Belgian GP Williams preview

The BMW WilliamsF1 Team goes to the Belgian Grand Prix hopeful of a better weekend than in Hungary. Some fruits of the team's labours with the ongoing development of the FW23 will be seen in Spa-Francorchamps where there will be a new chassis, ...

The BMW WilliamsF1 Team goes to the Belgian Grand Prix hopeful of a better weekend than in Hungary. Some fruits of the team's labours with the ongoing development of the FW23 will be seen in Spa-Francorchamps where there will be a new chassis, number 7, for Ralf Schumacher, which has some detail alterations. The team is hoping Ralf can at least match his previous performances at this medium downforce track -second in 1998, fifth in 1999 and third in 2000. WilliamsF1 has four wins to its credit on this circuit, while Juan Pablo Montoya has raced there twice in Formula 3000. The Colombian's first visit in 1997 is a race for him to forget, ending up with him being disqualified for holding up the field with his damaged car, but 1998 was a different story as he claimed pole and finished second. This is another circuit where testing is not permitted, so the test team has spent this week with Ralf and Marc Gené in Barcelona and Ricardo Sperafico in Danielson.

Ralf Schumacher:
"The car in Spa should be better than in the last race in Hungary, but there is always a question mark about the weather as it often rains there, which could cause us a problem. Spa, like Monaco, is one of the remaining old circuits where the safety standards are unfortunately not up to date. I will have a slightly modified car and a new chassis, which I hope will bring us some good results."

Juan Pablo Montoya:
"I think Spa is a great track and an interesting one. Eau Rouge is really quick and if people could feel what you feel when you are going through there that would be something. It is really, really special but it doesn't look that quick on tv. The track is a pretty critical one and obviously very quick. I think for the set-up of the car you have to have a good balance because of the quick corners."

Sam Michael (Chief Operations Engineer):
"Spa is an undulating medium downforce circuit with slow, medium and fast corners. The setup usually requires something stiffer than normal to allow for the large loads on the car through Eau Rouge. This setup also gives stability through the high-speed sections but can be a compromise at places like the Bus-stop and the Turn 1 hairpin. We are taking some chassis development parts that should help us against the opposition. The tyre choice should not be so difficult because we have experience of the two tyres that Michelin are taking. Race strategy is important here, especially if it looks like it will rain."

Gerhard Berger (BMW Motorsport Director):
"Spa Francorchamps is one of the last great natural race tracks and a wonderful challenge for a driver. It offers everything, uphill and downhill, slow and fast corners, and due to its length it is something special. We are very much looking forward to Spa. The circuit should suit our package much better than the Hungaroring, and especially on the long uphill part after Eau Rouge, the power of our BMW engine will pay off."

* The Belgian Grand Prix is one of the most eagerly awaited on the World Championship calendar by both drivers and spectators alike.The Spa-Francorchamps circuit, which has hosted 35 of the 47 Belgian Grands Prix, is known as a 'drivers' circuit.Almost all the drivers cite it as their favourite and a good lap there is something that gives them great satisfaction.The corner known as Eau Rouge is notorious for catching out the unwary and the brave. In the past drivers have had massive accidents there as it is a sweeping curve that dares the bravest to take it flat.It is also a circuit, unlike the Hungaroring where the teams have just been racing, where overtaking is possible.Last year's race witnessed one of the manoeuvres that will be talked about for years to come when Mika Hakkinen overtook Michael Schumacher on the flat-out run into Les Combes, sandwiching a startled Ricardo Zonta in his BAR between them.The most unpredictable aspect of the circuit is the weather as here in the Ardennes Forest it can change quickly from sunshine to rain, and while one part of the circuit can be dry the other can be saturated. The circuit, that for most of the year is public roads, is the longest currently used at 4.330 miles (6.968 km) long and the 44-lap race will be 190.548 miles (306.592 km) long. The race will start at 14.00 local time (12.00 BST) on Sunday, 2nd September.The lap record was set in 1993 by Alain Prost in his WilliamsF1 with a time of 1m 51.095s(140.424mph/225.990km/h).Last year's race was won by Mika Hakkinen in his McLaren while Rubens Barrichello in his Ferrari set the fastest lap in a time of 1m 53.803s (136.964mph/220.423km/h)


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams