Lewis Hamilton: “Hopefully now I’ll get to fight…”

Lewis Hamilton has played down the significance of his recovery to third place at Spa, and insists that the result didn’t give him any kind of psychological boost over Nico Rosberg by getting such a good finish from 21st on the grid.

However he admits it was good to get the grid penalties behind him, and that he is now free to race Rosberg on equal terms this weekend.

“It was obviously an important race for me, and I got what I needed from it, and more,” said Hamilton. “It’s not done anything psychologically, it’s been a positive, and I’ll move on. The penalties are done, the free weekend kind of thing for the opponent is past, and hopefully I can put into action… I mean free from battle. Hopefully now I’ll get to fight, and it’s a race from here.”

Hamilton said that having a stock of fresh engines did not give him a particular advantage compared to earlier in the season, even though he was mindful of engine mileage before the summer break.

“Honestly I don’t feel any different now to what I did in Hungary. I guess perhaps subconsciously in Hungary I never knew if the engine was going to make it. But that’s still a question today, you hope with fresh engines that you are in a good position, but all sorts of things have happened. I had fresh engines earlier on in the season, so we’re not really in a different position except I’m hopefully not at risk of any particular penalties. The engine’s upgraded for reliability, so we should be in a good position. Now I can hopefully focus on getting my head down and getting back to the way I was driving before the break.”

Hamilton insists he is not worried about the possibility of Rosberg being able to to take a upgraded engine in the coming weeks.

“I’m happy with the phase that we have, I’m happy to run that for the rest of the year, and if there’s an upgrade I’m not bothered to take it. I can win with the ones I have. Usually upgrades are reliability, and if they are, it’s often small steps. That I’m not concerned about.”

Meanwhile he declined to talk about the issue of high tyre pressure at Monza, having been critical at Spa about the impact on Mercedes.

“Unfortunately I’ve decided to take a sabbatical from talking about tyres! There seem to be some emotional people about it, so unfortunately I won’t be able to answer too much more about it. If the weather’s the same as the last race – we don’t have any high speed corners – but I’m told it may continue. Honestly I have no idea at the moment.”

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Raikkonen: “Personally I have nothing against Max…”

The fallout of Max Verstappen’s eventful Belgian GP dominated conversation in Monza today, with both Ferrari drivers reiterating their views about the Dutchman’s defensive driving.

Kimi Raikkonen suggested that the FIA should be more consistent.

I think it’s quite clear what they are,” said Raikkonen of the rules. “And obviously sometimes you feel it’s not correct what happens on circuit, but obviously I think the biggest problem is it’s not always the same. I think as drivers we always discussed it and it’s a bit up and down and I think that could be improved.

Personally I have nothing against Max. He is doing a good job and he’s fast. It’s not a personal thing but certain things, at least in my feeling, were not correct if you have to slow down or brake under full speed but those things are never ending discussions but let’s see what happens.”

I think the thing that we’ve spoken about before and has come up again in Spa was the bit that is the moving under braking,” said Vettel. “Which obviously, as the lead car, is the wrong thing to do. The following car can react but there are situations where you can’t react any more and it will end up in a crash which has been something that we’ve talked about.

I think he understood when we spoke about it so we obviously need to maybe have another chat. But as I said in Spa, I’m not a big fan of running to the stewards and complain there. I think it’s much better if we do it face to face. Unfortunately we haven’t done that yet but I’m sure we will.”

Meanwhile both men gave their views about the first corner accident.

Obviously it was an unfortunate thing,” said Raikkonen. “Not really an awful lot to discuss except probably he said sorry and I said OK and you know we go forward. It wasn’t ideal for us or any of the three to be involved, but that’s how it goes sometimes. So next time we try to give a bit more room but it’s done now.”

It’s clear what happened,” said Vettel. “Obviously I thought there was Kimi on the inside but as it turned out there was three cars. The room that I gave was for Kimi, it was not for three cars because I think Max had a bad start and was out of that fight, but decided not to, so in the end we had three cars with not enough room.

From my side, it’s clear. Obviously if I know that – I can’t see much in the mirrors, I could see that Kimi was there and I was slightly ahead – if I had to do it again, knowing that, I would give a little bit more room, at least I make I don’t know about the cars on the inside then, but I think it was a pity for all three to be involved and not to come out of the corner being able to race for the podium after that.”

