Fluctuating fortunes for McLaren in Belgium

Lewis Hamilton was happy to bounce back from his retirement in Hungary to take victory in the 2010 Belgian Grand Prix.

The McLaren driver took full advantage of Mark Webber’s poor start to lead in to the first corner and, despite a late scare when he went off at Rivage,went on to take victory and the initiative in the championship.

Meanwhile, Jenson Button was bitterly angry to have his race cut short by Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel.

The reigning world champion had been running in second behind his team-mate before the incident and now faces an uphill battle to remain in the title hunt.

Lewis Hamilton – 1st: “After the DNF in Hungary, this last push in the championship couldn’t have started better for me; this victory was the perfect way to bounce back. Spa is always one of the most challenging races on the calendar, and I’m ecstatic that I’m now able to tick it off and say that I’ve won here.

“At the start, I was able to pace myself and maintain the gap – every time the cars behind increased their pace, I was able to answer. Then, when the conditions changed, I had a wide moment at Turn Eight and I was on the edge of my seat! Fortunately, I got out of it, took a step back, regained my focus, and took control again. I was so relieved to cross the line at the end of the race it was an overwhelming feeling!

“I feel really sorry for Jenson, though. He did a great job. I got around Turn One, looked in my mirrors, saw him picking up places, and thought, ‘That’s good, that’s good.’ Then he got up to second, and I thought, ‘That’s fantastic another opportunity for a one-two.’ Then, cruelly, he was taken out through no fault of his own which was really unfortunate for him, and for the team, because he did everything he could to get us the most points in the constructors’ championship today. But he’ll bounce back even stronger.

“It may sound an obvious thing to say, but I’ll say it anyway: I love racing. It’s in my blood, and I missed it so much during the summer break. So to finally get a win here at Spa in the trickiest of conditions is fantastic. I couldn’t have done it without the team though. Without them putting in such a great effort, we wouldn’t be here today.

“It almost feels like this is my first win it’s just phenomenal!”

Jenson Button – DNF: “It was looking really good this afternoon. I got up to second easily enough, but my left-hand front-wing endplate had been damaged on lap one, which meant I had to dial maximum angle into it, and that made the rear twitchy without giving me any more front.

“As a result, it was pretty tricky to keep the others behind, but I was having a good fight in the wet conditions, and I seemed to be able to find grip better than the other people around me. I was doing a decent job of keeping my position, and doing it fairly.

“Then, as everyone knows, I had an incident with Sebastian [Vettel]. I certainly didn’t brake any earlier than usual. All I know is I suddenly felt a big bang in the sidepod, which ripped the radiator out, and then I lost drive.

“I’ve watched it on TV now, and I’d say it was a very strange incident. Clearly, he didn’t do it on purpose, and I gather he’s now apologised, but I have to say I’ve got no idea what he was doing. It’s a massive blow to my world championship hopes.

“All I can do now is look forward to Monza. I love that track, and I’ll be doing my best to score a lot of points there.”

Martin Whitmarsh – Team principal: “There’s no doubt about it: today we saw a truly fantastic race and an utterly brilliant victory.

“Apart from one heart-stopping excursion, Lewis was in command of things from lights to flag, and drove prodigiously well all afternoon all weekend, in fact.

“From the moment he went out on Friday morning, he was palpably excited about being here at Spa, and it was clear that he always felt confident that a win was on the cards. He really is at the top of his game at the moment.

“He’s back at the head of the drivers’ world championship standings too and, but for Sebastian, we’d be leading the constructors’ world championship as well.

“Clearly, had Jenson’s race not been ended by Sebastian’s error, Jenson would have scored a hatful of world championship points and today is therefore a deeply frustrating day for him. He drove superbly he’s so good in changeable conditions such as we saw today but he’s very mature and I know he won’t let this setback get to him.

“Finally, I want to say a big ‘well done’ to everyone at McLaren Racing in Woking and at Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines in Brixworth, without whose relentless efforts we wouldn’t be back where Vodafone McLaren Mercedes belongs: at the front of the field, on the top step of the podium, in rocket-red victory T-shirts, spraying champagne.

“Monza? Bring it on!”