Belgian Grand Prix - selected driver quotes 30 Aug 2009
McLarens Lewis Hamilton and Brawn GPs Jenson Button on the first-lap melee that claimed both their scalps; Force Indias Giancarlo Fisichella on clinching the teams first-ever points; and Ferraris Kimi Raikkonen on taking his first victory of the year. All 20 drivers and senior team personnel report back on Sundays race action
Kimi Raikkonen (1st):
A great victory for me and the team. The champagne tastes the same wherever you are on the podium, but the feeling when you win is definitely different. This track has everything a driver could want and its a pleasure to drive here, however, theres no particular secret to explain why Ive won here four times. We wanted to win at least one race and weve done it. Our car was not the best in the pack, but we managed to put everything together and this result comes from all the work done with the team. I got away well, but Rubens was stuck in front of me and I had to avoid him. Then, at the first corner and at the end of the straight, I managed to move up to second. Behind the Safety Car, I thought mainly about keeping the tyres and brakes up to temperature to be able to attack Fisichella at the restart, and thats how I managed to pass him quite easily. At the first pit stop, maybe it would have been better to stay with the softer tyre but thats easy to say afterwards. In the final part, when it seemed I might not be able to fight off Giancarlo, I slightly changed the way I used the KERS so as to defend myself on the straight at Stavelot and so I managed to stay in front. Monza will be difficult, because our car is not particularly good over the kerbs, but we will try and do our best.
Luca Badoer (14th):
Today I did my best. Unfortunately, at the first corner after the start, I flat-spotted the front tyres and so I always had strong vibrations throughout the first stint. Once the tyres were changed, the situation improved, but the performance of the harder compound was not as good as the soft one. I have upped my performance level yet again and I really want to race at Monza, one of the tracks I know best, along with Fiorano and Mugello. I am very happy for Kimi and the team: this is a fantastic victory, which was just what we needed at this point in the season.
Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari team principal:
We are very happy with this win, which is a reward for all the hard work that the entire team has done during such a difficult and at the same time, dramatic season. I wish to dedicate it first and foremost to President Montezemolo, who celebrates his birthday tomorrow. I dont think he could have asked for a better present. Thanks go to our partners, first and foremost Philip Morris and Shell, who have always stood shoulder to shoulder with us, as have our fans, with their unfailing support. A thought also goes to Felipe who kept in touch from Miami, where tomorrow he undergoes a medical check. Kimi drove an amazing race today: we knew the first lap would be decisive and so it proved. He drove impeccably all race long and the team was at its very best during the two pit stops. In the last four races, we have always got one driver onto the podium and we have picked up a fair haul of points at the highest level, even in unusual circumstances. Today, Luca did the best he could and this win also reflects his contribution within the team: now we will take a few days to evaluate his immediate future, also based on what Felipes recovery time might be. Now we look to Monza, our home race, where we will do all in our power to continue down this road, even if we know it will be very difficult.
Chris Dyer, Ferrari chief engineer:
A fantastic result for the team and for Kimi. After qualifying, we knew that we could have a good race if we got a good start. Kimi was fantastic, both on the first lap and then at the restart after the race was neutralised and he managed to take the lead. Fisichella was always right behind him and congratulations also to him for his performance. He and Kimi always pitted together and our guys managed on both occasions to send our driver out on track ahead of his closest rival. In the middle stint, we used the harder tyre but, with hindsight, we might have done better to pick the softer one: not only could we not open the gap over Giancarlo but we then had Vettel closing us down. Fortunately, at the second stop, the positions remained unchanged and Kimi did a good job of managing the situation in the closing laps. Today, the F60 was not the best car, but the team work and the talent of the driver produced the win and thats what counts.
Giancarlo Fisichella (2nd):
It's been another great day and it was an amazing result today. Before coming to Spa if you had asked all the team if we would have been happy to finish eighth we would have said it was a fantastic result but second is a dream, just great. Actually if I can be honest I am a little disappointed as I felt we could have won the race. I was unlucky with the safety car when Kimi came past me at the restart and overtook me with the KERS. Actually behind him I was quicker but with the KERS I couldn't get past as it was impossible to be quick on the long straight. But we can't take it away from the fantastic result, both at the track and in the factory to get this result. After yesterday I was pretty confident to score points, it's positive for the championship and for the coming races. A big thank you to everyone.
