Vettel victorious at Spa

Vettel Belgian GP 2013 winner

Championship leader Sebastian Vettel scored his 31st career victory with a dominant drive at Spa-Francorchamps.

This was Vettel and Red Bull Racing’s fifth win of the season and after taking the lead from pole sitter Lewis Hamilton on the opening lap, the triple champion just drove off into the distance to take the flag first.

Fernando Alonso finished in an excellent second. The Ferrari driver carved his way through from ninth on the grid to the runner-up spot and crucially, ahead of pole sitter Lewis Hamilton.

As for Kimi Raikkonen, his record-breaking run of 27 consecutive points finishing ended with a brake problem.

It took less than half a lap for Sebastian Vettel to claim control of the Belgian Grand Prix.

Hamilton’s Mercedes had stayed ahead through an uneventful start, but Vettel attacked immediately and overtook on the run to Les Combes.

That was the last time his rivals saw the leading Red Bull, as the world champion alternated between cruising to protect his car and going flat out by scoring fastest laps to prove how much he had in hand.

Alonso’s confidence in Ferrari’s race pace proved well-founded as an aggressive first lap took him straight up to fifth place.

Jenson Button’s McLaren and Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes were overtaken soon afterwards.

A later first pitstop brought Alonso right up behind Hamilton, who he then passed as the Mercedes slipped a touch wide at La Source.

Hamilton retaliated with DRS on the Kemmel Straight, yet Alonso was able to fend him off despite a vicious twitch under braking.

Button looked like he might have a say in the podium fight as he ran long and hinted at a one-stop strategy.

In the end he had to follow the two-stop trend, dropping him behind Hamilton, Rosberg and the slow-starting Mark Webber.

The Australian’s Red Bull showed great late pace having used hard tyres in the middle stint and softs at the end, the opposite strategy to most rivals, but ran out of speed when he came up behind the Mercedes.

Raikkonen looked set to finish adrift of this group even before a front brake issue forced him to retire his Lotus.

Felipe Massa resisted Romain Grosjean, the only successful one-stopper in the points, for seventh position.

Grosjean had an early brush with Sergio Perez in which the race stewards judged that the Lotus had been forced off the road at Les Combes.

That earned Perez a drive-through penalty, and with that late tyre wear on a one-stop, left the McLaren driver in P11 at the flag.

Qualifying sensation Paul di Resta faded from the start and was in a four-car battle outside the points when he was taken out at the Bus Stop by Pastor Maldonado.

Force India still scored some championship points thanks to Adrian Sutil’s ninth place.

Daniel Ricciardo overcame Toro Rosso’s qualifying miscue to come from P17 to tenth.

So not the most exciting Belgian Grand Prix, with Vettel taking the lead and disappearing into the distance. Formula 1 now heads to Monza, the final European race of the season. Can Ferrari strike back at their home track?

Belgian Grand Prix, after 44 laps:

1.  Vettel         Red Bull-Renault  1:23:42.196
2.  Alonso         Ferrari     +16.869
3.  Hamilton       Mercedes     +27.734
4.  Rosberg        Mercedes       +29.872
5.  Webber         Red Bull-Renault   +33.845
6.  Button         McLaren-Mercedes    +40.794
7.  Massa          Ferrari           +53.922
8.  Grosjean       Lotus-Renault        +55.846
9.  Sutil          Force India-Mercedes    +1:09.547
10.  Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari     +1:13.470
11.  Perez          McLaren-Mercedes       +1:21.936
12.  Vergne         Toro Rosso-Ferrari     +1:26.740
13.  Hulkenberg     Sauber-Ferrari         +1:28.258
14.  Gutierrez      Sauber-Ferrari         +1:40.436
15.  Bottas         Williams-Renault       +1:47.456
16.  van der Garde  Caterham-Renault       +1 lap
17.  Maldonado      Williams-Renault       +1 lap
18.  Bianchi        Marussia-Cosworth       +1 lap
19.  Chilton        Marussia-Cosworth      +1 lap

Fastest lap: Vettel 1m50.756s, set on lap 40.

