What every pilot and boss have to say about Belgium race

Red Bull
Daniel Ricciardo, 1st
“You know everyone was saying we didn’t really have a chance around here, but I think we had some really good pace today and surprised ourselves. It feels a bit surreal, but another win is very cool, very cool. It was difficult staying out at the end of the race. When you’re the leader as well you always feel like you’re the most vulnerable when it comes to a pit stop or not, but Simon my engineer came on the radio and said I think it’s 11 laps left, can these tyres get to the end? And I said I think I can keep more or less this pace, and we were able to, and then on the last lap I found a couple more tenths, so I was having a bit of fun then! There’s been a lot of good things about the win today, obviously the last two came from a more aggressive style of race, but today was more calculated and it was nice to win under different circumstances.”

Sebastian Vettel, 5th
“Towards the end of the race was good, I was in a rush to get through because the laps were going down and obviously Alonso and Magnussen didn’t have fresh tyres, so Jenson and me caught them fairly quickly. In the end it was good not to lose a position compared to when we decided to pit, which was probably a little bit late, but in the end we maintained the position. The battle was fairly interesting, it was a bit all over the place with people pushing each other off on the track, but we race hard, although sometimes maybe a bit too hard! The team did a great job in the pit stops, three perfect stops, they felt really quick.”

Christian Horner, Red Bull team principal
“A phenomenal performance today to get our 50th win. Of all the tracks to win at, Spa was one of the ones that we didn’t expect to! Daniel drove an incredible race and had good pace throughout; it got very close at the end there with Nico, but he just managed to hold on and have enough in hand to get to the chequered flag first. Sebastian, after a great start, was racing with Bottas, we didn’t want to get undercut so we pitted quite aggressively with him to make sure we stayed ahead of him but thereafter we seemed to struggle with pace, so whether there’s some damage with the car or not we really need to look into, but it wasn’t Sebastian’s fault today.”

Thierry Salvi, Renault Sport F1 track support leader
“A very good end for the team, who thoroughly deserve this victory! We knew it would be a very difficult race based on the performance of the field, but we got a break today and Daniel took full advantage. Seb struggled with the car unfortunately. He suffered from the lack of running over the weekend, but he did a fantastic job to overtake at the end of the race. Three victories this year, and one at an ‘engine’ circuit shows how just how hard we are working with the guys at Milton Keynes and how far we’ve come.”

Nico Rosberg, 2nd

“That was a tough race. We had the pace to win today but the incident cost us a top result, so I’m really disappointed because for the team it was a bad day. As drivers, we are here to entertain and to show the fans a good time, so our duels are always on the limit. I regret that Lewis and myself touched, but I see it as a racing incident – just as the stewards did. I was quicker down the straight and went to the outside as the inside line was blocked. I gave it a go and, after we touched, I realized that my front wing was damaged and thought that was it. In the next second I saw that Lewis also had a problem, which was very unfortunate for him and for the team. We sat down quickly after the race but there will be some more meetings to be held in to avoid races like today.”

Lewis Hamilton, DNF
“I’m gutted with the result – not just for my own Championship hopes but for the team, as we really should have had a one-two today. It’s been a tough year for everyone and the whole team has been working so hard – every time we’ve been knocked down they’ve never given up. I didn’t fully understand what had happened until I saw the replay just now, but I gave him plenty of space, took the corner like I usually do and suddenly felt a big hit from behind. There was nothing I could do about it and that was effectively my race over. I wanted to retire the car early – not because I was giving up, but because I couldn’t catch the people in front of me and even with a safety car I don’t think I would have been able to pass them. The car was quite badly damaged and my thoughts were to preserve the engine after the last one was destroyed in Hungary. What happens next is not my call – that’s one for the bosses to make. But I’m now almost 30 points behind in the Championship so that’s the main thing on my mind. It’s a big gap and it will be hard to recover from here. That’s tough to swallow – but ultimately it’s just been one of those days.”

