Fernando Alonso believes that the four laps spent behind the safety car during the Belgian Grand Prix turned the race in favor of Sebastian Vettel.
The Red Bull driver had already made two pit stops by the time the safety car was deployed following the accident between Lewis Hamilton and Kamui Kobayashi, whereas the then leader Alonso had made only one stop and was forced to give away some of his advantage by running at slow speeds.
Ferrari driver Alonso still thinks, however, that his team's decision not to call him in for a stop at the time was the right one – even if he did fall to fourth place by the finish.
"The safety car came when we had done four laps on the tires," said Alonso. "The tires were in very good shape, so we decided to stay out. I think the choice was good for us. It opened up the possibility to win the race for us.
"Unfortunately, Vettel only lost one place [at his stop] with Webber and beat – by very little – Rosberg. And then in the restart he overtook Webber in Turn 1 so [there was] not much traffic for Vettel. So I think the decision was good, but the factors around the safety car were very good for Sebastian."
Alonso said that he was lucky to be in the race at all by the time the safety car came out on lap 13, following a heavy Bruno Senna-induced hit from Jaime Alguersuari at the first corner. Senna hit Alguersuari at La Source, pushing the Toro Rosso into Alonso's rear wheel. While Alguersuari's front suspension was broken in the impact, Alonso's Ferrari was unharmed and allowed him to finish the race.
"I braked on the outside and I felt someone hit me on the rear tire," he added. "I thought I damaged the car at that point, but I kept going with no problems. It kept handling well and the pits told me there was no problem to keep going. So that was a lucky situation for me to keep running with no problems.
"It was a strange qualifying with strange conditions with people just on wet setups. And there were people who are not used to being in Q3 and the start was a difficult moment for us. So it's very important to always qualify in the top three or four to avoid this."