On Wednesday 15 August 2012, the message from Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali to Felipe Massa was clear:
"Felipe Massa knows what he has to do to stay at Ferrari".
Despite disappointing recent results and 139 points behind his teammate, Fernando Alonso, the Brazilian can still hope to be confirmed for the 2013 season.
"Felipe needs to maximize the performance he can do, because we need his skills behind the wheel. We need points to try and attack first place in the Constructors' World Championship, and also to take away important points from the other drivers in the race for the Drivers' World Championship".
Indeed, it is precisely in the Constructors' World Championship standings that the Maranello team urgently needs to make up ground, given that it is in fourth place, 57 points behind Red Bull Racing, which leads the standings. That's why Felipe Massa's contribution becomes fundamental at this point in the season.
"He knows he has some very important races ahead of him as a driver and for the whole team".
It will also be important to give the Brazilian a faster car.
"Yes, we need to improve the car and I'm sure he can do a good job".
Despite the words expressed by Stefano Domenicali, the situation for the second Ferrari driver in 2013 remains unclear. Both Mark Webber had been approached to the Maranello team, before being reconfirmed at Red Bull Racing, and Sergio Perez, for whom there was talk of a promotion after the two podium finishes at the beginning of the season. No acceleration in sight, according to the words of Stefano Domenicali:
"We are in no hurry to make our decision".
But Felipe Massa is not the only one to be criticized. During an interview, Michael Schumacher is asked for an opinion regarding the performance of his compatriot Sebastian Vettel in a crisis of results this year and above all, nervous on the track due to some episodes unfavorable to him. The Mercedes driver never misses an opportunity to express his opinion:
"Sebastian is a fantastic guy and a great driver who has the wind against him right now. It's a learning process. To be a good champion you also need to know how to lose. Only then do you get more respect and learn to really enjoy success".
Between the two it seems that lately there is not too much sympathy. Michael Schumacher has repeatedly criticized those who spoke of his compatriot as his heir. But this time he got away with it diplomatically. And, in any case, if he says so we can believe it.
The seven world titles are not won by chance and, even if his return to the track after returning from racing was not the best, Michael Schumacher is still the most successful of all time in Formula 1. The German praises Fernando Alonso . The Spaniard, World Champion in 2005 and 2006 with Renault, wants to drop the trio this year with Ferrari. He is currently the leader of the World Championship by 40 points over Mark Webber and 42 over Sebastian Vettel.
"He's outdoing himself. Fernando Alonso is the best. There are moments when everything works in your favor, but he's earned this position".
For his part, a very optimistic Fernando Alonso presents the next round of the Belgian Grand Prix, scheduled for Sunday 2 September 2012 on the Spa-Francorchamps circuit:
"The Spa appointment comes after a good moment and after a few weeks of rest we're at 100% batteries and therefore we hope for the best. It's always an important day, because it's one of the riders' favorite circuits and we all want to do well. Spa it's a circuit that has history behind it, then the weather conditions vary from Friday to Sunday and therefore you need specific mental preparation for this Grand Prix on a difficult track to do at the maximum".
The other Ferrari driver, Felipe Massa, is also positive. For him, the race could be decisive for staying with Ferrari for next season as well.
"After a month without racing, I'm going to the Belgian Grand Prix, which is an important race for us. A historic race in F1, on a track where I like racing the most. Let's hope for a good race".
The technical factor will also be important.
"I hope to have a competitive car and to be strong from start to finish. I hope for a good qualifying and a very competitive race on a fantastic track. Time at Spa is always important because you don't know what can happen, so I have to be ready to do a good job in whatever weather we may have".
The F1 circus is back on track in Belgium, after the long summer break. And Ferrari aims to pick up where it left off. Fernando Alonso is the leader of the World Championship. The risk is that the stop favored the opponents of the Maranello team, so the Spaniard is pre-tactical.
"When you stop for a few weeks and analyze the standings, you can think you've built a good lead, but two or three bad races could change the tide. In terms of performance, among the riders who occupy the top positions in the standings , we are objectively the slowest. We have a few points ahead in the standings, but we are behind in terms of performance. We cannot be considered the favorites in any way".
If the month off from racing seemed endless, it will be nothing compared to the intense period that the riders will have to face throughout the rest of 2012.
"Nine races in thirteen weeks are a stimulating challenge for everyone, also for the rest of the team, above all because seven of them will be outside Europe, so it will be a bit more complicated to update the car. For the drivers and for all the team members will not be easy: we will have three races every month, with time zone changes and a lot of traveling to do. Personally, I used the summer break period to do physical preparation, as if it were winter, training very hard. It's like if we had taken part in a championship that ended in July, with another that has to start now in September. I will therefore try to start from scratch, to finish in top form for the final rush".
Analyses the Spaniard:
“Performance has changed from race to race, as have the gaps and who took pole position. Last time we had a delay of about 0.8 seconds, which is a bit too much, so we will need to improve from that point of view. We'll see what happens here at Spa and Monza, which are special circuits where you race with very low downforce and anything can happen. We need to score big points. Probably the crossroads will be Singapore and Japan, by then we'll really have to reduce the 8 tenths of a gap if we want to stay in the fight with the others".
The Belgian Grand Prix will be the 300th round of the World Championship and, for the occasion, Fernando Alonso wants to pay tribute to Michael Schumacher.
"Michael will always be a point of reference. A driver who has won seven world titles, won so many races and pole positions deserves respect. He is a legend of Formula 1 and, as long as he fights on the grid with us, he will be the best and the rider I will respect and admire the most. We must all have the utmost respect for him".
For his part, Felipe Massa returns to talk about his future:
"I have no news to give you on the matter, but it's the last few races of this season that are decisive. I'll focus exclusively on getting good performances - explains the Brazilian from Ferrari - and achieving important results, because this will be the most fundamental thing when he will have to talk about my future and my contract will expire. It is certainly important that something is decided before the end of the season".
Massa then indicates his goal in the final rush of the championship:
"Having a second part of the season that is completely different from the first. This is what I set for myself and I am convinced it is possible, because we have a more competitive car and in the last few races I felt much more at ease. In any case, we still have need to improve the car, because if we experience a deadlock in terms of development, we won't be able to keep up with the pace of the others".
Precisely on the occasion of his 300th race, three days before the start of the Belgian Grand Prix, Michael Schumacher receives the honorary citizenship of Spa, where the German driver has triumphed on six occasions. Michael Schumacher says, receiving the recognition from the mayor of the Belgian town:
"It is an honor. I was already an honorary citizen of Maranello. Spa is another of my homes".
In Spa the German pilot celebrated his last World Championship victory, in 2004. Michael Schumacher considers Spa as the most beautiful circuit in the world:
"Thanks to the surrounding environment and the track which reserves several challenging points for the riders such as Eau Rouge".
After a five-week break, he starts the hunt for the leader of the World Championship again. Fernando Alonso shows up in Belgium gleaming, after a month's vacation spent running on the beach or climbing mountains by bicycle. Woe, therefore, to tell the Spanish rider that the World Championship is over:
"Because the rivals are dangerous and more than ever in the race, I'm thinking of the two Red Bulls, of Hamilton, of Raikkonen himself, we cannot afford to manage, the advantage is not enough".
Which he had also said when leaving Budapest at the end of July. And we can agree on this, but the Spaniard goes even further, almost as if he wanted to raise an alarm, and states:
"Ferrari is absolutely not the favourite, simply because we are slower than our rivals. In Hungary we were eight tenths behind, we absolutely have to reduce this gap, even if it won't be easy, because in three months we have nine races ahead of us, seven of which are outside Europe, and we will spend most of our time travelling, unable to think about development".
A pessimism that may have a logic of him, dictated by his great experience, but which finds little comfort in the rankings and which also smacks of superstition. It's true that Ferrari struggled at the beginning, and that the picture emerging from the winter tests was disarming. But it's equally true that he recovered and resumed competition, so much so that Fernando Alonso was able to win three Grands Prix. It is also true that in the last Hungarian Grand Prix, held on the tortuous Budapest track, the Spaniard was forced to run in defence and limit the damage, but the characteristics of the circuit worked against him. Spa and Monza are different tracks, as the Ferrari driver himself acknowledges:
"Anything can happen here, the important thing will be to regain competitiveness in Singapore and Japan, key points of the season".
