Belgian GP: Button all the way at Spa
Jenson Button led all the way to win the Belgian Grand Prix F1 race at Spa Sunday for McLaren Mercedes.
After finishing every race of the season until now in the points, Ferrari's Spaniard Alonso was wiped out in a terrifying first corner crash caused by Romain Grosjean, which also claimed Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez.
"I wouldn't want to print the words I was thinking at the time," McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh told BBC One.
"Grosjean just kept coming, for Lewis and the others, it was a shame for all of them and us as race fans. It is not my business to say if a penalty should be awarded.
"If there's one positive," Whitmarsh continued, "it's that Lewis' main championship rival (Alonso) was taken out in the same crash."
But it is German Vettel who leaps teammate Mark Webber in the drivers' chase to become Alonso's closest challenger now, with the gap to the leading Ferrari shrinking from 42 to 24 points with eight races to go.
And following the early-week calls for Button to accept a 'number 2' role to back up his teammate Hamilton, the 2009 world champion has cut his big gap to Alonso from 88 to 63.
"It has not been an easy year for me," Button told Belgian legend Jacky Ickx on the podium. "We are going to enjoy this before we head to Monza and hopefully do the same."
The accident left the race order with Button leading Kimi Raikkonen's Lotus, Force India duo Nico Hulkenberg and Paul di Resta, Michael Schumacher's Mercedes and the Toro Rosso pair Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne.
Sebastien Vettel finished third and Kimi Raikkonen third, both gaining points on Alonso who saw his point lead cut to 24. Hulkenberg was fourth followed by Ferrari's Felipe Massa, and Webber. Schumacher was seventh, as the Toro Rossos and di Resta rounded out the top 10.
Button used a single pitstop to win his second F1 race of the year and first since the season opener in Australia.
Sebastian Vettel (2nd): "I'm happy with that today. Qualifying wasn't as we planned it to be yesterday, but today the car seemed to be back to as we know it. The start was poor; I think I was the only one not to gain positions through the first corners, so we had to fight our way back, which wasn't easy, but I enjoyed it a lot. The strategy worked perfectly for us and we had the pace, which was the best thing about today. The car worked well and we didn't struggle. Congratulations to Jenson and McLaren on the win. We've got a lot of back to backs this season and I'm looking forward to Monza later this week. We had a great race there last year ‚ "it's always a great atmosphere and we'll be pushing hard."
Mark Webber (6th): "The start was pretty wild, which can happen at La Source. We settled into a race, but it became obvious quite early on that it was difficult for us to overtake. Obviously Seb and I had a little battle, which was fine ‚" but after that, it just wasn't possible to fight other people on the straight line, so that made it tough. We tried to under-cut some people and roll the dice... I had Petrov on the out lap, which is fair play to him as he's just doing his thing, but we lost time there. We had a bit of luck at the start, but after that we didn't get the most out of the situation ‚" but it was good to finish six places higher than I started and get points."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "A great recovery ‚” we had strong race pace. We didn't plan a one stop, but we managed to make it work well with Sebastian once we got around the half way mark. His overtaking was excellent and our guys even went wheel to wheel on occasion, which was good and fair. To go from tenth to second was a great recovery. With Mark, we were hoping for more but I think our selection of top gear was probably a bit short today and it penalized him a bit when he was overtaking at the top of the hill. But, nonetheless he's scored good points; I think in clear air he would have been very quick, but he was in traffic for most of the race. So overall, after a disappointing Saturday it was a positive Sunday."
Cyril Dumont, Renault: "A great recovery ‚” if someone had offered me this result yesterday, I would have signed for it immediately. The start was not so good, but the strategy worked well and the pace of the car was strong. I think the most important thing is that we scored some important points in both Championships. We extend the lead in the Constructors' and both drivers got closer to Alonso in the Drivers."
