Force India say they expect Ferrari to call Fisichella

Force India say they expect yesterday’s second-placed hero Giancarlo Fisichella to be called by Ferrari in the next 24 hours. Fisichella has been linked with the seat of Luca Badoer, his underperforming compatriot, for the next race at Monza, Ferrari’s home grand prix.

Ferrari have yet to confirm anything, but Force India commercial director Ian Phillips told the BBC this morning that his team were waiting for the phone call.

“Nobody’s asked us yet but I think it’s pretty likely that somebody will make a phone call to (Force India team boss) Vijay Mallya over the next 24 hours or so asking if we would release him to Ferrari.

“Ferrari being Ferrari, it’s their home race at Monza, which is a place with a cauldron-like atmosphere, particularly for the Italians – seats will be thrown on the track if Ferrari aren’t doing well.

“So they’re going to have to put sombody in there who can basically run around with Raikkonen at the front of the field.”

Fisichella put in an excellent performance yesterday in an underdog car to advertise that his speed was very much intact. He refused to comment on the link with Ferrari, but most consider that he would jump at the chance.

FIA to investigate Singapore GP 2008

The FIA are to launch an investigation into the result of the first ever night race, the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix after new evidence came to their attention. The body is cagey about the nature of the new evidence but it is thought to refer to Nelson Piquet’s accident, which brought the Safety Car out at an extremely convenient time for his team-mate Fernando Alonso, who went on to win the race.

Piquet told reporters at the time that the accident had been nothing but a mistake on his part, on a circuit that demands driving on the ragged edge very close to concrete walls. But its effect was that the Safety Car was brought out, closing the field up and allowing recently refuelled Alonso to jump right up the pack. It is not clear where the new evidence comes from, but the FIA acknowledged yesterday afternoon that it was beginning an investigation.

“The FIA can confirm that an investigation is underway regarding alleged events at a previous world championship race,” said a spokesperson.

Rumours abound that the new evidence has come from Piquet himself, who was sacked by the team after last month’s Hungarian Grand Prix. Piquet endured a torrid last months with the team and an acrimonious divorce, during which he directed angry invective at his “executioner”, team principal Flavio Briatore.

If so, Piquet would have followed in the steps of his erstwhile team-mate Fernando Alonso, who held his McLaren team to ransom in 2007 when he discovered they had been spying on Ferrari.

If found guilty by the World Motor Sport Council, it is thought probable that Renault will be fined or banned for future races. The result of the Singapore race is relatively unlikely to be retrospectively altered, but if it is, it would promote Nico Rosberg to race winner, and further increase Lewis Hamilton’s margin of world championship victory.

Raikkonen glad to return to the top of the podium

Kimi Raikkonen hailed the glorious Spa-Francorchamps circuit after recording his first victory for Ferrari this season.

The Finn used his KERS boost to rocket past Force India’s Giancarlo Fisichella at the safety car restart, and from there held on to record a resounding victory.

For Raikkonen’s team-mate, Luca Badoer, the race was disappointing. The Italian struggled throughout the Grand Prix, eventually finishing last on the track – in fourteenth.

Kimi Raikkonen – 1st: “A great victory for me and the team. The champagne tastes the same wherever you are on the podium, but the feeling when you win is definitely different. This track has everything a driver could want and it’s a pleasure to drive here, however, there’s no particular secret to explain why I’ve won here four times. We wanted to win at least one race and we’ve done it. Our car was not the best in the pack, but we managed to put everything together and this result comes from all the work done with the team. I got away well, but Rubens was stuck in front of me and I had to avoid him. Then, at the first corner and at the end of the straight, I managed to move up to second. Behind the Safety Car, I thought mainly about keeping the tyres and brakes up to temperature to be able to attack Fisichella at the restart, and that’s how I managed to pass him quite easily. At the first pit stop, maybe it would have been better to stay with the softer tyre but that’s easy to say afterwards. In the final part, when it seemed I might not be able to fight off Giancarlo, I slightly changed the way I used the KERS so as to defend myself on the straight at Stavelot and so I managed to stay in front. Monza will be difficult, because our car is not particularly good over the kerbs, but we will try and do our best.”

Luca Badoer – 14th: “Today I did my best. Unfortunately, at the first corner after the start, I flat-spotted the front tyres and so I always had strong vibrations throughout the first stint. Once the tyres were changed, the situation improved, but the performance of the harder compound was not as good as the soft one. I have upped my performance level yet again and I really want to race at Monza, one of the tracks I know best, along with Fiorano and Mugello. I am very happy for Kimi and the team: this is a fantastic victory, which was just what we needed at this point in the season.”

Stefano Domenicali: “We are very happy with this win, which is a reward for all the hard work that the entire team has done during such a difficult and at the same time, dramatic season. I wish to dedicate it first and foremost to President Montezemolo, who celebrates his birthday tomorrow. I don’t think he could have asked for a better present. Thanks go to our partners, first and foremost Philip Morris and Shell, who have always stood shoulder to shoulder with us, as have our fans, with their unfailing support. A thought also goes to Felipe who kept in touch from Miami, where tomorrow he undergoes a medical check. Kimi drove an amazing race today: we knew the first lap would be decisive and so it proved. He drove impeccably all race long and the team was at its very best during the two pit stops. In the last four races, we have always got one driver onto the podium and we have picked up a fair haul of points at the highest level, even in unusual circumstances. Today, Luca did the best he could and this win also reflects his contribution within the team: now we will take a few days to evaluate his immediate future, also based on what Felipe’s recovery time might be. Now we look to Monza, our home race, where we will do all in our power to continue down this road, even if we know it will be very difficult.”

Chris Dyer: “A fantastic result for the team and for Kimi. After qualifying, we knew that we could have a good race if we got a good start. Kimi was fantastic, both on the first lap and then at the restart after the race was neutralised and he managed to take the lead. Fisichella was always right behind him and congratulations also to him for his performance. He and Kimi always pitted together and our guys managed on both occasions to send our driver out on track ahead of his closest rival. In the middle stint, we used the harder tyre but, with hindsight, we might have done better to pick the softer one: not only could we not open the gap over Giancarlo but we then had Vettel closing us down. Fortunately, at the second stop, the positions remained unchanged and Kimi did a good job of managing the situation in the closing laps. Today, the F60 was not the best car, but the team work and the talent of the driver produced the win and that’s what counts.”

