Belgium preview quotes - Virgin, Cosworth, Ferrari, Renault & more 25 Aug 2010
After three weekends off, the Formula One teams return to competition next Friday at the Belgian Grand Prix. With its long straights, variable weather and demanding mix of corners, the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit is one of the calendars toughest prospects and a firm favourite with the drivers. Here they and their colleagues discuss their chances...
Timo Glock, Virgin
2009 Qualifying - 7th, 2009 Race - 10th
Im really looking forward to racing at Spa this weekend, and I'm sure everyone else is looking forward to getting back on track too after the break. Spa is a fantastic circuit - a challenge both in terms of car set-up and in predicting the weather. It looks that it's quite likely to be wet at some stage over the weekend, which means that being on the right tyres at the right time will be crucial. This gives us a great opportunity to show how much we've developed as a team, and as always we'll be aiming to outqualify and finish ahead of the other new teams.
Lucas di Grassi, Virgin
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a
This weekend I'll be racing a Formula One car at Spa for the first time which is going to be an amazing experience and one that I am really well prepared for. We've done a lot of laps in the simulator and I finished on the podium here last year in GP2, so I have a really good feeling about the place. We've made some big steps forward with the car recently so we are in very good shape. It will be interesting to see what the weather does throughout the weekend and there could be a great opportunity to achieve a surprise result.
John Booth, Virgin team principal
It's been nice to have a bit of a break but we are all raring to get back to racing, especially as this weekend's race is at Spa. It's a real racers' circuit and we are relishing the challenge of our first Grand Prix there. This weekend is the start of the seven-race run towards the end of the season, during which we intend to build on our recent results and performance improvements and deliver on our goal of being the best of the new teams. Both of our drivers have had some great races here in the past and we are looking for a good result with both cars this weekend.
Nick Wirth, Virgin technical director
Spa is one of the classic Formula One tracks and a great venue for Virgin Racing to start the final part of our debut season. The extreme 3D nature of the circuit, the long straights plus the wide variety of corner speeds, represents a good set-up challenge. Weve learned lessons from our experience in Montreal, and have a new updated low-downforce aero package based on the latest developments that weve introduced recently. In addition to the new aero parts, we have continued to develop the mechanical package, so were looking forward to continuing our recent strong progress. As ever, well be keeping a careful watch on the weather during the weekend, but we should be in good shape, wet or dry.
Cosworth, engine suppliers to Williams, Lotus, Virgin & HRT
Together with the next race on the calendar, the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, the Belgian Grand Prix is the most demanding event of the year for engines.
At little over 7km in length, Spa is unquestionably the longest track on the calendar and places an emphasis on outright engine power with its composition of medium-high speed corners and long straights, including notable elevation changes. It also has the second highest average speed of the season.
In stark contrast to the fast sections such as Eau Rouge, Raidillon and Blanchimont, the first corner drivers have to negotiate is the slow La Source hairpin which belies the high-speed demands that are to come for the remainder of the lap.
Engine performance makes a significantly heightened contribution to lap time at Spa. Downforce levels are typically in the low-medium range, reducing the impact of aerodynamics, although chassis responsiveness still plays a key role through the few slower-medium speed parts of the track.
The Belgian Grand Prix was not held in 2006 when Cosworth was last involved in F1 as an engine supplier, so it has been five years since the sound of a Cosworth engine reverberated around the Spa-Francorchamps track. More surprisingly, the last time a Cosworth V8 unit was raced at Spa was back in 1997 before the introduction of the V10 configuration engines that powered Formula One cars from 1998-2005.
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari
2009 Qualifying - 13th, 2009 Race - DNF
The holidays have been very relaxing. I made the most of it to recharge the batteries in preparation for the final part of the season, which I think was the same for everyone: it was much needed, after a particularly hectic month of July. Now, I really want to get back on track, but in a positive sense, without any feeling of anxiety, in a very calm way. I am happy that the return to racing means going to two particularly special venues which host the Belgian and Italian Grands Prix. The Belgian track is possibly the most appealing of the entire season, while Monza will be something special for me, given that it will be my race debut as a Ferrari driver in front of the Italian crowd, in addition to the circuit itself having played such an important role in the history of motor sport. I have a good feeling following on from the positive results obtained in Germany and Hungary. As the saying goes, we have to keep the momentum and that should be our aim in Spa, to ensure we carry on the way we started just before the holidays. The Hockenheim and Budapest results were important not just in terms of the classification in both championships, but also for the confidence it has given us. We have to keep pushing on this way.
Felipe Massa, Ferrari
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a
Although it was a very quiet holiday, I am fully prepared for this weekend in Spa, as I kept in touch with the engineers, even though they were not working in the factory. We look in good shape, with some new parts coming as part of our constant development programme on the F10. The last time I raced here was in 2008 and its not just because I won the race that I love this track. I think all the drivers look forward to racing on this fabulous circuit. It is high speed, requiring less downforce than at many of the other tracks and fortunately, in the last few races, we showed that we have returned to being very competitive, even better than we had expected. But it is very hard to predict what could happen, as the small differences between the top teams means that performance has been very much track specific in terms of who had the slight advantage over the rest. As usual we need to wait and see how free practice goes before knowing what to expect.
"There are only seven races left to go and I think that for the spectators and viewers at least, it should be a really exciting final part of the year, even if it might be a bit more tense for those of competing. But myself and Ferrari have been in this sort of situation before and we know how to deal with the pressure, by concentrating on the job in hand. Now we must build on the way we ended up just before the break, being competitive and putting ourselves back in the fight. I am definitely really motivated to get back in the cockpit because, even if I enjoyed the short holiday, I have to say I missed driving my race car and I cant think of a better place to start again than at Spa. Even if it rains - and when didnt we see water at Spa? - this is still a very enjoyable track to drive and actually it can be good fun in the wet. We just have to make sure we are ready to make the most of whatever the weekend throws at us.
Robert Kubica, Renault
2009 Qualifying - 5th, 2009 Race - 4th
Spa is quite different to all the other circuits we run at because, although we use lower downforce levels similar to Canada, this circuit has many more high-speed corners. That makes it tricky to balance the downforce level with getting good top speed, which you need because there are two very long sections at the start and end of the lap, where you spend a long time at full throttle. Often, this is a circuit that throws up some surprises, and suddenly cars that haven't been quick all year can be good in Spa. From the team's point of view, we will be running the F-duct for the first time this weekend, and we hope it will work straight away so that we have as much practice time as possible to extract the maximum performance from this system. We have seen a tendency for cars running the F-duct to use higher downforce levels than normal, because they can stall the rear wing and still generate good top speed. I think that will change the approach to Spa, too, because teams will be able to run quite a lot of downforce and still achieve good top speed. