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Old 21st August 2015, 07:58   #1
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Default 2015 Formula 1 Belgium GP : Spa-Francorchamps

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Belgium's Spa-Francorchamps circuit is among the most historic tracks on the Formula One calendar, having hosted a (non-championship) Grand Prix as long ago as 1924, and remains one of the most popular venues with drivers and fans alike.

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The Spa Franchochamps circuit represents one of the most complete tests of driver skill on the calendar today, with fast flowing corners, elevation changes and tight turns.

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Car set-up is therefore a compromise between straight-line speed and cornering grip, and getting that balance right is a challenge.
More than twenty years on Spa remains the longest circuit on the calendar which means there are plenty of opportunities for error and really allows the best to rise to the surface.
Such is the challenge of Spa that only the truly great drivers can really claim to have mastered it. In fact just six men have won the race more than twice - Juan Manuel Fangio (three times), Damon Hill (three times), Kimi Raikkonen (four times), Jim Clark (four times), Ayrton Senna (five times) and Michael Schumacher (six times).

What to expect this weekend:
There have been a few minor changes to kerbs and run-off areas at the circuit since last yearís race, but the layout remains as before. Two DRS zones will again be in operation - the first on the Kemmel Straight (between Turns 4 and 5) and the second on the pit straight.
Forecast for the weekend is for settled weather - but the weather is notoriously changeable (it can often be simultaneously raining on one part of the track and dry on another)
We missed the battle between the Mercedes drivers last year when the two Silver Arrows controversially came together at Les Combes. Hopefully this year we shall see a clean fight around this special circuit.
Kimi Raikkonen, who has four Belgian wins to his name usually performs well at the Spa circuit and may be able to challenge his teammate at this circuit. With his seat secure for next year, now would be a good time for the Finn to fly. Vettel - a two-time winner in Spa - is expected to be strong this weekend. But will the two SF15-Ts be strong enough to take the fight to Mercedes again?
One thing is for sure; Williams will be much stronger on a track that will suit not just their Mercedes power unit but also the characteristics of the slippery FW37.
Force India have their tails up after the performance of their revised VJM08 in Hungary, structural failures notwithstanding, and Lotus too with similar Mercedes power have high hopes .
McLaren and Honda were cautiously optimistic that they turned a corner in Hungary, where their cars ran much better and scored points with both drivers for the first time. Spa will be a crucial race, as Honda are bringing a revised version of their powerplant after significant modifications to the combustion chamber, air intake, gear-train system and exhaust. Everyone in the team is expecting a big step, though reactions at Woking have been low-key.
Meanwhile, Red Bull and Toro Rosso expect to struggle again after strong races in Hungary, as Sauber look forward to running the latest specification Ferrari motor.

Race Timings:
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Constructors & Drivers standings :
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Race Start:

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There is excitement and uncertainty surrounding the FIAís changes to the rules governing start procedures.
The teams will be limited in the information they can give their drivers over the radio as they prepare for the start. Primarily, the clutch bite point will now be fixed by the time the cars leave the pits for the grid prior to the start of the race. In the past drivers could experiment with the bite point and make adjustments with help from their team during the formation laps.
With the twin clutches employed on an F1 car, drivers would set one lever at the chosen bite point and have the other fully disengaged just before the start. Theyíd then release the second lever at the start and begin the juggling act with power, torque, engine mapping and wheelspin to make the best start they can.
Whatís different now is that the teams canít help them find the crucial bite point; now each driver has to do that himself in the old-fashioned, seat-of-the-pants way.

Eau Rouge : The best corner in F1 racing?

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Despite numerous changes over the years, Eau Rouge, with its high speed and sudden elevation change, maintains its reputation as one of Formula One racing's most technically demanding corners.
The characteristic down-up sweep of Eau Rouge, named for the red-hued, iron-rich stream running beneath it, has been used in every iteration of Spa since the world championship began in 1950. However, when cars first started racing there in the 1920s, Eau Rouge was a sharp left-hander which took the drivers off towards a hairpin in the direction of the German border. But seeking to improve the average speed of what was already a supremely quick circuit, track bosses decided to create an Ďartificialí uphill sweep in order to bypass the slow section. If you look closely at these pictures from the 1950s you can still see the old left-hander at the bottom of the hill, just after the brick wall denoting the edge of the bridge.
Eau Rouge was the scene of several major crashes in the Nineties. In 1993 Alex Zanardi was lucky to escape major injury when his Lotus suffered a mechanical issue and smashed into the wall midway up the hill. That incident increased speculation that, for safety reasons, the corner might one day have to be re-profiled to a chicane - a suggestion that outraged Ayrton Senna. "If you take away Eau Rouge," the five-time Belgian winner said, "you take away the reason why I do this..." The sad irony was that it was Sennaís death - and the subsequent safety backlash - that led to a chicane being installed at the corner in 1994. The section would return to its visceral best the following year, albeit with additional tyre barriers, gravel traps and run-off areas.
Eau Rouge has always put the drivers and the cars on the limits and hence when the DRS was introduced in 2011 the drivers were banned from using it in Eau Rouge because of safety concerns. The introduction of the latest generation of power units in 2014 changed the game once more, with the drivers now unanimous in their belief that the legendary corner is a true challenge once more.