In the meantime, however, there is the Belgian Grand Prix to be disputed, and Fernando Alonso wouldn't mind a wet race at all.
"This is a treacherous track, aquaplaning can cause great risks, there are very difficult corners, but in the rain this year we have shown that we are very strong and I prefer to play it on wet rather than dry surfaces".
Conditions that could help him, also because never before on this track, considered the university of driving, can the driver make the difference. For example, Lewis Hamilton, winner of the last race before the summer holidays, often succeeds:
"It was a decisive success, he made me understand that he was still in the running for the World Championship. But now I have to insist".
Knowing, the McLaren team says it clearly, that for now there are no team orders and that Jenson Button will be free to make his race. Team games that even Red Bull Racing can't afford, given that Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel are separated by just two points. On Thursday 30 August 2012 the reigning World Champion crowns Fernando Alonso, almost as if he wanted to sign the succession:
"He deserves to be in the lead and it will be tough to catch him".
Another assist for the Spanish pessimist, who however continues not to trust. Maybe it would take a spell to change your mind. Tearing apart the curse of Spa. And that top step of the podium that he has never seen. Friday 31 August 2012, the first day of practice is characterized by rain. In the first session the drivers prefer to wait for the final half hour to get on track. Kamui Kobayashi sets the fastest time. There were numerous mistakes made by the riders due to the imperfect track conditions, while Felipe Massa encountered an engine problem towards the end of the session. During FP1, the Spanish Dani Clos took over from Narain Karthikeyan at HRT. Furthermore, Mercedes tested the double DRS on its car, as Lotus had previously done. The mechanism provides that the air flow is discharged under the main profile of the front wing. The afternoon session was penalized even more heavily by the bad weather conditions, so much so that six drivers didn't set valid times and the most present, Nico Hülkenberg limited himself to doing only laps. Charles Pic sets the fastest time passing under the checkered flag. The first to leave the pit lane was Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes after 48 minutes. Followed shortly after by his teammate, Michael Schumacher, and gradually by the other drivers. Felipe Massa, betrayed by his engine in the first session, after having replaced the engine in the break between the two sessions, opts for a test starting from the pit-stop position also to reduce the kilometres on the extreme wet tires to a minimum which, for regulation, are limited in each Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso, on the other hand, stayed in the garage until the last minute, then carried out the same program as in the morning, leaving the pit lane only for a starting practice on the grid. For both there are just over 77 kilometres completed. This time there was no need to stay glued to the phone to find out how the two Ferraris were fighting. This time the president Montezemolo, although engaged in various operational meetings, was able to enjoy his sixty-fifth birthday in peace, so Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa were not touring. After five weeks of holidays, the battle is postponed to Saturday 1st September 2012, with the flying lap which will determine the starting grid. All teams will arrive at this important test without having collected enough data. The sensations, however. those of the first approach remain, the pessimism (perhaps superstitious of Fernando Alonso, who has never won at Spa) counterbalanced by the desire for a comeback from his rivals. It is above all Kimi Raikkonen who is impatient, who has often been a sensation in Belgium, winning four of the last seven editions of this Grand Prix. The Finn loves this track and doesn't hide it:
"I still feel like I'm in the running for the title, but I can't make any more mistakes. Here I have to win at all costs".
It would be the first success of his second career, the first time with a Lotus that was able to relaunch it and that here features the double DRS, with a considerable increase in top speed. But even Lewis Hamilton, winner in 2010, is not joking:
"I usually get excited at Spa".
And watch out for the little publicized Red Bull Racing created by Adrian Newey, who won seven times in Belgium and with three different cars (two Williams seals, four McLarens and last season with Vettel). Just the German has a sly and menacing air. First he crowns Fernando Alonso, then he warns him:
"The story isn't over, we'll see who will be in front at the end".
He has only one way to hope: to win at Spa. The morning free practice session takes place on a dry track on Saturday 1st September 2012. Bruno Senna is the first to set a significant time, then beaten by Fernando Alonso. Subsequently, the Sauber drivers improved on the time set by the Spanish driver, in turn preceded by Romain Grosjean in the Lotus and by Mark Webber. In the last attempt Fernando Alonso sets the fastest time again, followed in the standings by Kimi Räikkönen. Nico Rosberg, on the other hand, suffered from technical problems on his car, which prevented him from completing more than five laps. Such technical problems force the team to replace the gearbox early. Therefore, the German Mercedes driver will have to serve a penalty by losing five positions on the starting grid. A few hours later qualifying took place on a dry track. In the first stage Pastor Maldonado sets the fastest time. Among those eliminated, in addition to the six drivers from Caterham, Marussia and HRT, there is Nico Rosberg, who is overtaken in the very last moments of the session. Q2 is also very competitive. Reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel is also among those eliminated, along with the two Toro Rossos of Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Éric Vergne, Nico Hülkenberg, Michael Schumacher, Felipe Massa and Bruno Senna. In the decisive phase, after the first attempt Jenson Button sets the fastest time and thus conquers his first pole position since racing for McLaren. Kamui Kobayashi sets the second fastest time: for the Japanese it is the best result of his career in qualifying, as well as the first Japanese to obtain this result since the 2004 European Grand Prix, at the time since Takuma Satō. For Sauber it is the first qualifying on the front row since the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix, obtained by Robert Kubica (when it was still called BMW Sauber). Pastor Maldonado sets the third fastest time, and will start ahead of Kimi Raikkonen. Fernando Alonso is only sixth, with a time of 1'48"313: the Spaniard will however start in fifth position because Maldonado is penalized with the loss of three positions on the grid for having hindered the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg. Also Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg suffer the same fate as Pastor Maldonado, and are relegated on the starting grid, but by five positions, due to the gearbox replacement.The Australian Red Bull Racing driver, who had set the seventh fastest time, will start from twelfth position, while the German Mercedes driver will start from 23. Jenson Button is therefore satisfied, who hadn't set the best time in qualifying since 2009.
"I have to say that I haven't been in pole position for a long time, so it's something that has touched me. In recent years some races have gone well, but I didn't do the same in qualifying. It's important to come back after the summer break with such a good result".
Fernando Alonso doesn't make drama.
"Sixth place is no surprise, I'm aiming for the podium. Here in Spa, everyone fighting for the World Championship is behind. Only Kimi Raikkonen is ahead of me, so this sixth place is a little better than the others".
It's difficult, says the Spanish driver, to think about winning on a track that doesn't really favor overtaking:
"We hope to have a good pace in the race, our goal is the podium but it won't be easy to get there".
Determining whether he is more able to always get the most out of Ferrari in spite of his cosmic pessimism, or the others are more stupid to always play in his favor with an incredible collection of mistakes, is of little importance. It matters that once again, although not happy with his car ("We continue to stay away from pole, we finished sixth, we start fifth, in line with our seasonal average"), the Spaniard has a good chance of limiting the damage or even capitalizing the blender that is this year's F1, further stretching the standings. Alonso insists on the concept of him, saying:
"It can't go on like this, we can't always hope for external factors or the misfortunes of our rivals, if we want to bring home the title, we absolutely have to improve".
And he reiterates the need for performance growth, an elegant way to put pressure on the team and push it to give even more. But the situation that emerges in Belgium is different, with the most dangerous opponents twisting around themselves, giving birth to very disappointing performances. Sure, there's Jenson Button with his McLaren who suddenly became competitive, he rediscovered the pleasure of a pole position which he hadn't conquered for three years (Monaco 2009, with Brawn GB) and which he had never obtained in Belgium . But the English, who now everyone considers a super favourite. Says McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh:
"In the race he will be even more competitive".
