Team reaction after the Belgian GP (part 2)

Toro Rosso, Force India, Williams, Lotus, Virgin Racing & HRT F1

By Franck Drui

29 August 2010 - 17:13
Team reaction after the Belgian GP (…)

Toro Rosso Ferrari

Jaime Alguersuari: “I have had a good weekend and already I was happy with my performance in qualifying yesterday while today, I had the most exciting race of my career. It was very difficult to make the right call on tyre choice. I think that within our team’s potential, today’s performance was not too bad and I am delighted to have picked up another point. I can’t wait for Monza now and the chance to put on a good show for all the people from our factory who will be there to watch the race.”

Sebastien Buemi: “I managed to get a very good start, but then at the first corner, someone ran into me, which cut my left rear tyre and damaged the diffuser, so I tried all sorts of things like locking the differential and changing the front wing settings to compensate, as I was oversteering a huge amount. It cost me a lot in terms of pace, because at times the car was undriveable. So unfortunately, I could not do better than this, which is a shame, as this was a race where I could have been in the hunt for points. That’s racing.”

Franz Tost: “A fantastic Formula 1 race from start to finish, with some great battles throughout the field and then, as usual in Spa, the rain played its part, coming and going, causing some interesting scenarios. Both our drivers made a good start, but unfortunately, Buemi was hit by someone which damaged his left rear tyre and he had to pit and then he lost more time coming in for the intermediate tyres. We assume that the collision also damaged his floor, which compromised his performance for the rest of the race. Jaime drove a good race, however his first stop for intermediates was unnecessary, but everyone can be clever with hindsight. Without this extra visit to the pits, he could have finished higher up the order, securing a really good result, because his pace was fantastic, with good lap times. In the closing stages, he also did a very good job of defending his position against Liuzzi, who had the advantage of being on extreme rain tyres, while Jaime was on the intermediates. It’s nice to pick up a point, generally our performance level was not bad, so now let’s see what we can do at our home race in Monza.”

Force India Mercedes

Adrian Sutil has finished a scintillating Belgian Grand Prix in fifth position, his first points scoring finish since the British Grand Prix and his best result of the season since the Malaysian Grand Prix. Tonio Liuzzi came home in 11th position, less than one second from tenth, despite having his front wing knocked off by Sebastian Vettel while in the hunt for points. The result moves Force India 17 points clear of Williams in the constructors’ championship and Adrian into ninth position in the drivers’ title race.

When rain fell just two laps into the race Adrian stayed clear of the ensuing chaos and remained out on dry tyres despite a safety car period. On the restart Adrian was able to jump ahead of the Williams of Hulkenberg into seventh and when Vettel and Button collided he was elevated to fifth. He pitted for hard tyres on lap 21 but was able to cruise past Kobayashi and then Schumacher to regain fifth. On lap 35 heavy rain started to fall and Adrian pitted for intermediate tyres. When Alonso spun on lap 38 another safety car period was called, allowing the German to move closer to the leaders. He finished the 44 lap race only nine seconds from eventual winner Lewis Hamilton.

Tonio made a great start from P12 on the grid and was running in ninth until his first stop on lap ten. He left the pits in 13th and gradually worked his way back up the field to close on the points. However on lap 25 Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, who had earlier become embroiled in several on track accidents, knocked into the side of the Italian and clipped his front wing. Tonio returned to the pits for a nosechange and dropped down to 14th. When the rain arrived he pitted for extreme tyres and gave a spirited drive to move back up to 11th by the chequered flag.

Adrian Sutil: Another fifth place so I am very pleased as I started in P8. I think that was the best we could do. It was very tricky conditions out there and you never knew what would happen with the weather. When the rain came it was sometimes light in places and heavy in others and I had to really concentrate to drive it home safely. Of course I was racing closely so I had to keep pushing, particularly after the safety car periods when the field bunched up, so we had some great racing and overtaking. The upgrades worked well and we can still improve - it was just the start of the development, which looks good for the next race in Monza as well.

Tonio Liuzzi: It was a tough race and it was a shame we couldn’t get any points here today. We had a good start but I suffered a lot of front and rear graining on the soft compounds early on and also some damage to the front wing. We decided to pit earlier and do a long stint with the hard tyres and it was a pretty good decision as we had a good pace on this set and were in P11, not that far from getting into the points. But then Vettel tried to overtake me at the last corner and took my front wing off and that cost us points in this race. We lost more than 30secs changing the wing and without this I am pretty sure we could have finished in eighth or higher. But the race pace was still good, the car has been consistent and better than it has been all weekend so we could be proud of that. I’m now looking forward to my home race in 15 days time in Italy.

Otmar Szafnauer, chief operating officer: We’re obviously very pleased to be back in the points again today. Both drivers demonstrated a strong race pace and we worked well as a team monitoring the changeable weather conditions. Tonio was unlucky to miss out on the points due to losing his front wing when Vettel ran into him. The points are crucial for the championship at the moment and the pace also bodes well for Monza in a couple of weeks’ time.