The 1998 Belgian Grand Prix Pile up:

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In one of the most dramatic and incident filled races in F1 history, arguably its most infamous moment occurred mere seconds after the start.
In total the incident lasted barely 15 seconds, but by the time it was over no fewer than 13 of the 22 machines that took the start had bitten the dust.
The chief culprit, as is so often the case at Spa, was the weather. The race got underway amid a characteristically torrential Ardennes downpour, meaning the field arrived at the circuitís excruciatingly tight first corner, La Source, bunched together and shrouded in spray.
Somewhat amazingly the entire grid managed to negotiate the right-hander without incident, but as McLarenís Mika Hakkinen led the pack down the hill towards Eau Rouge, the Finnís team mate David Coulthard - sitting in fourth - lost control after running over a drain cover.
In an instant the Scotís silver MP4-13 speared sideways out of the gloom and smashed violently into the inside retaining wall, the force of the impact spitting the car back across the circuit and into the path of the onrushing pack.
The scale of devastation that followed was unprecedented.
Detached tyres and shards of carbon fibre bodywork filled the air as cars lost control and ricocheted into one another at will, one brutal impact following another. Then, just as the chaos seemed to be waning, along came the unsighted tail-enders, cannoning helplessly into the wreckage.
After what must have felt like an eternity to those caught up in the mayhem, the collisions eventually abated and the race was red-flagged. The drivers involved, all of whom escaped largely unscathed, raced back to the pits to collect spare cars for the re-start, but they neednít have rushed - such was the scale of the accident that it took nearly an hour to clear the circuit of debris.


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Circuit length : 7.004km/4.352 miles

Run to Turn One : 265 metres

Longest straight : 2.015km, from La Source to Turn 5, Les Combes

Top speed : 322km/h on the approach to Turn 5

Full throttle : 70%

Brake wear : Low. There are only nine braking events around the lap

Gear changes : 48 per lap/2112 per race

Race distance : 44 laps (full world championship points awarded after 75% distance/33 laps)

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DRS zones : Two Ė on the approach to Turn 1 and, again, on the approach to Turn 5

Pitlane length : 390 metres, which is quite long. The time loss isnít that great because the cars staying on-track have to negotiate the La Source Hairpin

2014 winner : Daniel Ricciardo

2014 pole position : Nico Rosberg 2m05.591s 200.766km/h (wet)

2014 fastest lap : Nico Rosberg 1m50.511s 228.162km/h

Chances of a Safety Car : High. Thereís an 80 per cent chance that the Safety Car will appear in Sundayís race largely due to accidents at Spa occurring at high-speed.

Key strategic moments: The start, when new FIA rules mean there will be more input from the drivers.

Weather forecast : Changeable. Spa-Francorchamps is located in the Ardennes Mountains, which have a notoriously fickle microclimate

First race : 1950

Last yearís strategy and how the race was won: Daniel Ricciardo won his second consecutive race for Red Bull (the third victory of his career) using a two-stop strategy for the 44-lap race from fifth on the grid. He did two stints on the soft tyre and a final stint on the medium tyre, stopping on laps 11 and 26.
  • Kimi Raikkonen has far and away the best record of any current driver at Spa, taking four wins and one other podium finish. Overall the Finn has 20 Grand Prix victories to his name, meaning a fifth of his triumphs have come on Belgian soil. Last year the Ferrari driver finished fourth - his best result of the season, but the only time he has reached the chequered flag at Spa and not stood on the podium.
  • Of the other drivers on the grid, Sebastian Vettel has won at Spa twice, whilst Felipe Massa, Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Daniel Ricciardo each have one victory at the classic venue to their name.
  • Lewis Hamilton is the only current driver to have taken more than one pole position at Spa, although he needs two more to match the record of four held jointly by Juan Manuel Fangio, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna.
  • Ferrari (16), McLaren (14) and Lotus (8) have captured the most wins in Belgium. However, Red Bull have won three of the last four races at Spa, including last yearís race with Daniel Ricciardo.
  • Just 15 of the 48 races at Spa - and three of the last ten - have been won from pole. The furthest back any winner has started from at Spa is 16th - that was Michael Schumacher in 1995.
  • Sebastian Vettel makes his 150th Grand Prix start. He will become the 35th man to reach the milestone.
  • Vettel could also become the sole owner of the record for most points in F1 history this weekend. The Ferrari driver moved level with Fernando Alonso on 1,778 points with his victory in Hungary last time out.

Sources : F1 website, FIA media kit, team reviews.
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Old 21st August 2015, 07:59   #2
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Default re: 2015 Formula 1 Belgium GP : Spa-Francorchamps

Preview quotes - Source : F1 website

Will Stevens

“It was nice for me and the rest of the team to have a good long break, but I think we are all ready to get back into the racing now. I had a lot of fun catching up with friends and family, and every now and then you do need a reboot, but at the same time it was important to maintain my physical training regime as this next phase of the season can be quite arduous, particularly the long hauls. I’m feeling really positive about the work that lies ahead, as it will be a combination of maximising our current package for this year and development for 2016. It’s good to get that underway at Spa, one of my favourite racetracks and a really great challenge for car and driver.”
Roberto Merhi
“It’s good to be back after the holidays and to get back to racing here at Spa, which is definitely my favourite circuit. I won my first Formula race here in 2007, in Formula Renault. Not only is it a very demanding circuit, and a real test of skill, but you also have other factors in the mix, like the weather, which can be really tricky as it is very changeable. Prior to the break, I felt that things were really starting to come together for me a little more and I was much more confident with the car. I hope to pick up where I left off and have a really positive second half of the season for me and the team.”
John Booth, Team Principal
“It’s nice to see the team looking so refreshed after a long and well-deserved summer break. Spa is a great track at which to get the second half of the season started and one where everyone can be reminded of our sport’s fantastic heritage. It provides an exciting test of man and machine, and it is great to hear the feedback from the drivers on what is always a very exhilarating lap. Our focus will be extracting as much performance as possible from our current package and at the same time transposing our findings onto the development programme for next year’s car.”