Raikkonen back to winning ways, but Fisi is the real Spa star

giancarlosFerrari hopeful Giancarlo Fisichella will be wondering if he shouldn’t stay put at Force India in Monza after taking the fight to Ferrari and Kimi Raikkonen in Spa.

Forumula1.com’s Hugh Podmore looks back at the action from Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix.

Kimi Raikkonen today took a no-nonsense win in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps. The Ferrari man did nothing wrong all race, was clever and clinical at the required times, and showed some of his pace of old on this, the drivers’ track of drivers’ tracks. But the real star was Giancarlo Fisichella – who pushed the Finn all the way, had a fantastic Force India car and was the surprise of the weekend. Many will say it was only Raikkonen’s KERS button that won him the race ahead of the inspired Italian.

After qualifying yesterday it seemed that Fisichella had qualified on fumes, in order to boost team morale and raise his own profile ahead of being linked with Ferrari. But when the fuel-adjusted grid was published and even more so when the race started, it was rapidly clear that the Roman in his orange, white and green steed had ‘real’ pace. The words Force and India had become something of a byword for perennial backmarking. But today the Silverstone-based outfit proved they have enough technical nous to improve their car so much recently that, allowing for Raikkonen’s KERS, was the fastest at Spa in the hands of Fisichella.

And the performance of the man himself cannot be discounted. The possibility of a Ferrari drive either next race or next year spurred him on, as did the appeal of the track. Highly-rated team-mate Adrian Sutil could not extract nearly as much from the machine, although his performance was not shoddy either. Had Raikkonen not run (possibly deliberately) wide, gaining an advantage, at the first corner, or the Force India mechanics been a mite quicker with the second pitstop, Fisichella would have been the deserving victor today.

Apart from the front two and a spirited charge from Sebastian Vettel and the two BMWs, who were third, fourth and fifth respectively, this grand prix was marred by a raft of underperformances. Sixth-placed Heikki Kovalainen probably did as much as he could with a McLaren fundamentally unsuited to the track, but Rubens Barrichello and Mark Webber will be ruing a bad start and a lack of speed at the right times.

The first lap accident that claimed the afternoons of Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Romain Grosjean and Jaime Alguersuari was a racing one. But that immediately took away the strong possibility of the Brits fighting their way up the field. Money could have been bet on Button and Hamilton being combative and racy through the remainder of the race, but it wasn’t to be. Instead fans had to cope with watching singularly uninteresting combat from (in separate incidents) Heikki Kovalainen and Kazuki Nakajima, who both conspicuously failed to demonstrate killer instinct when required.

A usually aggressive Fernando Alonso was hampered by what seemed to be a down-on-power Renault, an issue that would also account for the mysterious underperformance of the Red Bull cars too. If that is the case, it does not bode well for the Renault-powered lot at Monza, a power circuit if there ever was one. The catalogue of underperformance continued with Williams, with even the fantastic Rosberg only managing to drag his car to eighth. The Toyotas failed to live up, again, to the promise of qualifying. McLaren were nowhere all weekend.

The last word must surely be a goodbye to the king of underperformers Luca Badoer, who will surely be replaced for two weeks’ time. It has been very difficult for him to come in and drive strange cars untested. But there was nothing to suggest in his ten years of testing and previous 48 F1 starts without a point that he would be able to perform at the highest level. Today he was last of the classified runners, a full minute and a half behind his winning team-mate. Save yourselves and him further embarrassment, Ferrari, and put that man Fisichella in the seat.

Jenson Button will marvel that his championship lead was barely eroded today. But Barrichello and Seb Vettel will still fancy their chances.

Raikkonen keeps Fisi at bay to win Spa thriller

d09bel1493Kimi back to winning ways, but Fisi the real star in Spa.

A rejuvenated Kimi Raikkonen gave Ferrari their first victory of the season in Spa-Francorchamps, but the star of the Belgian Grand Prix was undoubtedly Giancarlo Fisichella who stayed glued to the gearbox of the Ferrari driver throughout the race to claim Force India’s first podium.

Anyone predicting a return to normality in Spa on Sunday after qualifying threw up one of the most random grids seen this season was wide off the mark as the legendary Ardennes circuit played host to an epic scrap between Kimi Raikkonen and surprise pole-sitter Giancarlo Fisichella, while claiming the scalps of championship leader Jenson Button and defending world champion Lewis Hamilton.

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel was the only familiar face, as far as the 2009 championship goes, to finish on the podium in third place. Championship leader Jenson Button was punted into retirement by Romain Grosjean on the first lap – collecting Lewis Hamilton and Jaimie Alguersuari in the process, and bringing out the safety car. Button’s only saving grace was that teammate and title rival Rubens Barrichello could only manage seventh place after stalling at the start.

Kimi Raikkonen, who started from fifth place, took the lead when the safety car came in on Lap 4. Fisichella, who did well to hold onto his lead at the start, was a sitting duck as the Ferrari driver used his KERS power and a slipstream to ease pass the Force India in the run down to Les Combes.

“I knew that we needed to get past him because more or less we were coming in on the same lap and if I didn’t do it after the safety car they had too much speed to get it after that,” said Raikkonen.

“I made sure I was close enough up to first corner and went behind him, got quite a bit of understeer and ran wide at top of hill but once I used KERS I managed to get in front of him. I knew as long as we didn’t make silly mistakes we would be okay on the race.”

With Raikkonen’s track record at Spa and the perceived superiority of the Ferrari over the Force India, many were expecting the Finn to fly off into the distance.

Not so. Remarkably Fisichella kept the Ferrari driver in sight with the gap staying under two seconds in the run up to the first pit stop. Even more remarkably, both cars were on similar fuel loads.

The pair stopped together on Lap 15 and even after re-fuelling Fisichella was able to keep Raikkonen in touch, demonstrating an impressive underlying pace from his Force India car.

Behind the leaders Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld were battling with Mark Webber for the third step on the podium. But a drive through for Webber after his Red Bull mechanics released him into the path of Heidfeld in the pits scuppered his chances of a podium.

