Belgian GP: McLaren preview

The Belgian Grand Prix makes a welcome return to the Formula One calendar this weekend following a year's absence. The event takes place at the renowned Spa Francorchamps circuit, which is located in the scenic Ardennes Mountains in the east of...

The Belgian Grand Prix makes a welcome return to the Formula One calendar this weekend following a year's absence. The event takes place at the renowned Spa Francorchamps circuit, which is located in the scenic Ardennes Mountains in the east of the country.

David Coulthard:

"The Belgian Grand Prix is a clear favourite for the drivers, teams and fans alike. It is an event packed with history, atmosphere, a legendary circuit, and it is great to be back. My victory here in 1999 is without a doubt a highlight of my career."

"Spa is a fantastic challenge to drive with numerous exciting corners separated by long, fast straights. This includes perhaps the most famous corner in motorsport, the flat out climbing right hander of Eau Rouge, which demands total commitment. It is vital to be fast through here to take maximum speed onto the sweeping section of track that leads to Les Combes, as this is a potential overtaking opportunity if you were able to carry the pace at Eau Rouge."

"Other corners that stand out include the left of Blanchimont, which is again taken flat out, and the double apex of Pouhon. In preparation for the race, some additional modifications have been made to the Bus Stop chicane, with safety in mind. The entry has moved to the right to allow for a larger run off area, with some additional re-profiling to the second section of the chicane. This has traditionally been an overtaking opportunity, so it will be interesting to see if it has affected this in any way."

Kimi Raikkonen:

"Of course Hungary was disappointing for me and the team, but you can't look backwards in motorsport and it only makes us more determined at the next event. I have only had the opportunity to race at Spa on two occasions during my career, and both times I enjoyed driving the circuit as its nature demands that you push the limits to the maximum, with certain corners such as Eau Rouge where you are completely flat out."

"The circuit is the ultimate test of driving and also the car, as it's very demanding and requires the maximum from every part of the car. Spa is the longest circuit we race at by over a kilometre, and it's this length and sweeping fast corners that really let you build up a flowing rhythm."

"The only downside is the unpredictable weather, it can start raining with no warning or it will be wet conditions on one side of the track and dry on the other, which can make for some interesting events."

Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula One, West McLaren Mercedes:

"Our performance was not at the required level in Hungary as a result of our tyre choice. However we believe that Spa Francorchamps is a circuit that will play to the strengths of our current package. With its fast, sweeping characteristics it is very different in nature from the Hungaroring's tight and twisty feel."

"Spa is renowned for high rates of attrition and offers a long lap, with technical corners and a relatively low grip surface that sees us use a medium to low downforce configuration. The event has particular significance to the team, as it was at Spa in 1968 that founder Bruce McLaren took the first Formula One World Championship victory for the marque."

Norbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:

"The Ardennes circuit of Spa Francorchamps features a number of medium fast and very fast corners and is extremely challenging for the drivers and the team in terms of set up work. On the 2004 calendar Spa presents one of the most demanding tasks for the drivers as well as the teams, and on a dry track Formula One will set new records with regard to lap times and speeds. Especially Eau Rouge, the fast uphill right hand bend requires a perfect set up of the car to take enough speed onto the following long straight."

"Spa is, after Monza, the second fastest circuit in terms of the average speed and with about 64 percent of full throttle per lap it is also second after the Italian track in this respect. The weather always plays an important role. Rain showers are less surprising as they are the order of the day."

-mclaren-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers David Coulthard , Kimi Raikkonen , Norbert Haug , Martin Whitmarsh
Teams Mercedes , McLaren