Toto Wolff, head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
“Today we saw our worst case scenario when the drivers made contact on lap two – and that ultimately cost us a one-two finish today, because we saw that our car had that kind of performance in it. It has been our clear policy to let the drivers race this year but rule number one is: don’t hit each other. To see that kind of contact, so early in the race, is an unacceptable level of risk to be taking out on track. It cannot – and will not – happen again. After the collision, Nico drove the first stint with a significantly damaged front wing, changed it, then had to make an additional stop after flat-spotting his left front tyre to the point where it was dangerous. He then charged back through the field and was impressively close to taking the win in spite of a dramatic race. As for Lewis, he was fighting with one hand tied behind his back after the puncture, which damaged the floor and cost him a significant amount of performance. We left him out there in case the Safety Car came out, bunched up the field and allow us to gain some places, but it became clear that he had lost too much performance and was continuing to do so, so we retired the car before the finish. Overall, not a good day for the team – and it is clear that we need to strengthen our focus on securing the Constructors’ Championship by delivering the potential of both cars in the next races. Now we need to regroup and come back stronger in Monza.”

Paddy Lowe, Mercedes team executive director (technical)
“We got off to a strong start, with Lewis taking the lead and Nico eventually recovering second place from Sebastian. One lap later, however, the incident between the two at turn five effectively ruined our afternoon. It’s a great shame, as the car had looked strong all weekend and we were in an excellent position to potentially score a one-two finish. We opted to continue the race with Lewis in case of a safety car scenario, which may have given him an opportunity to recover the lost ground. But in the end this never came and, with his floor heavily damaged by tyre debris on the second lap, the condition of the car deteriorated further as the race continued. For Nico it was a case of damage limitation. Our calculations confirmed that we would have to change his nose to have any chance of a podium – but of course that cost time. As it was, although he was closing in rapidly at the end, a lockup and resultant flat spot on the second set of tyres ultimately cost him that opportunity. Overall, massive disappointment after all the hard work put in by the team to come away with a result not matching our potential this weekend.”

Fernando Alonso, 8th

“Today my race started on the back foot as the car did not fire up and we had to use another battery. It’s a shame because we had a strong pace all weekend and, starting fourth, we could have finished on the podium. With a penalty to take and on a circuit where top speed is our weak point, we knew we didn’t stand much of a chance, but all the same we did our best. Unfortunately, towards the end there was some rather questionable driving and after my front wing was damaged in a coming together with Vettel, the important thing was to get to the chequered flag. I know the Stewards acted on what happened, but I don’t think it’s that important when you are fighting for sixth and seventh places. Now we must look ahead and prepare for Monza. Even if it’s a track that won’t suit our car, it’s our home race. We will have the support of all the fans and so it’s a race where we want to do better. Let’s hope we succeed in that.”

Kimi Raikkonen, 4th
We had decided to tackle this race more aggressively, making an early stop to get ahead of the cars that had yet to pit and that meant I was able to stay with the leaders for much of the race. When Bottas in the Williams began to close on me, I knew I didn’t have the speed to defend on the straight and with a few laps to go, he managed to pass me. In general, I’m happy with how this weekend ended. We knew it would not be easy on this circuit, but we did our utmost and for the first time, we managed to have a clean race without any problems. The car has improved and today the pace was good. Fourth place shows we are going in the right direction, but it doesn’t mean we can settle for that. Today, we scored a good number of points, but we are here to win and we will continue to work to reach the top.”

Marco Mattiacci, Ferrari team principal
“At the end of a weekend in which the topic of young drivers was very much in the news, I want to start by congratulating Raffaele Marciello on his first GP2 win and Jules Bianchi for his strong showing in yesterday’s qualifying. As for the race, we are very pleased for Kimi: today, he came close to the podium and scored his best result of the season, a result which sees us maintain third place in the Constructors’ classification. Unfortunately, Fernando’s race was compromised by a problem at the start. Without that, I firmly believe the podium was within his reach. We know we have missed out on a great opportunity, but we will learn from this incident to pay obsessive attention to our procedures, as we strive to improve reliability. The next race will be complicated because top speed is a strong point of the Mercedes-powered teams. We will try and defend with every means available, because the efforts of the team in terms of improving the car are producing encouraging signs.”

