Belgian GP – A zero that hurts for Alonso. Massa a great fifth
Only ten points for Scuderia Ferrari at the end of the Belgian Grand Prix, thanks to a fifth place for Felipe Massa, who staged a great climb up the order, after securing fourteenth place on the grid in yesterday’s qualifying. Fernando Alonso’s race lasted just a handful of metres, 290 to be precise. The Spaniard was hit very hard, first by Grosjean and then by Hamilton. After twelve Grands Prix, Fernando still leads the Drivers’ classification, although his advantage has been reduced significantly to just 24, while Felipe has moved up to eleventh. The Scuderia is still fourth in the Constructors’ ranking, but has lost ground to those in front.
Stefano Domenicali: “First, the good news: Fernando is fine. All of us and I think also all Ferrari fans went through a heart-stopping moment after the accident, especially as we could not communicate with him. Only when we saw him emerge from the cockpit could we let out a first sigh of relief and then we began to breathe normally when we saw him make it back to the garage. Clearly, after that came the great disappointment at what had happened at the start, because it was within our ability to get the podium finish that was our target after yesterday. Today, the F2012 had a good pace, as Felipe demonstrated, driving a great race. We are happy for him, because a good result is just what was required at this point of the season. As for the accident, I can only say that the judgement falls to the FIA: what is certain is that, it would be better if, starting with the junior formulae, rules relating to on-track behaviour were enforced in an inflexible manner, so as to have drivers as well prepared as possible when they reach this, the highest level of motor sport. My duty, as head of the team is to ensure everyone focuses on their own tasks, especially at difficult times: therefore now we must quickly put this day behind us and look to the next Grand Prix, the one in Monza, a track that is particularly dear to us.”
Felipe Massa: “It was a nice race and fifth place is a great result, if you think of where I started. At the start, I managed to pass both Red Bulls, but then I had to move right over to the left side to avoid the tangle of cars that included Fernando and I lost almost all the ground I had made up in the opening metres. I am very sorry about what happened to my team-mate, because I think he could indeed have got a good result, given the race pace we had. It’s true that also today, I was suffering a lot in the second sector but in the first and third I was very quick. The one stop option was not practicable for us, so we made the right choice, managing to be very quick when we really needed to be. I don’t know if this race changes anything regarding my future, but I am very satisfied, just as I was very disappointed yesterday afternoon, because on this track, I have always gone very well. Now we go to Monza, our home race: the track is different to all the others and so it is very difficult to predict what the hierarchy might be among the teams. Of course it would be wonderful to be competitive and get a great result in front of our fans who, I’m sure of it, will show us their passionate support.”
Fernando Alonso: “I’m fine, except my left shoulder hurts a bit: I went to the medical centre immediately after the accident but everything is alright, the pain only comes from the whiplash. I had no idea what happened: I had overtaken the two Saubers when I felt as though I had been run into by a train! Immediately after the impact, I stayed in the cockpit for a few seconds, but then there was the start of a fire and the foam from the extinguishers meant I couldn’t breathe. I tried to tell the team on the radio that I was alright, but I couldn’t. Now I can say that, given the misfortune of having had an accident like this, I am lucky to be able to get back in the car in just a few days. The level of safety of these cars is very high and today we saw further proof of that. I am not angry with Grosjean, he definitely didn’t do it on purpose: it was a case of me being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Rather, I think that certain drivers should try and take fewer risks at the start: it’s a bit of a tendency currently in the junior formulae, but it would be better, if right from the start of their career, they got used to respecting more strictly the rules relating to behaviour on track. What happened is a shame, because I think a podium was indeed within my reach, especially when you see what Felipe demonstrated on track. Today we paid a high price through bad luck and luck owes us now: let’s see what happens in the rest of the season. We lost a bit of the advantage we had over Vettel, Webber and Raikkonen, but we have lost nothing to Hamilton who, given how the McLaren went, is possibly our most dangerous rival. Now we go to Monza, Ferrari’s home race: traditionally the Reds are always strong there, so let’s hope we can have a nice weekend and give our fans something to cheer about, making up some of the advantage we lost today.”
Pat Fry: “Great regret, but equally or perhaps even more, a great relief: that would sum up our emotions at the end of this Grand Prix. The regret is down to the fact that today we could have brought home a great result in terms of the championship with Fernando, especially in the light of a great race from Felipe, who staged a strong climb up the order with some nice passing moves. Unfortunately, incidents like the one that put Fernando out of the race are part of racing, even it’s not nice to see a driver have to retire after a few metres, when both he and his team are totally blameless. The relief obviously stems from the fact Fernando is fine: it was a very risky situation and seeing one car fly over his, a few centimetres above his helmet left us with our hearts in our mouths for a few tenths of a second. What is not looking so good is his car: there will be a lot of unexpected work to do for the guys in Maranello to get it prepared for Monza! From a technical point of view, the outcome of the race shows that the McLaren is very strong on very different circuits like Budapest and Spa, therefore we still have a lot of work to do to get to their level. Red Bull too was competitive but I think that Fernando could have had the better of them if he’d raced. We now look forward to the special event that is Monza, both because it is the Scuderia’s home race and also because it is held on a track that is now unique on the current calendar in terms of its characteristics. It’s hard to say now if we will be competitive at the highest level, but clearly we will do all in our power to succeed.”
Driver Pos. Time Gap Laps FL L
Massa 5th 1:29.38.375 + 29.845 44 1.53.464 44
>Alonso R – – 1 – –
Weather: air 19/20°C, track 29/31 °C. Sunny.
Chassis: Alonso 296, Massa 294.
Belgian GP – The curse of the carambolage at the start: Alonso KO’d, Massa fifth
Francorchamps, 2 September – Fernando Alonso’s Belgian Grand Prix came to a premature end, as he was caught up in an incident at the infamous first corner, La Source. He took a bad knock, but fortunately he was uninjured. A flying start from fifth saw the Scuderia Ferrari man make up one place, but a few moments later came a multi-car pile up, which might have been caused by Grosjean’s Lotus. Hamilton in the McLaren and Perez in the Sauber also saw their race end there and Alonso could do nothing to avoid the mele, which completely destroyed the back end and the side of the F2012. In the other Ferrari, Felipe Massa had a better time, driving a great race, moving up from 14th to fifth by the end. The Brazilian had a close fight with Webber in the Red Bull, beating him to what could be an important position in view of the championship, where it definitely benefits his team-mate. Jenson Button drove an impeccable race, leading from pole and never headed on his way to the flag. On the podium with him were second placed Vettel in the Red Bull and Raikkonen in the Lotus.