Belgian GP McLaren preview

The next stop for the FIA Formula One World Championship is the famous Spa-Francorchamps circuit and the West McLaren Mercedes team arrives in Belgium topping both the Formula One Drivers’ and Constructors’ points standings. After Mika ...

The next stop for the FIA Formula One World Championship is the famous Spa-Francorchamps circuit and the West McLaren Mercedes team arrives in Belgium topping both the Formula One Drivers’ and Constructors’ points standings. After Mika Hakkinen’s victory in the Hungarian Grand Prix 10 days ago, the Finn is now leading the Drivers Championship with 64 points while David is third with 58 points. The West McLaren Mercedes team is first in the Constructors’ Championship with 112 points.

The 4.33 miles (6.971 km) Spa-Francorchamps circuit is the longest on the calendar and considered one of the best and most challenging tracks by the majority of Formula One drivers, including Mika and David. It boasts what is widely regarded as the greatest and most daunting corner in the world: Eau Rouge. This climbing right-hander requires both precision and commitment, challenging the drivers to carry as much speed as possible over the brow and into the fast sprint towards Les Combes.

The track's location, deep in the Ardennes forest, also makes it subject to constantly changing weather conditions with the threat of rain ever present.

Spa-Francorchamps hosted the Belgian Grand Prix for the first time in 1950 but during the 70's the race moved to both Nivelles and the Zolder circuits before returning to Spa in 1985.

McLaren has won the Belgian Grand Prix a total of nine times -- the first victory claimed by Bruce McLaren himself in 1968 (the team's first ever Formula One win). The team also won the race five times in a row between 1987 and 1991. The last victory came for West McLaren Mercedes last year when David Coulthard crossed the finishing line in first.

Mika Hakkinen
'There is no doubt that I'm looking forward to this race. It's nice to be leading the Championship but I'm focusing on this weekend's Grand Prix. I spent two days last week testing at Silverstone, where we had hoped it would rain, so we could get some wet weather running in before Spa. Unfortunately for once it stayed sunny! We are in good shape and the Belgian Grand Prix always provides value for money for the spectators as there are plenty of overtaking opportunities -- hopefully I won't need them.'

David Coulthard
'I like this track -- just like most other drivers. It's a challenge and you really have to work hard all the time. When you are comfortable with the car and manage to get a lap just right it's a fantastic feeling. Eau Rouge is a flat out corner because Les Combes which is a medium-speed right/left corner provides a good opportunity for overtaking if you have managed to get just a fraction more speed from the exit of Eau Rouge. I'm feeling confident and after my victory in last year's race I'm aiming to make it two in a row.'

Ron Dennis:
'Spa-Francorchamps is real drivers' track and with the possibility of variable weather conditions it's also a challenge for the team. As always we aim to leave Spa with maximum points and extend our lead in both Championships.'

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers David Coulthard , Mika Hakkinen , Bruce McLaren
Teams Mercedes , McLaren