Pat Fry, Ferrari chassis director
“Fourth and seventh places can’t be seen as satisfactory, especially given that circumstances today meant we could have delivered more as a team. Clearly, Fernando’s penalty, because of a problem with the charge from the external battery we use on the grid, cost him the chance of fighting for a place on the podium and from this incident we must learn to improve our procedures. From then on, his race was compromised and whatever strategy we went for would have seen him in traffic: that’s how it turned out and unfortunately, he suffered a lot behind Magnussen, who could count on better straight line speed. Despite this, Fernando pulled off several overtaking moves and drove a great race. It’s a shame about the contact with Vettel at La Source, which cost him places right at the end. Kimi ran a clean race and we are pleased his feeling with the car is improving. It was precise and he made no mistakes: we came close to a third place with him, which he maybe deserved. Now we will continue to develop the car to give both our drivers an ever more competitive package, even if we have to be realistic when it comes to the rest of the season. Monza will be a very tough race, but there too, we will try and get the maximum out of our available package.”

Force India
Nico Hulkenberg, 11th

“It’s a shame to miss out on points today but I guess I paid the price for the mistakes yesterday [in qualifying] which gave us so much ground to recover in the race. My start was not great, but I was able to gain a few positions on the first lap. After that I had good pace, but it was hard to show it because I was stuck in heavy traffic. There was a train of cars in the midfield with everybody using DRS and making it very difficult to overtake. I think that’s where we lost the most time today and it stopped me from scoring points. I was closing quickly on Kvyat at the end and I was very close, but I probably needed an extra lap to be able to get ahead.”

Sergio Perez, 9th
“Somehow I avoided all the crazy battles that took place today because my race was quite straightforward. I went flat out and I think we achieved the most that was possible from the race. I lost a bit of time in the second stint, having to pass the two McLarens and I took a bit too much out of the tyres, which cost me some time later in the stint. In the final ten laps I was under a lot of pressure from Kvyat: he was catching me quickly, but I managed to hold him off. In the end, we got some points out of this weekend and that’s the important thing.”

Robert Fernley, Force India deputy team principal
“Considering the issues we had in qualifying yesterday, it’s good to see the team recover some ground today and score points. The two-stop races for Sergio and Nico went to plan, without any significant issues, but starting outside the top ten meant we were always going to face an uphill struggle this afternoon. Both drivers were caught in the midfield train of traffic and that made it difficult to demonstrate our true race pace, especially early on. Sergio drove a very mature race and picked up a couple of points, while Nico came close to claiming the final point. We remain in a strong position in the championship and hopefully Monza will give us a better opportunity to show our potential and get both cars in the points.”

Jules Bianchi, 18th

“There is not much to say beyond this was a race that was not meant to be. For sure it is disappointing after a really positive day yesterday, but with the puncture and the retirement, both were problems that were out of my hands. I’m pretty pleased with my race, considering. It was a bit lonely, but I was happy with the way I managed to close the gap and manage the tyres well at the same time, which are all signs of how the race might otherwise have played out for me. It’s a shame that I was unable to take the flag due to a gearbox problem, but I can’t be too disappointed and we’ll look to Monza now as I think the package is stronger.”

Max Chilton, 16th
“It’s great to end the weekend on a positive with 16th place, having gained three positions and finished ahead of the Caterham. We’ve improved the car since Hungary and we are in a good place versus the teams around us, so this has enabled us to fight this weekend. That what is required now, to try to hold onto 9th place in the Constructors’ championship. I’m pleased with how the race panned out, especially taking Ericsson right at the end.”