Force India:
Nico Hulkenberg

“The summer break was very relaxing for me. My schedule has been extra busy this year so it was nice to stay at home for a few weeks and just switch off and relax. Even though it’s only been a month since the last race, you miss being in the car and the buzz of racing, so I’m definitely ready to begin the second half of the season.
“Spa is a favourite for all the drivers. When I think of driving there it just makes me smile because it’s got so many special high-speed corners - the corners you want to experience in a Formula One car. You’ve also got the history of the place and the unpredictable weather which often helps spice up the racing.
“We go there hoping to bounce back from a tough race in Hungary. The improvements we’ve made to the car will really help us in Spa, especially through the high-speed corners. The engine also plays a big part around the lap. We are competitive and I am confident we can start the second part of the season strongly.”
Sergio Perez
“The break was a good opportunity to recharge my batteries and spend some time at home with my family. The calendar is pretty busy and we don't often get the chance to have some time for ourselves. However, I am really looking forward to getting back behind the wheel and doing what I really love.
"Spa is an amazing track and I enjoy racing there. The first sector and the run through Eau Rouge feel very special in a Formula One car and it’s definitely a highlight of the year. The track can also produce really good racing because there are a few corners where you have a good chance to overtake.
“I think the characteristics of the track and its emphasis on power and top speed should suit our car. You also have to expect wet weather at some point during the weekend so it could be quite unpredictable. We have shown some good pace in the last few races and we should be in a position to get a good result.”
Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India team principal
“The summer break has given us a chance to regroup following a challenging race in Budapest. The whole team has worked extremely hard to repair the cars and solve the problems that we encountered in Hungary, and we’re ready to bounce back this weekend in Spa.
“Although the Hungarian Grand Prix was disappointing, I prefer to focus on the positives, especially the strong pace we showed in the first half of the race. We saw that the VJM08 is capable of running comfortably inside the top ten, which gives us confidence for the second half of the season. There remains an upbeat feeling in the team and I think we can look forward to some competitive races to come.
“Returning to Spa is always special because it’s one of those tracks that truly captures the imagination. The drivers love to race here and it’s a favourite with the fans too. We expect to be in good shape this weekend and we will be aiming for Q3 on Saturday and good points on Sunday.”

Lewis Hamilton

“It's been good to take a break from racing and spend some time relaxing, training and recharging the batteries. But, of course, there's always that flame in the back of your mind that just wants to get back out there and get on it - especially after a race like Hungary. Spa is a great track to kick off the second part of the season too. It's one of the really great, old-school circuits with so much history. It's mostly medium to high speed corners, so you're pretty much pedal to the metal the whole way round which is a lot of fun. It's always special to come out on top at a classic race like this so I remember winning here well. I love this track and I'll be gunning for that top spot again.”
Nico Rosberg
“The summer break is a great chance for the team to recharge after a tough start to the year and they definitely deserve it for all the hard work in making the incredible car we've had so far this season. But for me, personally, it's time I'd rather be spending in the car! Hungary was a big disappointment and I've been itching to get back to racing ever since. When you're in such a close battle for the Championship, any opportunity to gain points is crucial and it's up to me to take those chances - but also to make them for myself. That's definitely the target for the second half of the year. We're only halfway through the season, so it's all still to play for. Spa is a fantastic circuit - a track that I think every driver enjoys and one that always produces spectacular racing. I'm looking forward to it.”
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
“With ten races down and nine to go, we enter the second half of the season with a stronger points total than at this stage last year. And yet, our margin to the competition is actually smaller. There is never a moment you can take your foot off the gas and Hungary proved once again that any slip is an opportunity our rivals will grab with both hands. We have all enjoyed a chance to recharge over the summer - but we have also kept our minds focused on what lies ahead. There are still many chances to win or lose this battle and we must be relentless in our push to come out on top.”
Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)
“Belgium has recently been rated by fans as the most popular race on the calendar and it's easy to see why. It's a phenomenal circuit, with significant elevation changes, challenging corners and plenty of opportunity for overtaking. This is a race which is usually spiced up by the weather, with rain producing some classic Grands Prix over the years. It's the longest lap of the season, so if conditions change just at the wrong moment there's a long way to tiptoe back for a tyre change - often leading to significant shake-ups in the order. It's a good overall test of a car, with a strong aero package required for the high-speed content and good power necessary for the long straights and numerous climbs. Spa also sits with Monza as one of two circuits where we will see specific low drag configurations - although not to the extent of that seen in Italy. After a well-earned break, we're all looking forward to kicking off the second half of the season and aiming to do so with a strong performance.”

