Kimi Raikkonen came very close to a podium finish in the Belgian Grand Prix
Spa-Francorchamps, 24 August – Scuderia Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen finished fourth in the Belgian Grand Prix to secure his best result of the season so far, while team-mate Fernando Alonso salvaged a few points, in a race compromised before the start, when a problem on the F14 T meant his mechanics stayed on the grid too long and the Spaniard was given a stop-go penalty.
He took the flag in eighth spot, but a post-race penalty for Magnussen moves him to seventh. With the Mercedes duo tripping each other up, the way was clear for Daniel Ricciardo in the Red Bull to take his third win of the season, joined on the podium by Nico Rosberg, second for Mercedes and Valtteri Bottas third in the Williams.
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.
Fernando’s car would not start for the formation lap and the mechanics had to stay on the grid longer than allowed to sort the problem. After Vettel briefly split Hamilton and the slow starting Rosberg, it was back to a Mercedes one-two as the cars came through to end the opening lap. The internecine battle at Mercedes saw Rosberg clip the back of Hamilton’s car, giving the Englishman a puncture, which ruined his race.
From the leader to sixth-placed Kimi the gap was just 4 seconds on lap 7, with Bottas in the Williams passing Fernando on lap 8, so the two Ferraris were now running fifth and sixth. The stewards announced a stop-go penalty for Fernando for having his mechanics on the grid after the 15 second signal. Temporary leader Bottas came in on 12, along with Fernando to take on fresh rubber and to sit out his penalty.
The Spaniard emerged in tenth place but soon got by Perez to go ninth. Kimi had got as high as second, benefiting from having pitted early, before making his final tyre change on lap 21. The second time, the early stop would work against him in the closing stages, as Rosberg and Bottas, on fresher rubber, both passed him to push the Ferrari man off the podium.
Fernando made his second stop on lap 25, taking on a set of Mediums and rejoining ninth. In the closing laps Fernando was caught up in a fight for fifth, behind Magnussen and ahead of Button and Vettel, the cars four abreast for a moment. The Ferrari man lost a position to Button but then got it back in the most exciting scrap of the race.
Fernando then lost more places on the final lap, when the hectic scrap between world champions saw Vettel’s car remove most of Fernando’s front wing as the two men touched, which dropped him to seventh and then eighth as Button got by one more time. Magnussen’s moves on Fernando were later deemed irregular and the Dane was given a 20 second penalty, promoting the Ferrari man to seventh.
On a track where a lack of top speed for the F14 T was going to make for a difficult weekend, the actual performance level shown by Kimi and Fernando during the 44 laps was better than expected, proof that the team is making progress. It’s come at the right time with the all important home race next at Monza in a fortnight.
Marco Mattiacci: “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.”
Fernando Alonso: “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: “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.”
Pat Fry: “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.”