John Booth, Marussia team principal
“Not the result we were hoping for today, however, in the overall scheme of things, it is still a positive one. Max’s race got off to a reasonable start, although we were unable to make the first undercut to Ericsson due to stopping on the same lap. We knew our best chance was to revise the strategy and complete a longer middle stint on the prime, to allow Max to attack towards the end of the race on fresher soft tyres, which he was able to do on the second to last lap of the race. With Jules, his day was pretty much over at the exit of Turn 1. With the puncture, he lost in excess of 50 seconds, however he did not give up the fight and did a fantastic long first stint on the option tyre, cutting this gap significantly and for much of that stint running the same pace as the Saubers. In the end, the effectively one-stop strategy designed to protect from any Safety Cars didn’t quite pay off and that, combined with the blue flags you see when you drop that far back, meant that he was unable to make any progress forwards. Overall, some positives to take away, in terms of the pace and improved balance that we’ve seen on the car this weekend. Everyone is looking forward to moving on to Monza and dealing with the challenges of another fantastic and historic circuit.”

Esteban Gutierrez, 15th

“It was a tough race. The race strategy was to attack straight from the beginning on. Unfortunately, it did not work out as expected, but at least I was able to gain some positions during the first laps. Throughout the race I struggled a lot with the medium tyres. This aspect made things complicated and put us in a difficult position. Our pace was too slow to finish the race in the points. We need to keep working to be in the top ten as soon as possible.”

Adrian Sutil, 14th
“It was an exciting race, but 14th was the maximum today. Unfortunately, I got stuck behind Felipe (Massa). As I came in for the pit stop, he also went in at the same time. In some sectors on track I was faster than him, but on the straights he was just too fast. Felipe’s engine was simply too strong and I could not overtake him. We then decided to race with a three-stop-strategy, which in the end was the right choice. I felt more comfortable with the soft compound in comparison to the medium tyres. I am satisfied with the procedures over the weekend. The team did a good job without making any mistakes.”

Monisha Kaltenborn, Sauber team principal
“The whole crew delivered a race without any mistakes. However, it is disappointing to see that on a track where power and top speed are crucial, we were simply not fast enough. For the upcoming events it will be important for us to build on the improvements that we were able to make recently on the chassis side during the last few races.”

Giampaolo Dall’Ara, Sauber head of track engineering
“This was a disappointing result after a reasonable race. We expected that we would struggle in dry conditions, and we finally achieved more or less what we could expect. We tried something with Adrian‘s strategy, starting on the medium tyre, which was clearly slower than the soft. This was working until he got stuck behind Felipe Massa. We then decided to switch to a three stop strategy, which didn’t work out because Adrian got stuck behind slower cars. In the end, our drivers finished behind each other.”

Andre Lotterer, DNF

“I didn’t even get the chance to sweat unfortunately. I was really looking forward to a good race and I had a good start, but then I went a bit wide at turn 17 and there was a sudden loss of power. The team and Renault will have to investigate this tonight and see what happened. It’s a shame, but I am pleased with my race weekend – I made no mistakes and did a reasonably good job. Of course it would’ve been fantastic to finish the race and do a whole Grand Prix, but it’s still been an amazing weekend. I can go home happy even though it didn’t really end the way I would’ve liked it to.

“I want to thank Caterham F1 Team for this amazing opportunity – it’s been fantastic to experience Formula 1, I got a lot of support and the team has been great. It’s frustrating to have only completed two laps of the race, but this is motorsport and these things happen.”

Marcus Ericsson, 17th
“I did a very decent start but then I was a bit unlucky in the first corner and I didn’t gain any positions. But I got a really good run after Eau Rouge and managed to overtake Chilton at turn 5. After that it was a long race fighting him – he put a lot of pressure on me throughout the whole race and it wasn’t easy to keep him behind, even though I managed to do just that for pretty much the whole race. Unfortunately he overtook me with only two laps to go, which was of course very frustrating as it would’ve been nice to beat him.