Adrian Sutil (11th):
It was a great weekend for the team, particularly for Giancarlo. He did a great race today, second position, which is a big achievement for everyone. We have clearly made a very good step and I think today anything was possible and we can look forward to the next race. Personally I am a little disappointed as someone crashed into me at the first corner and the race was over at that point. I think it was Alonso, who went straight into my rear and turned me around and destroyed my front wing. In the end it was disappointing as the car had the speed and I tried to get back in the race but it was frustrating. I am still very happy with the car and for the team as second place is still a very good position. I hope I can get a similar result in Monza.
Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India chairman and team principal:
What a result. I am so proud of this race, which will ultimately go down in the history books as India's first-ever World Championship points. It's been a fantastic Saturday, fantastic race and to get our first podium and championship points is just unbelievable. We've worked so very hard to get this with a solid plan of upgrades coming through on the factory. Giancarlo drove a truly outstanding race. We can all be so proud of the entire effort.
Sebastian Vettel (3rd):
If you look at the Championship board, today was a good result. Obviously it was not easy to start from the middle of the pack, but the actual start was good. I was maybe too conservative in the middle of the first lap when I saw Nick go off the track - very often cars tend to come back on to the circuit spinning; I lost a position to Nico Rosberg and had to catch him back up after the restart. I lost too much ground to the leading cars in the first stint, but in the second and third stints the car was fantastic, I didnt make any mistakes and was pushing like it was qualifying on every lap. It was a pleasure to drive the car and we were quicker than the guys in front. We took points out of the Brawn team today, so thats good for the team and its good to score more points than Jenson and Rubens for the drivers championship. A big thank you to the team and compliments to Renault - after everything weve gone through in the last couple of races, its good to finish a race again. Weve proven that we are back.
Mark Webber (9th):
I had a good first lap and laid the right foundations to get some good points today. But, at my first pit stop, I was released in front of Nick Heidfeld, which I was given a drive through penalty for. After that it was a case of damage limitation. I tried to get back into the points and when we had free air, which was not often, we had good pace, but it wasnt enough. Its very frustrating not to take any points away, I thought I deserved them from that drive, but the drive-through wrecked that. No ones interested in excuses though; thats how it is, so lets get on and look ahead to the next race.
Christian Horner, team principal:
A very strong race by Sebastian today. As soon as he got into clear air, he used the advantage that he had in the middle sector and really closed the gap to the leaders during the second and third stints. Third was a good result for him. Mark had a good start and a good first lap and was unlucky with his drive-through penalty - it was obviously marginal - and he was unlucky to miss out on the final point. Overall weve slightly reduced the gap in the constructors championship and weve reduced the gap in the drivers championship, so a reasonable weekend. Congratulations to Ferrari and also to Force India on a great drive by Fisichella.
Fabrice Lom, Renault, Principal Engineer, Track Support:
A difficult race. We started quite far down the grid, but both drivers had good starts. Sebastian made up some places and was very quick in the second-half of the race, getting the fastest lap time. He ended third, which was good, even if it was lower than we expected coming here. For Mark, his race was over with the drive-through penalty, which was unfortunate. We are happy to have made it through this race which is hard on the engines, but we still have five more races to go, so we cant be happy until the last one is complete. Monza will be tough again.
Robert Kubica (4th):
I managed to make a good start and was second after the first corner. I was surprised to see Kimi next to me going through Eau Rouge. Approaching the fifth corner he braked very late and went off. It is a very tricky place. He came back on the track right in front of me and I played it safe as we saw a lot of accidents there over the weekend. Although we had a slight touch, I was able to continue. At times we lacked a bit of speed but, of course, it is good to be fighting for podiums again. The result means a lot of points for the team and is good. Unfortunately we didnt have the chance to achieve anything better. The result proves we are quite competitive on low downforce tracks, which is a positive sign for Monza. However, we have to analyse why the car was more competitive and felt better during qualifying yesterday.
Nick Heidfeld (5th):
Although it is a good result for the team, I have to admit Im disappointed. From third on the grid I had higher expectations, but I lost the race on the first lap. My thought pattern before the race went back and forth as to whether I should take the harder or the softer compound for the start. The harder was the quicker one but, of course, not the better one for heating up quickly. Because the sun was shining I went for the harder compound, and paid for it. After the start I tried to out brake Jarno on the inside of La Source, but I lost ground because the tyres werent warm enough. Up the hill to turn five several cars were in the gravel, including me, and thats where I lost more positions. Later at my first pit stop I had to lock up the brakes in the pit lane to avoid crashing into Mark, who I was then able to immediately overtake on the track. In the last stint my pace was really good and I closed the gap to Robert. But, even though I was quicker than him, I couldnt overtake because as soon as you are less than two seconds behind another car you start sliding due to losing downforce in the dirty air.
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport director:
After our best qualifying this was also the best race result of the season. With fourth and fifth we were the only team that managed to get both cars into the top eight, and we scored nine championship points. Nick lost the chance of a podium position on the thrilling first lap. Robert damaged his front wing right at the beginning, but was able to continue. A big compliment to the whole team for this strong performance.
Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber head of engineering:
We were all very excited before the start because we expected some action. And this happened exactly as expected. Unfortunately, Nick lost the advantage of his strong starting position in the chicane after the Kemmel straight. After this incident he was able to maintain a very good pace and he finally clinched fifth. Robert had contact with another car right at the beginning and lost part of his front wing. We checked the aero data and decided it would not make sense to bring him into the pits, which turned out to be the right decision. Todays result is the reward for all our hard work during recent weeks."
Rubens Barrichello (7th):
"I have to be happy with seventh place and the two points really after such an eventful race. We should have had far more from today but the problem with the clutch at the start took away any chance of a podium which is frustrating for me and the team. We changed my strategy at the end of the first lap to fuel longer for the first stint which was a good move and gave me the chance to get into the points. I had fun in the race from then on and the move on Mark Webber at the Blanchimont bend was definitely one of the highlights. The oil leak gave us some worrying laps but I was able to manage the pace and bring the car safely home which was a big relief."
Jenson Button (DNF):
"I had a really good start and had made up a few places in the first few corners to be ahead of Lewis and Rubens. I had a good run going down the straight to turn five just after Eau Rouge. I was on the outside of Heikki and turned in for the corner but quite simply Romain outbraked himself and hit my back wheel. That was it for my race today. It's frustrating as I was in a reasonable position having made up some places and with a lot of fuel on board but it's better to have my first retirement here where I haven't been so competitive than when I'm running at the front. We're determined get back on the track at the next race and be more competitive there at a track which should be quite good for our car."
Ross Brawn, Brawn team principal:
"It was a very disappointing race for us today when there was potential for more. Rubens' car went into anti-stall at the start which left him stranded on the grid which was very frustrating for the whole team. It was a technical problem on the car and we have to get on top of that quickly as it has caught us out too many times this season. When the safety car came out, we took advantage to switch Rubens onto what was effectively a one-stop strategy and he drove extremely well from there. His car had an oil leak with two laps to go therefore we asked him to back off from chasing Heikki Kovalainen and manage the car to the end of the race. Jenson had a really good start from 14th and gained a few places before he was hit from behind at turn five which ended his race. There are important lessons which we can take from this weekend and some hard work to be done back at the factory before the final five races of the season."
Nico Rosberg, Williams (8th):
We got absolutely the maximum out of today and so I am not so unhappy with the result. Even though the car was not good at all on Friday, we moved it forward and had a reasonable qualifying. We built on this with a good start to the race and claimed another point finishing in 8th place. It is more than I could have hoped for at the beginning of the weekend. The car was difficult to drive today and it had a lot to do with the tyres. When the sun came out, the tyres worked well, especially the soft tyres in the final stint. In these conditions, I was able to push more.
