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In quotes - Sunday in Belgium

23 Aug 2015

Ten teams, 20 drivers, and one official tyre supplier report back on Sunday's action in Spa-Francorchamps...

Red Bull

Daniil Kvyat, 4th

“It was a very interesting race and really good fun today. I had a lot of overtaking opportunities and the car performed well. The strategy from the team to keep me out during the virtual safety car was good and we were able to have a strong last stint. The team did a good job and we scored some solid points. We should be happy with the performance today and hopefully we can continue this form over the next few races.”

Daniel Ricciardo, DNF

“I had a good start jumping up to third and the race was going okay. We didn’t have a great balance with the prime [tyre], I was struggling a little, but we were hoping to come on strong with the option and have a good last stint. It’s disappointing not to finish, we are not sure what the issue is but the team are investigating. I lost power going into the chicane, everything switched off, including the dash. It looks like it’s electrical but we’ll see what the investigation brings.”

Christian Horner, Team Principal

“Dany drove a very strong race to finish fourth from his starting grid position of twelfth. He produced some very strong overtaking manoeuvres and the strategy worked very well, so we were able to score some very useful points. It’s a shame for Daniel; he had a great start to move up to third. He was running a similar strategy to Dany and I’m sure he would have been challenging for the podium. It was a lost opportunity but overall a reasonable weekend for the team.”

Matthieu Dubois, Renault

“Today’s race was very eventful. Unfortunately Daniel had a technical problem that caused a power shutdown and he stopped on track. We need to investigate fully why this happened as it is a missed opportunity. Daniil had a solid race to get back into fourth position. We have a lot of work to do for the rest of the season to get things straight, but equally a lot of motivation to do so.”

Force India

Sergio Perez, 5th

“Fifth place and ten points is a good result, but we just lacked the pace to really fight for the podium today. My start was very strong and I was close to taking the lead on lap one when I was alongside Lewis [Hamilton] after Eau Rouge. I settled into a good rhythm, but we had very high degradation on the soft tyres in the first two stints. It was a bit better on the medium, although we struggled in the middle sector with our low downforce set-up and that hurt my pace. We were racing some quick cars and it was hard to fight off Grosjean and Kvyat, so it’s clear we need to analyse our performance and see where we can improve. I’m already looking forward to the next race in Monza, which is another track where I think we can be competitive.”

Nico Hulkenberg, DNF

“It’s disappointing to finish your race before it’s even started, but sometimes these things happen in racing. On the way to the grid I just felt a loss of power. We tried to understand and fix the problem on the grid, but it came back during the formation lap. There were a few moments when the power returned, but it disappeared again just before the start and I had to retire. It’s a real shame because the car has been very quick this weekend and we had a good opportunity to score some important points.”

Vijay Mallya, Team Principal and Managing Director

“We leave Belgium with mixed feelings after what turned out to be a very eventful race. Sergio delivered a battling performance and extracted all he could from the VJM08. He was able to challenge for the podium positions at the start of the race and to finish with a fifth place, his best result of the year so far, confirmed the good pace he has shown all weekend. He didn't put a wheel wrong all day and was able to keep some very competitive rivals behind with an intelligent and defensive drive. There are many regrets about what could have been had Nico had a clean weekend. Unfortunately, he suffered a loss of power on the way to grid and we were unable to rectify the problem before the start. It’s something we will thoroughly investigate with Mercedes. It's a shame as he would have surely had a competitive race. The battle for fifth in the championship remains open and we're already looking forward to the next round at Monza to reclaim the position.”

McLaren

Fernando Alonso, 13th

“That was a tough race and a painful weekend: we simply weren’t competitive today.

“My only fun came at the start – to start 20th and be 14th at the end of the first lap was a good feeling. After that, our overall pace wasn’t good enough, but at least we got both cars to the finish, so hopefully we can learn a bit for the next race.

“That’s just the way things are at the moment. Monza will also be difficult, but I’m sure we’ll have some better races after that.”

Jenson Button, 14th

“From the early laps, I had a problem with the deployment from the ERS pack. I’d get deployment from it in different places now and again, but it was never really deploying and recovering as it should. It would cut immediately after Raidillon, for example, and then I’d have to rely on the ICE alone.

“That’s a lot of power to lose, and it meant I was driving the Kemmel Straight and the straight up to Blanchimont without any deployment at all. You can’t really do much in that situation.”