Williams Cosworth

After demonstrating pace on track and confident weather management from the pitwall on Saturday, race day did not run so smoothly for the AT&T Williams team. Rubens was an early casualty on the opening lap; as the sole top ten runner starting the race on the harder prime tyre, he hit a wet patch of track under braking into turn 18, colliding with Alonso’s Ferrari and retired early with car damage from his 300th race. Team-mate Nico Hulkenberg took up the mantle, but before the first pitstop window, lost full throttle control which triggered a series of difficult pitstops, challenging car control in changeable weather and constant revisions to tyre plans on the pitwall. Despite a number of considered gambles to retrieve position, he finished a difficult day in P14.

Nico Hulkenberg: Pretty early on in the race I had a throttle control problem which made the car very difficult to handle, so we made an unscheduled stop, but the engine died in the box and had to be re-started. As a result I dropped position and then had to cope in the rain without the full engine control, which caused some spins. We took some tyre gambles at the end to try and recover something.

Rubens Barrichello: Despite my experience, it was very difficult to know how wet the track was on the opening lap, but it was fully wet when I came into Blanchimont. I was closing the door on Rosberg and when I touched the brakes, even though it was quite early, it wasn’t sufficient to stop the car. The car went straight on into Alonso, for which I’m sorry. It’s also sad for the team. We’ve had such a positive weekend that a good result would have been a nice conclusion. Despite not having a good outcome in my 300th race, I’m confident we will go well in the 301st!

Sam Michael, Technical Director: Today was not a good day with Rubens out on the first lap and Nico had a control system problem that compromised the driveability and caused the engine to cut in his pitstop. So looking forward, our pace is improving and we will perform better in the forthcoming races.

Lotus Cosworth

The Belgian Grand Prix at Spa lived up to all expectations and produced an incident packed race that saw Lotus Racing again finish ahead of their nearest rivals. Heikki Kovalainen recovered from a slow start to finish 16th, and Jarno Trulli crossed the line in 19th, a spin late on dropping him back a few places after he had put in a very strong performance in the constantly changing weather conditions.

Heikki Kovalainen: “I had a bit of a problem at the start when the engine bogged down, and I activated the anti-stall, but I was already being passed by the time I could get up to speed. The rain had started and unfortunately I damaged my front wing in the last turn so I had to pit. We took a gamble with the inters but the rain stopped, so I had to come back in and I lost out to the group ahead of me. After that it was a question of doing the best job I could, and keeping us in with a chance of taking advantage of the rain at the end, and as it turned out we managed to pick up a few places at the end and finish 16th.”

Jarno Trulli: “It was pretty exciting out there, an eventful race where lots of things happened, but that’s normal for Spa! At the start I went wide to avoid Heikki and unfortunately was overtaken by a couple of other cars. After that I was struggling a bit in the early stages with my rear tyres overheating – fortunately they came back so I could started pushing and managed to pull away from the guys behind, so that was a good stint until the rain came. I had quite a big margin over my nearest competitor so I was looking pretty good, but then the safety car came out. At the restart I was following the other cars but obviously the visibility was very poor and I made a bit of an error on a high speed corner, touched the white line with the rear end of the car and it just slipped away from me, which meant I lost places. I continued, but then the race was over from there. I’m glad we got both cars home, and it’s good to see we’ve still got an advantage over our nearest rivals, so bring on Monza!”

Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer: “An exciting race and a typically eventful one here in Spa. Neither driver had a great start which meant we lost a few places, and Heikki had a problem when the rain started. We changed him onto intermediates, but were then a little slow in changing him back, but he drove a great race, and was quick at the end in the wet conditions, and he again brought us home best of the new teams. Jarno drove a strong race. He struggled initially with the tyres, but in the middle part of the race his pace was very strong, and it’s just a shame that he had a spin in the difficult wet conditions as it would have been nice to have had both cars finish ahead of the other new guys. But despite that, both cars finished and overall this has been a good weekend for the whole team.”

Riad Asmat, Chief Executive Officer: “I feel great. I think we achieved what we wanted to do – we got both cars home and we’re still ahead of the other new teams. It’s a bit unfortunate that Jarno spun out, but it’s all part of racing. He recovered well and I think we’ll all move on from this point and feel confident we can put in a good performance in Monza, and the remaining races. I think the team did great today and there was maximum effort involved, so well done to everyone. The rain of course threw everything out of sync, but we survived it today and we’re really happy.”

Virgin Racing

Spa Francorchamps delivered an exciting race as usual, and the new teams were racing closely throughout the entire race.

The sun was shining while the cars were on the grid, but no sooner had they set off than rain began to fall. The choice whether to stay out or pit for wet tyres was a tricky one, and Timo opted for wets as he had to pit for a new nosecone after taking avoiding action to miss Rubens Barrichello. Lucas, on the other hand, stayed out on slicks.

The track dried quickly and Timo was soon in for slicks again, leaving him in a strong position if the track stayed dry as he no longer had to change tyres. Lucas was hot on the heels of Jarno Trulli for the entire race, and when the rain came again on lap 35, Timo chose extreme wets and Lucas made a late call for the intermediates. A few laps later the safety car came out for a second time, and an exciting finish looked in prospect.

At the restart, Lucas was forced to give way to Heikki Kovalainen who looked to have all four wheels off the circuit, but both Virgin Racing cars gave chase and finished strongly. At the flag, Lucas was 17th and Timo was directly behind him.

Timo Glock, Race Driver: “Quite an eventful race, I have to say. I got a good start but again someone pushed me off the track and I lost two places. Then when Barrichello and Alonso had their incident I had to go wide and I went through the 50 metre board and damaged my front wing. I had to pit straight away and I lost quite a lot of time to the others. I then had to catch up to Trulli and Lucas again and at the end I took the gamble of having wet tyres which didn’t pay off and the rain came just too late - I’ve been too unlucky in the races this year. They were difficult conditions over the weekend, which made for quite an interesting race. It paid off for us in qualifying but not in the race.”

Lucas di Grassi, Race Driver: “A very good race overall. I’m very pleased with my drive and the team did a great job. They were very difficult driving conditions due to the weather changing so much from dry to half wet to full wet during a whole race. The team did a great job calling me at the correct moment and choosing the correct tyres. From my point of view it is very clear that Kovalainen cut the chicane at turn 5 and we have brought this to the attention of the race officials. Hopefully we will know more about this soon.”

John Booth, Team Principal: “I’m very pleased with how the whole team worked over the weekend. We had a massive effort to get Timo’s car ready yesterday, and to have both cars run so strongly to the finish demonstrates how far we have come and that we have earned our right to be on the grid. Both Lucas and Timo drove great races, the pitstops went perfectly and I’m very proud of our teamwork. We leave here in a very positive mood and looking forward to a good result in Monza.”

Nick Wirth, Technical Director: “An exciting and eventful race for us. We had gambled on a high downforce strategy hoping for a very wet race, but ultimately the rain didn’t fall in sufficient quantity for our gamble to fully pay off. Timo was unlucky to lose his front wing and we were forced to pit, but a replacement was not to the same specification because his spare wing was broken in his crash on Friday. Despite this he did a good job catching up with Lucas and Jarno. Unfortunately when the rain came Timo gambled to come in early and fit full wets which just didn’t work out for him. On the other hand Lucas’s race was smooth and it was another great performance for a rookie in very tricky conditions. We’re pleased to get both cars to the finish strongly and let’s hope for better luck in the final European race in Monza.”

HRT F1 Cosworth

After an eventful and thrilling race, Hispania Racing, HRT F1 Team left Spa-Francorchamps with mixed emotions after a positive start to the weekend, as yesterday, the Spanish team was able to achieve its best result in a qualifying session so far this season. Bruno Senna had to retire after getting off to a good start due to a suspension failure on the rear left of his car. His teammate Sakon Yamamoto was able to cross the finish line for the second time in a row this season and ended up in 20th position.

Dr Colin Kolles, Team Principal: “It was a turbulent and difficult race today with changing conditions. We started on dry tyres and Sakon Yamamoto was in 13th position in the first laps. Bruno Senna got his front wing damaged in the first lap and so we had to change it in his pit stop, when he also went on intermediate tyres. Unfortunately, his rear left suspension failed and he had to retire early in the race. Later, heavy rain was expected and Sakon changed to wet tyres in his second pit stop. I want to thank the mechanics, who did a good job this weekend, especially in the pit stops. Now, we have to focus on the next round in Monza and we hope to show a good performance again.”

Sakon Yamamoto, Race driver: “A lot happened in the race, where I had a good start and I could win some positions. It was difficult to push on the option tyres, so we changed on the primes. At the end of the race, the rain came back and we needed to change the tyres and played it as a gamble and changed to wets. With the low intensity in the beginning of this rain shower, the tyres got used too hard and started to grain. So, I lost a bit of performance when the rain was heavy. But I am happy and I want to thank the team for being able to finish the tough race again.”

Bruno Senna, Race driver: “It was a bit of an unlucky race for us unfortunately. We had a really good start, probably the best we’ve done. But then into the first corner it got a bit tight, they got my front wing broken. So we came in and put the intermediate tyres which we need to change back after one lap as the rain stopped. One lap later, the rear left suspension failed. So we had everything going against us today. But this is how it goes in motor racing, we just have to look forward to Monza and hopefully it will be better there.”


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