Michael came from the back of the field to finish in fifth place at the Belgian Grand Prix today on the weekend that marked the 20th anniversary of his Formula One debut at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. Nico finished in sixth place, after an exceptional start which saw him go from fifth on the grid to leading the race at the end of the first lap.
The team's fifth and sixth place finishes brought a total of 18 points, our best points score of the season so far. Michael ran a three-stop strategy, pitting on laps 4, 13 and 31, running medium/soft/soft/soft, whilst Nico ran a two-stop strategy, pitting on laps 11 and 30, running soft/soft/medium. The pair gained a total of 14 positions on the first lap of the race: four for Nico, from fifth to first, and ten for Michael
Ross described the race as very exciting for the team: “It was nice to remember what it's like to be at the front again, after Nico's excellent start and early laps in the lead. Both drivers did a great job this afternoon on quite different strategies. Michael began the race on the medium tyre and got that stint of his race out of the way quickly by stopping on lap four and changing to the soft compound. The Safety Car then worked in his favour by allowing him to catch up to the cars in front, and he was obviously on the better tyre in the final laps when he was catching Nico. It's a very nice result for him on this anniversary weekend, and especially after starting from dead last. Nico ran a two-stop strategy and, although it was a little marginal with tyre performance at times, he drove an excellent race to sixth place. Towards the end, we told him to trim his fuel: although we had a Safety Car period, one doesn't use this to save fuel under the current rules because any fuel saved is simply extra weight carried through the rest of the race, and at that point his fuel consumption was on target. In any case, it didn't cost him a significant amount of lap time, and the decisive factor was that Michael was on the soft tyre at the end while Nico was on the medium, which was around a second a lap slower. Overall, it was a very good team result and our best points score of the season so far.”
Norbert felt Michael had a great race at his 20th anniversary here in Spa. “Coming from last to fifth place is excellent and well deserved. Michael drove impeccably and the team had a great strategy in starting with the slower medium tyres to get them out of the way at an early stage. Being in a position to use the softs during his last stint, whilst Nico was on mediums, was crucial for the outcome of their races. Nico had a great start and was leading for a couple of laps but of course the speed of our current package is still not good enough to stay at the top of the field. A satisfying result for the team after the summer break; well done guys. We will try very hard in a fortnight in Monza.”