This weekend sees the GP2 teams head to Belgium for one of the most popular venues for drivers and spectators, the magnificent Spa Francorchamps circuit, venue for the 10th weekend of the 2012 GP2 Series.
The track contains some of the most famous corners in racing over its 7.004 km length with such historic names as Eau Rouge, Radillon, Les Combes, Stavelot, Blanchimont and La Source. With its mixture of very fast and very slow corners, changes in elevation and high-speed straights it is a circuit that requires total commitment from a driver and, this in turn, requires a very good set up to his chassis.
At the 2011 Spa weekend Christian Vietoris took pole position and an excellent victory in the Saturday Feature Race for Racing Engineering.
The Spanish team will be looking to continue their recent run of good results that has seen their drivers score two second places and a fourth in the last two rounds at Budapest and Hockenheim. Fabio Leimer has been very fast in recent races and will be looking to take a win in Belgium whilst Nathanaël Berthon’s improved form in recent races means that the young Frenchman must now be considered as a potential winner.
Such has been the closeness of the racing this year and, with a maximum 48 points available, a good result this weekend could see both of the Racing Engineering drivers making substantial gains in the rankings.
Below Thomas Couyotopoulo, Sporting Director of Racing Engineering, looks forward to Spa:
There has been a summer break between the GP2 event in Budapest and this weekend’s round at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps track. What has the team and its drivers been doing?
The month of July has been busy with 3 race weekends so the break in August has given us more time to realize all the standard work that is normally planned between events. This includes full service of the cars; repaint the many bodywork elements, revision of some critical elements and anticipation of the future events that will take place in "back to back" from a mechanical, logistical and engineering point of view. The engineers have already prepared the base set-up for several upcoming race events, the driving pre-analysis and they have been working with the drivers on the simulator. All the team also had the opportunity to take holidays, which is important as they also need to relax and stay highly motivated for the upcoming events.
The upcoming event is taking place at Spa, a track that most drivers like very much. Why is this, and what are the tracks' characteristics?
Spa remains one of the best tracks in the world, if not the best. It offers a full range of corner characteristics, with high, medium and low speeds, but all this while passing through a fantastic landscape, which also makes the racing more challenging: some corners have to be considered in three dimensions as the compression through Eau Rouge for example is allowing speed to be carried that would not be possible in a similar corner if it’s flat. Some other corners are hard due to off-camber and a downhill inclination but it makes it very interesting. Spa is also the longest circuit of the season and the changing weather conditions sometimes mean that some parts of the track are damp while others are dry. Spa is overall a quite fast track except for the "bus-stop" and "La Source", with some long straights and flowing corners which should suit our set-up well.
What will be the main factors to consider this weekend?
As the lap is so long, it also means that the tyres need to be properly managed in order to get the best out of the qualifying session. Spa is very demanding in lateral and vertical forces going through the tyres so it will give the medium and soft compounds (only medium in 2011) a hard time. Obviously, it is possible as well to see the wet tyres in action this weekend as the microclimate over Spa often creates tricky situations…
Source: Racing Engineering