Lewis Hamilton finished third in the Belgian Grand Prix, behind Felipe Massa and Nick Heidfeld, after a Stewards’ decision that imposed a 25sec time penalty on him. The team has registered its intention to appeal this decision. Heikki Kovalainen retired on the final lap due to a gearbox failure. Both drivers were on two-stop strategies. In addition, Heikki had to complete a drive-through penalty. After 13 out of 18 races, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes lies second in the Constructors’ Championship with 119 points behind Ferrari with 131 points. Lewis leads in the drivers’ ranking 76 points ahead of Felipe Massa on 74 points. Heikki is sixth with 43 points.
“That was one of the most exciting races of my whole career – it was incredibly tough. My spin on lap two put me on the back foot for the rest of the race, but I could see Kimi ahead and I was just pushing, pushing, pushing to close that gap, hoping he would catch traffic and allow me to get nearer. When the heavens opened, Kimi was a little cautious under braking and I was able to get really close. When I had a look around the outside at the chicane, we almost had an accident, and I needed to steer left to avoid him. As we crossed the start/finish line, I left him the space to get back ahead and then managed to get my car up the inside at La Source.”
“I got squeezed between two cars at the first corner, and it cost me a lot of places. But I knew I had the car to claw things back and was making good progress until I came up alongside Mark Webber at the final chicane. I knew I was faster than him, but maybe he didn’t realise I was on the inside and we touched, spinning him in front of me. That’s racing. It was a racing accident, but it earned me a drive-through penalty and knocked me back down the field. Still, my pace was good on the prime tyre, and I still managed to overtake quite a few cars. In the last few laps I thought I could take advantage of the damp conditions until I started to lose gears. In the end, the gearbox failed on the very last lap and I had to stop.”
“That was a sensational grand prix, which kept everyone on the edge of their seat, whomever they were supporting. On the second lap, Lewis made a rare mistake, dropping him to second place behind Kimi Raikkonen, whom he put under considerable pressure thereafter. But our car is slightly superior to that of our opposition in slippery conditions, so when the rain came we were reasonably confident that Lewis would be able to press home his advantage. He duly took the lead, finished first on the track, but then received a 25sec time penalty. After the race we registered our intention to appeal it. Heikki didn’t get away cleanly at the start, but then drove fast and well through the field until his charge was interrupted by the incident with Mark Webber. He was awarded a stop-go penalty, but continued to push hard until being forced to stop on the very last lap. All in all, it was a challenging race for all the drivers, all of whom handled the conditions responsibly, and both our guys showed pace and determination throughout.”
“After a thrilling race, Lewis took victory on the track which he lost following the stewards’ decision. In our opinion Lewis did not achieve this win because of an illegitimate advantage. However, we will keep our heads up. We are now looking forward to the next race in Monza on the coming weekend – we need to continue to be fully focused as nothing is decided in the World Championship yet.”