Toro Rosso:
Max Verstappen

“The Hungaroring was clearly a good track for us from a performance and point-scoring point of view. Spa will be much harder as it doesn't suit our car that well, but we will make sure we work hard to achieve the best result possible. The P4 in Hungary definitely gives us all extra motivation!
“I raced [at Spa] last year during my F3 season and we won all three races that weekend, it felt great! So hopefully we can score some more points and continue with our good performances in Spa! It's such an amazing track to drive, it's unique! It has some very challenging and fun corners, like Eau Rouge, and the home crowd just make it even more special. I am really looking forward to the weekend ahead.”
Carlos Sainz
“After Hungary, we are one step closer to our target of finishing fifth in the championship. We are all working flat-out together and this is a very good sign! We will need a kind of race like the one we had in Hungary to be able to be competitive in Spa. Well, hey, maybe not exactly 100 percent the same… [Smiles].
“We know we'd be strong in sector two if we could run all the downforce we have, but the problem is that the straights in sectors one and three are so long, that we will have to take all that downforce off to be competitive. So we are hoping for some rain, that's for sure!
“Anyway, we will do our best to extract the maximum out of the car whatever the conditions are and try and do what we did in Canada; it was a solid weekend even if we didn't have a competitive package.
“In the Renault World Series last year in Spa I won back-to-back races in a very solid way and it really consolidated my championship chances as well as my position within the Red Bull Junior Team. It will be emotional to go back there! The good memories will definitely give us a lot of energy and I will try and perform at the same level as I did there last year.
“There's no doubt it's my favourite track together with Silverstone, I really, really like it for so many reasons, it's difficult to pick just one! Also, the fact of doing well there makes you like the circuit even more. I especially enjoy all the downhill section from the big long hairpin to Pouhon, the right-left at the end of sector two… It's just a really exceptional track.”

Valtteri Bottas
“Spa is one of my favourite circuits. The feeling of Eau Rouge in a Formula One car is hard to explain and certainly unique, it’s just incredible. The layout is normally strongly suited to the characteristics of our car as well, so I head to this weekend looking for a strong result. I was on the podium last year, so we are looking to achieve a similar result. The weather always plays a part throughout the weekend so we have to be alert as it can change so fast.”
Felipe Massa
“Spa is the most enjoyable circuit for many of the drivers and it’s definitely my favourite. It’s always good to have a strong result at the circuits you enjoy driving. The weather can sometimes surprise us so we will need to be on the ball when it comes to strategic decision making. The layout suits the strengths of our car so we’re looking to start the second half of the season in a strong position.”
Rob Smedley
“Returning from the summer break we are all refreshed and absolutely raring to go; the team spirit and motivation at Williams is tangible as we look forward to challenging for podium positions in the second part of the year. Spa should be a circuit that suits the FW37 and we therefore have to capitalise on this. The long straights twinned with the long sweeping corners in sector 2 are definitely characteristics where we’ve seen this year’s car perform really well. The weather is an important factor in Spa and we therefore have to be ready for all circumstances. We have been doing a lot of homework in this area recently and the team has made excellent inroads. Belgium is such a fantastic Grand Prix for the teams and the fans alike. It encapsulates the purity of Formula One very well, which is simply about the best cars in the world racing around the best circuits, and we are lucky to visit here each year.”

Fernando Alonso

"It feels great to be back. I enjoyed a relaxing break over the summer shutdown, but I also trained hard and I feel in the best shape to start the second half of the year. After Hungary, we were all really encouraged by the outcome; although we were fortunate to have had some good luck, we still battled hard and finished the race with a positive result.
"Spa will be tricky for us, due to the configuration of a track that requires power, downforce and a big chunk of the lap spent at full throttle. But, from a driver's perspective it's a spectacular circuit and the fans there also make it a truly special place. It's a place at which I won when I was in Formula 3000, but never in Formula One. I've enjoyed some really exciting battles there, and I'm looking forward to this weekend for some more.
"The next few races will be important for us: we need to continue our forward momentum, and, with the addition of some tweaks to the car and power unit, we will be looking for more progress and good correlation between the simulator and our on-track performance. That might not necessarily appear above the surface in either Spa or Monza, but we'll keep pushing development forward at each race."
Jenson Button
"What a place to resume the second half of the season! It's such a great place to come to after the break - Spa is a circuit I've always loved right from the start of my racing career, and every lap around this incredibly special circuit is still hugely exciting and puts a massive grin on my face. It's genuinely a circuit like no other.
"I'm really looking forward to getting back into the car and seeing where we stand among our nearest competitors. We can't pretend that we're expecting a huge jump forward in performance - especially at this circuit, as it doesn't suit our car's characteristics - but, after the break, I'm feeling refreshed, positive, and ready to continue the solid progress we've made so far.
"I love Spa, I won there back in 2012, and, even when I'm not battling for the lead, I really enjoy the racing there as it usually produces fantastic Grands Prix. It's a privilege as a Formula One driver to be able to go to the circuit in the morning, get in the car, and race through some of the most legendary corners in motorsport."
Eric Boullier, Racing director
"After a well-deserved summer break for the whole team, we're all ready and raring to go at the start of the second half of the season. We had an encouraging race in Hungary leading into the summer break, and we now feel refreshed and determined to continue improving our form as the rest of the season progresses.
"We've persevered through some tough moments, but the positivity and steadfast commitment to McLaren-Honda's future success are evident in every single member of this team. Our drivers, too, have been unwavering in their support and are working hard to keep pushing us forward, extracting the maximum from the package at every opportunity. We're also incredibly grateful for the support of our partners, who are incredibly loyal, and who are united behind our development programme. In the second half of the season, our fight towards the front will continue, and we'll work hard to build on our steady, solid progress in pursuit of performance.
"Spa is a truly spectacular circuit - arguably the best on the calendar for many - but, given the unique power and downforce package required, the track won't play to our strengths. Therefore, of course, we must be measured in our optimism, and we will need to wait for Singapore and beyond before we can see the fruits of our labours reflected on track."
Yasuhisa Arai, Honda R&D senior managing officer - chief officer of motorsport
"After a well-deserved and positive result in Hungary, the summer break was good rest for the trackside team, while Sakura continued on with the power unit development.
"As we planned, Honda has updated our combustion characteristics to further improve our power units for Spa and the second half of the season. This weekend's free practices will be important to test the pairing of the power units to the cars. The Belgian race, however, will surely be a difficult one for the team and drivers, with expected grid penalties and a long and unforgiving power circuit.
"Nevertheless, McLaren-Honda's focus is to improve race by race. We know we can learn a lot from the circuit for immediate future, and hope that we can come out of the weekend with some positives."

