August 25th, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Lotus were optimistic about their form ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix, with Kimi Raikkonen expressing confidence that he could achieve a strong result if the rain stayed away. It did stay away, but Raikkonen's day did not go according to plan, as he retired after 25 laps with brake failure. Romain Grosjean finished eighth, 55 seconds behind race winner Sebastian Vettel.
Right from the start of the race, it was clear that all was not well with Kimi Raikkonen's brakes. Black dust was issuing from inside his left front wheel every time he stood on the brake pedal. The team soon confirmed on the radio that his brake temperatures were high and advised him to do his best to manage the problem.
But after 25 laps, there was no more managing for Raikkonen to do. He went straight on at the chicane, clearly unable to slow the car down sufficiently to make the corner, and then drove into the pits and retired the car. It marked the Finn's first retirement in 39 races and his first retirement since joining Lotus at the start of 2012. It also meant that Raikkonen failed to finish in the points for the first time in 28 races.
Raikkonen was philosophical after his retirement, saying, “We’ve finished a lot of races and had some good reliability; one day your luck has to run out and today was that day.” He also confirmed that the retirement was due to a brake failure.
Romain Grosjean had no mechanical issues, but struggled on the opening lap and was later pushed off the track by Sergio Perez, costing Grosjean time and earning Perez a drive-through penalty. Grosjean described his race:
"We had a difficult first lap where we lost a few positions and then dropped back a couple more places in the incident with Sergio [Perez]. We decided on a one stop strategy today and with the new tyres I felt that the grip was much higher than before but I knew that it would be difficult to get the time back. We tried something different and you never know; had it rained in the middle of the race we could have been well-placed to take advantage. It is good to finish the race without any mistakes, even if eighth place isn’t what we were hoping for this weekend; it’s also a shame that Kimi didn’t finish the race, but we go to Monza hopeful of better things.”
After failing to score points, Raikkonen has dropped to fourth in the Drivers' Championship, 63 points behind championship leader Sebastian Vettel. That is a very large deficit to make up, but it is certainly possible, and Raikkonen will be looking to score points as often as possible in the remaining races this season as he chases after his second title. Lotus are fourth in the Constructors' Championship, 125 points behind leaders Red Bull and now effectively out of contention in 2013.