Jenson Button (1st): "I'm sorry to all the fans if it wasn't very exciting at the front! However, winning a grand prix is never easy: you've always got to look after the tires and keep an eye on the gap behind. Today's race was particularly tricky to read, in fact, because lots of cars were on different strategies so you never knew exactly where you stood. Turn One looked pretty crazy ‚” in my mirrors, I could see cars all over the place. For me, it was all pretty straightforward though. Having said that, without having been able to gather long-run testing data from Friday, it initially looked like it was going to be a hard race to call. In fact, as things panned out, it was the opposite. It was unusual to be able to run a one-stop strategy. We got to lap 12 and the team asked me how the car was feeling; I told them that the balance was getting better and better, so we were able to get to lap 20 before pitting. We need to score big points in both world championships ‚” and today was exactly what we required. I'm a massive team-player, and I fight for the team; I want us to win both world championships and, until I can't mathematically fight for the drivers' world championship, I won't give up on it. I think I showed that today."
Lewis Hamilton (DNF, Accident): "First, I want to offer my congratulations to Jenson. I watched the whole race on TV and he did an absolutely brilliant job. It's great for him and fantastic for the team. It also gives me huge confidence, going into the next race, knowing that our car has got fantastic pace. If we can get it right on our side of the garage, then we ought to be capable of scoring a strong result in Monza. In fact, I'm already channeling all my energy into doing just that. It's been a difficult day for me ‚” my race was so short that I didn't even break a sweat out there. I don't really want to talk about the start ‚” I think everyone saw what happened ‚” it's just a shame. This wasn't a great day for my world championship hopes either, but I certainly won't be giving up."
Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal: "Jenson performed quite majestically all weekend. Friday was a wash-out, but he didn't put a wheel wrong in the treacherous conditions. Saturday morning's dry running was also tricky, but he handled the challenges it posed superbly. On Saturday afternoon he utterly dominated qualifying. And then, to cap it all, today, he drove utterly flawlessly to record the season's most imperious race victory; in fact, from lights to flag, he was never headed. In so doing, he made it look easy. But, when a driver manages a race win from pole position, leading all the way, the excellence of his performance isn't always as obvious as when he wins it by attacking from behind. But Jenson has been super-quick all weekend, and he controlled the race with total authority, managing tire wear masterfully all the way. It wasn't easy, even if it looked that way, and I'm extremely proud of him, as is everyone at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. He scored 25 world championship points for us this afternoon ‚” which are hugely valuable to our constructors' world championship effort as well as to his own drivers' world championship campaign ‚” but of course we should have scored significantly more points than that. And, had Lewis not been embroiled in a first-corner shunt in which he was entirely blameless, we'd have duly scored those extra points. The accident was a great shame for Lewis, and for the other innocents whose races were also ruined, but that's motor racing. We take a great many positives from the 2012 Belgian Grand Prix ‚” not least the fact that we won it, which means that we've now won two grands prix on the trot. Our car is clearly very quick. Now, we aim to take that impressive form forward to Monza, where, in just a few days' time, we'll be aiming to score a hat-trick. Believe me: both world championships remain well within our sights."
Felipe Massa (5th): "It was a nice race and fifth place is a great result, if you think of where I started. At the start, I managed to pass both Red Bulls, but then I had to move right over to the left side to avoid the tangle of cars that included Fernando and I lost almost all the ground I had made up in the opening meters. I am very sorry about what happened to my team-mate, because I think he could indeed have got a good result, given the race pace we had. It's true that also today, I was suffering a lot in the second sector but in the first and third I was very quick. The one stop option was not practicable for us, so we made the right choice, managing to be very quick when we really needed to be. I don't know if this race changes anything regarding my future, but I am very satisfied, just as I was very disappointed yesterday afternoon, because on this track, I have always gone very well. Now we go to Monza, our home race: the track is different to all the others and so it is very difficult to predict what the hierarchy might be among the teams. Of course it would be wonderful to be competitive and get a great result in front of our fans who, I'm sure of it, will show us their passionate support."