Not classified/retirements:

Di Resta      Force India-Mercedes   26 laps
Raikkonen     Lotus-Renault                 25 laps
Pic           Caterham-Renault  8 laps

World Championship standings, round 11:

1.  Vettel        197
2.  Alonso        151
3.  Hamilton      139
4.  Raikkonen     134
5.  Webber        115
6.  Rosberg        96
7.  Massa          67
8.  Grosjean       53
9.  Button         47
10.  Di Resta       36
11.  Sutil          25
12.  Perez          18
13.  Vergne         13
14.  Ricciardo      12
15.  Hulkenberg      7
16.  Maldonado       1

1.  Red Bull-Renault          312
2.  Mercedes                  235
3.  Ferrari                   218
4.  Lotus-Renault             187
5.  McLaren-Mercedes           65
6.  Force India-Mercedes       61
7.  Toro Rosso-Ferrari         25
8.  Sauber-Ferrari              7
9.  Williams-Renault            1

Next race: Italian Grand Prix, Monza. September 6-8.

8 thoughts to “Vettel victorious at Spa”

  1. After scoring his fifth victory of the season and thereby extending his championship lead, Sebastian Vettel has commented that he is not fixated on points advantage. has the news story.

    Sebastian Vettel says he was more focused on enjoying himself as he dominated the Belgian Grand Prix than on the championship situation.

    The world champion’s fifth win of the 2013 Formula 1 season means he is now 46 points clear of nearest rival Fernando Alonso with eight races to go.

    Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen are another 12 and 17 points adrift respectively.

    “For sure that’s a positive message today, but I’m more happy to win the race,” said Vettel.

    “It’s a fantastic track. When the car works well you don’t want the race to stop.

    “As the car was getting lighter and lighter, I was happy on primes and the car was pleasant to drive.

    “I didn’t think about the championship or points. I know the higher up you finish, the better it is…

    “This is such a great circuit and this was another great memory today. That is what I was focusing on.

    “Regarding the championship, there is still a long way to go.”

    Raikkonen suffered his first retirement of the season at Spa when his Lotus struck brake problems.

    But Vettel did not think that ruled Raikkonen out of the title hunt despite the 63-point deficit the Finn now faces.

    “There are still more than 63 points you can score this season…” said Vettel.

    “It is obviously a shame for him, but these things can happen.

    “We had a technical failure at Silverstone and lost the race. We are still pushing the cars on the limit and getting everything out of them, and things that are on the limit can break.”

  2. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso believes his second place finish has improved the chances to go for the title. has the details.

    Fernando Alonso believes his drive to second place in the Belgian Grand Prix proves he and Ferrari can still challenge for the 2013 Formula 1 world championship.

    While he surrendered a further seven points to winner Sebastian Vettel – who is now 46 clear in the standings – Alonso said the fact Ferrari improved relative to Hungary, and was able to extract the maximum from its weekend potential, bodes well for the season run-in.

    “I am happy with the feeling we had this weekend, [with] the parts we brought here,” Alonso said.

    “Obviously we lost seven points, but when they [Red Bull] are dominating the weekend then you need to aim for maximum points.

    “On weekends like this one we need to extract the maximum from the car, [and] that is what we did.

    “Yesterday we were extremely unlucky in Q3. [Today] we had to plan a perfect race from the start.

    “The pace and strategy were fine and we could recover some places, and some of the optimism for the championship in terms of points and feeling as well.”

    Asked if Ferrari was still in the hunt, Alonso added: “You cannot forget that in the first five races we were a very competitive team, we won two of the five races, and we were in a position to fight for the podium all the time.

    “We went backwards in terms of the step in the car, we lost some direction, [but] we analysed everything and it seems now the things we are bringing to the team are delivering what we expect.

    “This gives us the possibility to go forward.

    “We still have to recover some of the gap and go for pole positions.

    “The championship is very long. If you have a competitive car and win six consecutive races you can recover very quickly – and we will find out if we are in a position to do that.”

  3. Red Bull’s Mark Webber has commented that he never had the opportunity to show the speed in the car during the Belgian Grand Prix. has the details.

    Mark Webber said he never had a chance to show his real pace in the Belgian Grand Prix following his poor start.

    The Australian started just one place behind his Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel in third, but while the German went on to dominate the race, Webber could only finish fifth having lost several positions off the line.