Sure, there's Sauber, which had never gone so fast in qualifying, with the Japanese Kamui Kobayashi in the front row, and the Mexican Sergio Perez in second, but they are two Carnadians with no ambitions for a championship. Apart from Kimi Raikkonen, who moved to third place after Pastor Maldonado's penalty, whoever counts is behind. Lewis Hamilton is seventh, Sebastian Vettel tenth, Mark Webber twelfth, and this can only please Fernando Alonso.
"If I could take a picture of this ranking and find the same image again after the race, that would be fantastic".
Says the Spaniard, immediately after the battle for pole position, and still doesn't know that sixth place will turn into fifth due to the penalty inflicted on Pastor Maldonado. The gray mood however remains:
"I hope to get off to a good start, get the strategy right, but I can't hope for more than the podium".
But in the meantime, others are chasing. Lewis Hamilton, enraged, says:
"I was aiming for pole position, we made the wrong choice of rear wing".
And the disastrous Red Bull Racing, with Sebastian Vettel, eliminated in the second round (he's in the ten due to Webber's penalty), who doesn't know what happened:
"I've never been able to put together a decent lap, yet the car looked good and I didn't make any mistakes".
And with Mark Webber adding:
"I knew they would have demoted me, I was hoping for a fifth place, but I didn't have the necessary speed".
The only one of Fernando Alonso's real enemies who smiles, metaphorically speaking, is Kimi Raikkonen:
"Whoever precedes me is behind me, I can steal points from everyone".
The real theft, in a positive sense, would be winning for the fifth time at Spa. Leaving its mark on history. And in the standings. On Sunday 2 September 2012, at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix, Pastor Maldonado set off well in advance, and shortly after, Romain Grosjean closed Lewis Hamilton on the right. At the start, the Frenchman is much faster than Lewis Hamilton and, while trying to overtake him, his right rear wheel overlaps and slips on the left front wheel of the British driver's car: the latter crashes into the guardrail while the Romain Grosjean's car lifts off the ground and overturns, thus triggering a carom involving the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso, who was grazed on the helmet by the Frenchman's car, the two Saubers of Sergio Pérez and Kamui Kobayashi, and the Williams of Pastor Maldonado. The Japanese and the Venezuelan manage to continue the race but while the former will run the entire race in the rear, the latter will retire on the third lap due to a collision with Timo Glock's Marussia. The management decides to let the Safety Car enter the track, which leads the group for four laps. Alonso is thus interrupted a streak of twenty-three races finished in the points, which began in the 2011 European Grand Prix, the second longest in the history of the F1 World Championship, after Michael Schumacher's twenty-four races, between Hungary 2001 and the Malaysia 2003. At the restart, the classification sees Jenson Button leading the race, followed by Kimi Räikkönen, Nico Hülkenberg, Paul di Resta, Michael Schumacher, Daniel Ricciardo, Jean-Éric Vergne, Bruno Senna and Mark Webber. Nico Hülkenberg overtook Kimi Räikkönen at Kemmel, while Michael Schumacher moved up to fourth place over the next lap, after passing Paul di Resta. They are struggling to catch up with the Red Bulls due to a lack of top speed; Sebastian Vettel thus began to invent overtaking at the Bus Stop chicane passing first Felipe Massa and then also his teammate Mark Webber, thus climbing to ninth place. During the eleventh lap Michael Schumacher passed Kimi Räikkönen, while Paul di Resta was the first driver to pit and change tyres. During lap 12, Kimi Raikkonen, Mark Webber and Nico Hulkenberg also stopped in the pits, losing his position to the Finnish Lotus driver.