Fernando Alonso (DNF, Accident): "I'm fine, except my left shoulder hurts a bit: I went to the medical centre immediately after the accident but everything is alright, the pain only comes from the whiplash. I had no idea what happened: I had overtaken the two Saubers when I felt as though I had been run into by a train! Immediately after the impact, I stayed in the cockpit for a few seconds, but then there was the start of a fire and the foam from the extinguishers meant I couldn't breathe. I tried to tell the team on the radio that I was alright, but I couldn't. Now I can say that, given the misfortune of having had an accident like this, I am lucky to be able to get back in the car in just a few days. The level of safety of these cars is very high and today we saw further proof of that. I am not angry with Grosjean, he definitely didn't do it on purpose: it was a case of me being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Rather, I think that certain drivers should try and take fewer risks at the start: it's a bit of a tendency currently in the junior formulae, but it would be better, if right from the start of their career, they got used to respecting more strictly the rules relating to behavior on track. What happened is a shame, because I think a podium was indeed within my reach, especially when you see what Felipe demonstrated on track. Today we paid a high price through bad luck and luck owes us now: let's see what happens in the rest of the season. We lost a bit of the advantage we had over Vettel, Webber and Raikkonen, but we have lost nothing to Hamilton who, given how the McLaren went, is possibly our most dangerous rival. Now we go to Monza, Ferrari's home race: traditionally the Reds are always strong there, so let's hope we can have a nice weekend and give our fans something to cheer about, making up some of the advantage we lost today."
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal: "First, the good news: Fernando is fine. All of us and I think also all Ferrari fans went through a heart-stopping moment after the accident, especially as we could not communicate with him. Only when we saw him emerge from the cockpit could we let out a first sigh of relief and then we began to breathe normally when we saw him make it back to the garage. Clearly, after that came the great disappointment at what had happened at the start, because it was within our ability to get the podium finish that was our target after yesterday. Today, the F2012 had a good pace, as Felipe demonstrated, driving a great race. We are happy for him, because a good result is just what was required at this point of the season. As for the accident, I can only say that the judgment falls to the FIA: what is certain is that, it would be better if, starting with the junior formulae, rules relating to on-track behavior were enforced in an inflexible manner, so as to have drivers as well prepared as possible when they reach this, the highest level of motor sport. My duty, as head of the team is to ensure everyone focuses on their own tasks, especially at difficult times: therefore now we must quickly put this day behind us and look to the next Grand Prix, the one in Monza, a track that is particularly dear to us."
Pat Fry: "Great regret, but equally or perhaps even more, a great relief: that would sum up our emotions at the end of this Grand Prix. The regret is down to the fact that today we could have brought home a great result in terms of the championship with Fernando, especially in the light of a great race from Felipe, who staged a strong climb up the order with some nice passing moves. Unfortunately, incidents like the one that put Fernando out of the race are part of racing, even it's not nice to see a driver have to retire after a few meters, when both he and his team are totally blameless. The relief obviously stems from the fact Fernando is fine: it was a very risky situation and seeing one car fly over his, a few centimeters above his helmet left us with our hearts in our mouths for a few tenths of a second. What is not looking so good is his car: there will be a lot of unexpected work to do for the guys in Maranello to get it prepared for Monza! From a technical point of view, the outcome of the race shows that the McLaren is very strong on very different circuits like Budapest and Spa, therefore we still have a lot of work to do to get to their level. Red Bull too was competitive but I think that Fernando could have had the better of them if he'd raced. We now look forward to the special event that is Monza, both because it is the Scuderia's home race and also because it is held on a track that is now unique on the current calendar in terms of its characteristics. It's hard to say now if we will be competitive at the highest level, but clearly we will do all in our power to succeed."
Michael Schumacher (7th): "I quite enjoyed my 300th race, and it was good fun out there with all the battles. In the end, you have to be realistic, and getting into the points from where I started is not too bad, even if you obviously hope for more when I was second at one stage. But then, it was more than we had expected. It looked pretty reasonable at the start, and we were following our one-stop strategy. In the end though, it did not quite work out so we decided to go for fresh tires and attack with them. If we had not done that, I might have ended up further back. But then I lost sixth gear and there was no way to attack. We will now have to do that next week in Monza."
Nico Rosberg (11th): "It's been an eventful but disappointing weekend for us, and it's a shame to have finished just one place outside of the points today. Without the gearbox change and penalty, I probably could have scored some decent points this weekend. I had a good start today and moved up ten positions into the midfield. We were running a one-stop-strategy because I needed to take the risk to move up but it didn't work out and we had to come in again quite late on. Now I'm looking forward to Monza and we will push hard for a better result there next weekend."