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Renault says Magnussen will be fit for Monza

Renault says that Kevin Magnussen will be fit to race in Monza this weekend following further medical checks since his big crash in the Belgian GP.

However the final call will be made by the FIA in Italy on Thursday.

A statement from the team said: “After initial checks at the circuit’s medical centre, Kevin was referred to a local hospital in Verviers for further routine examinations.

“Kevin had heavily bruised his left ankle but the tests showed no fracture or serious injury and he was released from hospital the same day and returned home to Denmark. He has since undergone further checks in Denmark that indicate he is able to race at the Italian Grand Prix in six days. The FIA will confirm Kevin is fit to compete following a final assessment on Thursday in Monza.”

“I’m feeling much better, which is very good news,” said the Dane. “I’ve had several checks that show I am fit to race in Monza and I am sure I will be in the car this weekend. We were running in the top ten in Belgium and I’m very motivated to repeat this again in Italy.”

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Mercedes struggling with tyres, says Wolff

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admits that the team has been struggling with its tyres at Spa this weekend, and has not been able to get the supersoft to last.

While Nico Rosberg ultimately took pole with the softest compound he was not much more than a tenth faster than Max Verstappen, which represented a much smaller gap than has been usual this season. However Rosberg won’t have to use the supersoft in the race as he got through Q2 on the soft.

“We seem to struggle more than other teams with overheating and blistering,” said Wolff. “As a consequence the normal one second gap from the soft to the supersoft doesn’t materialise, because the supersoft just gives up. The drivers said that after Turn One you could feel that the rear was going on the supersoft. Our performance on the soft was what we deem as normal, but we are not able to extract more from a softer tyre, because the tyre just gives up.”

Wolff said there was no single reason why Mercedes was having problems this weekend.

“It is always a combination of all the factors, there is not one factor that makes it go out of control. The asphalt is a very abrasive asphalt, and it’s very “stoney.” That uses the tyre much more. It’s a bit of a vicious circle, because the more downforce you put on the car, the more you use the tyres, the better you put them in the window.

“We’ve had races where that’s given us a great benefit, such as Baku, for example. But then if all odds go against us, that particular tarmac, the heat, high energy corners, and the supersoft tyres, then the consequence can be like we saw today. I think when you look at the calendar in general, in 21 races you will never have a car that is perfect for all races. It is always a compromise, and trying to achieve the best possible performance on average. Maybe we have to live with that.”

Wolff said he had no regrets about choosing Spa for Lewis Hamilton’s power unit grid penalties.

“At a certain stage we needed to take it. If you look at the gaps now it’s probably very difficult for him tomorrow to recover to a good position. In hindsight if we would have known, which we didn’t, then Monza would have been a better choice.

“But I’m 100% convinced that given the parameters and information we had before Spa, taking the engine penalty here, taking it early, getting a new engine early into Lewis’s car, was the right decision. But, if it’s hot tomorrow it’s going to be very difficult for him to recover to a sensible position.”

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Lewis Hamilton: “It’s going to be tough out there for everyone”

Lewis Hamilton believes that World Champion believes the chances of recovering to the points in Belgium will be much tougher than Shanghai, where he started from 22nd and finished seventh.

In Spa he will start 21st after Fernando Alonso’s power unit penalties ensured that Hamilton won’t actually start last.

Hamilton says the high pressures mandated by Pirelli will make it hard to keep the tyres alive over a stint, especially as he tries to fight his way through the pack.

“It’s completely different to China,” said Hamilton. “In China we didn’t have [tyre] failures the previous year, and therefore they didn’t put the pressure up to a ridiculous number. That is the case here. They had failures last year, they’re nervous of failures this year, so they put the pressures up to 23 or 24 whatever it is, which is so high, I’ve never seen pressures like that in my whole racing career. That doesn’t help.

“Plus it’s very hot, and being at those pressures, we get blisters. In China the tyres went a lot longer, it was cooler, and the tyres behave more like normal tyres. Here there’s not really much you can do to stop the tyres from blistering and overheating. Tomorrow is going to be interesting with that, so it’s definitely a much harder race than China ever was.”

Hamilton said one of the big problems will be running in traffic.