Fernando Alonso also started to bring himself into the mix by running a long two-stop strategy. But a problem with his left front tyre at his pit stop blew his chances of a podium.

Meanwhile, Fisichella continued to hound Raikkonen brining the gap down to within a second.

A extra laps worth of fuel might have enabled the Italian driver to leapfrog Raikkonen at the final round of pit stops, but both drivers mirrored each other again, with Raikkonen emerging in front for the final stint.

That left Raikkonen free to take his first win since Spain last year and give Ferrari their first win of the season.

“It hasn’t been easy year for us,” said Raikkonen. “We were behind straight away in the first race compared to the top teams and we made a big step in Barcelona but it still has not been enough and for sure we have not brought new parts to the car for a few races as we are putting effort into next year.

“Getting the win now… It’s quite a long time since the last one. My aim was to win at least one race and try and finish third in the championship, this helps a lot but I needed a bit of effort today to get the win.

“We were not the fastest in the lap times but we were fastest and kept everyone behind.

“It is great for the team and hopefully we can get some good results after this race. I always do well here, we see what we can do in the last part of the season.”

Fisichella meanwhile, in his 244th race, was delighted with his result, which will no doubt be a boost to his credentials has he bids to secure a seat in 2010, and, if the rumours are to be believed, take up the second seat with Ferrari in Monza.

“Of course, obviously it is great result for us,” said Fisichella afterwards. “The important target was to score even some points, and finish second with eight points is a great day, but actually you know I was quicker than Kimi.

“He could overtake just because of KERS at the beginning of the race and it is a little bit sad for that because I was quicker than him. I was keeping his pace, even behind his car, we did exactly the same strategy race because I finished second.

“Just one second from the leader which is a great result for us but actually we could have won the race.”

A longer first stint from Sebastian Vettel enabled him to leapfrog the BMW Sauber drivers to take third place.

Heikki Kovalainen climbed to sixth place behind Kubica and Heidfeld, and crucially for Jenson Button, ahead of Rubens Barrichello who collects just two points.

Nico Rosberg was eighth ahead of Mark Webber, Timo Glock, Adrian Sutil, Sebastian Beumi and Kazuki Nakajima.

Jarno Trulli, who started on the front row alongside Fisichella, picked up damage on the first lap and was forced to make an early pit stop, but it was a mechanical problem that eventually dashed his Belgian Grand Prix hopes.

Race Results

1       Kimi Räikkönen          Ferrari         1:23:50.995
2       Giancarlo Fisichella    Force India     1:23:51.934
3       Sebastian Vettel        Red Bull        1:23:54.870
4       Robert Kubica           BMW             1:24:00.961
5       Nick Heidfeld           BMW             1:24:02.271
6       Heikki Kovalainen       McLaren         1:24:23.758
7       Rubens Barrichello      Brawn           1:24:26.456
8       Nico Rosberg            Williams        1:24:27.203
9       Mark Webber             Red Bull        1:24:27.954
10      Timo Glock              Toyota  
11      Adrian Sutil            Force India     
12      Sebastien Buemi         Toro Rosso      
13      Kazuki Nakajima         Williams        
14      Luca Badoer             Ferrari

Vettel happy with podium finish

vettelSebastian Vettel was delighted with his podium finish in today’s Belgium Grand Prix – and has claimed that he is back in the title hunt.

Vettel overcame a lack of running to finish in third place, setting the fastest lap in the process. Later the young German thanked his team for putting their reliability issues behind them and continuing to keep his title hopes alive.

However the race did not go well for Mark Webber. The Australian was penalised after being dangerously released infront of Nick Heidfeld in the pitlane. He eventually finished in ninth place and expressed his disappointment.

Sebastian Vettel – 3rd: “If you look at the Championship board, today was a good result. Obviously it was not easy to start from the middle of the pack, but the actual start was good. I was maybe too conservative in the middle of the first lap when I saw Nick (Heidfeld) go off the track – very often cars tend to come back on to the circuit spinning; I lost a position to Nico (Rosberg) and had to catch him back up after the restart. I lost too much ground to the leading cars in the first stint, but in the second and third stints the car was fantastic, I didn’t make any mistakes and was pushing like it was qualifying on every lap. It was a pleasure to drive the car and we were quicker than the guys in front. We took points out of the Brawn team today, so that’s good for the team and it’s good to score more points than Jenson (Button) and Rubens (Barichello) for the Drivers’ Championship. A big thank you to the team and compliments to Renault after everything we’ve gone through in the last couple of races, it’s good to finish a race again. We’ve proven that we are back.”

Mark Webber – 9th: “I had a good first lap and laid the right foundations to get some good points today. But, at my first pit stop, I was released in front of Nick (Heidfeld), which I was given a drive through penalty for. After that it was a case of damage limitation. I tried to get back into the points and when we had free air, which was not often, we had good pace, but it wasn’t enough. It’s very frustrating not to take any points away, I thought I deserved them from that drive, but the drive-through wrecked that. No one’s interested in excuses though; that’s how it is, so let’s get on and look ahead to the next race.”

Christian Horner, Team Principal: “A very strong race by Sebastian today. As soon as he got into clear air, he used the advantage that he had in the middle sector and really closed the gap to the leaders during the second and third stints. Third was a good result for him. Mark had a good start and a good first lap and was unlucky with his drive-through penalty it was obviously marginal and he was unlucky to miss out on the final point. Overall we’ve slightly reduced the gap in the Constructors’ Championship and we’ve reduced the gap in the Drivers’ Championship, so a reasonable weekend. Congratulations to Ferrari and also to Force India on a great drive by Fisichella.”

Fabrice Lom, Renault, Principal Engineer Track Support: “A difficult race. We started quite far down the grid, but both drivers had good starts. Sebastian made up some places and was very quick in the second-half of the race, getting the fastest lap time. He ended third, which was good, even if it was lower than we expected coming here. For Mark, his race was over with the drive-through penalty, which was unfortunate. We are happy to have made it through this race which is hard on the engines, but we still have five more races to go, so we can’t be happy until the last one is complete. Monza will be tough again.”

Belgian Grand Prix: Post-race Press Conference

2009 BELGIAN GRAND PRIX
POST-RACE PRESS CONFERENCE August 30, 2009

1. Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN (Ferrari), 1h23m50.995s
2. Giancarlo FISICHELLA (Force India), 1h23m51.934s
3. Sebastian VETTEL (Red Bull), 1h23m54.870s

TV UNILATERALS

Q: Kimi, your fourth victory here in Spa. It has been a difficult season for the team but today you proved a point.
Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN:
Yes, I mean it hasn’t been an easy year for us. We were behind straight away in the first race compared to the top teams and we made a big step in Barcelona but it still has not been enough and for sure we have not brought new parts to the car for a few races as we are really putting an effort into next year. I mean getting the win now, it’s quite a long time since the last one, so it was perfect. My aim was to win at least one race and try to keep third place in the championship, so this is going to help us a lot but I needed a bit of effort today to get the win. We probably were not the fastest in the lap times but overall we were fastest and we managed to keep everybody behind, so that s enough. It is great for the team and hopefully we can get some good results after this race. I always do well here; we will see what we can do in the last part of the season.

Q: Giancarlo, eight points and Force India s best ever result. But do you feel this is a race you could have won?
Giancarlo FISICHELLA:
Of course, obviously it is great result for us. The important target was to score even a point and to finish second with eight points is a great result. It s a great day, but actually, you know, I was quicker than Kimi. He could overtake just because of KERS at the beginning of the race, at the restart after the safety car, and I am a little bit sad for that because I was quicker than him. I was keeping his pace, even behind his car. We did exactly the same strategy race, so it is great because I finished second just one second from the leader which is a great result for us but actually we could have won the race.

Q: Sebastian, you set the fastest lap and I guess the same question to you: do you feel this is a missed opportunity or do you feel good for having bitten a bit more out of Jenson Button s points lead?
Sebastian VETTEL:
We got more points than all the rest but if you look at the championship it was a very good result. Obviously it was not an easy position to start from, right in the middle, so I think I had a very good start and then unfortunately in the first lap I was bit too conservative when I saw Nick (Heidfeld) going off the track. Usually the cars very easily tend to come back spinning, so I lost a position to Nico (Rosberg) and had to catch up after the restart. I succeeded and after that, because of how things went, we just lost too much ground in the first stint to the guys ahead and then in the second and third stint I think the car was fantastic. I had no single mistake in the race. I was pushing every single lap like qualifying. It was really in the end, after the chequered flag, a pleasure to drive the car. We had very, very strong pace, quicker than the guys at the front, and also throughout the second stint even though we had more fuel on board. We lost the ground in the beginning but, nevertheless, I think, as I said, a very good result. We took points out of the Brawns for the team and, for me, I scored more points than Jenson (Button) and Rubens (Barrichello) and overall a big thank you for the team. Also compliments to Renault. With all the sh** that we have gone through the last couple of races it is good to finish again and good to prove the engine is strong enough to manage a race. I think with the failures we had we were a little bit unlucky, so we have proven that we are back and it is good to have finished the race again after quite a long time now.

Q: Kimi, the key really was that pass on Giancarlo after the restart on lap five. Talk us through how you lined up Giancarlo and passed him.
KR:
I knew that we needed to get past him as more or less we were on the same lap coming in and if I hadn t done after the safety car they had too much speed to get it after that. I just made sure I was close enough after the first corner and then went behind him as close as I could through Eau Rouge. I got quite a lot of understeer and ran a bit wide on top of the hill but then once I used the KERS I was able to get next to him and just in front of him, so it was pretty easy in that way to get in front of him. I knew then as long as we don t make silly mistakes, we should be ok for the race.

Q: Giancarlo, you are sitting alongside Kimi now on the podium. Do you think you will be sitting alongside him as team-mate in Monza after this result?
GF:
That s just a rumour. As I told you yesterday I was just concentrated on doing this race which has been a fantastic weekend for me and tomorrow I will start concentrating on Monza. Obviously, with the Force India overall. That s all I can say.

Q: Sebastian, tell us about the championship. How do you see it now? What can you do in the remaining races?
SV:
Well, I think it is still open. This championship is a bit crazy to be honest. When I was a little boy and followed the championships in Formula One it was always pretty boring. You knew at the first race more or less who was competitive. As we see now Force India were quick this weekend. Most likely they are going to be quick in Monza. It is a low downforce track, so it is up and down and it shows how important it is to be consistent which was not our strength but nevertheless we are still in reach. I think we took six points out of Jenson, the championship leader, which is a good thing. I don t know what happened to him. I just saw his car in turn five, so I think he had an accident. But this is how we have to do it. It would have been nice to finish first today but after the result yesterday I think it was the best we could do. Everything is possible. We are here to fight.

Q: Kimi, sum up this love affair you have with this magnificent Spa-Francorchamps circuit. Four times a winner here. What is it about this place and you?
KR:
I don t think there has been any special thing. Unfortunately last year we lost it in the last lap more or less. I think many drivers like it. It is a proper circuit. An old style circuit, very flowing and up and down hills, and it is good fun to drive. It is in the forest and it is just everything what you want. Usually I have always been pretty very good here since I was here the first time many, many years ago. It just seems to be good for me somehow. I don t mind. It is a nice place to win. Also we get very good races here. It is good for spectators, for teams, for drivers. It has been a pretty good weekend. Of course yesterday we could have done better to make out life a bit easier but anyhow we managed to win which is the main thing. It is good right now and we try to keep it up for the next races.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Kimi, what does this win mean to you personally after quite a difficult season?
KR:
We have been trying to get it. Of course we need to be realistic as we know that our car is not as fast as the teams ahead of us in the championship, but in some places, like the last couple of circuits, it has been pretty okay. In Hungary we were closer to winning that ever before this year. Here we managed to do it. It really depends on the circuit. This is important for the team, they will enjoy it, especially after the hard time this year. But we can t expect to win races after races, so we are going to give 100 per cent every weekend but it really depends if we get it 100 per cent right or not and if something funny happens, like here in qualifying. It gives us a much better chance but it was a good result for the team and we are very happy.