“With the performance we’ve had this weekend I think we can be satisfied with our race. I’m happy with both the team’s and my work and now we just need to work even harder to continue to develop the car and push forward. I feel we have really taken a step forward this weekend here in Belgium and we just need to build on that and keep pushing.”

Christijan Albers, Caterham team principal
“The team has done a solid job this weekend, we’re moving forward. Marcus drove a strong race and was able to fight for positions during all 44 laps. It’s a real shame that Andre was only able to race for one full lap before retiring – his weekend up until then had been close to perfect and he has certainly provided us with very useful feedback that will help to continue developing the car.

“We have a very busy next two weeks ahead, as we carry on working to bring more updates to the next race in Italy. It’s been a positive start, but now we need to build on this and make sure we get stronger every race. I have total confidence in the team and I know that they are going to give their very best to keep improving the car. We are moving in the right direction.”

Jenson Button, 7th

“We played the long game today – most people were making their pit-stops early – and I felt I kept the tyres in good condition. I also had a lot of fun out there, especially racing Kevin [Magnussen], Sebastian [Vettel] and Fernando [Alonso] at the end. In the final laps Kevin and I didn’t touch, although I had to back off a bit at Turn Eight, when Fernando ran off as he and Kevin were dicing. I lost a place to Fernando there, which was a bit of a shame, and in turn a place to Sebastian after that, but as I say I really enjoyed it out there. It’s such a fantastic circuit; driving here always feels so good.”

Kevin Magnussen, 6th
“Despite being penalised after the race, I have to say I enjoyed the weekend. I had great fun out there this afternoon – I was involved in exciting racing on an awesome circuit. It was a tough challenge, because everyone around me had slightly fresher tyres than I did, and they’re all great drivers: they’re not the easiest guys to keep behind. So I just tried my best to defend my position as well as I could.

“Changing the subject, I want to say how brilliant it was to see so many Danish fans in the crowd. The support I’ve had this weekend has been incredible – I’ve never experienced anything like it, to be honest.

Last but not least, it was good that Jenson got past Fernando at the end, to score some useful points for the team.”

Eric Boullier, McLaren racing director
“Before I say anything else, I want to pay public tribute to Formula 1, which delivered a magnificent afternoon’s entertainment here in Belgium today. On the most daunting racetrack on the Formula 1 calendar, there was cut and thrust all through the field, and the resulting spectacle must have made for fantastic television.

“Throughout, Jenson and Kevin were in the thick of it, and it was great to see them racing the Red Bulls and the Ferraris fast and hard. They both drove extremely well, exhibiting redoubtable derring-do, and, although they raced wheel to wheel with each other, they never touched. From here we go to Monza, another classic low-downforce circuit, where we’ll be hoping to capitalise on our steady ongoing performance development and score a useful number of world championship points.”

Pastor Maldonado, DNF

“We were expecting a tough weekend – both here and Monza are challenging tracks for us – although the car seemed competitive and consistent today. It might have been possible to fight with Sauber and Force India during the race. Unfortunately I felt a big loss of power at the end of the first lap and saw in the mirrors that the engine was smoking a lot so we had to retire.”

Romain Grosjean, DNF
“The car was pretty good; the pace was much better than expected, which is encouraging. Unfortunately the race was compromised early on, we had to change the nose on the first lap and we picked up some damage later on from debris on the track. We lost a lot of downforce as a result so we retired the car. We’re moving forward every weekend and learning a lot, though Monza is likely to be challenging too. Singapore should suit us a lot better.”

Federico Gastaldi, Lotus deputy team principal
“It was highly unfortunate that we had to retire both cars today. There is pace and the team is working extremely hard to extract every ounce of performance. We will regroup between now and Monza of course, and do everything we can to improve further. We’ll also keep looking for that pot of good luck.”