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "It was a very exciting race for Michael, and a great demonstration of his skills in his 300th Grand Prix. Unfortunately we didn't quite have a quick enough car today to be pushing for the podium. Michael also had a problem with his gearbox towards the end which prevented him from challenging after his second stop. Nico made a strong effort to get into the points and almost succeeded. However with a lack of dry running, and the car not quite set up as he wanted, that was always going to be tough. We will look ahead now to Monza and keep working hard to improve our performance."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "Two-thirds of the race looked quite promising for Michael who drove a great race on the occasion of his 300th Grand Prix. The plan was to do a one-stop strategy which we then switched to two stops. Michael was in third with 10 laps to go, however the trio behind him were able to go much quicker with fresh tires than Michael could on his set of primes which were already 26 laps old. He then lost sixth gear, so seventh was the result we could achieve today, and Michael showed some great maneuvers throughout the race. Nico started 23rd and finished 11th - also for him more was not possible with our current technical package. We now are looking forward to the Italian Grand Prix next week at Monza."
Kimi Raikkonen (3rd): "I made a pretty okay start, similar to Jenson [Button]'s and I overtook the Sauber. I saw a lot of action in the mirrors but luckily it missed me. Unfortunately, we didn't have the pace today. My car wasn't great all weekend and we couldn't find a competitive setup. On new tires it was okay, but we had to use a lot of downforce to prevent sliding. That meant we were very slow on the straight. You could see this in my battle with Michael [Schumacher]. Each time I passed him he just went straight back past down the Kemmel straight. My only chance was to go for a gap at Eau Rouge. Luckily it paid off and I managed to stay ahead of him that time. We didn't have the pace today and it wasn't an easy race, so P3 was not too bad."
Romain Grosjean (DNF, Accident): "When your life is all about racing, not being allowed to attend an event is probably one of the worst experiences you can go through. That said, I do respect the verdict of the Stewards. I got a good start - despite being disturbed by Pastor's early launch, which I think was the case for everybody at the front - and was heading into the first corner when the rear of my car made contact with the front of Lewis [Hamilton]'s. I honestly thought I was ahead of him and there was enough room for both cars ; I didn't deliberately try to squeeze him or anything like that. This first corner situation obviously isn't what anyone would want to happen and thankfully no-one was hurt in the incident. I wish to apologize to the drivers who were involved and to their fans. I can only say that today is part of a process that will make me a better driver."
Eric Boullier, Team Principal: "It's been a tough day for the team but we fully respect the Stewards' decision. Romain won't be driving at Monza but he still has our full support. We'll announce the name of his replacement a bit later in the week. As far as the race is concerned, unfortunately we didn't have the pace for Kimi to challenge Jenson [Button] or Sebastian [Vettel]. We had to look closely at the strategy during the race to see if we should switch to one stop, but in the end a podium finish still brings us some good points. Of course, everyone talks about 'the win', and this is something we all want. We were not fast enough for it today, so we all need to keep working hard for this goal."
James Allison, Technical Director: "Kimi did a really good job to salvage third position today with a car which really wasn't quick enough, contrary to all our expectations coming into the event. In actual fact, this has been one of our tougher weekends and we're thankful that Kimi did his best to limit the damage to our Championship aspirations. Fortunately, Spa can be viewed as sufficiently distinct in its characteristics to mean that we're not unduly worried about the car's potential performance heading to the next races."
Riccardo Penteado, Engine Support Leader: "Getting a podium here is satisfying considering the challenge of the track, with nearly three quarters of the lap spent at full throttle. We introduced new units this weekend to maximize power on the straights and help overtaking. We needed it today when Kimi made an awesome move to overtake Michal [Schumacher]. It bodes well for Monza though where a similar emphasis is placed on outright top speed."
