NEC 2.0: Spa Francorchamps preview

Following in the footsteps of Hamilton, Massa, Kovalainen and co. Less than one month after the stars from the Formula 1 World Championship raced at the fascinating circuit of Spa-Francorchamps during the Belgian Grand Prix, the beautiful track...

Following in the footsteps of Hamilton, Massa, Kovalainen and co.

Less than one month after the stars from the Formula 1 World Championship raced at the fascinating circuit of Spa-Francorchamps during the Belgian Grand Prix, the beautiful track will be hosting the seventh race weekend of the Northern European Cup Formula Renault 2.0 with season rounds 13 and 14. And just like Grand Prix stars Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa, Kimi Raikkonen, Heikki Kovalainen and many others honed their racing skills in Formula Renault, many talents can also be found in this year's Northern European Cup Formula Renault 2.0 competition. Maybe some of the drivers competing here now will be back at Spa-Francorchamps a few years down the line in motorsport's top category.

La Source, Eau Rouge, Raidillon. They are famous names in motor racing, names that make the hearts of any red-blooded motorsport fan beat a little bit faster. Ask any driver to name his or her favourite circuit and chances are high that the answer will be Spa-Francorchamps. Indeed, the undulating circuit in the Belgian Ardennes region is quite spectacular with its high- speed sections, its sweeping corners and its steep gradients. A circuit with a long heritage, going back as far as 1924. The original circuit mainly consisted of public roads to and from the villages of Malmedy and Stavelot, with the notorious Masta kink in between. The track was shortened significantly in 1979, but the original character was largely maintained. Next to the annual Formula 1 Grand Prix, that was reinstated on the calendar this year after a one year absence, the track also hosts famous sports car races like the 1000 kilometre event and the annual 24 hours, a round of the FIA GT championship.

Similarly to the Nurburgring, which is in the same climate zone, the region of Spa-Francorchamps is notorious for its changeable weather conditions. The meteorological elements might prove another challenge for teams and drivers in this weekend's race meeting. German Frank Kechele is leading the championship standings from his compatriot Tobias Hegewald and up-and- coming Finn, Valtteri Bottas.

Both races at the Spa-Francorchamps Racing Festival will be held on Sunday. The first race is scheduled for 9.00 h, the second race takes place at 15.15 h.

Q&A with Valtteri Bottas, who is in his first season in single-seater racing and is currently third in the drivers' standings of the Northern European Cup Formula Renault 2.0

?: Many people are considering you as the revelation of the season. Are you surprised by your own performance?

VB: Actually, I am not. I was expecting something like this, because I did some test days in winter which were quite promising, so I figured out that I could be a regular contender for top 3 finishes. And indeed, I was already on the podium during my first weekend at Zandvoort, finishing second in the second race, so I knew I could do it.

?: Why did you decide to start your single-seater career in the Northern European Cup Formula Renault 2.0?

VB: After I had some good results in karting, I was approached by the people from the Koirainen team, who are based in the same area of Finland as me. They asked me whether I was interested to do some testing in Formula Renault with them. The test days went quite well, the sponsors said yes and that is how I ended up in the NEC.

?: What was the most significant weekend of the season for you so far?

VB: The first weekend at Zandvoort was very important as it was my debut in single-seater racing and I was on the podium in the second race already. I have also learned a lot during the last meeting at Oschersleben as well because of the changeable weather conditions. I went off in the first race, the first time this year that I didn't make it to the finish. Fortunately, it went better in the second race and I was on the podium again. Generally, I am still learning a lot. The more races I can do, the better it is.

?: With two meetings remaining, what are your goals?

VB: I took part in the test day at Spa earlier in the season and it went very well there, I did some good lap times. Of course, Spa is a great circuit to drive so I am really looking forward to that. I hope do get some more good result, also in the last weekend of the season at Hockenheim. After all, I am still waiting for that first victory.

-credit: necup.com

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About this article
Series Formula Renault
Drivers Kimi Raikkonen , Felipe Massa , Heikki Kovalainen , Valtteri Bottas