Belgium GP Bridgestone preview

SPA, August/ 18/ 1999 1999 BELGIUM GRAND PRIX - PREVIEW BE PREPARED FOR THE WETTEST Spa-Francorchamps, where the very first true Belgian Grand Prix was held in 1925, has seen countless changes since Antonio Ascari (Alfa Romeo)...

SPA, August/ 18/ 1999 1999 BELGIUM GRAND PRIX - PREVIEW BE PREPARED FOR THE WETTEST

Spa-Francorchamps, where the very first true Belgian Grand Prix was held in 1925, has seen countless changes since Antonio Ascari (Alfa Romeo) won that race at a speed of 120 km/h.

Nevertheless, the 'natural' characteristics of the circuit, parts of which are still used by everyday traffic, all add to the sense of history which pervades Le Circuit Nationale.

"From a tyre supplier's point of view, Spa is also different from the more common artificial circuit," adds Yoshihiko Ichikawa, Technical Manager of Bridgestone Motorsport. "It is a complex track with a long (Hakkinen's 1998 pole: 1m 48.682s) lap time, some highly technical corners and a surface with comparatively low grip characteristics."

Bridgestone will bring a choice of its well-proven Medium and Soft grooved dry-weather compounds to this year's race. If recent experience can be taken as a guide, the Soft is likely to be the popular selection.

The notoriously variable weather which afflicts the Ardennes even in late summer may well oblige the teams to call for Bridgestone's rain tyres. "We will have two specifications of wet-weather tyre for Spa," says Ichikawa, "one of which will be the new Heavy Wet variety which we developed after experience in the French GP.

"Because the surface at Spa tends to retain water even after it has stopped raining, we expect the Heavy Wet to be suitable under cool temperatures even in the sort of light rain which is familiar from previous races here."

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Series Formula 1