JÃ©rÃ´me D’Ambrosio finished his first home grand prix ahead of Virgin Racing team-mate Timo Glock as the Sheffield-based outfit recorded their ninth two-car finish of 2011.
D’Ambrosio was understandably pleased with how his first Formula 1 race at Spa-Francorchamps had unfolded, saying that it actually went quite smoothly.
“I'm pretty happy about my race I have to say and I was very comfortable with the car balance,” said the Belgian. “It was quite difficult at the start as there was a lot of debris and at one point I thought I had a problem but in the end it was a smooth race. It was also a bit tough in the last laps of the race trying to save fuel. It was the first time I ever had to do that so I had to try to adapt. It was something different but that's just more experience for me and it worked out okay.
“I'm very pleased how things went in my first home Grand Prix. There were quite a few incidents today so I focused on keep it nice and clean and in the end the team has another good two-car result. It's been a great way to start part two of the season.”
Glock’s race was not as incident-free as his team-mate. He locked his tyres at La Source on the opening lap and ran into the Force India of Paul di Resta. The German had to pit for a new front wing and was also given a drive-through penalty for the incident. However, thanks to a well-timed safety car, he still finished ahead of Vitantonio Liuzzi‘s HRT.
“It was a bad start to the race as I made a mistake into Turn 1,” he explained. “I hit the brakes, locked the front tyres and had no chance to avoid the crash with Paul Di Resta. Unfortunately I destroyed his car and his race a bit, so I have to say sorry for that – it was my mistake. But I got a penalty for it and had to pit to get a new front wing and check the car as it felt a bit strange after we hit.
“In the end I just tried to bring the car back home, closing the gap and overtaking one of the HRTs. I have to say the boys did a great job with the pit stops and overall I'm happy with the result.”
Team Principal John Booth praised D’Ambrosio for a good home race and said that he was particularly pleased with the reliability of both cars:
“Congratulations to JÃ©rÃ´me on a very pleasing race and solid result in his home Grand Prix. Whilst he unfortunately lost out to the HRTs at the start, he very quickly found his way past Liuzzi, and with Ricciardo's retirement his real only opposition was his team mate to the end of the race.
“Timo had a very good start but was perhaps a little ambitious with his braking for the first corner, and his ensuing coming-together with Paul di Resta meant that he had to stop for a nose change on the first lap. The Safety Car enabled him to get back into the race and, once he had overtaken Liuzzi, his race was really about trying to catch up to JÃ©rÃ´me.
“We're pleased with the reliability of both cars, however we didn't quite get our fuel consumption predictions correct from the Friday data, which meant for the second half of the race both drivers were having to work hard on their fuel saving. Again the pit crew performed well in what was quite an eventful race for them.”