Belgian GP BAR preview

Nestling deep inside the Ardennes forest near Liege, Spa-Francorchamps is one of the world's greatest road racing circuits and in many ways, a throwback to a bygone era. Certainly, changes have been made to the track to comply with modern Formula...

Nestling deep inside the Ardennes forest near Liege, Spa-Francorchamps is one of the world's greatest road racing circuits and in many ways, a throwback to a bygone era. Certainly, changes have been made to the track to comply with modern Formula One requirements, but alterations have been carried out sympathetically and the home of the Belgian GP retains its special magic with drivers and fans alike.

At 4.330 miles, Spa is the longest circuit on the GP calendar and its fantastic corners, wonderful scenery and adrenalin-pumping elevation changes make it a place where driver bravery and skill become even more significant factors than normal. Chassis set-up involves the all-important compromise between reducing drag to aid straight-line speed and generating downforce to help cornering. Braking stability is also an important consideration, particularly when slowing for the 70km/h 'Bus Stop' chicane from flat-out Blanchimont. Spectators can look forward to plenty of action at Spa since there are a couple of long straights leading into slow corners, while the extremely fickle Belgian weather often adds its own excitement.

* The Team
Spa is a track which most F1 drivers relish and the Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda drivers are no exception.

Jacques Villeneuve believes Eau Rouge's famous sequence of twists and turns represents the very essence of what it is to be a Grand Prix driver:

"It's the best corner. It's fast - very fast - but it's also the layout. You're going downhill, it turns just a little bit left, and as soon as you want to change direction the track starts going up. It's completely blind, you see a wall in front of you, and you turn again. It's too tight for the speed you're going actually, and you shouldn't be able to go that fast through it. But because it rises, you have a lot of downforce, and you just muscle through it, and wow, you get up through the other side. Then, after being compressed, the car goes over a hump where you change direction again, goes light and starts bouncing a little bit. So you just go in and somehow the car does the rest, while you just hang through it. You have to survive, and it's just fantastic."

Although Olivier Panis has never finished in the points at Spa, he has had some very good races at the circuit.

"I love Spa, I really enjoy going there. To be honest, the only problem is the weather. In dry conditions this track is fabulous, but in the wet it's really difficult. The first part of the circuit is very slippery whatever the weather. Eau Rouge is very challenging and it's always a lot of fun. Normally in qualifying you take it close to flat out. Maybe this year it will be completely 'flat', because the grip level we have with the new tyres is so much better. It's not the entry and the compression that is very challenging, it's just the exit at the top of the hill. We hope to have a good race here this year because our new aero package seems to really suit the high-speed circuits."

Malcolm Oastler, Technical Director "Last week we completed a comprehensive test at Mugello in preparation for the Belgian Grand Prix. Both Jacques and Olivier reported being happy with the balance of the car so we are optimistic for the weekend. The Championship may have been decided but our season is far from over. There are four more races and our aim is to score as many vital points as we can."

-ENDS-

For further media information please contact: Tracy Novak at Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda Tel: +44 (0)7887 777671 Email: tracy.novak@baracing.co.uk

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Olivier Panis , Jacques Villeneuve