Belgian GP: BMW Sauber preview

Munich/Hinwil. Formula One trades stifling urban heat for fresh mountain air: after the Valencia street circuit on which the BMW Sauber F1 Team took its eighth podium place of the season, the Belgian Grand Prix beckons in the Ardennes. Covering ...

Munich/Hinwil. Formula One trades stifling urban heat for fresh mountain air: after the Valencia street circuit on which the BMW Sauber F1 Team took its eighth podium place of the season, the Belgian Grand Prix beckons in the Ardennes. Covering over seven kilometres, Spa-Francorchamps is the longest race track in the calendar and also features the most extensive full-throttle section by far.

Nick Heidfeld:

"Spa is a fantastic race track with unique corners and a very special character. Although these days with the V8 engines it is no problem taking the Eau Rouge combination in the hollow at full throttle, it remains a standout feature. Compression is absolutely no problem physically, but it's nevertheless a very special sensation. For the spectators too, I can well recommend this section. It's very impressive the way the cars come roaring along downhill and then accelerate uphill again. In the current race calendar, Spa is the nearest GP circuit to my home town of Monchengladbach, and that's another reason for me to look forward to the Belgian Grand Prix, where I'll be aiming to achieve a good result."

Robert Kubica:

"From my point of view the race in Spa is one of the best Grands Prix in the calendar. It is a very unique track with high-speed corners you can approach with different racing lines. The most famous corners in Spa-Francorchamps are definitely Eau Rouge and the Bus Stop chicane, which was modified before last year's race. The circuit is very long and very tricky. You have to find the right balance and the right configuration of the car in order not to lose any lap time. Another crucial factor is the weather in Belgium. It can rain in one sector and it can be dry in another sector. I am really looking forward to the race"

Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director:

"Spa-Francorchamps is one of the specialities in the Formula One calendar. We look forward to the only course in the calendar that can still be described as a natural circuit since it follows the features of the landscape. In the Ardennes, steep inclines are as much a feature as the unpredictable weather.

"Spa may not be the track with the highest speeds - that accolade belongs to Monza - but in Spa we have the longest stretch taken at full throttle. Since the modification of the famous Eau Rouge corner and the introduction of V8 engines, drivers can go flat-out through the section from the hairpin shortly after the start, through the hollow and then uphill again. In last year's race we calculated that our drivers held the pedal to the floor for more than 1,865 metres, or 24 seconds. Engine power and stability are key requirements here.

"Nick's F1.08 is scheduled to take on a new BMW P86/8 engine with a new transmission, while Robert will be driving with the same engine and gear box as in Valencia. In the first two thirds of the season we didn't have a single retirement caused by any technical fault. We aim to maintain this high level of reliability. On the sporting side, we plan to improve further and see both cars finish solidly in the points at Spa."

Willy Rampf, Technical Director:

"Spa is one of the last natural circuits remaining in the calendar and therefore ranks among the classics. Most drivers love it, and for good reason. Eau Rouge is one of the most spectacular corners in Formula One, even though the V8 engines now allow it to be taken flat-out in dry conditions. Spa demands medium downforce, comparable to Montreal. High aerodynamic efficiency is very important as you need a lot of downforce in the fast corners of the middle sector while at the same time requiring plenty of top speed for overtaking at the end of the long straights.

"A crucial factor will be how to exploit the tyre potential. In Spa we use the two hardest compounds, which is a challenge particularly if air temperatures are low. The weather in Spa is always a big unknown as it can turn from one moment to the next, sometimes even within individual sections of the track."

Facts and figures:

Circuit/Date                    Spa-Francorchamps/7th September 2008

Start time (local/UTC) 14.00 hrs/12.00 hrs
Lap/Race distance 7.004 km/308.052 km (44 laps)
Corners 9 left-hand and 10 left-hand corners
Winner                          Kimi Raikkonen, Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro,

2007 1 hr 20:39.066 min
Pole position                   Kimi Raikkonen, Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro,

2007 1:45.994 min
Fastest lap                     Felipe Massa, Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro,

2007 1:48.036 min

Data 2007 (race): Full-throttle percentage: 70%
Top speed: 310 km/h
Longest stretch at full throttle: 24 sec / 1865 m
Gear changes per lap: 52
Tyre wear: medium to high
Brake wear: medium
Downforce level: medium

BMW Sauber F1Team

Driver Nick Heidfeld Robert Kubica Date of birth 10.05.1977 07.12.1984 Place of birth Monchengladbach/Germany Krakow/Poland Nationality German Polish Residence Stafa, Switzerland Monaco Marital status Partner Patricia Papen, Single daughter Juni, son Joda Height 1.67 m 1.84 m Weight 61 kg 69 kg F1 debut 2000, Melbourne 2006, Budapest GP starts 146 34 Pole positions 1 1 Wins - 1 Podium places 10 6 Fastest laps 2 - Best placing 5th (2007) 6th (2007) Total points 181 100 Points 2008 41 (6th place) 55 (4th place)

History and background:

The idea of staging a race in the health resort of Spa goes back to 1920. The circuit linked up the towns of Malmedy, Stavelot and Francorchamps. In 1921 the first car race had to be cancelled as there was just one entrant. The circuit was inaugurated by motorcycles before cars made their first appearance in 1922. 1924 saw the first 24-hour race at Spa, and the first significant Formula race followed in 1925 when the European GP was hosted by the circuit.

1970 marked the final race on what was then a 14-kilometre course as the cars had become too fast for the track. The present circuit was opened in 1979. In 2003, Formula One did not come to Spa. For the 2004 event the Bus Stop chicane was modified and, after the 2005 GP, F1 again gave Spa a miss. For 2007 a new pit lane awaited and the Bus Stop section, including the pit lane approach, was modified once more.

The biggest pile-up in F1 history occurred in 1998 in the La Source hairpin just after the start, though none of the drivers was injured. To date, 40 Belgian Grands Prix have been held in Spa. A further ten took place in Zolder and two in Nivelles.

-credit: bmw sauber

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Nick Heidfeld , Kimi Raikkonen , Felipe Massa , Robert Kubica , Mario Theissen
Teams Ferrari , Sauber