Bruno Senna was left to wonder what might have been after he caused a first corner accident that ended Jaime Alguersuari‘s race and earned the Brazilian a drive-through penalty in his grand prix debut for Renault .
The former HRT driver had qualified in an excellent seventh place for the Belgian Grand Prix but he spent most of the race trying to catch the rest of the field after out-braking himself in La Source.
“[The mistake] cost me the chance of really causing a stir at the top end for the remainder of the race,” said the 27-year-old. “Firstly I would like to say sorry to Jaime for that. I made a mistake in the braking area, so that meant I slipped back and couldn't compete where I wanted to; this left me quite lonely at the back for a while!
“However, once I'd paid the price with the drive through penalty I was able to start making some progress and my race pace was actually quite strong, so I kept pushing and was pleased with how I drove from then on. Obviously I would like to have finished higher, considering my grid position, but I've now got a good pace to build on and take me through to Monza, which is another of my favourite tracks. We'll sit down and learn where we can improve but the foundations are there.”
Team-mate Vitaly Petrov finished ninth, one place higher than where he started the race, scoring two points. The Russian did have to nurse his car home towards the end of the race, and came to a halt just as he crossed the finishing line, but is very encouraged by the progress that Renault have made over the summer.
“I think we've made a big step forward with the car, and you can see that I was in top ten contention for all of the race – and close to the Mercedes – so we need to keep working in this direction,” he said. “Our strategy was good, however we lost out on our top speed which meant I found it very difficult to overtake.
“The car was very strong on the corners, and we were very good on the brakes until I had issues at the end. For the final laps I was driving differently to compensate for the brake concerns, but unfortunately I spun right at the end as I had totally lost my front brakes. Looking at the performance of the weekend, overall I'm quite happy.”
Renault team principal Eric Boullier was able to take plenty of positives from the weekend at Spa-Francorchamps, despite the issues that each driver suffered on race day.
“I take mixed feelings from today because we suffered from a difficult first corner, which prevented us from scoring more points, Having said that, both Vitaly and Bruno drove a respectable race from this point on, and ensured we would take something away from this weekend,” Boullier said.
“Importantly, we have at least returned to the points with Vitaly's ninth position. It's good to see that we've improved our pace, and there are clear indications that some of our vigour has re-emerged following some tricky races recently. This weekend has acted as a real building block for Monza, and I'm glad to say that spirits are higher than they have been for a while.”