For lovers of statistics, the Spa-Francorchamps circuit provides ample to give the Benson and Hedges Jordan Honda team optimism for next weekend's Belgian Grand Prix. The circuit has afforded Jordan some of its most memorable results - ...
For lovers of statistics, the Spa-Francorchamps circuit provides ample to give the Benson and Hedges Jordan Honda team optimism for next weekend's Belgian Grand Prix.
The circuit has afforded Jordan some of its most memorable results - the historic 1-2 victory in 1998 with Damon Hill and Ralf Schumacher, second place with Fisichella (see overleaf) in 1997 and front row of the grid with Jarno Trulli last year. In addition, Jordan's prodigal son, Jean Alesi, won at Spa in Jordan yellow in the 1989 F3000 Championship. Like his team mate Trulli, he is no stranger to the front row of the grid, having qualified second in 1995 and 1997 and, if the statistical icing on the factual cake were needed, Alesi was the driver who joined Hill and Ralf Schumacher on the podium in 1998. Hardly surprising then, that both Alesi and Trulli travel to Belgium with high hopes.
Jordan's Managing Director, Trevor Foster, is equally confident both Jordan drivers will perform well in Belgium. "All the drivers love Spa and gain real satisfaction from racing there. I think the combination of high speed corners and the undulating nature of the track is what makes it so special. We hope to find the perfect set-up for the car so that Jarno and Jean will get a real thrill."
Adding to the team's history at the Belgian circuit, Eddie Jordan is proud to have given Michael Schumacher his debut F1 drive at Spa in 1991, where the German hero now returns as four-time World Champion.
"Everybody knows that Spa is one of my favourite circuits - it is so exciting to drive there. The weather can be very unpredictable which can also add some spice to the race. I have started this race twice from the front row of the grid and the last time I raced at Spa in yellow Jordan overalls, I won - although that was in F3000. I also had a great race there in the rain when I was with Sauber in 1998, joining the two Jordans on the podium. The whole circuit has a 'party' atmosphere which adds to the excitement with fans coming from all over Europe to watch the race. This year, it would be great to re-live some of my Spa successes."
"Spa is a great drivers circuit and the race is often quite exciting there. You have to have a good car that is very well balanced at this circuit as it is very long and quite technical. 1998 was a great race for me at Spa as I worked my way up the field from thirteenth on the grid to finish in the points which felt good."
Set deep in the Ardennes forest, Spa-Francorchamps is a fantastic track that sweeps through the countryside like a roller-coaster and is truly a favourite among the drivers. The infamous Eau Rouge is one of the fastest and most challenging corners on the F1 calendar and the slope of the track enables teams to see from the paddock area, from La Source hairpin (the first corner) right to the top of Eau Rouge. A large proportion of the circuit is used as a public road apart from on race weekends, when the track is formed to become the longest on the F1 calendar. The first Belgian round of the Formula One World Championship was held in 1950 on a nine-mile track at Spa. Using roads running through forests and villages, the venue was dropped from the calendar on safety grounds after 1970 and the current circuit uses only a fraction of the original layout. Unpredictable weather conditions often add to the excitement of this race, where there can be torrential rain at one end of the track whilst it remains bone dry at the other end.
The Benson and Hedges Jordan Honda team resumed testing earlier this week at a three day test in Mugello, following the three week testing ban. Jean Alesi commenced the test, spending the first day working on general chassis set-up, launch control starts and further familiarising himself with the EJ11 car. Joined by team mate, Jarno Trulli, for the remaining two days, the pair devoted time to tyre development, addressing reliability issues and working on general chassis set-up and aerodynamic configurations for the Belgian Grand Prix. Meanwhile, Andrew Gilbert-Scott carried out a one-day test for the team at Silverstone on Wednesday 22 August, making 22 launch control starts to test new software developments. The team concluded the test having collected valuable and productive information.
Spare (Trulli): EJ11/03