    “The two starts we did on the formation lap and the way to the grid weren’t good at all, so we had some discussion about how we could get the clutch to improve across the period before the start of the race,” said Webber.

    “It made it very tricky to read what was going to happen.

    “When you’re then out of position trying to clear people, you use the tyres a lot more.

    “Then you interrogate your gear ratios. The top gear is good for free air, but with the DRS it’s difficult to get the ratios right. We know free air is nice to have in this category at the moment.”

    Webber gained on Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg in the closing laps but said passing was impossible.

    “I would’ve sat behind Nico all day,” Webber reckoned. “He was strong in sector one and we didn’t have the top speed to clear him.”

    Red Bull tried a strategic variance with Webber and ran the hard tyre in the middle stint while most saved it to the end.

    He admitted this was a roll of the dice to try to jump the Mercedes but said it made little difference.

    “We had to try something,” said Webber. “Two stops with prime in the middle was gambling to try to get the Mercedes.

    “When you’re on the back foot you’ve got to do something different.

    “In the end track position was our Achilles heel. Pace wasn’t really a problem… we didn’t get to show the pace.”

  4. Nico Rosberg admits Mercedes was surprised to find itself trailing Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari in the Belgian Grand Prix.

    The German said his squad had anticipated a pace deficit to Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull, but was taken by surprise by Ferrari’s race performance.

    “We expected to be a little slower than Red Bull, but we didn’t expect Ferrari to be quicker than us,” Rosberg said.

    “That was a bit of a surprise.

    “But we’re going in the right direction. Solid is maybe the best way to describe it; decent, but didn’t have the pace to go for the win today.”

    Rosberg believes he had the fundamental pace to beat Lewis Hamilton to third, but said his race had ultimately been compromised when he lost out to the Briton in qualifying.

    “For me personally I had the race pace to do a bit better than [fourth],” he said.

    “I lost out a bit in qualifying yesterday and today with strategy a bit.

    “It’s always different when qualifying doesn’t go well, [you’re] always on the back foot a bit.

    “I was giving everything I had, but it wasn’t perfect – for me that would have been third.

    “All in all it was OK though – still lots of points for the team, and we still have opportunities to get some great results.”


  5. Jenson Button should have finished in third position at Spa, but McLaren opted to do a second pit-stop meaning he dropped down to sixth. The driver mentioned later the team was too nervous about the strategy. has the news story.

    Jenson Button reckoned McLaren was too ‘nervous’ in its strategy during the Belgian Grand Prix.

    In its strongest race performance of a so-far troubled 2013 Formula 1 season, McLaren qualified and finished sixth with Button, but appeared to have a shot at a podium finish.

    Button initially planned a one-stop strategy and moved up the order as the leaders pitted.

    But then McLaren vacillated between tactical options and Button ended up out of sync with his competitors and back in sixth at the flag.

    “I think we got a little bit nervous when everyone pitted and we lost a bit of time, and then we were being overtaken by the cars that had already pitted,” he said.

    “I think we pitted too early on the first stint.

    “We went to a two-stop and then tried to go back to a one, but I said ‘no way are we going to be able to do 12 more laps on this set of tyres guys’ so we pitted. It’s better to be pitting than being overtaken.

    “It was nice to be racing with those guys. I think our pace was there with them, I’m just not sure we got it right with strategy. We were a bit in the middle.”

    Despite the disappointing final result, Button was encouraged to finish with 13 seconds of third-placed Lewis Hamilton and only 6.9s behind Mark Webber’s Red Bull.

    “It’s a little bit off what we wanted, but we weren’t that far off third,” he said. “We were just 13s behind third and just behind a Red Bull.”

    But he admitted that the package McLaren brought to Spa – which it had high hopes for – had not lived up to expectations.

    “It’s definitely a step forward but there are still some areas where we thought we’d be better here and we weren’t and we’ve got to work out why,” Button said.

  6. Lotus suspects that a blocked brake cooling duct caused by a loose visor tear-off led to Kimi Raikkonen’s retirement from the Belgian Grand Prix.

    Raikkonen suffered from an overheating left front brake duct shortly after the start of the race at Spa-Francorchamps.

