The Scuderia Ferrari team saw both drivers have competitive weekends at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium, with Kimi Raikkonen beating team-mate Fernando Alonso for the first time in 2014. Raikkonen finished in fourth, while Alonso took seventh.
Raikkonen had his best result of the season so far, taking fourth, and only missing out on a podium when the Mercedes-powered Williams of Valtteri Bottas got passed his fellow Finn near the end of the race. He was happy to finally get a clean race after suffering many issues this season, and for the first time in 2014 finished ahead of his team-mate.
“We had decided to tackle this race more aggressively, making an early stop to get ahead of the cars that had yet to pit and that meant I was able to stay with the leaders for much of the race,” said Raikkonen. “When Bottas in the Williams began to close on me, I knew I didn’t have the speed to defend on the straight and with a few laps to go, he managed to pass me.
“In general, I’m happy with how this weekend ended. We knew it would not be easy on this circuit, but we did our utmost and for the first time, we managed to have a clean race without any problems. The car has improved and today the pace was good. Fourth place shows we are going in the right direction, but it doesn’t mean we can settle for that. Today, we scored a good number of points, but we are here to win and we will continue to work to reach the top.”
Team-mate Alonso had a less straightforward race, incurring a five-second penalty after his mechanics were still on the grid replacing a battery on his car after the fifteen-second warning was given before the formation lap, a penalty that the Spaniard feels cost him the opportunity of a better result than seventh. He was embroiled in a good battle with the McLaren’s of Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button, plus the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel, but ultimately lost out to them all.
“Today my race started on the back foot as the car did not fire up and we had to use another battery,” stated Alonso. “It’s a shame because we had a strong pace all weekend and, starting fourth, we could have finished on the podium. With a penalty to take and on a circuit where top speed is our weak point, we knew we didn’t stand much of a chance, but all the same we did our best.
“Unfortunately, towards the end there was some rather questionable driving and after my front wing was damaged in a coming together with Vettel, the important thing was to get to the chequered flag. I know the Stewards acted on what happened, but I don’t think it’s that important when you are fighting for sixth and seventh places.
“Now we must look ahead and prepare for Monza. Even if it’s a track that won’t suit our car, it’s our home race. We will have the support of all the fans and so it’s a race where we want to do better. Let’s hope we succeed in that.”
Technical Director Pat Fry considered the result in Spa could have been so much better than just fourth and seventh and believed a podium could have been achieved, at least with Alonso. The procedure that left Alonso delayed on the grid and therefore heading for a penalty cost them dearly, and he was knows that procedure needs to change. He is hoping the upward swing of the performance of the car continues however, as F1 heads next to the team’s home race in Italy.
“Fourth and seventh places can’t be seen as satisfactory, especially given that circumstances today meant we could have delivered more as a team,” insisted Fry. “Clearly, Fernando’s penalty, because of a problem with the charge from the external battery we use on the grid, cost him the chance of fighting for a place on the podium and from this incident we must learn to improve our procedures.
“From then on, his race was compromised and whatever strategy we went for would have seen him in traffic: that’s how it turned out and unfortunately, he suffered a lot behind Magnussen, who could count on better straight line speed. Despite this, Fernando pulled off several overtaking moves and drove a great race. It’s a shame about the contact with Vettel at La Source, which cost him places right at the end.
“Kimi ran a clean race and we are pleased his feeling with the car is improving. It was precise and he made no mistakes: we came close to a third place with him, which he maybe deserved.
“Now we will continue to develop the car to give both our drivers an ever more competitive package, even if we have to be realistic when it comes to the rest of the season. Monza will be a very tough race, but there too, we will try and get the maximum out of our available package.”
Team Principal Marco Mattiacci was happy to see Raikkonen have a good race in Belgium, but was disappointed with Alonso’s race being compromised so early on, and appreciates that the team’s attention to detail and procedures needs to be looked at.
“We are very pleased for Kimi: today, he came close to the podium and scored his best result of the season, a result which sees us maintain third place in the Constructors’ classification,” remarked Mattiacci. “Unfortunately, Fernando’s race was compromised by a problem at the start. Without that, I firmly believe the podium was within his reach. We know we have missed out on a great opportunity, but we will learn from this incident to pay obsessive attention to our procedures, as we strive to improve reliability.
“The next race will be complicated because top speed is a strong point of the Mercedes-powered teams. We will try and defend with every means available, because the efforts of the team in terms of improving the car are producing encouraging signs.”