Alan Permane, Lotus trackside operations director
“A tough race. Romain sustained damage at the first corner, which meant we had to change the front wing at the end of that lap. We opted for the prime tyres and he was actually running very strongly from then on, although obviously a long way back. Unfortunately, he picked up some damage after his final pit stop which made the car a real handful for him – he radioed in that the car was dangerous, so the only sensible thing to do was retire. Pastor suffered from what looks to be an exhaust failure early on in the race. We’re investigating both cars to understand what happened.”

Valtteri Bottas, 3rd

“Our pace was solid today and a lot better than in qualifying, with some good battles with the Ferrari’s and Red Bull’s, and I think third was probably the right result. I was stuck behind slower cars at the beginning which made the first stint difficult, but I managed to make my way past cars when it was needed and that was important for my race. We came into this race aiming for a podium and it is very satisfying to achieve that after an up and down weekend with tricky weather and Felipe being very unlucky today with debris.”

Felipe Massa, 13th
“Unfortunately at the beginning of the race I had some tyre debris stuck in the floor that came from Hamilton’s car and this made the car very slow, losing about two seconds per lap. This wasn’t removed until my second pitstop and after that I was nearly three seconds quicker and the fastest car on track, but at this point it was too late for me to really do anything. Obviously I’m very disappointed that something like this has hurt my race and I just hope that in Monza my luck will change and I am able to put the car in the sort of position it is capable of.”

Rob Smedley, Williams head of vehicle performance
“Valtteri had a brilliant result today, putting in a really mature drive and passing cars when he needed to thanks to the impressive chassis and power unit package. The strategy worked perfectly for us as well; we stuck to our plan and this paid dividends. Felipe was incredibly unlucky, picking up a large amount of debris from Hamilton’s tyre that stayed under his car for 20 laps and probably cost him about 40 seconds in total with his compromised pace and strategy. As we are continuing to do, we need to improve our operations. This has not been a straight forward weekend so to finish with a car on the podium is a decent result and we look forward to Monza.”

Toro Rosso
Jean-Eric Vergne, 12th

“The start wasn’t great. There were some cars already passing me by on the straight and I couldn’t do anything to defend myself. It’s a bit frustrating to sit in the traffic, with my tyres which didn’t last very long and suffering of a lack of performance. We need now to have a look at all the data to see if there is anything we can do to be back in Monza in a better condition. We are not far from the points but we need to sort a few things out, have a clean weekend and score some points at our home Grand Prix.”

Daniil Kvyat, 10th
“This was a good but tough race, especially the end where I was defending my position against Hulkenberg who was on new options. That was quite thrilling, as I had to look after my tyres and at the same time fight to keep tenth place. The car handling during the race was good and I was quite pleased that the weather stayed dry. All in all, it was a positive weekend, where we were able to improve step by step and I’m happy to take away a point from this race. I can’t wait to get back into the car in two weeks’ time when we will be in Monza.”

Franz Tost, Toro Rosso team principal
“First of all congratulations to Daniel Riccardo and Red Bull for another win. Daniel’s race was very exciting, so really well done! As for us, Daniil scored another point which is quite important for the team and for the Constructor Championship. Unfortunately, our performance during the race was not on a level to be able to fight and beat the teams which were in front of us. Both our drivers did a very good job, always pushing as much as possible. We leave this great circuit with a tenth position and we are looking forward to our home Grand Prix in Monza.”

Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director

“Track and ambient temperatures were higher than they had been up to now during the weekend, which meant that we saw a little less life out of the soft tyre than we had initially predicted. But considering the demands of this circuit and the nature of the soft and medium compounds that we had chosen to bring, wear and degradation was still well within expectations. It was interesting to see the different strategies at work, especially with the extra speed of the soft tyre. In retrospect, there were probably more drivers who wished they had used the soft for a third pit stop, but our calculations from yesterday indicated that two stops was the best way to go – and we got a very exciting race.”