Belgian GP: Sauber preview

Hard on the heels of the Italian Grand Prix, Team Sauber Petronas heads to Spa-Francorchamps for the Belgian Grand Prix, the 16th and last European round of the 2005 FIA Formula 1 World Championship. Willy Rampf (Technical ...

Hard on the heels of the Italian Grand Prix, Team Sauber Petronas heads to Spa-Francorchamps for the Belgian Grand Prix, the 16th and last European round of the 2005 FIA Formula 1 World Championship.

Willy Rampf (Technical Director):

"Spa-Francorchamps is a supreme challenge, both for the drivers and for the engineers. Its wide variety of high- medium- and slow-speed corners makes it a favourite that requires some careful set-up work if a car is to produce its optimum performance."

"As an indication of its extremes, you have the La Source hairpin which begins the lap. The drivers go through this at little less than 70 kmh. But then you have a fast downhill section that leads to the famed Eau Rouge corkscrew climb, which is one of the world's most demanding corners."

"If everything is working perfectly it might just be possible for a driver to negotiate this challenge flat-out in top gear, but in doing so he must cope not only with lateral forces as he has to change direction at very high speed, but also compression forces as the car bottoms out under full load in the middle of the corner as it begins its climb up to Raidillon."

"Eau Rouge demands total commitment from the driver, and a finely balanced chassis. If Eau Rouge is flat out, then the engine experiences a full throttle period of over 20 seconds from the exit of the hairpin until braking for Turn 5 - along with Indianapolis the longest of the season."

"Then there are other corners, such as Blanchimont on the run to the end of the lap, which is taken at more than 300 kmh. It will be interesting to see what effect the 2005 regulations have had on aerodynamic performance here."

"The track is quite easy on the brakes, but the tyres are submitted to very high loads due to the high speed nature of some corners and tyre degradation is important. Spa is also known for its changing weather conditions, therefore the outcome of the race is less predictable than anywhere else."

Jacques Villeneuve (147 GPs, 6 points 2005):

"Spa is a great track! I've got memories of some adventures there, though it's never been lucky for me. It's definitely a track where you can feel stronger than the rest if you go through the corners flat. It's one of the last high-speed circuits that we have and it's a very long lap."

"It's got a good rhythm and it follows the layout of the land. You turn because there's a mountain, so there's a reason for the layout. It's not like most modern tracks, which are like parking lots that you put cones around to create as many corners as you can with no logic or rhythm. This one has both. It's like you're driving to your house in the mountains!

"Eau Rouge is probably the most exciting corner in modern F1. It has a little kink to the left and then you start turning right as the track starts going up. You pull a lot of g force through there and the car scrapes the ground, so you get a little bit sideways."

"At the same time you don't see the exit of the corner so you're just turning right and then suddenly you're turning left and at that point the car gets very light. All that - flat out! It's a really exciting corner to do. Going flat-out there doesn't actually make your overall lap faster, but it does make you feel proud. Pride is stupid, but it is important!"

Felipe Massa (48 GPs, 8 points 2005):

"Spa is a brilliant circuit, and I don't just say that because last year I was able to finish fourth and score my best finish up to that point. It is still definitely the best circuit that we go to and my favourite."

"It's not just Eau Rouge that makes it special, though that will be interesting this year with the reduction in downforce since 2004. It might still just be flat, but it won't be easy flat. Then there are all the other very quick corners, and the fact that here the driver really can make a difference in the cockpit."

-sauber-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jacques Villeneuve , Felipe Massa
Teams Sauber