Belgian F1 Grand Prix 2011: Race Report - Jenson P3, Lewis DNF (VMM)

- MP4-26A-04
- Started: 13th
- Finished: 3rd
- Fastest lap: 1m50.062s (+0.179 s, 2nd)
- Pitstops: Three: laps 3, 13 and 32 (Pri-Op-Op-Op)
- 2011 points: 149 (4th)

“It wasn’t as simple as just going from 13th to third today. At the start, somebody hit me at the rear and damaged a rear-wing endplate. At the exit of Turn One, there was debris everywhere, and somebody else’s front wing went through my front wing and sliced my right-side mirror off. I also had to make an early pitstop, so it was hardly perfect!

“The team had a look at the data and saw that the damage was manageable, so I held on for a few more laps in order to make the strategy work. Then, after that, I drove flat-out to the end of the race.

“I think everybody had an issue with the front-left tyre, so it was tricky to know when to push. But my pace was pretty good considering the damage we had, and I really enjoyed attacking and passing people.

“Our car is the best it’s been all year, and I feel better than I ever have in Formula 1. We just need to stop the little mistakes from happening so that we can win even more races.

“Hopefully, we can go out and fight for the win in Monza.”

- MP4-26A-03
- Started: 2nd
- Finished: Ret (12 laps, crash)
- Fastest lap: 1m55.647s (+5.764s,18th)
- Pitstops: One: lap 10 (Op-Op)
- 2011 points: 146 (5th)

“I was in a good position and I’d already got past one of the Ferraris, but then I was hit by Kamui [Kobayashi]. I don’t really know what happened, but I hit the wall pretty hard and my race was immediately over. I was ahead, so I don’t know why I got hit.

“There have been quite a few races this year where we’ve not finished, and this is another – but that’s motor racing.

“At least our pace was reasonably good this weekend, so let’s hope we can win more races in the remainder of the season.”

Team Principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

“Jenson drove a dazzlingly impressive race today – in fact I’d say without any doubt whatsoever that he was the man of the match.

“To start from P13, then to lose a front wing and drop back to P19, and then fight all the way back to P3 at the chequered flag, on the most challenging circuit in modern-day Formula 1... well, all I can say is that it was the kind of performance that marks out a true champion.

“In particular, to hunt down and pass Fernando [Alonso] like that… again, I thought that was very, very, very impressive.

“But for our unfortunate misunderstanding in qualifying yesterday [which resulted in a P13 grid slot], I feel sure that he would have been able to mount a truly formidable challenge for outright victory here this afternoon.

“As for Lewis, I thought he was extremely unlucky to be tapped from behind by Kamui – and, as we all saw all too clearly, the result was a pretty nasty shunt. Thankfully he climbed out unhurt, which is the main thing.

“It was hugely frustrating for us – of course it was – but that’s motor racing and all we can do now is draw a line under it and move on.

“Looking forward to the Santander Italian Grand Prix in two weeks’ time, then, we’re focusing on the positives. Our car and our drivers showed strong pace throughout this weekend, and we’ll be aiming to convert that speed into victory at Monza.

“As for the world championship(s), all we can do is focus all our efforts on trying to win as many of the remaining seven grands prix as we possibly can.

“As I often say, it’s still mathematically possible, which means it’s still possible.”

* Official photos and report courtesy of VODAFONE MCLAREN MERCEDES *

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