The BMW WilliamsF1 Team will head to Spa next weekend for the 14th round of the FIA Formula One World Championship. One of the most favoured tracks amongst the teams and drivers alike, Spa is making a welcome return to the calendar following last...
The BMW WilliamsF1 Team will head to Spa next weekend for the 14th round of the FIA Formula One World Championship. One of the most favoured tracks amongst the teams and drivers alike, Spa is making a welcome return to the calendar following last year's absence.
Situated in the Ardennes forest, Spa-Francorchamps presents the drivers with an open and fast circuit and one of the most exciting corners faced all season in the Eau Rouge. Combined with the venue's notoriously unpredictable weather conditions, which can play havoc with the teams' strategies, the Belgian Grand Prix should produce a thrilling spectacle.
Juan Pablo Montoya:
"It's great to have the Belgian Grand Prix back on the calendar. I regard it as one of my favourite tracks, fast, challenging and very demanding on the drivers, so it will be good to race again there. I have heard the last chicane is not as good as it was before, but we'll wait and see what it's like when we get there. With respect to our performance, our package has always worked pretty well at Spa and generally we have qualified near the front and had a couple of podium finishes."
"We haven't had much wet running during Grand Prix weekends this season, but if there's a circuit where this could turn around, it's definitely Spa and rain will be little help to us. Our new aero package proved successful in Hungary, so we are now looking forward to going well in Belgium."
"I have good memories of Spa, where I've raced four times in different formulae, including Formula Renault, F3 and F3000. The best was definitely in 2000, when I became British F3 Champion, having finished the race in second place. I spent the week after the Hungarian Grand Prix at home in Monaco, training hard in preparation for this race. Spa is a very special place, so I can't wait to drive a Formula One car around it."
"I don't think Eau Rouge is as challenging as it used to be, though, because Formula One cars have so changed much. We have such a huge amount of downforce now, and the tyres have improved so much, I think everyone pretty much goes flat out around it."
Sam Michael (Technical Director, WilliamsF1):
"Spa is one of the great circuits of Formula One racing and it's fantastic to have the Grand Prix back on the calendar again. With the aero and tyre developments made since we last raced there, watching the cars going through Eau Rouge and Blanchimont will be impressive. There has also been a change to the circuit at the last "Bus Stop" corner which will slow the cars down slightly."
"The set-up is not geared towards high downforce, but it's important to have stability through the medium speed flowing corners as the car makes its way back from the far part of the circuit. Changing weather conditions can play havoc as it can sometimes rain on one part of the circuit, but not the other."
"We will have some more aerodynamic developments on the FW26's bodywork, particularly around the winglet and cooling chimney area, a result of the on-going wind tunnel programme. We have also been working hard to improve our starts for the Belgium Grand Prix, Antonio Pizzonia recently completed another shakedown at Silverstone to this end. Ralf has not been cleared to drive yet, so Antonio will once again be driving for us at Spa."
"Our strong partnership with Michelin has enabled us to precisely calculate the tyre compound and casing requirements for Spa. This is particularly impressive given the changes to the surface, and indeed to the car, since we were last at the track."
Mario Theissen (BMW Motorsport Director):
"We are very much looking forward to the race at Spa. The slightly austere track, set in such a natural location, is a tremendous challenge for the drivers. The roller-coaster circuit, which measures nearly seven kilometres, offers plenty of scope for a variety of racing lines and consequently wheel-to-wheel action. From that point of view, it boasts many of the pre-requisites for a great Formula One event, which should create a more exciting show for the spectators than the last Grand Prix in Hungary."
"In Belgium, we are aiming to further increase our competitiveness. Although the on-going testing ban is not exactly helping us with the continued development of the car, the race in Hungary demonstrated that the new nose and improved start performance have met our expectations. Both are foundations upon which we can build."
"The forthcoming Grands Prix in Belgium and Italy pose particular challenges for the BMW P84 engine. At Spa, this is primarily due to the gradients, while in Monza it will be the long straight, which invokes the highest, full-throttle percentage on the Grand Prix calendar."