Seb Races to Dominant Spa Victory

SPA-FRANCOCHAMPS, Belgium – Sebastian Vettel powered to a commanding win at the Belgian Grand Prix to extend his lead in the Drivers’ Championship to 46 points over Fernando Alonso, who finished second ahead of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.

After narrowly losing out to Hamilton in the battle for pole position on Saturday, Seb wasted no time in taking his revenge at the start and using the tow from the Mercedes the championship leader darted past the Briton as the pair made their way up the Kemmel Straight.

With the lead his, Seb was unstoppable. He lost P1 only briefly, following his first pit stop on lap 14, but even then Seb was able to rejoin in second and forced his way back to the front on the same lap, passing leader Jenson Button, who had yet to pit.

Thereafter the championship leader and his RB9 didn’t miss a beat and Seb was able to stretch his lead over second-placed Alonso to 16.8 seconds by the time he took the checkered flag, claiming his fifth win of the season.

“I don’t think we expected to be dominant here, and it surprised all of us actually; it's a great result,” said Seb afterwards. “I think we knew going into the race that our race pace, compared to Mercedes, maybe gave us a little in hand, but we didn't know where we were compared to the others, especially Ferrari, and Lotus looked very quick in dry conditions also.

“It wasn't clear if the rain was going to come at the end of the race, so we kept pushing, but the gap we had by that stage meant we were able to control the race from there and the last couple of laps weren't too stressful.”

Mark, meanwhile, was involved in an altogether tougher race. After a difficult start from third on the grid, the Aussie slipped to sixth on lap one. He quickly passed Button to claim P5 and set off after Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg.

That was the start of a race-long battle between the pair but though the gap dropped to as low as half a second at one point during the race, Mark could find no way past and had to settle for fifth place.

After the race Mark admitted he had been concerned about the start even before lining up on the grid.

“The two practice starts before the race weren’t great and so we were a bit worried about the clutch going to the start, which put us on to the back foot,” he said. “We tried our best, but lost a couple of rows off the line which is not good.

“We then had to try and clear people on the track, which was difficult, as we had set up the top gear to race in clean air, rather than to pass,” he added. “The bad start put us out of position and it snowballs from there, as you use up the tires trying to getting to back into position.”

Team Principal Christian Horner, meanwhile, admitted that Seb’s victory had been virtually sealed on lap one.

“It was a fantastic win for Sebastian and the team, which came down to the first lap,” he said. “He had an average start, but managed to position himself well going through the first corner and he knew that the first run through Eau Rouge up the hill was going to be critical. He went for it, got in the tow and managed to make the move stick round the outside of Lewis and then got his head down and built up a great lead.

Of Mark’s race he said that even after the clutch trouble, the Australian had endured a tough race behind Rosberg.

“We did our best to tidy it up but he conceded a place to Rosberg off the start,” said Christian. “Once he was compromised in his positioning within the pack, he wasn’t able to get a clean run through La Source and Alonso managed to get a run on him down the hill and pass him into Eau Rouge.

“Thereafter it was a matter of trying to find a way through, past the Mercedes and Ferrari ahead, but unfortunately whenever we got close enough we seemed to lose aero performance and so Mark couldn’t get close enough to make a move. We didn’t come here expecting to win today, so it’s great to get a victory to start the second half of the season.”

Behind Mark, Button finished sixth ahead of Ferrari’s Felipe Massa. Romain Grosjean took eighth place, and with Adrian Sutil ninth for Force India, the final points place went to Daniel Ricciardo.

The Australian climbed from 19th on the grid to claim tenth at the end, thanks to a good strategy that saw him take medium tires on lap 33 with the result that good pace at the end allowed him to pass McLaren’s Sergio Perez with four laps to go.

Seb’s victory means he extends his lead in the Drivers’ Championship and with 197 points on the board he now has a 46-point advantage over Alonso, who has 151. Hamilton is third with 139 points.

In the Constructors’ battle, we now have 312 points, 77 clear of Mercedes who, with 235, move into second place, ahead of Ferrari who have 218.

Car 1 Sebastian Vettel, Finish Position: WINNER, Start Position: 2nd
“I don’t think we expected to be dominant here, and it surprised all of us actually; it's a great result. I think we knew going into the race that our race pace, compared to Mercedes, maybe gave us a little in hand, but we didn't know where we were compared to the others, especially Ferrari, and Lotus looked very quick in dry conditions also. It wasn't clear if the rain was going to come at the end of the race, so we kept pushing, but the gap we had by that stage meant we were able to control the race from there and the last couple of laps weren't too stressful.”

Car 2 Mark Webber, Finish Position: 5th, Start Position: 3rd
“The two practice starts before the race weren’t great and so we were a bit worried about the clutch going to the start, which put us on to the back foot. We tried our best, but lost a couple of rows off the line which is not good. We then had to try and clear people on the track, which was difficult, as we had set up the top gear to race in clean air, rather than to pass. The bad start put us out of position and it snowballs from there, as you use up the tires trying to getting to back into position.”

Christian Horner, Team Principal
“It was a fantastic win for Sebastian and the team, which came down to the first lap. He had an average start, but managed to position himself well going through the first corner and he knew that the first run through Eau Rouge up the hill was going to be critical. He went for it, got in the tow and managed to make the move stick round the outside of Lewis and then got his head down and built up a great lead. For Mark, his clutch wasn’t good in preparation going to the grid. We did our best to tidy it up but he conceded a place to Rosberg off the start. Once he was comprised in his positioning within the pack, he wasn’t able to get a clean run through La Source and Alonso managed to get a run on him down the hill and pass him into Eau Rouge. Thereafter it was a matter of trying to find a way through, past the Mercedes and Ferrari ahead, but unfortunately whenever we got close enough we seemed to lose aero performance and so Mark couldn’t get close enough to make a move. We didn’t come here expecting to win today, so it’s great to get a victory to start the second half of the season”

Thierry Salvi (Renault)
“Spa highlights strong chassis-engine packages so winning here means perhaps more than any other circuit for the Red Bull-Renault partnership. The car has performed well all weekend, with consistently fastest end of speed straights and good traction in the corners. Congratulations to Seb for his second win in three years here and to Mark for a solid fifth. Getting this result here looks good for the next race in Monza.”

 

 

 

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