After taking his debut 2013 victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix, much of the summer break had been spent predicting who would be on top in Belgium. Hamilton’s name was top of that list, but despite clinching pole position on Saturday he just couldn’t keep up with Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso, finishing in third place.
Hamilton had a clean start from pole but lost out to Vettel on the run down the Kemmel Straight. He continued to drop away from the German and fell into the clutches of Alonso. The Spaniard swiftly displaced him with a little help from DRS and the Brit was left pushing hard to maintain his podium position.
The 28-year-old admitted that he pushed the car to the limit on Sunday afternoon and added that Mercedes are still lacking in race pace in comparison to Red Bull and Ferrari. In a team statement he said: “I got everything that I could out of the car today but we just weren’t as quick as Sebastian and Fernando.”
He explained the first lap from his point of view, saying: “I made a nice start and it felt like the exit out of turn one was good, too. But Seb just caught me on the run out of Eau Rouge and there wasn’t really much I could do to defend: I moved once, like we are allowed to, but then I just had to watch him glide by. From that point, it was very difficult to hold on to him, and the same thing happened with Fernando, too, later in the race.”
Hamilton now eagerly anticipated the Singapore Grand Prix, a track that he expects to suit the Mercedes W04: “We have done a good job this weekend but Spa and Monza are always unique tracks because of the low-drag requirements and I expect we will be more competitive in Singapore again. It’s still a great team result to finish third with Nico right behind me in fourth, so we will take the positives from this afternoon into the next races.”
Team-mate Nico Rosberg followed him across the line to take fourth and admitted it was a good result: “Fourth place was a reasonable result for me today, and it’s great that we achieved a strong points finish for the team with Lewis’ third place as well. The whole weekend hasn’t gone perfectly for me and you are always slightly on the back foot in the race when qualifying doesn’t go as well as planned.”
He came under increasing pressure from Mark Webber in the closing stages but he managed to maintain position: “But in the end, it was nice to keep Mark behind me and get fourth place.” However he added that the team “have a lot of work ahead of us now and we need to look into why we weren’t as competitive as a couple of the other teams today.”
Team Principal Ross Brawn admitted that the “average” result for the team is a measure of how far they have come, explaining that a similar result in 2012 would have been their result of the season.
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic