Scuderia Ferrari goes into the summer break with the satisfaction of scoring its third podium finish of the season, courtesy of Charles Leclerc. He drove a solid race and his pace was strong and consistent from start to finish. Carlos Sainz was very unlucky, involved in a racing incident with Oscar Piastri at the first corner, which led to him retiring at half-distance because of the damage to his SF-23.
Straightforward race. Charles got away well from pole but was powerless against the two Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez who soon headed the field. The Monegasque kept pushing which meant he was able to comfortably keep ahead of Lewis Hamilton. Charles shadowed his rival at both pit stops, coming in one lap later, defending against the undercut. He also took on the same tyres as Hamilton, first the Medium and then the Soft. This was Charles’ 27th Formula 1 podium, Ferrari’s 801st.
Confidence boost. The team now heads into the obligatory summer break knowing there is still much to do to close up on Red Bull, but with the satisfaction of having done a good job in Belgium, the podium finish being well deserved. Without the incident, Carlos would also have been near the front, capable of bringing home a good points tally. The season resumes at the end of August, the 27th to be precise, with the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort.
Charles Leclerc #16
Third was the best result we could have achieved today. We knew that the Red Bulls would be quicker than us, so our target was to maximise points with the package we have, and we did that. We had to base our strategy on Lewis' (Hamilton). He had a good pace and we had to make sure we kept him behind us. The Red Bulls in front then had to react to our moves, so we were all on the same strategy. In terms of tyre management, we didn't have too much degradation and we have been doing a good job in that area for the past few races.
The team has done an amazing job to bring updates ahead of schedule and let us take steps forward faster than we thought we would. It's good to finish this first half with a podium and hopefully we can maximise our package at the upcoming races after the break too.
Carlos Sainz #55
Not the way I wanted to finish the first part of the season. Hamilton stayed behind Perez and I attacked him on the inside. Then came the contact with Oscar and that was it, a racing incident, but in my opinion Oscar was way too optimistic as he was never side by side with me and making that move from behind has never really worked here in Spa. I’m disappointed, but it’s also part of racing.
On a positive note, it looked like the pace was good today so congrats to the team and Charles on an encouraging result. We need to keep pushing hard to make sure we come back strong after the break and have a good second half of the season.
Frédéric Vasseur - Team Principal
We are happy with Charles’ podium, it was well deserved and it’s a nice way to head into the summer break. Apart from that, I’d say the weekend in Belgium had several other positives. The pace was good all weekend, on rain tyres and slicks, both the Medium and Soft. We made the right strategy calls and all the pit stops went well. Overall therefore, I think we have made a step forward and we must start off from this point when we are back on track, because only with this attitude can we aim to beat our closest rivals.
It’s a shame for Carlos because he too could have got a good result given that his pace was similar to Charles’ all weekend. The first corner here is often tricky and racing incidents after the start are always a possibility and that’s what happened. We opted to keep him out on track until the rain shower in the hope there might be a red flag which would have given us the chance to fix the car, but then it became clear that wouldn’t happen so we decided to retire him.
This first half of the season has seen many highs and lows, but today it was clear we have reacted well after recent races that had not gone the way we wanted. The team all deserve the break, having worked so hard at the track and back in Maranello over the past months and when we come back, I want to see that same sense of determination.