Marcus Ericsson

“I am really looking forward to driving at Spa-Francorchamps in general and Eau Rouge, Blanchimont and Pouhon in particular. This traditional Grand Prix weekend at this historic track is purely about racing, and the fans are really into our sport and passionate about it. The atmosphere is great there. In comparison to other circuits, the track is quite long with some interesting corners and long straights. Engine power is the crucial factor, which fits well with our engine update. It’s one of those tracks which is like an adventure, it goes up and downhill. Always an important aspect of Spa is the weather. You never know what is going to happen, one part of the track can be wet and the other can be dry. This is also what makes Spa so special.”
Felipe Nasr
“Spa is my favourite circuit on the calendar. The track is unique, having a lot of high-speed corners and a great corner combination. As a driver you get a nice flow going through these corner combinations. It is a track on which you need a stable car in the high-speed corners. I would say the combination of low downforce and traction is essential to be competitive. Going through Eau Rouge flat out will be tricky and, for sure, a challenge. It will be my first time driving this circuit in a Formula One car. We do have our engine update there, but, as we haven’t run it yet, we don’t know what it is going to be like. We are all looking forward to it and hope this will be a benefit for us.”
Giampaolo Dall’Ara, Sauber Head of Track Engineering
“The Belgian Grand Prix can be considered the opener of the second part of the season, in which the Sauber F1 team is looking forward to stronger performances thanks to a number of upgrades that will be progressively introduced. At Spa both C34 will be fitted with more powerful Ferrari power units and track specific wings. The track is an all-round favourite and demands high-speed cornering performance and straight-line speed, hence aerodynamic efficiency and power output. Traction and braking, although, as usual, important, are second to stability and reactiveness, therefore rather specific set-ups are being worked out. As for the tyre compounds, medium and soft are expected to fit the event well.”

Red Bull:
Daniel Ricciardo

“When I was a kid I played the racing games quite a bit and Spa was always the track I played - it was my favourite - and when I got to drive there for real, every bit was as good as I thought it would be. My first race was in Formula Renault 2.0 and I can still picture the first lap, thinking ‘wow’ as I went through Eau Rouge.
“To win the Grand Prix last year was really, really cool. It was pretty tough to drive. We ran really low downforce, pretty much Monza-spec. It made it tricky: tail-y but fun. Trying to keep up the rhythm when the car is moving around is not always easy - but I think it was the best package we had for the weekend.
“When Spa’s sunny, it’s great. A proper old-school Grand Prix for the real racing enthusiast. Great atmosphere, great fans, great beer and definitely the place to come if you like the frites. Only drawback is that it’ll be 30 degrees C with blue skies one minute and hosing down the next.”
Daniil Kvyat
“Spa is one of my favourite tracks of the year. I think that’s a bit of cliche but I think it’s a favourite for all the drivers. It’s really long, really challenging, there are some proper fast sections and some properly balls-out corners. At Spa, more than anywhere, you feel that you’re really driving an F1 car.
“With these cars Eau Rouge is back to being a bit of a balls-out corner - especially in the wet. Pouhon is pretty much and Blanchimont still, but really only in the wet. It’s full of great, flowing, interesting sections.
“There’s great history [at Spa-Francorchamps]; the atmosphere is amazing. To be honest it’s quite hard to put into words. I like the weather. It always feels like one of the freshest weekends of the year, if that doesn’t sound strange, but it’s cold at night, and the mist and everything adds to the atmosphere. It’s a great circuit and I think it brings out the true fans and that’s quite special.”