Q: How much pressure did you feel with Giancarlo right up behind you?
KR:
I knew that he was faster. Probably we did a little mistake to put on the harder tyres at the first pit stop and they just did not warm up and maybe like three laps before the stop they suddenly started to work much better. I was able to push harder. I knew that if I could keep him behind at the pit stop it is pretty difficult for him to get past. They were very fast in the middle sector, coming back to the last chicane. Sometimes they got very close but I just started to use the KERS in a slightly different way to make sure he was not going to get a run on me and it was not so difficult. I mean it is hard to overtake anyhow, so it was very easy.

Q: At the first corner you were the only driver that went wide. Was that something that you had discussed with the team?
KR:
No, first I tried to go the normal way but I think it was Nick or somebody who came a bit too fast inside and pushed Jarno Trulli very wide, so I had nowhere to go. I just needed to turn straight and go all the way around. It worked out but it wasn t the plan in the first place but there was no space.

Q: Were you able to use the KERS perhaps earlier?
KR:
No, I mean it is very bumpy there. I ended up there also last year. It doesn t make much difference. It is a much longer way. If I could go on the circuit I would but if it would be fast I d try to do it every lap but that was not the case.

Q: What about your chances at Monza?
KR:
It will be difficult. Our car is not as strong as some others over the kerbs and that is really the key to go fast there. To be able to drive the kerbs as much as you want, that is not our strongest point, so it will be difficult I think but we will see how our car will handle there and what we can do.

Q: Giancarlo, you seem to have mixed emotions. One, I could have won it. Two, it is great to be second. Happy and unhappy.
GF:
Yes, you know before we came here if you asked all the team and myself to finish eight would have been fantastic. We are second. It is a great weekend for us. Pole position but considering our pace in the race, I was quicker than Kimi, it was possible to win the race. I have been unlucky with the safety car. Just after the start up to turn eight I was two-and-half or three seconds ahead of him and it was perfect. We had the same fuel load. I was a little bit lighter but maybe the consumption was less and I did a very good job behind the safety car. It was about the same strategy and I could win the race easily as I was quicker than him. But anyway, second is fantastic. I am really happy for the team, for myself. The car was really good. It was very consistent all the way through with the soft tyres and with the medium tyres. I am really impressed with our pace and I hope to keep going like that.

Q: Was one tyre better than the other?
GF:
I started with the soft, then soft, then medium. For me, the best compound was probably at the end with the medium tyre but I was a little bit lighter than in the middle sector, so it s difficult to say because I was always behind Kimi, quite close and could never be alone to see the real pace but sometimes I lost a bit behind him and I caught him quite quickly again, so I was much quicker than him.

Q: What are the chances at Monza? How do you think the car will perform there?
GF:
You know our speed on the straight is usually very good. Monza is a very high-speed circuit. The package here in Spa looks very good. Obviously we will have a proper package for Monza and it looks very promising, it looks very good. I m not saying that we will repeat a result like today s which would be fantastic but obviously getting into the top ten and scoring points would be another fantastic result.

Q: So even though you ve had a good look at a Ferrari for about 90 minutes, you ll stick with the Force India for the next race?
GF:
As I told you yesterday, I was concentrating today on the race with Force India. So far, I m just concentrating for the next race with Force India unless they are going to call me, but even if they do call me, there are many things to think about, so we will see.

Q: Sebastian, it all really came together on the middle stint when you jumped Robert Kubica up into third place.
SV:
Yeah, but the race started a bit earlier for us than the middle stint. Obviously the first stint was very difficult, starting eighth. I think I had a fantastic start. Then I had nowhere to go, really. Unfortunately, I lost the train in front a little bit up the hill through Eau Rouge. Mark was able to get in my tow, passed me around the outside and then I was probably a bit too cautious when I saw people going off. I think it was Heidfeld running wide. Yeah, I lost a place to Rosberg, because very likely the car could come spinning back, like I experienced in qualifying yesterday. It can happen. So it wasn t easy. But nevertheless, after the restart I was able to pass him, which was important because he was heavier and then, just because of the action, the first couple of laps after the restart again we lost too much ground to the guys in front. You know it s quite different, the cars have their gaps in between. And then onwards it was difficult to catch up. I think we did a very good job. We had an extremely good race after that, very, very good pace. I think we were one of the longest in the second stint and still catching up the leaders as well as Robert, which then brought us to third place, and then catching up again in the last stint. I think the car was behaving very well, I had an awful lot of fun driving. This circuit is fantastic, it s a pleasure, but taking three, four, five tenths per lap out of the guys in front is probably the maximum you can do, so I think pace-wise we definitely had the car to win, but it didn t come together yesterday. I m still very happy with third place, especially after the things we ve gone through at the last two races. I also have to pay compliments to Renault. I know there are obviously a lot of discussions going on in the press about our future and so on, but I can say that they are doing a really good job, the people are really behind us and pushing a lot. Obviously we were in a little bit of a bad situation with the two engine failures, especially in Valencia, for sure it didn t help, but I think we can still manage, we can see that the car is working, the engine is working, so it was a good day for us. Six points, more than all the others in the championship, so a very good day after all.

Q: Which was the best set of tyres for you? You set fastest lap quite early in the last stint.
SV:
Yeah, it s true. Obviously the Friday running, especially for me, was limited because of saving mileage also. On Friday, the circuit is not in the same shape that you will find in the race, so it was quite difficult to pick the right tyre. I always struggled a bit on primes to start the stint. I think that s also why we lost out at the beginning of the first stint to the cars in front when they went away from us they were gone very quickly. Then later on, I think the pace was fine, the car was getting better and better on the hard tyres. On the second stint, on the hard tyres, it was quite difficult to restart, so the warm-up wasn t easy. And then in the last stint, I set the time quite early, obviously the new tyre effect, and the circuit was in the proper shape and then in the last couple of laps I was trying to catch up, but the gap was too big, so I was just trying to manage the gap to Robert in which I succeeded, and took a bit of pace out… we reduced the revs and drove the car to the finish.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Marco Evangelisti Corriere dello Sport) Giancarlo, there has been such an impressive improvement in your car, in today s race. How could it be possible, and how much is this result linked to your driving skill on this particularly circuit?
GF:
In the last race in Valencia we introduced the new aero package, which was about 0.6s better than the previous one, so it was already a big step forward. We nearly had the possibility to get into the top ten and the pace in the race was not too bad, not as good as today. Here, we have more or less the same package, but obviously with a wing for Spa and as soon as we put the car on the ground we felt a good feeling, good behaviour. The balance was not good, but in terms of lap time we were quite quick anyway. On Saturday morning, with the right balance, the car was really good. And this is one of my best circuits, one of my favourite circuits, I have a very good feeling here. I m usually able to find the limit of the circuit and I was so comfortable and that s the reason. But sometimes you never know why a car like McLaren was slow at the beginning, then it was winning. Even Trulli said the same thing yesterday. At the last race he was nowhere and yesterday he was second, and today he could even win the race, so you never know. But obviously we made a big step forward, that s very important.

