Belgian GP: Sauber preview

After a one-year break the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps is back on the calendar on 29 August. Sauber Petronas will have a further refined aerodynamic package specifically to suit a demanding circuit that requires high downforce with ...

After a one-year break the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps is back on the calendar on 29 August. Sauber Petronas will have a further refined aerodynamic package specifically to suit a demanding circuit that requires high downforce with minimum drag.

Willy Rampf (Technical Director):

"Spa-Francorchamps has a large variety of corners and is such a high-speed circuit; that is what makes it great and why it poses a big challenge not only to the drivers but also to the engineers. On the one hand you have the La Source hairpin, at the start of the lap. This is taken at only 60 kph. But then you have corners such as Blanchimont, on the final leg, which is taken at more than 300 kph. Between these two, complicating this compromise further, there is Eau Rouge at the bottom of the fast downhill plunge from La Source. It is a very demanding corner and requires complete commitment from the driver."

"But the car must also have excellent handling balance. The problem of Eau Rouge is not just that it is taken flat-out by some drivers, but also that the car bottoms out as it reaches the lowest part of the corner just prior to the dramatic uphill sweep at Raidillion."

"Despite this remarkable difference in maximum and minimum speeds the overall lap speed average is around 230 kph in qualifying, and cars may see as much as 350 kph in places. This is why the mechanical and aerodynamic set-up must take into account the absolute need for stability in the very fast and medium-speed corners, and also the need for mechanical traction to deal with the slower parts of the course such as the Bus Stop Chicane, which has been slightly relocated this year, and La Source."

"We will run a bespoke, medium-downforce aerodynamic package for Spa, developed from the set-up we used in Montreal but incorporating all of the important steps we have taken since then."

"Finally, you also have to take into account the notoriously fickle weather conditions in the Hautes Fagnes region, which can completely upset all of your careful calculations."

Giancarlo Fisichella (136 GPs, 14 points 2004):

"Spa is, of course, one of my favourite circuits, and I think my style suits it very well. I love the variety; it has lots of different kinds of corner, and the best is Eau Rouge. That is very difficult to take flat. In qualifying it usually is, though not always, and this year that will depend on the weight of fuel you decide to carry."

"I was second there on my debut in 1997, to Michael, and third with the Renault in 2001, and I believe that there is a chance on this circuit for the driver's talent to make a difference. That makes it a very satisfying track on which to drive. I'm really happy that it is back on the calendar, because it is a more complete circuit than any other."

Felipe Massa (29 GPs, 5 points 2004):

"I raced at Spa in 2002, which was the first time I ever went there. It's a fabulous circuit! I'm so happy that it's back. For sure it's been changed just a little since I was last there, but the very quick corners remain the same. You don't run too much downforce so the car feels like it is dancing. You really know you are a racing driver when you are there. I have never raced anywhere that is better."

"In 2002 here I was running seventh and then had an engine problem, but it was one of my best races. I think we can be strong. The Sauber Petronas C23 has very good speed and there are characteristics that Spa shares with Silverstone. If you look at our performance at Silverstone this should work in our favour. Eau Rouge is of course the best corner for me anywhere in the world, and it should be flat although it wasn't for us in 2002."

-sauber-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella , Felipe Massa
Teams Sauber