“As I said before its going to be a very, very hard race. If I had a choice of tracks to start dead last and overtake, this is definitely not in the top three for me in terms of an overtaking circuit. Whilst you can have a good tow up to Eau Rouge, being this hot, it’s going to be hard to follow.

“Being in the traffic it’s very unlikely I’m going to get to my stop target or go longer than the guys in front of me. I envisage tomorrow it’s even going to be hard to get into the top 10 with the tyres the way they are. I hope that I prove myself wrong, and I hope that I’m pleasantly surprised.”

Hamilton insists that he will start from the grid rather than pitlane, despite the obvious risk of getting involved in a first corner accident.

“I never like to start from the pitlane. It means you have to wait for them to come past you in the pitlane exit. By the time I get round the corner they will be half way down the hill, almost going into Eau Rouge, the last car.

“That means then I have to catch up. Of course, there’s a possibilities of me crashing in Turn One and you avoid it, but there’s also possibilities that there’s not, and then I just give up seven seconds or whatever it is. I can’t afford to lose any time. So my plan is to start from the grid.”

Regarding a realistic target he said: “All I can hope for is just to aim as high as possible, and try and get up as high as I can. It feels unlikely that it will be a podium position, but it’s not impossible. Things could happen, safety cars, all these sorts of things. But with these tyres the way they are, which is a bit of a mess, it’s going to be tough out there for everyone. It’s definitely going to be tough to come through and get on the podium and win.”

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Verstappen and Ricciardo made own tyre choices, says Horner

Red Bull Racing decided to split the starting tyre strategies of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo at Spa because the team doesn’t know whether a first stint on the supersoft or soft will be the better choice.

However the drivers made the decision for themselves as Verstappen had a clear preference for the supersoft, and Ricciardo preferred the soft. They will start second and fifth, split by the two Ferraris.

In Spain the two ran different strategies, and Verstappen came out on top, much to the frustration of his team mate.

“From a team perspective because it’s unclear what is the better strategy at the moment,” Christian Horner told this writer. “So to split them made sense. When we discussed it this morning we put it open to the table. Max was keen to start on the supersoft and Daniel was keen to start on the soft, which made the situation very easy.

“The drivers and their respective engineers picked the strategies, and from my perspective and a team point of view it covers both options. We’ll know tomorrow which one is the right way and which is the wrong way.

“It will be a fascinating race, to see how the strategies unfold. It’s going to be all about tyre deg.”

Horner agreed that as the fastest supersoft runner in a battle with four cars starting on softs Verstappen will not been in a direct fight with his rivals: “He’s got his own race going on, and it will be up to him to get through the traffic and get on with it.”

Horner said the team had expected to find it hard to beat the Ferraris, although Ricciardo made his life harder as he didn’t have a good Q3.

“We always knew here this circuit was always going to be a bit more of a Ferrari circuit than a Red Bull circuit, so to have outqualified them and be right with them was better than we expected coming into the weekend. As soon as Ferrari turn the engine up they are in good shape.

“For Daniel the first run in Q3 looked to be the quicker, because the wind changed between the two runs. He had a bit of a moment in Turn One, and of course that hurts you up the hill. He did a reasonably recovery on run two, but the circuit had lost a little bit of pace.”

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Alonso joins Hamilton and Ericsson with Spa grid penalties

Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Marcus Ericsson have all logged grid penalties in Spa for taking sixth power unit elements.

Hamilton took a sixth turbo and sixth MGU-H for FP1, which means he gets 15 places (10 + 5), and then repeated the exercise with his seventh elements in FP2, adding 15 more places for a total of 30.

He also has taken a fourth and fifth ICE (V6) and fourth and fifth MGU-K, without penalty.

Mercedes is in effect stockpiling power unit elements for the remainder of the season, so that Hamilton won’t get penalties at a future race.

Meanwhile Fernando Alonso has taken his sixth examples of all six elements for FP2. He had his fifth examples fitted for FP1, but suffered a water leak from the ERS and did not set a representative time. All elements used today were off the latest updated spec.

Honda noted: “During FP1, we found a water leak from the ERS. Detailed investigation will follow, however, we have swapped out the whole of PU to ensure Fernando is out and running in FP2.”

Alonso will thus take a 35 place penalty for the change (10 + 5 + 5 + 5 + 5 + 5).

Finally Ericsson is on 10 places after taking his sixth turbo of the season.

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