Belgian GP: BMW Sauber preview

Spa-Francorchamps typifies the sort of atmosphere in racing as it was in the old days. The traditional circuit lies naturally in the hilly landscape of the Ardennes. A total length of seven kilometres mean it is the longest track of the season....

Spa-Francorchamps typifies the sort of atmosphere in racing as it was in the old days. The traditional circuit lies naturally in the hilly landscape of the Ardennes. A total length of seven kilometres mean it is the longest track of the season. Just one week after the Italian Grand Prix Formula One will hold round 14 out of the 17 in this season's World Championship on this uphill and downhill track.

In 2006 Spa wasn't a Grand Prix venue. The time off was used to renew the pit and paddock facilities, as well as to carry out the work to change the final corners before start/finish line. The former left-right-left Bus Stop chicane has been changed into a right-left chicane.

Nick Heidfeld:

"I am happy Spa is back on the calendar. I didn't attend the test in July so for me the last time I was there was in 2004 - and those days I was in a car which wasn't competitive at all. It will be different this time. Althoug Spa isn't too far from my home town of Monchengladbach, I didn't race there very often. The circuit wasn't on the Formula Ford and Formula 3 calendar when I was racing, and I had to miss the 2005 Formula One race after I injured myself in a bicycle accident."

"Spa is a very beautiful circuit with some very special parts. The combination of turns that make up Eau Rouge through the depression is world famous, and for spectators it is a must. The speed and power of the cars are really impressive if you see them rushing down the hill, going through the turns and accelerating uphill again. For us drivers the depression is not at all a physical problem, we are just not used to it. Normally we have to deal with g-forces in cornering speeds or under braking."

Robert Kubica:

"It will be very nice to race in Spa in Formula One for the first time, although I have raced in Formula 3 and Formula Renault. Spa is a very nice track, very challenging, very quick and I think generally one of the favourite tracks of all the drivers. We had quite a good test there, but the weather, as always in Spa, will probably be unpredictable, so we have to see how things develop."

"After Monza, again we have a track where we have a lower downforce configuration on the cars, although not as low as in Monza, but it will be very good. I think Spa is very nice because of the long, quick corners. Normally there is very good grip there so you have to bring a lot of speed into the corners."

Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director:

"We are happy that this type circuit, with its unique demands, found its way back on the F1 calendar. Here the track follows the landscape and not vice versa. New this season are the removal of the old Bus-Stop-chicane, the pit lane entrance and the pit buildings themselves. Since being adapted, the notorious eau-rouge-curves will be driven on full throttle in dry conditions."

"Therefore, Spa has the longest full throttle distance of the entire season. As the track goes uphill at this part of the circuit, engine power and reliability are highly in demand. In the past, unpredictable weather changes in the Ardennes were the reason for extremely thrilling races. The uphill sections require strong engine performance."

Willy Rampf, Technical Director:

"Especially now as Suzuka is not part of the the Formula One calender anymore, Spa is the favourite track of many of the drivers. Eau Rouge is one of the most spectacular corners in Formula One, even though it can be taken flat out since the introduction of the V8 engines."

"Because of the combination of long straights and a mix of fast and medium fast corners Spa requires a compromise when setting up the car aerodynamically. We are using a downforce level comparable to the one in Indy or Montreal. It's particularly important to have a high aerodynamic efficiency."

"The big question mark in Spa is always the weather, that can change very quickly. We tested there in July with Robert, and the weather conditions did exactly that. Our times there were quite competitive. In the meantime, we have made further improvements to the F1.07 so we are well prepared for this race. We look forward to this challenge before going overseas."

-credit: bmw sauber

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Nick Heidfeld , Robert Kubica , Mario Theissen
Teams Sauber