Nico Hulkenberg (4th): "I'm delighted with the result today ‚” my best finish in Formula One. It's a result that the whole team has worked hard for and I want to say a huge 'thank you' to all the guys because everything went perfectly today. The start was eventful, but fortunately I avoided all the debris and was able to take advantage of the situation. I was up a high as second and for a while I was even thinking we could finish on the podium. But the race was tough; I had some great fights with Kimi and Michael, and I was always on the limit. For us it was clear that we had to stop twice and we made the strategy work. So I've got a big smile on my face today because it's just the result we needed for our fight in the championship."
Paul di Resta (10th):"A tough race for me largely due to the KERS failure on the car just before the race, which really hurt my performance and speed on the straights. I couldn't really attack or defend, which is a shame because I was up to fourth place at the start, but we couldn't capitalize on it. I kept battling and tried my best to come away with the final point, but so much more was possible today."
Dr. Vijay Mallya, Team Principal: "Spa usually delivers drama and great racing, and today's Grand Prix was full of both. Nico drove a brilliant race to finish fourth on a day when it was important to capitalize on the first lap incident that befell some of our competitors. He stayed out of trouble and ran as high as second after the safety car and showed strong pace with a perfect two-stop strategy. We've been waiting for a result like this for a while and it's a great reward for Nico and the entire team. We could have scored even more points had Paul's race not been compromised by the KERS failure, and he did well to pick up a point today. The result is important for our fight in the constructors' championship because we have now moved ahead of Williams. We will try and carry this momentum into Monza next weekend."
Kamui Kobayashi (13th): "This is a terrible race result after we had been doing so well in qualifying. There was nothing I could do when a car came flying into mine after the start. I had to pit once for some repairs and then again after seven laps because of a slow puncture. During the race I didn't really know how bad the damage to the car was, but I could see a tire print on the cockpit all the time. Later in parc ferm√© I understood why I was so slow, as the side pod and some other bodywork had gone. Apparently before the start my car drew a lot of attention because of the smoke. The brakes were too hot, but I was still able to finish the race with them. I don't know why I then also had more wheel spin than expected, so we are looking into that as well."
Sergio Perez (DNF, Damage): "I am very disappointed for myself and the team as it was such a good opportunity for us to fight for a victory today. Pastor Maldonado had a jump start first of all. I went on the inside of Fernando Alonso. I was going into turn one, braking and then suddenly the cars came from behind and hit me and it was a big mess. I am now looking forward to the next race in Monza."
Monisha Kaltenborn, CEO: "It is very disappointing that once again factors beyond our control have ruined another race of ours. We have to take the positive out of this weekend that if we don't make mistakes and get the right qualifying we can be right in front, and that has to be our target again for the next race."
Giampaolo Dall'Ara, Head of Track Engineering: "We lost the chance of a good result with both cars at the start because Checo had to stop and Kamui's car was damaged. On top of this we had to pit him at the end of lap seven because he had a puncture from the same debris. That was it. We lost pace, we lost a good strategy, we lost position we even lost the chance of recovery with the safety car because of the additional pit stop."
Jean-Eric Vergne (8th): "I am really happy after what was a fantastic race. I had hoped to come here and score points on my favorite track and I managed it. I had a very good car and I was able to do some good overtaking moves. It was a shame I lost a lot of time behind Rosberg, but I'm not complaining on a day when I finally scored some points again. I did not get a very good start, as I just touched the anti-stall. That meant quite a few cars passed me and that's when I saw there was a crash. I braked and took a line as near to the inside as possible and I came out of it without too much trouble. I enjoyed myself today and I think we are on the right track although it's hard to say exactly what was better about our car this weekend. We will analyze everything that happened this afternoon with the intention of being even stronger in Monza next weekend. The team worked well and the pit stops were good so well done to them too and it's great that Daniel also scored points. I will leave Spa with a good souvenir of this weekend."
Daniel Ricciardo (9th): "That was good fun! We managed to benefit from the incident immediately after the start, when I had got a good run off the line. Then I managed to move right to the inside going through the hairpin and came out sixth. My first stint was on the Medium tire and I think I ran as high as fourth at one point. However, I was not quite as quick in my last two stints which were on the Prime, so I dropped a couple of positions. You always want to do better, you always want more, but you can't complain with ninth, being back in the points for the first time since Melbourne. Hopefully, it will give us some momentum for the team's home Grand Prix next week."