Romain Grosjean

“What a fabulous race circuit! Spa as we all know is one of the best tracks we go to, if not the best of them all. As a driver it is like a dream circuit with elevation change, quick corners, medium-speed technical corners and some good straights for overtaking. It’s a circuit with a soul. I always enjoy racing here, as do most of the drivers. What I find memorable about Spa is not only the track but also the beautiful surroundings in the Ardennes forest. From the cockpit you get a very real sense of being at a living, breathing track at Spa and the fans are really close to the action. You can almost smell the frites!
“It’s a great track as there’s so much to think about over a lap. That’s true if you’re on a qualifying lap trying to maximise your speed at every point, or in a race where you’re either defending or attacking, and maybe both over the course of a lap. It’s the type of place where the differences between cars can be highlighted and sometimes you see a car go really well here - let’s hope that’s our car this season!
“You need good grunt from the engine and a well set-up and forgiving car. We can definitely deliver on both those counts so it’s going to be interesting to see how we fare against our rivals. You also need an element of luck sometimes as the weather in the Ardennes can present a challenge.
“It’s almost a cliche to talk about the possibility of rain on one part of the track when it’s dry on another, but this can happen. If it happens during qualifying, it’s a massive challenge to make the right call with timing for your lap. If it happens during the race, then the call of when to pit and change your tyres for wet weather ones or back to slicks has a massive impact as it’s a long, long, long lap if you’re at Spa on the wrong rubber.
“I won in the GP2 Series in 2008 which was a fabulous feeling and I’ve certainly missed the Spa podium since then. I’ve always had good pace but my best result in F1 so far there is P8. I don’t see why we can’t improve on that this year.
“I think the circuit could well play to some of the strengths we have in the car and I’m certainly ready for more points. Me and the team will be doing everything we can to go well and get the strongest result possible, after all that’s what we’re here to do!”
Pastor Maldonado
“Where do you start with Spa? It is an amazing circuit and for sure one of the best on the planet. The sensations a driver experiences at corners like the Eau Rouge / Radillon combination, Pouhon and Blanchimont are not like you feel anywhere else in the world. It is unique in every way and to think you are competing on parts of the track that were used back in the first Grand Prix season in 1950 makes it very special indeed.
“Every track has its own challenges. For Spa, it’s a long lap and this can present some set-up challenges. You want low drag for the straights but decent downforce for the corners. This is the same at any track, but with the longer lap at Spa the different requirements are highlighted. Sometimes the best set-up for the fastest lap is not necessarily the best in a race. It’s easier to overtake on the straights, so a car fast here, but maybe relatively slower in the corners could be the preferred race set-up. This year we have a car we know to be very quick in a straight line, so this could help us. Then, of course, you never know if you’re going to get rain at Spa, and when it comes, it can come very quickly. There’s always something to keep you on your toes at Spa.
“Spa is the type of track where you get great memories whenever or whatever you are racing. But of course the ones that really stick in the mind are the victories and I am lucky that I have won here a few times. I first raced at Spa in 2004 in Formula Renault. In 2006 I won in World Series by Renault at Spa, taking pole, fastest lap and the victory. Then in 2008 I won in the GP2 Series for the first time. Then I took another win in my championship year in 2010 which was a sweet moment. In Formula One I qualified sixth in 2012. So all in all I have great memories of the track and feel that I have a special relationship with it going back many years.”
Nick Chester, Lotus Technical Director
“There’s a significant variance between the first and third sectors - where it’s not beneficial to run high downforce thanks to the long straights - and the middle sector, which is a mix of high and medium-speed corners where more downforce is needed. It’s a real balancing act between taking wing off to ensure we are quick on the straights and managing the car through the corners where it could easily feel too light due to a lack of downforce. It can make it a little bit difficult to get the best out of the car there but that’s the challenge for Spa and it always makes it interesting from a set-up point of view.
"We tend to do a lot of pre-event studies in simulation to work that out and give ourselves as much of a head-start as possible. We try out varying wing levels and see which are likely to give us the best lap times.
“It’s a circuit that has to be approached differently [from an engineer’s point of view] to other tracks, which is great. Aside from achieving the best compromise between downforce and straight-line speed, there are a few other aspects of the circuit that present a nice challenge. The famous Eau Rouge, for example, requires respect when setting ride heights for the car. You don’t want to get it wrong through there. It all keeps our engineers nicely busy.
“[The track’s greater length is] not a factor when setting up the car. It can have an effect on strategy; although the greater factor there tends to be the type of tyres we have for the Grand Prix. You do have to approach the sessions differently however, as the circuit’s 7.004 km means you tend to run fewer laps so it makes it a bit more difficult to get setup work done. It’s the same for everyone though and we manage our programme carefully as always to ensure we can achieve as much as possible in the time that we have.
“It’s a strong power track and we have a strong power unit. We have fairly low drag on the E23 so I believe we should be in a reasonable position.”
Federico Gastaldi, Lotus Deputy Team Principal
“The atmosphere is unique as well, but ultimately Spa is all about the challenge that it presents to the drivers. Just watching them attack the classic corners like Eau Rouge and Pouhon is a thrill. It must be amazing to drive this roller coaster in the forest; it’s like the track reflects the ups and downs of everything in F1. Spa also has a good feeling in the paddock too because everyone is refreshed from the summer break and there is a sense of renewed energy for the rest of the year. We’ve seen so many times over the years the epic races that have played out at Spa; Michael Schumacher making his debut there in 1991, then winning the Grand Prix with us as Benetton the following year, Damon Hill winning Jordan’s first race or our former driver Giancarlo Fisichella coming so very close to winning there in 2009. It’s a great place to be and always delivers a superb spectacle.”

The second half of the 2015 Formula One season gets underway with arguably the most epic circuit on the calendar: Spa-Francorchamps, characterised by a long seven- kilometre lap, high speeds, sweeping changes of elevation, fast corners and variable weather. To cope with this wide-ranging set of demands, the most versatile tyres in the range are called for, which is why Pirelli has nominated the P Zero White medium and P Zero Yellow soft: the most popular tyre combination of all the grands prix held so far this year. The Cinturato intermediate and wet tyres are also very likely to feature at some point during the Spa weekend, given the region’s microclimate.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director:
“We have the same tyre nomination for Spa as we did for the Hungaroring – which turned out to be one of the most thrilling races of the season – but the two circuits present a very marked contrast. Whereas Hungary was tight and twisty, Spa is open and flat-out, making it a favourite among all the drivers.
We’ve got plenty of high-energy loads going through the tyres in many directions due to all the different forces at work, but ambient temperatures still tend to be quite low, so the soft and medium tyres represent the best compromise between performance and durability. Spa is a race where anything can happen, with a high incidence of safety cars and changing weather, so tyre strategy is important, as well as each team’s ability to constantly read the race and react quickly to any opportunities that present themselves.
The recent Spa 24 Hours – which is our biggest event of the year – featured more changes of lead than you could count, as well as a succession of incidents and safety cars in the first half of the race. That showcases just what a spectacular and unpredictable competition this amazing circuit can regularly provide.”
The biggest challenges for the tyres:
Managing the amount of energy going through the tyres is one of the keys to success at Spa. This consists of not only forces exerted through cornering, braking, and acceleration but also the loads generated by the huge changes in elevation, typified by the famous Eau Rouge-Raidillon complex (which subjects the tyre structure and shoulder to an unparalleled 1g compression).
The biggest difficulty with the variable weather in Spa is that many variations exist over the course of just a single lap, making it hard to identify the correct tyre when it rains. It’s possible for one part of the circuit to be completely soaked, but another part to be a hundred per cent dry. Drainage is an issue, meaning that it’s easy to be caught out by streams of water running across the track surface.
The medium tyre is a low working range compound, capable of achieving optimal performance even at a wide range of low temperatures – which is often the case at Spa. The soft tyre by contrast is a high working range compound, suitable for higher temperatures.
Expected performance gap between the two compounds: 1.8 – 2.0 seconds per lap.
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Old 21st August 2015, 08:31   #3
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Default re: 2015 Formula 1 Belgium GP : Spa-Francorchamps

Thursday PC:
2015 Formula 1 Belgium GP : Spa-Francorchamps-pc-thurs.jpg
Source: http://www.fia.com/news/2015-belgian...ess-conference
Unsurprisingly, the first question was to Kimi about his 2016 contract.
Kimi, we have to start with you. Obviously Spa has been very good to you over the years Ė four wins Ė but your drive for 2016 confirmed yesterday. What do you hope to achieve given the way the team is developing at the moment and your own performance level at this stage of your career?

Kimi RAIKKONEN: Well, obviously it the same as every year Ė we want to do as well as we can and hopefully challenge for championships for next year and Iím sure we can produce even a quite bit better car than this year next year. Obviously the team is all working well together and we all feel very good and obviously Iím happy to stay there but we have to try to do a good second part of the year and maximise what we have and then prepare for next year.

You will have seen that after he won Sebastian gave you a lot of support with his words in Hungary before the break. What did that support mean to you?

KR: I know him well and we have a very good relationship and itís niceÖ I donít know exactly what you mean, I mean I havenít read so much things lately, but he tells me and I tell him if he does well and I do well, we have a very good feeling of respect in the team. Itís always nice to hear from him also. We try to beat each other in the races but we still can be friends as before, so I think that is also very good for us as a team that we can work very closely.
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Old 21st August 2015, 09:03   #4
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Default re: 2015 Formula 1 Belgium GP : Spa-Francorchamps

KIMI has already won the SPA in 2015 season, of course in my PS4 .

Hope we have cracker of a race after long summer break. Looks like most of the teams are bringing good upgrades. Merc rear wing looks beautiful. And McLearn and Renault are bullish about their Engine upgrade.

Forza Ferrari, Forza KIMI.
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Old 21st August 2015, 11:01   #5
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Default re: 2015 Formula 1 Belgium GP : Spa-Francorchamps

Im sure its going to a be silver and white podium, but I just WISH Coulthard makes a comeback one last time and gets black on the podium too.
That accident is the most dramatic one I have ever seen in F1.

But here's to the champ, and getting on the multiple winners list this year!
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Old 21st August 2015, 11:50   #6
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Default re: 2015 Formula 1 Belgium GP : Spa-Francorchamps

Finally back to some action. Defining month for Honda starting today. They have made a tall claim of matching the Ferrari PU.
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Old 21st August 2015, 16:28   #7
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Default Re: 2015 Formula 1 Belgium GP : Spa-Francorchamps

Originally Posted by Hatari View Post
Finally back to some action. Defining month for Honda starting today. They have made a tall claim of matching the Ferrari PU.
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Apart from Honda, McLaren also seems to have been busy themselves.
New engine cover with shark fin tried out. The rear seems to have become more slimmer.

FP1 timings:
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Old 21st August 2015, 16:49   #8
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Default Re: 2015 Formula 1 Belgium GP : Spa-Francorchamps

They are apparently running the new 'turned up' engine only tom. Hope we see positive signs. Another area where McLaren are behind is getting the tires into their optimum operating zone, which will be chassis performance.
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Old 21st August 2015, 17:16   #9
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Default Re: 2015 Formula 1 Belgium GP : Spa-Francorchamps

Originally Posted by Hatari View Post
They are apparently running the new 'turned up' engine only tom. Hope we see positive signs. Another area where McLaren are behind is getting the tires into their optimum operating zone, which will be chassis performance.
Honda has already revealed they will use new components on both cars ahead of FP1, but they are expected to fit a second power unit on the MP4-30s ahead of FP2 later on Friday afternoon.

