Belgian GP: McLaren preview

The next stop for the 2002 FIA Formula One World Championship is the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit, situated in the North of Belgium. The Belgian Grand Prix has been a permanent fixture on the calendar since the start of the Formula One ...

The next stop for the 2002 FIA Formula One World Championship is the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit, situated in the North of Belgium.

The Belgian Grand Prix has been a permanent fixture on the calendar since the start of the Formula One World Championship in 1950. The race was held at the original 10 miles / 16km track, which is located close to the famous health resort of Spa in the Ardennes region. However safety concerns at the epic track saw the Belgian Grand Prix move to Nivelles and Zolder during the 70's before returning to a revised Spa in 1985.

The West McLaren Mercedes team has seen success at the Belgian Grand Prix over recent years, with David and Mika Hakkinen securing back-to-back victories in 1999 and 2000. Mika also took three consecutive pole positions for the team between 1998 and 2000. Last years eventful Grand Prix, which had a number of re-starts and major incidents, saw David finish in second. The event also has particular significance to McLaren, as it was at the 1968 Belgian Grand Prix that Bruce McLaren secured the team's debut Formula One victory.

With testing due to recommence after the Belgian event, the West McLaren Mercedes team has been working in preparation for the Grand Prix at the Woking headquarters. The team currently holds third position in the Constructors' table, with 54 points. David Coulthard and Kimi Raikkonen lie fifth and sixth in the Drivers' Championship, with 34 and 20 points.

DAVID COULTHARD

"Spa-Francorchamps is a true drivers' circuit and one I always enjoy and look forward to racing at. It provides a real challenge and demands total focus the entire time, which makes it all the more satisfying when you put in a flying lap. The highlight of the track has to be the flat out blast through the legendary Eau Rouge, which is exhilarating when you get it spot on. The race is often affected by the changeable weather conditions the Ardennes region generates and at 4.316 miles / 6.947 kms, the circuit is the longest on the calendar, and can therefore be dry on one section and wet on another, which demands a set-up compromise."

KIMI RAIKKONEN

"There is an excellent mix of fast straights, corners and hairpins at Spa, all of which help make it one of the favourite tracks amongst the drivers, teams and spectators alike. With the revisions to Hockenheim, Spa is probably now the second fastest circuit we race at. It also offers numerous overtaking opportunities, which is fantastic! These include through La Source and Stavelot, however the main one is the right-hander of Les Combes at the end of the fast Kemmel straight, and we also get to drive Eau Rouge, which is always an enjoyable experience."

MARTIN WHITMARSH, MANAGING DIRECTOR, McLAREN INTERNATIONAL

"Following the mixed performance at the Hungarian Grand Prix, we now move to Spa, a circuit that requires a medium to low downforce configuration. The whole team is focused on continuing to develop and improve all elements of our package, to ensure that we can translate the pace and set-up demonstrated on race day at Hungary across the whole weekend."

NORBERT HAUG, VICE PRESIDENT, MERCEDES-BENZ MOTORSPORT

"Spa-Francorchamps is the second fastest circuit on the Grand Prix calendar. The average race speed in dry conditions normally exceeds 220 kph. The famous Eau Rouge corner is crucial to be taken almost flat to pick up speed on the long up-hill straight to the Les Combes chicane where the cars reach top speeds in excess of 330 kph. The events at the Ardennes circuit are quite frequently influenced by changing weather conditions making it even more challenging for the drivers and the teams to find the right set up and aerodynamic configuration. The West McLaren Mercedes team has great memories at Spa and we all look forward to competing there."

-mclaren-

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