Franz Tost, Team Principal: "In this the first race after the summer break, we have managed to score as many points as we did in the whole first half of the season! We benefited from the misfortune of others, with the crash at the first corner after the start, because Ricciardo and Vergne completed the opening lap in sixth and seventh places, from 16th and 15th respectively on the grid. From then, both drivers did a good job to build on that, pulling off some decisive overtaking maneuvers and our pit stops were also pretty good. The whole team performed well and this return to the points with both cars is a much needed boost for all the backroom staff in Bicester and Faenza. Now I hope we can continue in this way in just a few days' time when many of our people will be making the short trip to Monza to see us tackle our home race."
Bruno Senna (12th): "We went for an aggressive strategy and it looked like the safety car was going to help us, but in the end the pace difference between the cars with newer tires was too big. We then had a slow puncture which meant we needed to pit again before the end. Overall it's a day we want to move on from but we need to learn as many lessons as we can and make sure we're in the best position possible for Monza to score some points for the team."
Pastor Maldonado (DNF, Damage): "I made a slight mistake at the start because the clutch slipped out of my hands before the red light switched off. We then got caught up in the first corner incident and that compromised our race. I'm disappointed because we could have scored some good points here, but it's not long until the next race so we're looking forward now."
Mark Gillan, Chief Operations Engineer: "Pastor's race was over very quickly following contact with Glock which forced him to retire. Bruno had a very good start from 17th on the grid and pushed hard on a one-stop strategy, but unfortunately we didn't have the pace today to make this work. A few laps before the end of the race we noticed Bruno's rear-right tire pressure dropping due to a puncture. The puncture forced us to pit, with Bruno eventually finishing out of the points in 12th."
Laurent Debout, Renault: "Today was very disappointing considering Pastor's starting position. Losing some points just at the end with Bruno was another tough pill to swallow, but we can take encouragement from the fact the car has shown signs of good pace this weekend, including setting the fastest lap of the race, which bodes well for Monza."
Vitaly Petrov (14th): "I had a pretty good race and was pushing as hard as possible all afternoon and I think I finished about as high as we could have expected. At the start I managed to get through the accident without any problems and I was up to 13th, running well. I pitted on lap 12 and had an issue with the release but I managed to stay ahead of the pack chasing us and kept up good pace until the second stop a couple of laps after halfway through the race. We went onto the hard tires and the degradation rate was good on that set so I was able to push until the chequered flag."
Heikki Kovalainen (17th): "I had a really good start, avoided all the debris from the start line crash and was up to tenth when the safety car came out. There were a couple of quicker cars behind me who got past when the safety car went back in and then I made a small mistake at the last chicane which put me back a couple of places but I made them up quickly and was into a good rhythm just behind Vitaly. At my first stop we had a problem with the release from the box and unfortunately I clipped the HRT as I was heading out, bringing me back in for a new front wing. From that point all I could do was try and get back in front of the cars ahead but I had another spin with a couple of laps to go. I still managed to pass one of the HRTS but with the issues we had today that was pretty much the end of my race. It's not been a good weekend but we'll regroup and come back fighting in Italy at the next race."
Riad Asmat, Chief Executive Officer: "This has been a tough race for the team and it is fair to say we have not helped ourselves with a number of avoidable errors costing us over the weekend. Both Heikki and Vitaly have given as much as they can and we need to make sure we give them the platform to reward the efforts they are making. It is good that we have the next race back to back with Spa as it gives us the chance to regroup and sign off the European season on a positive note and that is the clear objective next weekend in Monza."
Mark Smith, Technical Director: "Both cars started on the medium compound tires and did well to pick their way through the damaged cars after the first corner accident. We had issues at both Vitaly and Heikki's first stops but both cars had clean second stops and the pit crew did well to put the problems behind them and make sure we did not repeat the issues in the second round of stops. Vitaly's final place of 14th was as much as we could have hoped for today as we have not had the pace in Spa to challenge the cars ahead, but we know what we have to do to improve. Now we have the next race in Monza to work hard to put us some way towards where we should be at this stage of the season."
