Sebastian Vettel took a hard fought third place at the Belgian Grand Prix this afternoon, clawing six points out of Jenson Button’s title lead after the Brawn GP driver failed to finish following a first-lap collision with Renault’s Romain Grosjean.
Vettel battled through from eighth on the grid and even, in the final laps, managed to put pressure on race winner Kimi Raikkonen and second-placed Giancarlo Fisichella, finishing just four seconds behind the dominant pair.
"We had a strong pace and were quicker than guys in front,” said Vettel after the race. “We lost the ground in the beginning but nevertheless this is a very good result.
“We took points out of the Brawns and for me I scored more points than Jenson and Rubens. It’s good to finish again and good to see it (the car) is strong enough to finish races.”
Vettel now climbs to third in the championship standings, just 19 points behind Button and the Red Bull Racing star insisted that his championship challenge, which after a double engine failure last weekend in Valencia looked seriously dented, is still very much alive and kicking.
'If you look at the championship board it's a very good result' - Vettel
“I think we cut more points than all the rest except those two (Raikkonen and Fisichella), but if you look at the championship board it's a very good result,” he said. “I think it is still open. This championship is a bit crazy, to be honest. I remember when I was a kid that it was pretty boring, you knew from the first race who was competitive and that was it. This is different. We saw this weekend Force India were quick here and will be quick at Monza, it is up and down, so it’s important to be consistent.
“Today we took six points out of Jenson, the championship leader. I don’t know what happened to him. It would have been nice to finish first today but after the result yesterday it is the best we could do.”
It was a tougher day for team-mate Mark Webber. The Australian had profited most after the chaotic start which saw Button his by Grosjean and Lewis Hamilton also ruled out after being hit by Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari.
Webber climbed to fourth and was closing in on BMW’s Robert Kubica as the first stops approached. But when the Red Bull driver stopped he was beaten to the punch by Nick Heidfeld who roared down past the Red Bull pit just as Webber was being released.
The German driver had to brake hard and give way and Webber was later hit with a drive through penalty for his team’s ‘unsafe release’. The punishment dropped him to 13th from where he battled hard but just failed to make it into the points position, settling for his second ninth place in a row.