During lap 16 Heikki Kovalainen and Narain Karthikeyan risk coming into contact in the pit lane. Meanwhile, during lap 14 Sebastian Vettel also passed Bruno Senna, and during the following lap Jean-Éric Vergne also passed, thus climbing to third position, not far from Michael Schumacher, while Jenson Button remained in the lead with 15 seconds ahead of the runner-up. These three riders seem intent on making a single stop. The German Red Bull Racing driver attacked his fellow Mercedes driver at the chicane during lap 19: Michael Schumacher resisted but immediately returned to the pits, cutting off Sebastian Vettel. During lap 28, Jenson Button also made the tire change, remaining in first position, while Sebastian Vettel returned to the pits during the following lap. Halfway through the race, Jenson Button led, followed by Kimi Räikkönen, Nico Hülkenberg, Mark Webber and Felipe Massa, passed again by Sebastian Vettel on lap 24, still at the chicane. Between lap 27 and lap 29 the second series of pit stops brings Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher back to the top three positions. Back on track Kimi Räikkönen is right behind Michael Schumacher. Fifth is Nico Hülkenberg, followed by Mark Webber and Felipe Massa. In the laps that followed Kimi Räikkönen and Michael Schumacher started a prolonged battle for third place: on lap 31 the Finn passed the German at the chicane, who however regained the position the following lap at the back of Kemmel. Lotus pays for the lack of top speed. During lap 34 Kimi Räikkönen definitively took third place, thanks to an overtaking at Eau Rouge, probably favored by a problem with the Mercedes gearbox. During lap 35 Michael Schumacher made his second pit stop, dropping to seventh position. During lap 36 Felipe Massa conquered a position after passing Mark Webber under braking at the Le Combe corner, thus climbing to fifth place. Further behind, the two Toro Rossos of Jean-Éric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo both enter the top ten, overtaking Bruno Senna. Nothing more relevant happens and Jenson Button wins the Belgian Grand Prix, ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen. Nico Hulkenberg is fourth, followed by Felipe Massa, Mark Webber, Michael Schumacher, Jean-Éric Vergne, Daniel Ricciardo and Paul di Resta. Bruno Senna sets the fastest lap.
Jenson Button had virtually no rivals during the Belgian Grand Prix, leading from start to finish and breaking all his opponents' dreams of triumph with fast laps. All so to speak, because both Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso were missing, hit at the start by a terrible accident, triggered as usual by Romain Grosjean (later disqualified for one race by the race stewards). It's a shame because the Briton had an exceptional single-seater, while the Spaniard is known to be leading the World Championship and desperately needed to score points to defend his lead. But the races are like this, without mercy. Indeed, Fernando Alonso also went well because Romain Grosjean's car that hit him passed a few centimetres from his helmet, a very dangerous situation that demonstrates once again how much the driver's head is still exposed to accidents of all kinds. However, even without two great protagonists, the race did not skimp on shows (Spa is still the most beautiful track in F1 today), and behind the podium made up of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen were the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg, and a reborn Felipe Massa who kept behind Mark Webber's Red Bull Racing, making a nice gift to Fernando Alonso. Then it was the turn of Michael Schumacher's Mercedes and Jean-Eric Vergne's Toro Rosso. Ninth position for the other Toro Rosso of Daniel Ricciardo who preceded the Force India of Paul di Resta, the last car in the points. In short, a ranking that says a lot about the show because these riders fought throughout the race to conquer a place in the top ten. In particular, it's nice to see Michael Schumacher among the protagonists, author of spectacular overtaking duels. Even if to tell the truth, the best moment of the race and of the whole season saw Michael Schumacher overtaking, when Kimi Raikkonen passed him at the end of the downhill. But let's go back to the World Championship: Fernando Alonso is now always in the lead (with 164 points), but the opponents are getting closer. Sebastian Vettel is in fact at 140 points and Mark Webber at 132 points, followed by Kimi Raikkonen with 131 points. A tight ranking, which demonstrates how incredibly open this World Championship is. Sure, as things stand McLaren is scary with its incredible performances, but its unfortunate start to the season has meant that Lewis Hamilton has just 117 points and Jenson Button 101 points. Few compared to Fernando Alonso? Sure, but as Fernando Alonso explains:
"That's better. Because Vettel nearby isn't a problem: I'm much more afraid of Hamilton".