Pedro de la Rosa (18th): "It was an intense race from start to finish. I didn't completely avoid the accident on the first corner because, besides the pieces of front wing flying through the air, I was trapped between some cars with no space and I got hit a couple of times. That's why I had to stop before planned to change the front wing. It went well after that; we were able to fight with the Marussias and Kovalainen until the end. We've still got a small way to go to be where we want but today was a fighter's race but also a fun one."
Narain Karthikeyan (DNF. Accident): "I got off to a very good start and the car was fantastic throughout the first stint, enabling me to keep up a good battle with Pic. But after the second pitstop I had some issues with the suspension and spun off track. It's a shame because I was having a good race ahead of a Caterham, but I'm happy with our performance and I hope to continue with this level in Monza next week."
Luis P√©rez-Sala, Team Principal: "It was an exciting race for us because we battled with a few of our rivals for a large part of the race. Unfortunately, after Narain's last pitstop, we had a problem and he had to retire when he was in the middle of a sensational race. The positive aspect is that Pedro was able to finish the event and that the performance of the cars was good so I'm happy because we're on the same positive line as before the summer break."
Timo Glock (15th): "Not only was it great to be back racing here after the break, but it was great to be really 'racing' again after some very positive steps forward for the team. Not only have we brought some strong updates to the car, the team have worked really hard to get on top of the problem I experienced in the last few races and here it looked positive. This is in itself another demonstration of how we are working together to bring the right results. We didn't get off to the smoothest of starts on Friday, but by Saturday morning we were showing our potential. We knew we could be stronger in the race and we were; we could have been stronger still but for the problem with Maldonado which lost me time earlier in the race and created a bigger gap to Petrov at the end than might otherwise have been the case. I am very proud that we have worked so hard together as a team to see the benefits we are now seeing and my thanks to everyone trackside and back at base. We are really taking the fight to the competition now and I enjoyed a great race today. Things can only get better for us and today I am very happy to be P15."
Charles Pic (16th): "We didn't get the best start again and then I was stuck behind de la Rosa for quite a while, which lost me a lot of time. We chose a one-stop strategy which for the most part worked well for us, but I was really struggling with the degradation at the end and being on older tires Timo not only got by but I also lost time to him. I have been very pleased with the progress we have made for this race and my thanks to the team for their efforts. We still have to keep moving in this direction to get us to a point where we can finish ahead of all our nearest competitors, but we had some great racing in the team today and this at least showed that we are doing a very positive job as a team. I look forward to Monza now."
John Booth, Team Principal: "We predicted we would be stronger in the race versus qualifying and that was indeed the case today. For large portions of the race, the substantial upgrade we introduced here allowed our drivers to match the pace of our immediate competitors, so we can be pleased overall that the margins are reducing and also we only saw a few blue flags and quite late on in the race. These incremental upgrades will bring the additional pace that will significantly aid our ability to race on the lead lap and minimize our blue flag time loss towards the end of the race. The extremely eventful opening lap made life a little difficult for us with both of our cars having to pick their way through the huge amount of debris in turn one, which had brought out the safety car. Then, the incident between Maldonado and Timo left him right at the back of the field behind the HRTs, which was less than ideal in terms of our objective of taking the fight to Caterham after the safety car restart. We opted to switch Timo to a two-stop strategy to allow him the free air he needed to achieve our pace potential in the middle stint in order to close the gap. This worked well and Timo did a great job to respond to the switch. We put Charles on a more conservative one-stop strategy and this led to the two drivers being particularly close at the end of the race. Charles was on older tires and Timo was able to get past in the final few laps but by this stage, despite his pace, the gap created as a consequence of earlier incidents meant there was no hope of him catching up to Petrov. We have shown another legitimate step with our upgrades, thanks to the hard work by the team back in Banbury and also our partners at Cosworth. I'm sure this will give everyone a huge boost going into Monza and with a full Friday of practice running to fine-tune our package I'm sure we can continue to see more of this steady progression forward."
Fastest lap: Senna, 1:52.822
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