Q: (Alberto Antonini Autosprint) Kimi, well done. You said Ferrari hasn t brought many new parts to the last races but you ve still taken two podium finishes and a win. Could that be you and not the car?
KR:
I guess everybody can decide for themselves. We found a bit of a different way for the car. We started going a bit of a different way at the start of the year and then came back in the previous races. For sure, the car is not as quick as we want, as maybe it should be, but it s handling well, and that sometimes gives much more than you can drive when you can drive it as you want, it sometimes gets you in a better position. I m happy with the way it works, but with more downforce I m pretty sure it could be a very fast car, but we know that we re not really getting any new parts, so we are where we are and as long as we get everything working well and the car feels good, I think we can still manage to get good results. It s difficult to expect more wins but hopefully (we can expect) podiums and good points and maybe in some circumstances a win.

Q: (Heikki Kulta Turun Sanomat) Kimi, could you have won without KERS and where was it the most important, when you took the lead or when you were defending?
KR:
There s no point in wondering if we could have won (without KERS) or not. We won and we have KERS at every race and that s a fact. It helped at the start. I actually got a very good start, but then there was Barrichello I don t know what happened to him at the start, so it already helped there and then passing Robert, I think, and then of course, it helped to pass Fisichella. It worked well for us, but it s a normal thing for us to use it at every race, so it s not like it s going to disappear suddenly.

Q: (Ottavio Daviddi Tuttosport) Kimi, there are a lot of rumours about Giancarlo as your next team-mate, as you know. May I have your opinion about him?
KR:
For me, it doesn t matter who is in the second car, it s not my decision. For sure the team will decide on whatever happens for the next race. But if I purely look at this race, they probably had a faster car than us, so it s probably a bit of a difficult decision in that way.

Q: (Juha Päätalo Financial Times Deutschland) Kimi, you said that you changed the way how you use KERS to defend. Can you explain what you did exactly?
KR:
I was using more in the last part than before, just to make sure I got good speed on the back straight. That was the only difference.

Q: (Paulo Ianieri La Gazzetta dello Sport) Kimi, it looks like you are somehow giving Ferrari a hard time, considering all the rumours about next year, because it was said that you might leave Ferrari because you re not performing as well now. Lately, you ve been doing pretty well. Is there something inside of you that is bringing you to this, showing that the real Räikkönen is still there?
KR:
No. Nothing has changed, as I said. We found a pretty good way to work with the car. We did well in Monaco. The last race was very similar, Hungary was similar. This place is a bit different than many others. It s purely that where the car has been strong we ve been doing quite well every time. There s nothing that I ve done differently. We ve just achieved a good result now and hopefully we can keep it up. I think there will be races where it s not going to be easy for us but we can always try. There have been rumours almost every year since I ve been in Formula One, so I don t really care about them. I m not worried about next year. I have a contract, so it s nothing that I should be worried about. I don t make the decisions in the end but we will see what happens. Maybe Ferrari have some other plans, but as far as I know nothing has changed.

Q: (Michael Schmidt Auto Motor und Sport) Kimi, according to the fuel weights, you should have been able to go at least two laps longer than Giancarlo. Giancarlo mentioned before that he was saving fuel behind the safety car but I guess you did the same, so why did you come in on the same lap?
KR:
I don t know. It s difficult to say. Some engines use a bit more fuel than others. I think our engine probably uses a bit more fuel than the Renaults or McLarens. Maybe that s the one difference. I tried to get my tyres warmed up quite heavily behind the safety car, so I definitely didn t try to save as much as we could. But it paid off, we got first place after the safety car and that counts much more than one lap on a pit stop.

Q: (Joonas Partanen Iltalehti) Kimi, it has been almost a year and a half since you last won, so did the champagne taste better on the podium compared to those times you were second and third, and then another question: some people have suggested that you won t cut your hair until you have won again, so are you going to cut it now?
KR:
No, it s nothing to do with that. There s always speculation in Formula One and b****t as we know. It doesn t change anything. It s the same stuff. When you re first or second or third, it makes no difference what is in the bottle, but of course the feeling is nicer overall. It s good for the team and good for me, so in that way it s nice.

Belgian Grand Prix: Driver Quotes

The entire Grand Prix field give their views on the Belgian Grand Prix.

Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari (1st): “A great victory for me and the team. The champagne tastes the same wherever you are on the podium, but the feeling when you win is definitely different. This track has everything a driver could want and it’s a pleasure to drive here, however, there’s no particular secret to explain why I’ve won here four times. We wanted to win at least one race and we’ve done it. Our car was not the best in the pack, but we managed to put everything together and this result comes from all the work done with the team. I got away well, but Rubens was stuck in front of me and I had to avoid him. Then, at the first corner and at the end of the straight, I managed to move up to second. Behind the Safety Car, I thought mainly about keeping the tyres and brakes up to temperature to be able to attack Fisichella at the restart, and that’s how I managed to pass him quite easily. At the first pit stop, maybe it would have been better to stay with the softer tyre but that’s easy to say afterwards. In the final part, when it seemed I might not be able to fight off Giancarlo, I slightly changed the way I used the KERS so as to defend myself on the straight at Stavelot and so I managed to stay in front. Monza will be difficult, because our car is not particularly good over the kerbs, but we will try and do our best.”