The Spaniard risked his life. He was certainly very frightened, because, as he says himself, he felt as if he were hit by a train, and it certainly isn't pleasant to see a car, Romain Grosjean's Lotus, passing over your chassis, a few centimetres away from yours. head, while another, Lewis Hamilton's McLaren, hits you from the other side. The one felt by Fernando Alonso was more than a thrill, but in the end the balance is more than comforting, small pains in the left shoulder and back, the possibility of getting back in the car immediately and participating in the Italian Grand Prix, the injury deeper that becomes anger for not having collected anything, to see the opponents, especially Sebastian Vettel, who are getting closer in the standings, while he has thrown away a splendid opportunity:
"Because I could comfortably finish second and still extend in the standings, with 18 very heavy points".
Fernando Alonso is disappointed, and his regrets overlap well with those of Ferrari. The regret is well summarized by the team principal, Stefano Domenicali:
"Because it's important that he can tell about the terrible experience, that nothing is broken, but there is no doubt that we had the potential to comfortably finish second behind Button and it is sad to see that instead we go home empty handed. The only consolation is that Massa ran a great race and demonstrated that we have improved a lot in terms of top speed. Considering that he is now going to Monza, the figure can only be interesting".
Once the dismay has been disposed of, we try to look on the positive side, but Fernando Alonso's disappointment is still evident. For him, Spa is confirmed as a cursed track, here he has never won and this year he retired, after twenty-three Grands Prix in which nothing irreparable had happened to him. To dispose of the disappointment, the Spaniard immediately looks ahead:
"From Belgium we are indebted to luck and I'm sure that in the next races it will happen to me to comment on the withdrawal of the others. I don't think Vettel, Webber, Raikkonen or Hamilton will finish all the races, they too will have to deal with fate".
In the meantime, the Spaniard has to deal with a destroyed car, a car that will have to be refurbished in record time (no problem replacing the gearbox, instead it would be annoying to remove an engine that was in its first race) and will force the mechanics to overtime. Fernando Alonso is not worried anyway.
"McLaren is going strong, luckily Button won and not Hamilton. Lewis is the most dangerous rival and remains 47 points behind".
Sebastian Vettel came close, now only 24 points behind.
"Too bad, but I fear it less".
And Romain Grosjean?
"I don't have it with him, he didn't do it on purpose. But young people should be taught to take fewer risks, starting with the minor leagues. The machines are safe now, but it's best not to tempt fate too much. I am fine. The most important thing is that in five days we will be in Monza. I just have a small back problem but it will pass".
He explains in Spanish:
"The positive thing is that the car (Grosjean's Lotus, ed) passed close to the head and hands. The negative thing is the points. We had an objective within reach, we hope to recover at Monza".
Fernando Alonso also comments on the interruption of the positive streak that had seen him score points for twenty-three consecutive races and fade the dream of surpassing Michael Schumacher's record.
"Sorry, we got there thanks to the work and reliability of the team, trying not to make mistakes. But Michael is the man of records, it's difficult to beat him. We'll try in the next twenty-four races. What changes after today's retirement? It's not a problem, it could have happened, we knew that the gap in the standings couldn't always remain more than 40 points. Looking at the last two races in which McLaren dominated, today perhaps the most dangerous could have been Hamilton but he is at 47 points, having closer Vettel maybe it's not a problem".
Our thoughts turn to the next appointment, the Italian Grand Prix:
"I'm confident, we're racing home, there's great motivation. Ferrari is always strong at Monza, we get 101%, it will be a good weekend to have the opportunity to score points".
Meanwhile, as mentioned, Jenson Button flies to the finish line and regains victory after almost six months. The Briton had achieved his last triumph at the Australian Grand Prix. And if we want, he also flies with his imagination, given that after the triumph in Belgium he feels like he's back in the running for the World Championship, despite the fact that he has 63 points to make up. Says Jenson Button, at the end of the race:
"This circuit is special for all the riders, for its history, for the route. Winning here starting on pole and staying in the lead throughout the race is incredible. It hasn't been easy, I thank the team and all the fans who have given me sustained. Before arriving at Monza I tried to enjoy myself and it went well. This circuit is really special for all the riders, its history, its layout, and staying in the lead throughout the race is something unique. It was a fantastic weekend, in a difficult year for me, I thank the team and all of you who have supported me".
