For round 14 of the 2002 Formula 1 World Championship the Panasonic Toyota Racing team moves to Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. The track is just across the border from the team's Cologne factory, which makes this one of its most local races. At...
For round 14 of the 2002 Formula 1 World Championship the Panasonic Toyota Racing team moves to Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. The track is just across the border from the team's Cologne factory, which makes this one of its most local races.
At 6.947 kilometres, Spa-Francorchamps is the longest track on the F1 calendar, comprising a mixture of public roads and permanent racetrack. It has some very high-speed sections and some challenging corners, which make it a favourite of drivers and engineers alike. There is a small change to track layout for this year, and that is at the exit of the Bus Stop chicane, which has been eased.
Panasonic Toyota Racing goes to the Belgian Grand Prix fresh from a confidence-boosting two-car finish in Hungary two weeks ago. The team completed a successful test at Spa last autumn with its TF101 test car, with both drivers, which gives them invaluable data in terms of set-up.
"Getting two cars to the finish in Hungary was very important for us, and we now go to Spa looking to consolidate that performance. As I've said all along this year, we mustn't raise our expectations too high. We had a couple of good results early on, which changed people's hopes, but every race this year is about learning. As we get nearer to the end of our first season, reliability is once again my priority."
"Spa is surely the best thing about Belgium. It's a wonderful racetrack - one of my favourites - and I hope that it will suit the characteristics of the TF102 more than was the case in Hungary, where we struggled in terms of pace. Every race is very tough at the moment because the standard of the opposition is so high. Having said that, we will continue to do our absolute best."
"Spa is a track where an F1 car can be let loose. All the quick corners and the track's flowing rhythm make it a very enjoyable track to drive, and I can't wait to get started. Our engine is quite strong, which should give us a good race car, and the chassis should be better suited to this track than to others. We only have four races left this season, so we must take every opportunity that presents itself. At Spa, that usually means reading the weather conditions right, so there will be plenty to think about."
Mika Salo on Spa
"I love everything about Spa: its speed, its flow and its challenge. It's an old, established track, and one that punishes drivers for making mistakes. You have to respect it. The only corner that I do not like as much is the La Source hairpin. But you go straight from that to Eau Rouge, so it's quickly forgotten. The drivers get a lot of sensations through Eau Rouge - we pull 4g through there - so it's a great challenge. There are several other breath-taking corners on the lap: the double-left at Pouhon, and the flat-out left at Blanchimont. In all, it's a mega challenge and one which allows the drivers more influence."