Giancarlo Fisichella – Force India (2nd): It’s been another great day and it was an amazing result today. Before coming to Spa if you had asked all the team if we would have been happy to finish eighth we would have said it was a fantastic result but second is a dream, just great. Actually if I can be honest I am a little disappointed as I felt we could have won the race. I was unlucky with the safety car when Kimi came past me at the restart and overtook me with the KERS. Actually behind him I was quicker but with the KERS I couldn’t get past as it was impossible to be quick on the long straight. But we can’t take it away from the fantastic result, both at the track and in the factory to get this result. After yesterday I was pretty confident to score points, it’s positive for the championship and for the coming races. A big thank you to everyone.

Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull (3rd): “If you look at the Championship board, today was a good result. Obviously it was not easy to start from the middle of the pack, but the actual start was good. I was maybe too conservative in the middle of the first lap when I saw Nick go off the track – very often cars tend to come back on to the circuit spinning; I lost a position to Nico Rosberg and had to catch him back up after the restart. I lost too much ground to the leading cars in the first stint, but in the second and third stints the car was fantastic, I didn t make any mistakes and was pushing like it was qualifying on every lap. It was a pleasure to drive the car and we were quicker than the guys in front. We took points out of the Brawn team today, so that s good for the team and it s good to score more points than Jenson and Rubens for the drivers championship. A big thank you to the team and compliments to Renault – after everything we ve gone through in the last couple of races, it s good to finish a race again. We ve proven that we are back.”

Robert Kubica – BMW-Sauber (4th): “I managed to make a good start and was second after the first corner. I was surprised to see Kimi next to me going through Eau Rouge. Approaching the fifth corner he braked very late and went off. It is a very tricky place. He came back on the track right in front of me and I played it safe as we saw a lot of accidents there over the weekend. Although we had a slight touch, I was able to continue. At times we lacked a bit of speed but, of course, it is good to be fighting for podiums again. The result means a lot of points for the team and is good. Unfortunately we didn t have the chance to achieve anything better. The result proves we are quite competitive on low downforce tracks, which is a positive sign for Monza. However, we have to analyse why the car was more competitive and felt better during qualifying yesterday.”

Nick Heidfeld – BMW-Sauber (5th): “Although it is a good result for the team, I have to admit I m disappointed. From third on the grid I had higher expectations, but I lost the race on the first lap. My thought pattern before the race went back and forth as to whether I should take the harder or the softer compound for the start. The harder was the quicker one but, of course, not the better one for heating up quickly. Because the sun was shining I went for the harder compound, and paid for it. After the start I tried to out brake Jarno on the inside of La Source, but I lost ground because the tyres weren t warm enough. Up the hill to turn five several cars were in the gravel, including me, and that s where I lost more positions. Later at my first pit stop I had to lock up the brakes in the pit lane to avoid crashing into Mark, who I was then able to immediately overtake on the track. In the last stint my pace was really good and I closed the gap to Robert. But, even though I was quicker than him, I couldn t overtake because as soon as you are less than two seconds behind another car you start sliding due to losing downforce in the dirty air.”

Heikki Kovalainen – McLaren (6th): “A good race for me. Even though our overall pace here hasn t been as good as in the two previous races, our strategy worked out perfectly and I was able to overtake a lot of the guys stopping before me. I want to say a big thank you to all the guys in Woking, Brixworth and Stuttgart for all their efforts. Today s sixth place was the result of a strong, reliable car, a great strategy, a fantastic engine and a first-rate KERS – all of which helped me to make up nine places on my grid position today. We still have some work to do to be fully competitive on medium-downforce tracks, but Monza should be a different story as it s a very low-downforce circuit and we are traditionally quite good there. Finally, I m really happy for Kimi: he drove a great race and I knew he would be a tough guy to beat around this place.”

Rubens Barrichello – Brawn GP (7th): “I have to be happy with seventh place and the two points really after such an eventful race. We should have had far more from today but the problem with the clutch at the start took away any chance of a podium which is frustrating for me and the team. We changed my strategy at the end of the first lap to fuel longer for the first stint which was a good move and gave me the chance to get into the points. I had fun in the race from then on and the move on Mark Webber at the Blanchimont bend was definitely one of the highlights. The oil leak gave us some worrying laps but I was able to manage the pace and bring the car safely home which was a big relief.”


Nico Rosberg – Williams (8th):
“We got absolutely the maximum out of today and so I am not so unhappy with the result. Even though the car was not good at all on Friday, we moved it forward and had a reasonable qualifying. We built on this with a good start to the race and claimed another point finishing in 8th place. It is more than I could have hoped for at the beginning of the weekend. The car was difficult to drive today and it had a lot to do with the tyres. When the sun came out, the tyres worked well, especially the soft tyres in the final stint. In these conditions, I was able to push more.”

Mark Webber – Red Bull (9th): “I had a good first lap and laid the right foundations to get some good points today. But, at my first pit stop, I was released in front of Nick Heidfeld, which I was given a drive through penalty for. After that it was a case of damage limitation. I tried to get back into the points and when we had free air, which was not often, we had good pace, but it wasn t enough. It s very frustrating not to take any points away, I thought I deserved them from that drive, but the drive-through wrecked that. No one s interested in excuses though; that s how it is, so let s get on and look ahead to the next race.”


Timo Glock – Toyota (10th):
“I made a pretty strong start and was running fourth when the safety car came out so we had a good chance of points. But at my first pit stop we had trouble with the fuel rig which cost me time and positions. The crew did well to quickly change to the back-up rig but nevertheless we lost time. Clearly there was a problem with the fuel rig and we have to analyse what happened and prevent any similar problems in the future. I did my best and the car was quite quick but it wasn’t to be.”

Adrian Sutil – Force India (11th): It was a great weekend for the team, particularly for Giancarlo. He did a great race today, second position, which is a big achievement for everyone. We have clearly made a very good step and I think today anything was possible and we can look forward to the next race. Personally I am a little disappointed as someone crashed into me at the first corner and the race was over at that point. I think it was Alonso, who went straight into my rear and turned me around and destroyed my front wing. In the end it was disappointing as the car had the speed and I tried to get back in the race but it was frustrating. I am still very happy with the car and for the team as second place is still a very good position. I hope I can get a similar result in Monza.

Sebastien Buemi – Toro Rosso (12th): “I drove a consistent race, making no mistakes and everything on the car worked well. It s a shame I could not pass Kovalainen, even though I was quicker than him, but at least I tried. Maybe a one stop strategy would have worked better for me. I wasn t involved in the first lap accident, but maybe I picked up some debris, as for several laps my front wing did not seem to be working and I tried driving over the kerbs to shake it loose and eventually it got better. Overall, I think I had a good race and I hope that we do so again in Monza running in a low downforce configuration.”

Kazuki Nakajima – Williams (13th): “We struggled with our pace throughout the whole weekend here and qualifying was especially tough, which of course affected our potential in the race. On balance, the race was slightly better than Saturday, but of course all of our attention will now be on what we can do to be sure of an improved result in Italy in two weeks time.”

Luca Badoer – Ferrari (14th): “Today I did my best. Unfortunately, at the first corner after the start, I flat-spotted the front tyres and so I always had strong vibrations throughout the first stint. Once the tyres were changed, the situation improved, but the performance of the harder compound was not as good as the soft one. I have upped my performance level yet again and I really want to race at Monza, one of the tracks I know best, along with Fiorano and Mugello. I am very happy for Kimi and the team: this is a fantastic victory, which was just what we needed at this point in the season.”

Fernando Alonso – Renault (DNF): “Today I missed an opportunity to be on the podium. I had a good start, making up a few positions and the strategy looked good. The car was better than we expected and I was in third position when I came in for my pit stop and it became clear that something was wrong on my left front tyre and the team asked me to retire. We now think it was damaged at the first corner at the beginning of the race. Anyway, Monza is in two weeks and I look forward to making up for the disappointment of today. ”

Jarno Trulli – Toyota (DNF): “I can’t say how disappointed I am with that race. I was really expecting a strong result because we were in great shape after qualifying. But at the first corner I was right behind Heidfeld and at the exit I expected him to pull away faster than he did. I’m not sure if he had a problem but I just touched him slightly and that broke the front wing. It was vibrating a lot so I had no choice but to make a pit stop. There was nothing I could do after that and in the end the team saw a problem with brake wear and decided it was safer to stop.”

Jaime Alguersuari – Toro Rosso (DNF): “My race didn t last long. These things happen in racing and you just have to accept it. My start was not too bad and the car seemed to be going well. At Turn Two, Jenson spun and Hamilton had to move to the left to avoid him, moving onto the part of the track that I was on. We collided and my car was too damaged for me to continue. Hopefully we can do better in the coming races.”

Romain Grosjean – Renault (DNF): “I made a very good start, moving up to thirteenth place and I was keeping a good pace but then Button took me out at turn five and it was the end for me. It’s frustrating because I would have loved to finish the race and learn more about the car on this very special track. Hopefully I can do better in Monza.”

Lewis Hamilton – McLaren (DNF): “Some days, when things go bad they go bad – and this was just one of those days. I got a poor start, the anti-stall kicked in and I tried to recover, but got sandwiched at the first corner and lost a bit of my front wing. When Romain Grosjean spun Jenson (Button) around at Turn Five, everyone was trying to avoid them, so I slowed down to try and avoid the damage and got taken out by one of the drivers behind me, who was trying to avoid the accident too. A disappointing day, but we ll come back and try to win this race next year.”

Jenson Button – Brawn GP (DNF):“I had a really good start and had made up a few places in the first few corners to be ahead of Lewis and Rubens. I had a good run going down the straight to turn five just after Eau Rouge. I was on the outside of Heikki and turned in for the corner but quite simply Romain outbraked himself and hit my back wheel. That was it for my race today. It’s frustrating as I was in a reasonable position having made up some places and with a lot of fuel on board but it’s better to have my first retirement here where I haven’t been so competitive than when I’m running at the front. We’re determined get back on the track at the next race and be more competitive there at a track which should be quite good for our car.”

Fisichella praises Force India for podium result

Giancarlo Fisichella stunned the Formula One world today with a sensational second position in the Belgium Grand Prix.

The Italian was overcome with joy after the chequered flag had dropped, but also admitted to being disappointed with not snatching victory.

Today’s result wasn’t only Force India’s first podium, but also its first ever points finish.

Adrian Sutil – 11th: It was a great weekend for the team, particularly for Giancarlo. He did a great race today, second position, which is a big achievement for everyone. We have clearly made a very good step and I think today anything was possible and we can look forward to the next race. Personally I am a little disappointed as someone crashed into me at the first corner and the race was over at that point. I think it was Alonso, who went straight into my rear and turned me around and destroyed my front wing. In the end it was disappointing as the car had the speed and I tried to get back in the race but it was frustrating. I am still very happy with the car and for the team as second place is still a very good position. I hope I can get a similar result in Monza.

Giancarlo Fisichella – 2nd: It’s been another great day and it was an amazing result today. Before coming to Spa if you had asked all the team if we would have been happy to finish eighth we would have said it was a fantastic result but second is a dream, just great. Actually if I can be honest I am a little disappointed as I felt we could have won the race. I was unlucky with the safety car when Kimi came past me at the restart and overtook me with the KERS. Actually behind him I was quicker but with the KERS I couldn’t get past as it was impossible to be quick on the long straight. But we can’t take it away from the fantastic result, both at the track and in the factory to get this result. After yesterday I was pretty confident to score points, it’s positive for the championship and for the coming races. A big thank you to everyone.

Dr Vijay Mallya, chairman and team principal: What a result. I am so proud of this race, which will ultimately go down in the history books as India’s first-ever World Championship points. It’s been a fantastic Saturday, fantastic race and to get our first podium and championship points is just unbelievable. We’ve worked so very hard to get this with a solid plan of upgrades coming through on the factory. Giancarlo drove a truly outstanding race. We can all be so proud of the entire effort.

Fisichella’s team-mate, Adrian Sutil, was also fast in the sister Force India. However the German’s progress was handicapped after damaging his front wing during a first corner collision.

Stewards take no action on first lap shunt

The Belgian Grand Prix stewards have decided to take no further action on the first lap incident involving four drivers.

Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Jaime Alguersuari and Romain Grosjean were all eliminated at Les Combes and the stewards had decided to review both incidents, which resulted in the safety car being deployed.

However after much deliberation, the race stewards have ruled that the accident was nothing more than a racing incident and no further action will be taken on those involved.