Mercedes F1’s Ross Brawn has faith his team’s disappointing Belgian Grand Prix form was a one-time thing, and sees no reason why it cannot get back to winning ways in the next Formula 1 race in Italy.
Lewis Hamilton had headed into the Spa weekend touted as Sebastian Vettel’s main rival for the world championship. But despite taking pole position, Hamilton was powerless to stop Vettel blasting past him on the first lap and pulling away to take a dominant victory. Hamilton then lost second place to Fernando Alonso as the Ferrari fought through from ninth on the grid.
Although the result was a disappointment, as it allowed Vettel to pull further clear in the title standings, Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn thinks there are clear explanations for what happened.
“I don’t think we quite got the car right for Spa,” explained Brawn, when asked where the potential of the W04 had gone. “It didn’t click from Friday morning onward. We were there or thereabouts, but it didn’t feel quite as sharp as we have had the last few races. Whether that is because of the set-up philosophy, or some of the changes we made, we will have to go back through.
“Overall, our changes have been very good this year in terms of correlation, and the aero package certainly did what it should do. But we were not very good in sector one, our performance through Eau Rouge was poor, but our car had good grip in the fast corners, which was slightly odd.
“The other thing is that the limitations on camber and pressure were harsher than they have been, and that may have been a factor in comparative terms. We have to get to understand that more and see what the implications were.”
RED BULL HAS “NO WEAKNESSES”
While Hamilton thinks the team may have to wait for the return of high-downforce tracks to get back to its best, Brawn is more optimistic for Monza. However, he admits that Red Bull’s traditional struggles on low-downforce tracks like Spa and Monza appear to be over.
“They certainly looked very strong from the start [at Spa],” he said. “They have been on top of it. I think there were times in the past when Red Bull did look patchy, and some classic races where you knew they would struggle. But they worked really hard to improve the areas they were weak at in the past and probably have no weaknesses now.”
When asked if he felt the world championship was Vettel’s to lose now, Brawn said: “You would have to say that, wouldn’t you? But there are eight races and there are quite a lot of points, 200 points still. Kimi [Raikkonen]’s run came to an end, so who knows? We won’t stop trying.
“I had a chat with the boys, and they are a bit down because of a third- and fourth-place finish. It is not what they are hoping for which is great. It is great the team has those expectations.”