Kazuki Nakajima, Williams (13th):
We struggled with our pace throughout the whole weekend here and qualifying was especially tough, which of course affected our potential in the race. On balance, the race was slightly better than Saturday, but of course all of our attention will now be on what we can do to be sure of an improved result in Italy in two weeks time.
Sam Michael, Williams technical director:
This wasnt a competitive race for us, but at least we scored a point and Nico fought well for his position. We were competitive at various points today but not over the race distance. What is clear is that on the low drag tracks we are not as competitive as on the normal high downforce circuits and we have a similar race in two weeks time, so we will be putting some energy towards being able to score more points in Italy.
Heikki Kovalainen (6th):
A good race for me. Even though our overall pace here hasnt been as good as in the two previous races, our strategy worked out perfectly and I was able to overtake a lot of the guys stopping before me. I want to say a big thank you to all the guys in Woking, Brixworth and Stuttgart for all their efforts. Todays sixth place was the result of a strong, reliable car, a great strategy, a fantastic engine and a first-rate KERS - all of which helped me to make up nine places on my grid position today. We still have some work to do to be fully competitive on medium-downforce tracks, but Monza should be a different story as its a very low-downforce circuit and we are traditionally quite good there. Finally, Im really happy for Kimi: he drove a great race and I knew he would be a tough guy to beat around this place.
Lewis Hamilton (DNF):
Some days, when things go bad they go bad - and this was just one of those days. I got a poor start, the anti-stall kicked in and I tried to recover, but got sandwiched at the first corner and lost a bit of my front wing. When Romain Grosjean spun Jenson (Button) around at Turn Five, everyone was trying to avoid them, so I slowed down to try and avoid the damage and got taken out by one of the drivers behind me, who was trying to avoid the accident too. A disappointing day, but well come back and try to win this race next year.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal:
Heikki drove very strongly from 15th on the grid to sixth at the finish, optimising a one-stop strategy that necessitated comparatively heavy fuel loads, and nursing his tyres judiciously all afternoon. Lewis was tapped by another car at La Source, and was then slammed into the wall at Les Combes by yet another. But thats racing. On behalf of all at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, Id like to offer congratulations to Kimi Raikkonen and Ferrari on the occasion of their first win of the season, and also to Giancarlo Fisichella and Force India on a sensational second place - a refreshing result that is very healthy for Formula One in that it demonstrates that the smaller teams are capable of turning the tables on the bigger teams from time to time. Returning to the subject of our team, wed hoped to be leaving Spa with more than three world championship points - but the reality is that, although our car has been much improved recently, it still isnt as fast as the quickest cars. But well analyse that, and well work on it, and well hope to do better at Monza in two weeks time.
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
Both Lewis and Heikki lost places at the start, Lewis was hit in the first corner and then taken out in the third one in Les Combes. So Heikkis sixth place is the best we could get today and this is not too bad as Heikki started from 15th. Congratulations to Kimi - it must be a big relief for him having achieved his first win for 25 races and compliments to Ferrari for their first victory this season. Well done to Giancarlo for second place and to McLaren-Mercedes customer team Force India, who showed today, from the start to the finish, that they were a real match for the winner.
Timo Glock (10th):
"I made a pretty strong start and was running fourth when the safety car came out so we had a good chance of points. But at my first pit stop we had trouble with the fuel rig which cost me time and positions. The crew did well to quickly change to the back-up rig but nevertheless we lost time. Clearly there was a problem with the fuel rig and we have to analyse what happened and prevent any similar problems in the future. I did my best and the car was quite quick but it wasn't to be."
Jarno Trulli (DNF):
"I can't say how disappointed I am with that race. I was really expecting a strong result because we were in great shape after qualifying. But at the first corner I was right behind Heidfeld and at the exit I expected him to pull away faster than he did. I'm not sure if he had a problem but I just touched him slightly and that broke the front wing. It was vibrating a lot so I had no choice but to make a pit stop. There was nothing I could do after that and in the end the team saw a problem with brake wear and decided it was safer to stop."
