Bridgestone looking for a little Spa-rkle in Belgium
The final European race on the F1 calendar takes place this weekend at the picturesque but challenging Spa- Francorchamps circuit in Belgium. Also the longest track on the calendar, the 6.976km circuit is famed for its high speed corners as it winds up and down the Ardennes hillside, posing a tough challenge for the teams and tyre manufacturers.
Bridgestone Motorsport had four runners in the top five finishers last year and after a disappointing Monza Grand Prix last weekend is looking for a return to form in Spa. The Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro drivers Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello currently lie third and eighth respectively in the Drivers' Championship while the team is third in the Constructors' Championship. After two non points scoring races, they will be pushing hard in Belgium.
So too, will the Jordan Grand Prix team who will have an EJ15B car available for both their drivers for the first time in Spa. Drivers Narain Karthikeyan and Tiago Monteiro have both won on this circuit in Formula 3. For the Minardi F1 Team drivers, Holland's Christijan Albers and Robert Doornbos, the Belgian Grand Prix is the nearest they will get to a home race and an abundance of Minardi supporters can be expected this weekend.
Hiroshi Yasukawa, Director of Motorsport:
"The Belgian Grand Prix is always a favourite with the F1 drivers, providing plenty of excitement on track. We had a particularly successful race here last year with four of the top five finishers running on Bridgestone tyres and although the competition is proving quite tough this year, Bridgestone and its teams are aiming for a good result to end the European season on."
Tyres for Spa-Francorchamps (6.976 km)
Bridgestone Motorsport's Formula One Potenza tyres arrive in Belgium this week from Bridgestone's F1 distribution facility in Langley, UK. The tyres were produced in Bridgestone's F1 production facility in Japan before being sent by air to the UK. The specifications for Spa will consist of two dry, grooved specifications for each team and the same wet weather and extreme wet weather specification for all Bridgestone teams.
Hisao Suganuma, Technical Manager:
"Not only is Spa the final European round of the year, but the Belgian Grand Prix is also one of the toughest on the F1 calendar. The track is the longest in F1 and its undulating nature combined with several high speed corners, such as Eau Rouge, make it a real drivers circuit. The demands made on the tyres and the cornering forces they are subjected to mean that they have to be strong. Stability is very important through those corners but in other sections of the circuit, such as La Source hairpin, grip and traction will be key requirements."
"In addition to this, Spa-Francorchamps is located in the mountainous Ardennes region where weather conditions can be unstable. The circuit seems to have its own micro-climate so while we have selected tyres from the medium to hard range because of the relatively rough track surface and high speed corners, the tyres have a wide working temperature range to cope with the possible weather fluctuations. We shall also of course be ready with our wet and extreme weather specifications."
"One thing we shall be looking out for in Spa, however, is tyre wear because of the rough track surface. We will have a new, previously un-raced specification of tyre in Spa which we anticipate will cope well with the conditions and give a competitive performance."