Looking at the pace they have shown so far, we can only imagine that they are yet to "turn up" the engine.
All seemed to have gone smooth so far, apart from JB complaining about heat from the left side of his cockpit once.

McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport: "You cannot start further back, so why not replace the engine twice?"
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Old 21st August 2015, 20:38   #10
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Doesn't seem like Honda made any significant progress , certainly no where near Ferrari power.

Last edited by dustom_99 : 21st August 2015 at 20:42.
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Old 21st August 2015, 23:12   #11
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Default Re: 2015 Formula 1 Belgium GP : Spa-Francorchamps

Nico Rosberg's tyre blowout in FP2. Looks like the tyre got some damage prior to this incident(Ted's information : SkyF1).

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Old 22nd August 2015, 07:24   #12
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Default Re: 2015 Formula 1 Belgium GP : Spa-Francorchamps

Originally Posted by dustom_99 View Post
Doesn't seem like Honda made any significant progress , certainly no where near Ferrari power.
Honda's problem seems to be centered around the ERS.
They are not able to harvest enough energy via the MGUs.
As for the peak power levels when the ES is charged & both MGUs are fully used, the claims on their power figures might be true, but they are unable to harvest energy on a consistent basis.
If you look at the laps yesterday during practice, they seems to be looking to find out the ideal sector on track to deploy the stored energy as they are not able to harvest the full allowed amounts.


Friday PC:

2015 Formula 1 Belgium GP : Spa-Francorchamps-pc-fri.jpg
TEAM REPRESENTATIVES – Nick CHESTER (Lotus), Andrew GREEN (Force India), Giampaolo DALL’ARA (Sauber), James ALLISON (Ferrari), Paddy LOWE (Mercedes), Paul MONAGHAN (Red Bull Racing)


If I could start with a question for all of you: coming in next year are further restrictions on driver aids and team radio assistance. Can you give us your thoughts on the difference it will make that fans will be able to appreciate? James, why don’t you start?

James ALLISON: Well, if it has its intended effect it will make it so that the drivers who are most on top of their game can do a better job than the ones who needed to be led a little bit more by the hand. I think on the whole the drivers are all pretty good in Formula One so I imagine that within six months or so, or maybe sooner, it will feel very much like it did before but maybe in the transition to that there will be a few mistakes made and maybe some interesting events as a result.


Giampaolo DALL’ARA: Yeah, well, I can tell you about the engineering side of it: it changes quite a bit the way we work, approaching the issues involving the driver more and the engineering side of the car. Eventually I think the result is what James has just mentioned. The driver will be more in charge of what he is doing, also on aspects that today maybe are driven from the back. Judging then the perception on the spectators, this is very difficult from where I sit, honestly.

Thank you. Paddy, there is obviously a big list of things you can and can’t say on the radio. How do you remember all those things?

Paddy LOWE: I know. It’s actually quite tricky. We police ourselves on the intercom. People often ask: “Can I say that? Can I say that?” But yeah, we will work our way through it and get used to it in time. As the other two have said, I think we will see a little bit more variability. But the big thing for me is that to a larger extent if a driver has a good or a bad start that will be down to his skill and less dependent on the team’s performance on configuring the start.

Nick, a step in the right direction?

Nick CHESTER: I think everybody wants to see the drivers being in charge of their own starts, so I can see why it has come in, but I’d echo the comments earlier, I think people will get used to it very quickly. There might be a few little mixes early on but it will settle down fairly quickly.

And Paul, looking ahead to next year, obviously more sweeping changes as well, what difference will that make?

Paul MONAGHAN: I think you’ll see a little bit more variability. We’ll see the odd fluffed start; we’ll see a bit of a shuffle up of the grid order approaching turn one. Mid-race I think when the drivers get used to it and depending on how the teams treat the level of automation there will be subtle differences maybe in ultimate performance you can extract from the car, after that I think it will settle out. What the fans will see? A little bit at the starts maybe but once you’re in the race I’m not sure there’ll be much other than less radio traffic.

A final thought from you Andrew?

Andrew GREEN: Yeah, I’m the same. I think within a few months the differences will be quite subtle. Like people have said, maybe a few fluffed starts. But the main thing is that the radio is going to be quite quiet.

Last edited by jfxavier : 22nd August 2015 at 07:42.
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Old 22nd August 2015, 18:49   #13
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Merc and their engine on a diff planet. Good to see RB up there though. Ferrari a bit of a shock, Honda more so. But looking at Ferrari things get into perspective, Merc too strong.
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Old 22nd August 2015, 19:23   #14
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Originally Posted by Hatari View Post
Merc and their engine on a diff planet. Good to see RB up there though. Ferrari a bit of a shock, Honda more so. But looking at Ferrari things get into perspective, Merc too strong.
Every two months Honda says they have closed the gap but I don't think even if F1 allowed them to strap two of those engines into one car they would come close to merc.
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Old 22nd August 2015, 19:39   #15
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Default Re: 2015 Formula 1 Belgium GP : Spa-Francorchamps

Originally Posted by dustom_99 View Post
Every two months Honda says they have closed the gap but I don't think even if F1 allowed them to strap two of those engines into one car they would come close to merc.
Dont know what Honda are seeing that gives them this idea of closing up. Just hope this doesnt happen next year. They can test all they want this year.

But they are closer to Ferrari now than earlier!
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