GP2

Spa: Penultimate round preview

Belgian waffle The GP2 series enters its final phase this weekend with its 11th of 12 rounds. Our 12 teams and 24 drivers will be tackling one of the greatest circuits in Europe over the three-day event, Spa- Francorchamps in Belgium. This track...

Belgian waffle

The GP2 series enters its final phase this weekend with its 11th of 12 rounds. Our 12 teams and 24 drivers will be tackling one of the greatest circuits in Europe over the three-day event, Spa- Francorchamps in Belgium. This track is notorious for separating the men from the boys, and with the drivers' championship balanced on a knife-edge, there is perhaps no finer stage for this penultimate round to be played upon.

Spa-Francorchamps is one of the only "natural" circuits on the calendar, and has evolved over time into the venue we know today. Originally the track consisted of a 14km triangle of public roads linking the three Belgian towns of Malmédy, Francorchamps and Stavelot, and it was on these roads that the track's legend was born. The original layout was used for the last time in 1970, as the speed of the modern breed of F1 car finally became too much, and safety standards could not be ensured. The new 7km circuit layout was first used in 1979, and it is that track, but for a few alterations, which exists today and that we call Spa-Francorchamps.

What about the championship? Last weekend in Monza the GP2 series again saw two great races. With pole position and victory in Race 1, Heikki Kovalainen briefly extended his championship lead over Nico Rosberg. However, two second place finishes and two fastest laps saw Nico draw things back. The pair left Italy just four points apart... the closest they have been all season. Heikki now leads the championship on 99 points, with Nico on 95.

Scott Speed sits in third place on 59 points, with Alex Prémat fourth on 53. Both men failed to score in Monza and they will be looking over their shoulders in Spa as Neel Jani (48 points), Adam Carroll (46 points) and Giorgio Pantano (43 points) are all well placed to join the battle for third place in the championship. Neel scored points in Race 1 and won the second race in Monza, with Adam and Giorgio also scoring in both Italian races. To add a bit more spice to the mixture, Spa is a track at which each of these three has won in other formulas.

1st Heikki Kovalainen ­ Arden International.99 points
"Spa-Francorchamps is a great track, and I think we should have a good chance there. We are quite competitive with the low downforce settings. Certainly last weekend in Monza we were competitive, with pole position, Race 1 win and points in Race 2. We should be competitive in Spa too, and we'll just try to win another race. I'm quite confident. I'm more confident going there than to some other places. I think we've improved the package overall, and we'll be fine."

2nd Nico Rosberg ­ ART Grand Prix.95 points
"Heikki had a good car last weekend, but I think things are going to change going to Spa and Bahrain. They are normal tracks, and Monza was a special track where you run a completely different set up from scratch. He managed to get a good car, and he drove very well too, but I think things are going to get back to normal, like in Istanbul where he was 1.5 seconds a lap off. We will definitely have an edge on him at least ­ that's what I expect, because I don't see them all of a sudden getting 1.5 seconds after a weekend. Maybe they have? Who knows, but I think we're going to have a bit of an edge, and we're going to go out and enjoy it."

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About this article
Series GP2
Drivers Giorgio Pantano , Scott Speed , Nico Rosberg , Heikki Kovalainen , Adam Carroll , Neel Jani
Teams ART Grand Prix , Arden International