Spa: Bridgestone preview

The eighth round of the Bridgestone-supported GP2 Series will be held at Spa Francorchamps as part of the Belgian Grand Prix weekend, on 28-30 August. Belgium's circuit at Spa, renowned for its elevation changes at Eau Rouge, will host two ...

The eighth round of the Bridgestone-supported GP2 Series will be held at Spa Francorchamps as part of the Belgian Grand Prix weekend, on 28-30 August.

Belgium's circuit at Spa, renowned for its elevation changes at Eau Rouge, will host two important races for GP2 as the top contenders push to gain valuable points on Bridgestone's soft tyre before heading onto the penultimate round of the year in Monza.

Inline with Bridgestone's one step softer strategy for this season, the soft compound GP2 racing slick will be used here rather than the medium specification tyre that was allocated for this circuit in 2008.

Spa presents many challenges, with the weather being known for its unpredictability due to the unique Ardennes location. This will be a major influencing factor on pit stop strategies for the Saturday feature race and often it can rain on just one part of the circuit making tyre selection a crucial decision for the teams.

In 2008, race winners Romain Grosjean (ART Grand Prix) and Pastor Maldonado (Piquet Sports) proved to be the rain masters. In qualifying, Karun Chandhok out qualified his iSport International team-mate Bruno Senna on the last lap of the session but due to a penalty from the previous race weekend started from eleventh on the grid for race one.

Quote from Hirohide Hamashima - Director of Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development

"Spa Francorchamps is a high speed circuit and offers many different types of corners in terms of speed and elevation. Due to the fast nature of the track, tyre durability and pressures are very important factors in terms of safety with tyre pressures needing to be slightly higher than at other circuits in order to provide stability in the high speed corners. Drivers are also required to manage the front right hand tyres well, as turn ten is a quick left hand corner which puts a heavy load on the front right of the car. The famous Eau Rouge is a demanding part of the track which tests car setup, driver skill and tyre performance, and for overtaking turn five is best at the end of Kemmel Straight. In Spa, the weather is changeable and conditions at the track can vary from one end of the circuit to the other. With a softer tyre at Spa this year and because of the abrasive track surface combined with the lower temperatures, this could cause some graining which is an extra challenge for the drivers as they need to try and keep the heat in the tyres."

Bridgestone GP2 Series: Q&A with Jerome d'Ambrosio

DAMS driver Jerome d'Ambrosio is really looking forward to the next round of the GP2 Series which takes place in his home country at Spa Francorchamps. This season has not been going quite as well as the driver had hoped, but despite that the Belgian is determined to change his form and achieve his first victory of the year at his country's circuit. Bridgestone e-reporter finalist Joao Filipe talked to Jerome in Valencia about next weekend's race.

Q: Why is Spa Francorchamps a favourite track for many drivers?

A: First of all because Spa is a track with a lot of character. It is unique and has a couple of corners that you will not find anywhere else - Eau Rouge and the Raidillon. When you get in Eau Rouge there is a special feeling that I don't think you can find anywhere else.

Q: What skills does a driver need to win at Spa?

A: You need a big heart as well as technical skills because there are some places that are very technical and hard. You also need to be very confident with your car and in what you are doing, and to win you need a good car. Being switched on and focused is very important because you never know what to expect from the weather. You can have rain one minute and then minutes later it can be sunny.

Q: When you are driving and the weather is quite unstable what is your strategy to avoid tyre degradation?

A: It depends on what tyres you are using. If you are on slicks you push very hard to heat them up so you can be also very fast in the rain. If you are on wets you try to save them in the dry parts so you can push in the rain. However the most important thing is to be switched on so you can realise when you should change tyres.

Q: Bridgestone brought medium tyres last year to Spa. This year they will bring soft tyres. How will that change the race?

A: I am sure that Spa would have been very easy with medium tyres. Bridgestone brings the softer compounds because it makes the racing more interesting for the spectators. For us it is more difficult because in the fast corners the tyres wear rapidly but the goal of GP2 is to teach drivers how to develop a tyre strategy and to produce more of a show during the race, and they get this by increasing tyre degradation.

Q: Will racing in front of your home crowd give you any extra motivation?

A: I am motivated all the time, it is nice to be in Belgium but on the other side I do not eat at home and I do not sleep at home so it is pretty much the same as being in Valencia in that way. You have a job to do and you have to do it everywhere and not only at home. I try to approach the race as a normal race weekend. Being well-received by the public is one of the things that makes it very nice when you are at your home event.

-credit: bridgestone

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About this article
Series FIA F2
Drivers Pastor Maldonado , Jérôme d'Ambrosio , Romain Grosjean
Teams DAMS , ART Grand Prix