The 2002 Belgian Grand Prix will provide the BMW WilliamsF1 Team with the perfect opportunity to dispel the difficult memories of last year's race on the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. After the highs of securing a front row lock out in qualifying,...
The 2002 Belgian Grand Prix will provide the BMW WilliamsF1 Team with the perfect opportunity to dispel the difficult memories of last year's race on the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. After the highs of securing a front row lock out in qualifying, the team struggled in a turbulent race in 2001 with both drivers' starts compromised by mechanical problems.
The open and fast track provides the perfect venue for the BMW WilliamsF1 Team to cement its intentions of staying clear of nearest rivals, McLaren, while improving its performances to present a real challenge to Ferrari over the closing races of the season.
The scenic track situated in the Ardennes forest Spa-Francorchamps also presents the drivers with the most exciting corner on the F1 calendar the Eau Rouge, along with high speed straights and coupled with unpredictable weather conditions it can prove to be a tough adversary. It is a large contrast to the short, narrow and hot Hungaroring. The BMW WilliamsF1 Team had a great advantage in 2001 and will be looking for a decisive result.
"I am really hoping that in Spa we will have a more exciting race than in Budapest, although I have to say under the circumstances, I was really happy with the outcome in Hungary. I must admit that I am going to Spa with mixed feelings. I am looking forward to the many fast sections of the track that suit our car very well, but on the other hand I believe this circuit is not up-to-date particularly in the run-off areas. The once popular Eau Rouge corner has lost a bit of its glamour. Today you can drive it without any concern, as the cars remain stable. There are certainly other corners in F1 that raise my heartbeat higher."
Juan Pablo Montoya:
"Spa is definitely one of my favourite tracks. It's a quick and challenging circuit and this good combination makes it stand out and exciting to drive - especially as it a long circuit with a variety of different corners so there is a large emphasis on driver skills. The qualifying session is tricky because you need an all-round balance of everything working together. Of course Eau Rouge is a true test! I did take it flat three or four times last year. In the rain this track becomes even more risky because you lose so much visibility especially when you are behind somebody and following in their spray. I think it should be a good circuit for our package, particularly if it is dry. Next weekend is definitely a race I am looking forward to."
Sam Michael (Chief Operations Engineer, WilliamsF1):
"Spa-Francorchamps is a challenging circuit for the drivers with a combination of high, medium and slow speed corners. Due to the undulation in the circuit, the cars need to be stiffer than normal to avoid hitting the ground as they travel through Eau Rouge. To get the right downforce level is important, as is the mechanical setup as the engineers also have to allow for the curbs in the first part of the bus stop chicane."
"Our normal weekend program should identify the best tyre to take. It will be a harder decision than normal due to the fluctuating weather conditions that are always part of the Spa circuit."
"Race strategy is more uncertain now because the circuit has been changed at the bus stop chicane, so the entry to the pits appears to take longer. This always makes the strategy tend towards less pitstops, but it is something we will be evaluating on Friday."
Mario Theissen (BMW Motorsport Director):
"In Budapest we have been able to build our claim for second place in the championship. Finishing second this year is our goal and given there are just four more races to go our chances are not too bad to achieve this. Everybody is looking forward to racing at Spa- Francorchamps. It is a true driver' circuit and also a highlight for spectators. Spa is one of the last character circuits and for me as I am from the Eifel region it is also a kind of a home race. We feel well prepared with our engines and there will be no major modifications for Spa. The weather in the Ardennes has proved to be quite unstable, which will play its role in our tyre choice. One fact is guaranteed that we cannot expect hot conditions like Budapest."