After a deeply disappointing qualifying performance at Spa on Saturday, Michael Schumacher rebounded on race day at the track that he likes to call his "living room" and ran as high as second place behind Jenson Button at one point after avoiding the multi-car accident at La Source on lap 1.
"It looked pretty reasonable at the start, and we were following our one-stop strategy," he said. "I was second at one stage ... It was more than we had expected."
But all that good work haemorrhaged away in the latter half of the race, and the team have revealed that as well as the tyre degradation issues that forced Schumacher and his team mate Nico Rosberg to abandon their one-stop gambit for a late visit to pit road, the former world champion was also beset by late gear issued as well.
"It did not quite work out so we decided to go for fresh tyres and attack with them," said Schumacher, defending the call to come in even though it cost him track position and left him with a seventh place finish in Belgium. "If we had not done that, I might have ended up further back."
"But then I lost sixth gear and there was no way to attack," he added. "In the end, you have to be realistic, and getting into the points from where I started is not too bad, even if you obviously hope for more."
"Michael was in third with 10 laps to go, however the trio behind him were able to go much quicker with fresh tyres than Michael could on his set of primes which were already 26 laps old," said Mercedes head of motorsport Norbert Haug. "He then lost sixth gear, so seventh was the result we could achieve today, and Michael showed some great manoeuvres throughout the race."
Team boss ROss Brawn was in full agreement with Haug. "It was a very exciting race for Michael, and a great demonstration of his skills in his 300th Grand Prix," he said. "Unfortunately we didn't quite have a quick enough car today to be pushing for the podium. Michael also had a problem with his gearbox towards the end which prevented him from challenging after his second stop."
Schumacher's team mate and compatriot Nico Rosberg also battled valiantly during the race, but in the end the disastrous qualifying session and five place penalty for an out-of-schedule gearbox change was just too much to overcome, and he finished outside the points in 11th.
"It's been an eventful but disappointing weekend for us, and it's a shame to have finished just one place outside of the points today," he sighed. "Without the gearbox change and penalty, I probably could have scored some decent points.