Seb wins in Belgium, Kimi unlucky to be hit at start
And that makes five. Five wins so far this season for Seb Vettel and Scuderia Ferrari, who had not won in Belgium since 2009. Seb has closed the gap in the Drivers’ championship to 17 points, while the Scuderia has lost a further 5 in the Constructors’ because of Kimi’s retirement, after he was hit by Ricciardo at the start. He could have got a great result given the pace of the SF71H, even though he was starting from the third row of the grid. And now we come to Monza.
FILM OF THE RACE . Seb was second on the grid, with Kimi sixth. The start went off normally, but a McLaren was soon flying through the air: it was Alonso, who had been hit by Hulkenberg. Other cars were also damaged and Kimi came on the radio to say he had a right rear puncture (probably after colliding with Ricciardo.) But at this point, all eyes were on the leaders as Sebastian immediately got past Hamilton on the Kemmel climb, to take the lead. Immediately after that, the Safety Car came out. The number 7 car pitted to fit the Medium tyres, showing signs of some damage to the floor and bodywork.
Four laps went by before the restart, when Vettel fought off the advances of his pursuers and was able to build a slight lead. However, his team-mate was struggling to drive his damaged car and returned to the pits to check the damage while work was done on the front wing. But it was all in vain and he was soon back to park up in the garage and retire.
The two leaders were lapping at almost identical pace and the two teams watched one another, waiting for the pit stops to begin. Hamilton was the first to come in at half distance, fitting the Softs. Seb stepped up the pace, prior to pitting. He also went for the yellow tyres and the driver congratulated the team on its perfect work, as he emerged still leading the race by 1”9. On lap 25, Seb a fastest lap.
With 15 laps to the flag, the Ferrari led by over 4 seconds and the key would be tyre management, but the battle was far from over. On lap 35, it was time to lap the backmarkers. There were five laps to go, the gap was 7” and growing. David Sanchez, the head of the aerodynamic engineers was sent up to the podium. “Great job everyone,” said Maurizio by way of words of thanks.
“That was a fantastic win today, with a great race from Seb and the whole team which, both at the track and back in Maranello, fought back from yesterday’s difficulties in a strong, calm and determined manner, while the car showed all its potential. What happened to Kimi is a real shame and, but for that, we might have had even more to celebrate and the Constructors’ classification would look a bit different. Now, the important thing is to carry on working with determination and humility, without ever giving up. Now we come to Monza and right from Wednesday, we will get the chance to get close to our fans during the event at Darsena di Milano. I am sure that will be able to count on the support of all our tifosi, as the championship goes on, getting more and more interesting. We hope that, come the end of the year, we can give them something to really smile about.”
“I’m very happy because we had a great race, the car now has proved to be robust on all tracks and this weekend we got a little more power from the new engine, which I think also helped us down the straights. At the start I tried to stay close to Lewis, getting a good exit out of Turn 1 and then taking advantage of the slipstream to get past. After the Safety car pulled out, it was just the other way round, so I looked after the exit of Turn 1 to stay ahead. The first stint was very close, only a couple of seconds between us; but then the guys did a fantastic pit-stop, I could not believe the light had turned green so fast, and that gave our rivals no chance. The second stint was ore about managing the car and the tires for both of us. This is a great win for the whole team and hope in Monza it will be the same, but we need to keep fighting to be always up there.”
“I don’t know what happened at the start: the only thing I know is that somebody hit me from behind and straight after that I got a puncture. I had a lot of damage to the rear wing endplate and the floor; at that point I could not go fast and the DRS stayed open all the times, it was hard to remain on track. It was pointless to continue, the damage was too big, so we decided to go back to the garage.”