    AUTOSPORT has learned that at the first pitstop, the team discovered the visor tear-off lodged in the cooling channels of the brake duct.

    Although Lotus was able to remove it, the brake disc was already too hot and could not be cooled enough. Eventually it failed completely.

    Investigations by the team after the race discovered no other explanation for the brake issues, which led it to believe that the visor strip was the cause.

    Team principal Eric Boullier said there was no design problem with the brake cooling on the Lotus, even though it had been operating in a high temperature window.

    “We know that we have two options on cooling here: one was nearly too cool, one was on the top of the range,” Boullier told AUTOSPORT.

    “If the failure had happened on both discs then you would think that the cooling was wrong, but it was only on one disc.”


  7. The Grosjean and Perez incident seemed quite harsh with McLaren’s Martin Whitmarsh believing the senior drivers are taking it out on the young driver. has the details.

    McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh believes Sergio Perez’s Belgian Grand Prix penalty was the result of senior drivers ‘ganging up’ on the Mexican.

    Perez was hit with a drive-through penalty for forcing Romain Grosjean off the track at Les Combes after stewards decided he pushed the Lotus driver onto the rumble strip on entry, meaning he missed the corner.

    The resulting penalty cost Perez points and Whitmarsh believes stewards have been swayed by Perez being victimised in drivers’ briefings.

    “The reality is that you get a young charger coming into the field and the older guys will try to gang up and make a scene in driver briefings,” Whitmarsh told AUTOSPORT.

    “They have done a bit of that [with Perez]. It shouldn’t, but it clearly does make a difference.

    “Ironically, later in the race there were two other worse examples that got no penalty – [Nico] Hulkenberg and [Jean-Eric] Vergne.

    “It was a very hard penalty and disappointing.”

    Whitmarsh accepts that Perez might need to be cautious in battle in the coming races given he is under such scrutiny.

    But he emphasised that he does not believe his driver was in the wrong and is keen for Perez to continue to race hard.

    “When you are in his position you have got to be careful,” said Whitmarsh.

    “Even if you are doing what you think is OK, when you know you are under a bit of scrutiny you’ve got to watch it.

    “If I thought that he was wrong I would go and box him over the head but he’s got to go out there and race.

    “He has to have the confidence and the belief that the team is supporting him and he’s out there racing so we will be supporting him.”

    Grosjean insisted that Perez’s actions had ultimately meant Felipe Massa beat him to seventh.

    “I lost a position so it’s never the best, it cost me maybe three or four seconds, something like that,” said Grosjean.

    “It would probably have been enough to keep Massa behind.”

  8. Pastor Maldonado is adamant Adrian Sutil was to blame for his Belgian Grand Prix crash with Paul di Resta.

    The Williams man ploughed into di Resta at the Bus Stop chicane, amid a four-car battle also involving Sutil and Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez.

    Maldonado was issued a drive-through penalty following the incident, but he believes it was unjustified, saying that Sutil, rather than himself, instigated the collision.

    “I was touched by Adrian – I was trying to recover my line and he crossed my line in a very aggressive way and touched my front wing,” Maldonado said.

    “My car jumped and I lost control, lost the steering wheel. The impact was quite hard.

    “Part of the wing went under the car and I lost traction at the front. It was nothing to do with di Resta – I was completely compromised by Sutil.

    “The incident was caused by Sutil and I got the penalty; that’s it. I didn’t have control of the car when I crashed. That’s why [the penalty] was unfair.”

    Di Resta speculated that Maldonado had been trying to cut across his bows in order to pit.

    “I think Pastor missed the first apex, and when we were doing the cutback, he decided he wanted to come into the pits, which was a bit risky at that point,” the Scot said.

    “Until I’ve seen it properly, I’ll reserve judgement.”

    Williams chief race engineer Xevi Pujolar said a lack of radio contact had contributed to the situation, as the team was unable to forewarn Maldonado.

    “Pastor was in an unfortunate situation,” Pujolar said.

    “We wanted to get him in earlier than his traffic situation, but because the radio was not working we show him the pitboard and I could see he was getting quite busy into Turn 18.

    “I was thinking it would get messy. You see it coming, but without radio you cannot do anything.”

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