Sebastian Vettel is also happy, since - having said that - second position allows him to close the gap on the leader of the World Championship:
"It was nice to be back racing like this, a great second place on this incredible circuit".
In contrast to the joy of the first is the despair of Lewis Hamilton:
"It was a bad day, and I couldn't even break a sweat. My compliments to Jenson Button on his win: he showed that we have improved and that we now have good pace with our car. I hope that the next race will go well for me too".
Despite the third place, Kimi Raikkonen says he had to face many difficulties
"It's nice to be back on this track, where I have so many fans. I really like racing here, it was a good race even if it wasn't easy for me, nor for the team. The car wasn't what we would have liked, we fought to do our best, it was one of the most difficult races but that's how it went, but we hope to do better next time".
Meanwhile, his teammate, Romain Grosjean, was disqualified by the marshals for an accident at the start.
"I apologize to everyone".
Says the French driver, who in agreement with the team will not appeal. Pastor Maldonado, on the other hand, was penalized with the loss of ten positions on the starting grid for the next Grand Prix, that of Italy. The Venezuelan is penalized by five positions for the contact with Timo Glock, in the early stages of the race, and another five positions for the jump start, which would have been sanctioned with a drive through during the grand prix, had the driver not stopped early withdrawn. Caterham are fined €10.000 for sending Heikki Kovalainen back onto the track when Narain Karthikeyan's car arrives.
No penalties were handed out to Red Bull Racing for a similar maneuver performed by Mark Webber on Felipe Massa, nor for Michael Schumacher's maneuver on Sebastian Vettel. Monday 3 September 2012 Fernando Alonso is fine, of Spa he will only be left with great fear for the narrow escape, in addition to anger at not having collected points. The Spanish driver reassures all Ferrari fans:
"This morning I woke up with no pain, I'm ready to give 200% on Sunday in Monza".
This, perhaps, will help to lighten the burden on Romain Grosjean's conscience (even Hamilton got away with a slight burn in his leg), but it doesn't take away the blame and the disqualification of the FIA, which will force Lotus to replace him on Sunday at Monza probably with the Belgian driver Jerome D'Ambrosio. Romain Grosjean is under accusation because of his reckless start and the serious error of judgment (he braked too late, assuming too much from his car and his ability to close the line before one of the most difficult corners, the Source, of the World Championship ) which unleashed the incredible carambola. The next day his morale is very low, but his newfound lucidity leads him to admit the mistake and apologize again, after he had even praised his excellent start. The 26-year-old Frenchman bows his head in front of the FIA's exemplary ruling.
"When you love racing, it's hard to watch others. It's difficult to accept a stop for a race, but I made a mistake, I have to acknowledge it. I didn't want to close Hamilton towards the wall, I was convinced I was ahead of him, that I could take the corner. We all know very well that the Source is a very insidious curve and certainly Maldonado's early departure and the smoke coming out of Kobayashi's car played against me. I misjudged the distance with Hamilton, a small mistake that ended up causing a terrible crash".
The fact remains that the small mistake, as he defines it, could have devastating consequences. Romain Grosjean is keen to clarify:
"I didn't change line, I only moved once, from left to right. They painted me as a foolish driver, but my job is certainly not to destroy my race and that of the others at the first corner. I'm sorry, I'm glad no one got hurt. But I do not accept that I am defined as too aggressive. Of course, I've made a mistake too many times, six, seven, it doesn't matter, even two would already be too many and I hope this won't happen again. However, I must also recognize that with current cars you can't see well in the mirrors, you risk losing the global picture".
Having ended up in the eye of the storm, however, does not leave him alone. Now he also fears for his stay at Lotus.
"I'll do everything to make no more mistakes, I hope this punishment doesn't affect my future with the team".
Meanwhile, the accident could also lead to a change in the FIA, with the decision to close the cockpits of the single-seaters. By now the cars are crumbling and the pilots, thanks to the survival cell, come out unharmed: only the head is left at risk. And Spa may have taught him not to gamble.