Tadashi Yamashina, Toyota team principal:
"Unfortunately we couldn't make the most of the car today, despite having such a promising grid position. I am sorry for our supporters because everyone was expecting a much better result. Jarno's race was decided on the first lap and Timo had a problem with the fuel rig which prevented him scoring points. So it was a very frustrating day for us, particularly because the car is competitive and we achieved our target of a significant improvement in qualifying. We will work at the factory to solve the fuel rig issue and get more out of the car for the Italian Grand Prix."
Sebastien Buemi (12th):
I drove a consistent race, making no mistakes and everything on the car worked well. Its a shame I could not pass Kovalainen, even though I was quicker than him, but at least I tried. Maybe a one stop strategy would have worked better for me. I wasnt involved in the first lap accident, but maybe I picked up some debris, as for several laps my front wing did not seem to be working and I tried driving over the kerbs to shake it loose and eventually it got better. Overall, I think I had a good race and I hope that we do so again in Monza running in a low downforce configuration.
Jaime Alguersuari (DNF):
My race didnt last long. These things happen in racing and you just have to accept it. My start was not too bad and the car seemed to be going well. At Turn Two, Jenson spun and Hamilton had to move to the left to avoid him, moving onto the part of the track that I was on. We collided and my car was too damaged for me to continue. Hopefully we can do better in the coming races.
Franz Tost, Toro Rosso team principal:
Jaimes race was over at the second corner due to a collision with Hamilton. Sebastien had a good start, lying eleventh on Lap Two and had a good first stint. In the second part of the race, he got stuck behind Kovalainen and we decided to bring him in early for the second stop, but by then the race had got away from us. It proves yet again that its important to qualify well to get a good race result.
Fernando Alonso (DNF):
"Today I missed an opportunity to be on the podium. I had a good start, making up a few positions and the strategy looked good. The car was better than we expected and I was in third position when I came in for my pit stop and it became clear that something was wrong on my left front tyre and the team asked me to retire. We now think it was damaged at the first corner at the beginning of the race. Anyway, Monza is in two weeks and I look forward to making up for the disappointment of today. "
Romain Grosjean (DNF):
"I made a very good start, moving up to thirteenth place and I was keeping a good pace but then Button took me out at turn five and it was the end for me. It's frustrating because I would have loved to finish the race and learn more about the car on this very special track. Hopefully I can do better in Monza."
Flavio Briatore, Renault managing director:
"Today we took the decision of retiring Fernando's car although he was very competitive in the first part of the race. It's frustrating also that Romain's race came to an end so quickly. Let's turn the page and move on and concentrate on Monza in two weeks time."
Pat Symonds, Renault executive director of engineering:
"Romain's race was unfortunately very short as he was hit by Button on the first lap,
which is a pity because this race would have been a valuable part of his learning experience. Fernando's race was ultimately ended by damage sustained also on the first lap. This resulted in a problem at the pit stop and for safety reasons we decided to retire the car."
Remi Taffin, Renault head of engine operations:
"Unfortunately for us the weekend has ended in disappointment. On the engine side the weekend has gone very well and we haven't encountered any problems. We always come to Spa well prepared as it is a circuit that presents a lot of challenges. It is the type of track that we simulated over the winter on the test banks and we proved that we had done a good job. Therefore we can now face Monza with the same engines that have performed perfectly here."
Hiroshi Yasukawa, director of Bridgestone Motorsport:
"Congratulations to Kimi Raikkonen and Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro for taking their first win of the year. Congratulations also to Giancarlo Fisichella and Force India for their fine second place. Today we saw a very exciting race, where Bridgestone's tyres provided a vital ingredient. This is the home race for Bridgestone Europe, which is based in Brussels, so it is very good to have such a fine display from this wonderful sport for us here at the track, and for so many television viewers around the world."
Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone director of motorsport tyre development:
"This has been a very interesting weekend from a tyre perspective, and this has provided a very exciting race. The medium and soft Bridgestone tyres were quite evenly matched for overall performance, and each podium finisher used a different strategy to achieve their result. Which tyre was best for which team depended on car characteristics, set-up and driver preference so we saw a good range of strategy choices. We did see some very small blisters today for the first time this season, so we can say that the tyres were worked hard at this track. We will use the same tyre allocation at Monza, so it will be interesting to see how the teams translate what they have learn there to the next race."