his medium tyre stint, we just didn't have enough pace on the hard compound to progress beyond P15 today.”

      Laurent Debout, Renault Sport F1 team support leader
      “Sadly we have not been able to capitalise on the improved form we showed in Hungary. The variable track conditions put us out of position in qualifying yesterday and as a result we were unable to make an impression in the race. We’ll hope for better in Monza.”

      Caterham
      Giedo van der Garde, 16th
      “My start was good. I had clear space going into turn one and held 14th place until mid-way through lap two, but then it wasn’t really possible to hold off some of the cars who’d started behind us. Realistically, we’d expected that to happen so I was focused on pulling away from Bianchi and Chilton and giving myself a big enough gap to manage the race we’d planned. I’d started on a set of mediums which we managed well. My first stop was on lap 15 when we went onto a set of new hards and I rejoined in 19th. That set was also working well until about lap 26 when the rears started to go off so we pushed for another couple of laps and then came in for the second stop on lap 29. The final stint was on another set of hard tyres and from there I was well clear of both Marussias and had a really good fight with Maldonado for 16th right to flag, pushing as hard as I could to keep that place. Overall this has been a really good weekend. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened if it had rained today, but for what was effectively my first home F1 race I think we got the maximum for the car. Saturday was an incredible feeling and I’m really pleased we could give the team, our partners and the fans such a lift in qualifying – now we have to make sure we can do the same for the rest of the season whenever the chances come our way.”

      Charles Pic, DNF
      “We started on a set of options and I was off the line cleanly with no problems on lap one. I passed both Chilton and Bianchi and by lap eight was catching my teammate but then I was told to box as we had an oil leak so we stopped the car to avoid any damage to the new engine we used today. Racing’s sometimes like this – we had good pace on Friday and Saturday, the car felt well balanced and we’d made some progress. While today’s race obviously didn’t go to plan I’m not down about it – we have another chance in Monza in two weeks to continue to build on the gap to our nearest rivals and I’m sure we’ll bounce back there.”

      Marussia
      Jules Bianchi, 18th
      “It was a tough race today, made more difficult by the fact that I had a radio problem from the start. Our pace was not as good as we hoped for, which was a shame. Although it was going to be hard to hang on to our grid positions if it didn’t rain, we were looking for something more after a good result yesterday. As it remained dry we were not presented with the sort of opportunities we were hoping might come our way. However, we did get a two-car finish and also we continue to hold position in the championship, so we will now look to Monza for more of an improvement we hope.”

      Max Chilton, 19th
      “A long race today, not just in terms of laps and lap distance, but more the fact that the dry conditions made the race quite uneventful for us. The threat of rain meant that we had thought through and prepared for so many different scenarios, so we would be in a position to capitalise on any opportunity to move up the order, but as it turned out much of the homework was not required. So we’re disappointed with the race but encouraged by signs earlier in the weekend and I hope we can make more of those in Monza in two weeks’ time.”

      John Booth, Marussia team principal
      “A long race today, not just in terms of laps and lap distance, but more the fact that the dry conditions made the race quite uneventful for us. The threat of rain meant that we had thought through and prepared for so many different scenarios, so we would be in a position to capitalise on any opportunity to move up the order, but as it turned out much of the homework was not required. So we’re disappointed with the race but encouraged by signs earlier in the weekend and I hope we can make more of those in Monza in two weeks’ time.”

      Pirelli
      Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director
      “With qualifying yesterday finishing in wet conditions, the drivers were allowed to start the race on whichever compound they preferred, opening up the possibilities for different strategies still further. A number of drivers and teams maximised these opportunities to the utmost today, especially Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull, who controlled the race. But we also saw some very good strategy calls all the way down the grid, which enabled many drivers to improve on their start positions. Following the uncertain weather earlier in the weekend, this was actually quite a straightforward Belgian Grand Prix, with dry conditions from start to finish and no safety car periods. But Spa remains probably the ultimate test of a Formula One tyre, with its long lap and high energy loadings, so the performance and durability of our tyres after a hard-fought race on one of the most epic tracks in the world were very much in line with our expectations.”

      This article was originally published in forum thread: Formula 1 2013 - Vettel takes the victory in the Belgium GP but Mercedes AMG gets on the podium started by Sticky View original post