Belgian Grand Prix - selected driver quotes 07 Sep 2008
BMW Saubers Nick Heidfeld on the clever tyre strategy that secured him third on the podium; Toro Rosso team mates Sebastien Vettel and Sebastian Bourdais on both finishing in the points; and Ferraris Kimi Raikkonen on that last-minute mistake that ruled him out of the race. All 20 drivers report back on Sundays action
(Note - Hamilton and Glock both received post-race time penalties, dropping them from first to third and from eighth to ninth respectively)
Felipe Massa, Ferrari (1st):
"This was a very strange race, with the start and finish taking place in rather difficult conditions. After the start I thought Eau Rouge might be wetter and so I was a bit cautious. Kimi attacked and managed to get by. From then on I realized it would be hard to pass the two guys ahead of me, even if the lap times were quite similar. I tried to manage the situation, especially towards the end. When it started to rain, I had a pretty good margin over my closest pursuers and I preferred not to take any risks, especially given what was going on in front of me. Today the car wasn't perfectly balanced. On Saturday morning, we had slightly reduced the aerodynamic downforcc, as you usually do for the race here, but today's track conditions definitely did not suit this choice. The hard tyres? They were definitely slower than the soft ones and lacked grip, which made the car a bit inconsistent in terms of balance."
Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (2nd):
"I had a fantastic race weekend and I am very happy today. At the start I got off better than the guys in front of me. Then I decided to go for the outside line, but unfortunately Heikki Kovalainen crashed into my car. This can happen, and I was lucky my car wasn't damaged. Of course I lost a lot of places. Later on in the race I was able to get some back, but then I got stuck in traffic. When the drizzle set in I was convinced it would be heavier on the next lap and decided to change to wet weather tyres. The team asked me if I meant what I said. When I left the pit lane after the stop I asked on the radio how many laps to go, and my engineer said this one and another one. As I couldn't see any cars on the track I thought, oh this was probably the wrong decision, but then it paid off. It was a Hero or Zero decision."
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren (3rd):
That was one of the most exciting races of my whole career it was incredibly tough. My spin on lap two put me on the back foot for the rest of the race, but I could see Kimi ahead and I was just pushing, pushing, pushing to close that gap, hoping he would catch traffic and allow me to get nearer. When the heavens opened, Kimi was a little cautious under braking and I was able to get really close. When I had a look around the outside at the chicane, we almost had an accident, and I needed to steer left to avoid him. As we crossed the start/finish line, I left him the space to get back ahead and then managed to get my car up the inside at La Source.
Fernando Alonso, Renault (4th):
"We finished fourth after a difficult race with plenty of incidents. It's a good result for the team, especially for our position in the championship because our objective was to score some important points. We missed out on a podium today, but we have shown that we can be the third strongest team in the championship."
Sebastian Vettel, Toro Rosso (5th):
Both me and Seb have good reason to smile after a race like that. The last lap was unbelievable and I was shocked as I got passed in the last fifty metres and then Heidfeld followed by Alonso drove past me with a 'whoosh' on their intermediates. It was very tricky at the end and you really had to trust your car. We were all saying that Eau Rouge and Blanchimont are now flat, but with a few drops of rain, I tell you, you see the real nature of these corners. Overall it was a fantastic race, even though I was stuck in traffic for a while. But I was very happy with the car and we had a very strong pace today. The guys at the front are still in a different dimension, but we have made some good steps forward and now it is up to us to use that potential at the next few races.
Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber (6th):
"I am not happy with the result, as today I had the chance to finish on the podium. We had a problem during the second pit stop. I lost two or three positions and returned to the track behind Nick. When it started raining he went into the pits to change tyres. I could not do the same as it would have cost too much time because I was directly behind Nick, so it would have meant us coming into the pits together. Also I had no information about the weather as I had problems with my radio. We gave away points today. However, that's racing."
Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso (7th):
On the last lap it was a lottery with the car getting away from you with every turn of the wheel. Its a horrible situation, as everything had been under control up until then. But I am not in a situation where I can risk everything and at the end of the race I didnt even know where I finished. It was so close to being a great result I felt I could almost touch it and so it was a very frustrating way to finish what was a great weekend up to that point. Such a shame, but nevertheless a very strong result for the team.
Mark Webber, Red Bull (8th):
The first few laps were quite tricky due to the conditions, but our start was okay. I was running a bit short and when doing that it helps to have a clear track, but I didnt. I lost some time behind Bourdais, who was a bit heavier, but we were still in a reasonable position. Then I got hit by Heikki (Kovalainen) and lost some time. It hurt our strategy, which was quite aggressive. The car felt best in the last stint on the prime tyres. Its a shame we didnt get any points today, the guys had put a lot of effort in.
Timo Glock, Toyota (9th):
"I had quite a tricky race but I am pleased with a point because for a long time today it looked like we would not be able to achieve that. I have to say thank you to the team, especially the guys who work on the starts because it was mega for both cars and in the last couple of races they have done a perfect job. I couldn't make up as many places as I wanted at the first corner because I saw Sebastien Bourdais slide into Jarno (Trulli) and I thought there would be a mess so I tried to stay out of it. Then for the first couple of laps I couldn't get any heat into the tyres. I struggled quite a lot and lost a few places. When the rain started I made the decision to come in and change to standard wet tyres and it was the right thing to do. It was not easy but I just got past Mark Webber in the last corner and took the final point."
Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren (10th):
I got squeezed between two cars at the first corner, and it cost me a lot of places. But I knew I had the car to claw things back and was making good progress until I came up alongside Mark Webber at the final chicane. I knew I was faster than him, but maybe he didnt realise I was on the inside and we touched, spinning him in front of me. Thats racing. It was a racing accident, but it earned me a drive-through penalty and knocked me back down the field. Still, my pace was good on the prime tyre, and I still managed to overtake quite a few cars. In the last few laps I thought I could take advantage of the damp conditions until I started to lose gears. In the end, the gearbox failed on the very last lap and I had to stop.
David Coulthard, Red Bull (11th):
I got held up a lot behind the Hondas at the start and it was hard to make up positions from there. We have poor drivability. The changeable conditions made things interesting at the end, we could probably have changed to intermediate tyres one lap earlier."
Nico Rosberg, Williams (12th):
"It wasnt such an exciting race for me today. Ultimately I did the best I could from where I started and the performance we had in the car and, I think adding all this up, 12th is probably about the best we could have achieved. At the end of the race we had to make the difficult judgement to come in for the wet tyres, and although we didnt make any gain, I still think it was a good decision to take. Overall then, it wasnt a good weekend for us and now we need to look forward to Monza and try to improve things. After the recent test there we are confident that it is a track that will suit us better."
Adrian Sutil, Force India (13th):
"It was a strong race for us, with a good performance. We had quite a lot of fights on the circuit and lots of overtaking. I caught up with Button and was right behind him, but then there was the rain in the last laps. As there were just a couple of laps left and we were quite quick on the wet conditions with dry tyres, we stayed out and I could pass him and some other guys. I am quite happy with this race."
Kazuki Nakajima, Williams (14th):
"Today was a difficult race for me. I had a bit of contact in the first corner which cost me some time, so from then on I just tried to maintain a consistent pace because I was on a one-stop strategy. Given this, I think my race pace was not bad compared with those around me. I made some progress during the race, then just at the end, the rain came and it was a tough call to either to stay on the slicks or try to see what the wets might do for us. In the end we made the stop and changed the tyres, but we didnt have enough time to make up any ground."
Jenson Button, Honda (15th):
"It's been a tough weekend and unfortunately the car's performance has been a long way off where I thought we would be here in Spa. I didn't have a great start from 17th and got completely boxed in with cars everywhere that I wanted to go. I then lost some time in the train of cars caught behind Rubens when he had his gearbox problem. The car was not handling well at all throughout the first stint as I had no grip and very little balance. So when I came in and switched to the prime tyre, we added front wing which I thought we needed, but not having had the the opportunity to compare the two tyres yesterday, this unfortunately gave me too much front end. Our rear tyre pressures were also too low which made the car very difficult to drive."
Jarno Trulli, Toyota (16th):
"I was very unlucky because I had a great start and from 11th I was in the top six, but I was hit really hard from the back and this damaged the car. After that the car was undrivable and on top of that the accident caused a gearbox problem, so my only target was to finish the race. Once again I wasn't very lucky here - it seems to happen too often at Spa that I am competitive but I have bad luck. I was hoping we could have a strong race and score some points. This was possible because we had a competitive strategy and a great start so it's a shame that we couldn't manage to do it."
Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India (17th):
"Unfortunately Nakajima spun and came across in front of my car and I broke the front wing and damaged the car quite a lot. Coming back to the pits I lost a lot of time as I had no front wing and punctured tyres. Unfortunately when I went out of the pitlane I was just in front of the leaders and then had blue flags at least 40 times! Towards the end of the race, looking at the weather I called the box and said I wanted to put on the rain tyres. It was the right choice but there were just two or three laps left and it would have been nice to have those conditions earlier, but I think considering the start the end result was not too bad."
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, (18th):
"I came here to win and I came close. In the final laps the track conditions were very critical and unfortunately, I ran wide and when I tried to get back on track, I spun and ended up in the wall. It was a shame because today the car was working really well. I got a good start and managed to pass Felipe on the straight and then overtook Hamilton when he spun at the start of the second lap. On the soft tyres, I could run at a good pace, while the final set, the harder ones, was not quite there - definitely not as good in performance terms as those I'd used in the past couple of days - and the balance of the car was not as good as earlier. The arrival of the rain definitely did not help. In these conditions, if you are in front you have to be more cautious as you don't know how much grip you'll find in each braking area. That's how Hamilton managed to close on me and then happened what you all saw. It's the second race in a row that I've failed to score points. Clearly the championship situation is what it is, but I'm not the sort to give up that easily."
Rubens Barrichello, Honda (DNF):
"The race was actually going quite well for me but unfortunately I lost sixth gear not long after I overtook Trulli. I tried to keep going but with the way that the gearbox works, you have to go through sixth gear before you can get seventh gear, which caused over-revving of the engine and the potential for significant damage. The team decided it would be best to retire the car as this is my first race with this engine and I have to race with it at Monza next weekend. Overall it has not been a great weekend. Our biggest problem has been our struggle to get temperature into the tyres, which affected our performance very badly."
Nelson Piquet, Renault (DNF):
"The plan was to run a one-stop strategy today and so my car was heavy on fuel. I made a good start and gained five places, which was encouraging, but there were still some damp patches on the circuit and I made a mistake. It's a shame because I'm sure we could have done something today. I want to remain positive and I'm now looking forward to Monza, where we tested last week. I hope we can have a strong race there."