Eric Boullier, Racing director, McLaren-Honda

“Of all the circuits on the current Formula 1 calendar, to this one is our car indubitably least suited.

“That being the case, it would be disingenuous indeed if we were to move to look askance at our finishing positions here today.

“Granted, to finish 13th and 14th on a circuit that has hosted 14 McLaren grand prix wins is unpropitious in the extreme, but splenetic we are not. Moreover, working shoulder to shoulder with Honda, we’ll work as assiduously as is humanly possible in an effort to make the progress necessary to toil our way back to the front.”

Yasuhisa Arai, Honda R&D Senior Managing Officer - Chief Officer of Motorsport

“Obviously, it was a difficult race, even with the updates we brought to Spa.

“First of all, I must thank Fernando and Jenson for their professionalism throughout the weekend. It’s most disappointing to us that we couldn’t meet their expectations, or those of the team and the fans, who had been waiting for the updates to produce results.

“We came to Spa knowing the difficulties of managing the ins and outs of the energy. We will look over the data from the weekend – including our gap to the other teams – and prepare for Monza.”

Marussia

Roberto Merhi, 15th

“It was a good race for me. I got ahead of my team-mate on the first lap and things stayed that way until the finish. It was a bit of a lonely race for me to be honest, and mainly about managing my tyres so that I could push when I needed to. I think the strategy worked out well to limit the blue flags, and this enabled us to maintain reasonable pace. It’s always a real pleasure to drive here at Spa; you never get tired of experiencing Eau Rouge. And of course we start the second half of the season with another two-car finish, so a good solid weekend.”

Will Stevens, 16th

“My start was really good. I managed to get in front of Nasr in the first corner and then I came out and I was sandwiched in the middle of two cars, and with no room. I was hit and that compromised me quite a bit. I lost position and although the pace was really good, I wasn’t able to regain the place. So, a race that hasn’t really gone my way in terms of the result, but a positive weekend overall and of course we achieved another two-car finish as a team.”

John Booth, Team Principal

“It’s good to start the second half of the season on a very positive note, with a straightforward and solid weekend, and a two-car finish to show for it. Both drivers did a creditable job throughout and particularly in the race, making the most of good pace. This, together with the strategic calls from the pit wall, enabled us to keep in touch with the McLarens. We are where we are at present, but Roberto and Will are pushing hard to make the most of every opportunity that comes our way - including pushing each other - so the improvement is continual and this can only aid our development for next year.”

Lotus

Romain Grosjean, 3rd

“Today’s result is wonderful. It’s good for the team and for myself of course. Yesterday’s good qualifying result put a smile on my face but today was an unbelievable race. Everything came together when it mattered during those 43 laps. I drove with my heart today and pushed 100 % throughout the race. I did some great overtaking manoeuvers and was really pushing to catch up and hopefully overtake Sebastian Vettel – of course it was bad luck for him to have had the tyre issue at the end. We were really trying to go for the podium this afternoon and I felt very emotional during the last lap of the race! It’s a great feeling today.”

Pastor Maldonado, DNF

“We had been doing a great job this weekend, especially yesterday. The car was feeling very good, very competitive and I had a good race start. We had an issue with the drive of the car which the team are investigating. I’m disappointed about the issue we had today but that’s racing sometimes. We are keeping focussed for the next race now and Romain has shown what is possible. I love Italy and Monza so I’ll be doing everything I can for a strong result there."

Federico Gastaldi, Deputy Team Principal

"What an amazing job from Romain today and we all thank all the hard work of everyone at Enstone and here at the circuit in Belgium. It’s no secret that it’s been a tough season for us in some ways, but we certainly know how to pick our moments to bounce back. Our joy for Romain and the team is a little bittersweet because of the retirement for Pastor, who started his race ahead of Romain so could have finished equally strongly. We will do everything we can to get both cars in strong positions in Monza.”

Nick Chester, Technical Director

"That was quite a race from Romain and the team! We were buoyed after yesterday’s P4 qualifying performance then today he drove a fantastic measured race. He drove brilliantly and made all the correct decisions with some fabulous overtaking. He looked after the tyres when he needed to and pushed when he needed to. It was the perfect race from him. We haven’t looked at everything on Pastor’s car yet but we know there was a big excursion over the kerbs which appears to have caused some damage to the power box so a big shame as he should also have achieved a strong result here."

Williams

Felipe Massa, 6th

"It was a frustrating day for me. I struggled at the start and then the soft tyre in the first stint didn’t operate as well as it should have done so I lost a few positions. At this point we were fighting from behind but the medium worked well. I couldn’t overtake the Force India of Perez at the end as their straightline pace was good. It has been a difficult day but to still finish sixth is the main positive we will take away from the weekend."

Valtteri Bottas, 9th

"We haven’t got the result we were after today. The pitstop and the race pace are two areas that we need to investigate. We thought we would be stronger during the race but the soft tyre in the first stint didn’t work as well and put us in a difficult position. We have to make sure we bounce back well in Monza."

Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering

"I am clearly disappointed with what has happened to Valtteri. As a team we have made a mistake, and on behalf of the team I am very sorry that we cost him what could have been a podium position. There will be an investigation into the processes in place to understand what happened fully, and to put in place a procedure to stop this happening again. The rest of our race was dictated by the lack of pace in the first stint and from then on we had to fight our way back. The big difference at this race was that there were five teams all with very similar race pace. Unfortunately though, because so many cars were close in performance, the result was dictated primarily by what happened in the first stint when we were struggling. After that we had the pace on the prime tyre and as a result still managed to finish with both cars in the points. We have gained on Ferrari and lost very few points to Red Bull which is positive considering the day we have had."

Toro Rosso

Max Verstappen, 8th

“What an entertaining race, it was a great achievement to start from so far back and finish eighth in the end! My pace was very strong and I enjoyed the overtaking, so we can be very happy about today’s race. The car felt great and we were able to keep up with Ferrari and Williams. I really enjoyed it and even if some of the overtakes were a bit risky, when you start from so far back you have to go for it if you want to move forward. It wasn’t an easy start to the weekend, but we managed to do a great job in the end and I would like to thank the team for the big effort and my home crowd for the support, we can all be really happy with today’s P8!”

Carlos Sainz, DNF

“What a frustrating way to end what was being a good weekend. During the formation lap I felt I had no power, so I had to box. Luckily they managed to solve the issue and I was able to go out and race, but being two laps down there wasn’t much I could fight for, just hope for rain and be lucky. After two stints though, we decided to retire to save engine mileage. I’m obviously very disappointed and desperate to finish a race, as it’s now been four consecutive races where I’ve had to retire while fighting for points. But this isn’t going to bring me down. I’m going to keep pushing and show my good performances whenever I can, like I did yesterday in qualifying for example… We know that this world is sometimes like this and I’m sure this unlucky streak will come to an end soon – hopefully in Monza!”

Franz Tost, Team Principal

“We didn’t have a good start to the race because an electrical problem related to the engine on Carlos’ car meant we had to bring the car into the garage before the race had even started. We fixed the issue with the cable and he was able to re-join the race, but he was already a couple of laps behind. We decided to continue the race because in Spa you never know what can happen, and maybe a Safety Car or some rain could’ve helped us, but unfortunately this never happened, so with 11 laps to go we called him in to save some engine mileage. I’d like to apologise to Carlos for this, as it’s now the fourth race in a row where he can’t finish a race because of technical problems. Max, who was starting at the back of the grid due to the 10-place grid penalty, drove a fantastic race. To finish in P8 and to fight with a Ferrari for P7 shows how competitive the car was and how good Max was driving. Without the problem on Carlos’ car, I think we would’ve been in a position to score more points than what we’ve actually done today.”

Cedrik Staudohar, Renault Sport F1 track support leader

“It was in part a difficult race. We suffered a loss of power on the formation lap with Carlos due to a loose connector in the engine. Once it was fixed in the garage he could get going again, but as he was two laps down, the race was effectively over. We have to apologise to the team and ensure that this won't happen again. Max had a good recovery from his grid penalty with some strong moves on track to score points. On such a long circuit, it’s a great achievement.”

Sauber

Marcus Ericsson, 10th

“First of all, I had a good start, managing to pass Daniil (Kyvat) with a good move into Turn 5. Quite early in the race we realised I had some debris stuck to the floor, which made us loose downforce in the first stint. We could not keep up with the competition, so we lost some ground, which was a bit frustrating. For the second stint we cleared the debris away and I was able to start to push more. Even with that, the pace was not as strong as we expected. We were a bit lucky in the end, and we were able to score one point. For me it is great to be back in the points for the second race in a row.”

Felipe Nasr, 11th

“It was a tough race for me. At the start I struggled with a lot of wheel spin, losing some positions. My race was compromised by braking issues. Besides that, I also got a slow puncture on the front left tyre during my last stint. There were many issues for me this time, but I am confident the upcoming race weekend in Monza will be better.”

Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal

“It was a difficult race weekend, and we expected a bit more from it. During the race it was important for us to get through flawlessly. Despite having some issues, we still managed to score one point with a bit of luck at the end. With the Italian Grand Prix another highspeed track is waiting for us in Monza.”

Ferrari

Kimi Raikkonen, 7th

“Obviously we cannot be very happy with where we finished, but it’s much better than from where we started. Yesterday we had some issues but today we wanted to get a better end result. My start was pretty bad, I had a lot of wheelspin and then obviously the first corner was not ideal, but I was able to recover quite well. My car was handling pretty well through all the race, only towards the end I ran out of the front tyres. Today we kept doing our best and tried to improve our position, but coming from so far back it was not easy. We keep trying and hopefully we have some more luck on our side in the future, we are doing the right things as a team but all the times something happens and we cannot get the result we expect. Now we go to Monza, our home race: it would be very nice to have a strong weekend there in front of all our fans. Again the track has a lot of straightlines and is not going to be easy against all those cars but we’ll bring some new stuff that hopefully will help us to be in fight.”

Sebastian Vettel, 12th

“We deserved to finish on the podium but that’s racing; a different thing thought is not to finish the race because of what happened. I think this is not easy to accept for a driver, even if it’s not as bad as in Silverstone few years ago, but still we need to talk to each other as it can’t happen without prior notice. There’s no explanation for what happened: it’s not a puncture, the tire just exploded.”

Maurizio Arrivabene, Team Principal

“Of course we didn’t have the best week-end of the season. We chose an aggressive race strategy for Sebastian, which was going well according to plan, until unfortunately a tyre burst suddenly with two laps to go. As for Kimi, he started from sixteenth on the grid and finished seventh, well into the points. This shows a great reaction and stamina from the team. Now, with Spa already behind us, we focus on the next race in Monza.”

Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton, 1st

“I'm really happy with that one. I had great pace in the car and the balance felt fantastic. If anything it got better through the race and I never felt under pressure. After the stops I took it a bit easy on the out laps and Nico closed up but I always had a comfortable gap. A massive thank you to everyone here and back at the factories for all their hard work. The car was awesome all weekend and the crew did a great job. The weather has been great here too which makes this circuit even more fun to drive and ‎what a great crowd. Loads of noise and plenty of British flags out there too which I really appreciate, so thanks to all of you for your support and hope to see you again at Monza!”

Nico Rosberg, 2nd

“Unfortunately I messed up the start. Maybe the extra warm up lap had an influence on that - we need to find out what exactly happened but, in any case, I definitely have to improve that for Monza. Because of this I had to play catch up, which worked out well to a point. I managed to be second again and also was able to close the gap to Lewis a bit - but I didn't get a chance to come within overtaking distance. He deserved the win today and it was also a great result for the team. The car they gave us was awesome here, so thank you to them for that. Hopefully we can have the same level of performance in the next races. I'll be pushing as hard as ever for sure.”

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

“I'm very proud of the team after today's result - and especially to get a 1-2 finish at Spa, which is such a difficult and demanding circuit to master. Lewis did a perfect job - he got off the line well, defended cleanly his position from Perez up the hill and then drove a beautifully controlled race. He had the pace when he needed it, coped comfortably with all the challenges during the afternoon and scored a really impressive win. Nico obviously was hampered after his start, which we need to analyse, but then worked his way calmly back through the field. He kept Lewis honest all the way but couldn't quite close the gap. Congratulations to our boys, too, on four clean and impressive stops; they're doing a stunning job in the pits this year and we aim to continue that way for the remaining races. We will savour this win but need to keep our heads down and carry on working hard for Monza.”

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)

“We’re all very happy indeed with that result and a fantastic performance all round from the team. It’s always great to win at one of the legendary circuits on the Formula One calendar and this was one which Mercedes hadn’t conquered in the modern Silver Arrows era, so it’s good to be able to tick it off the list. It was a quite amazing weekend from Lewis – from an incredible pair of laps in qualifying to a controlled drive to victory in the race. Nico, too, had a very strong weekend. Of course, I’m sure he’ll be disappointed to finish second – but he was in touching distance throughout. Congratulations also to Lotus. It’s extremely pleasing to have an all-Mercedes- powered podium and no doubt a big boost for a team who have not had the easiest of times recently, so well done to them.”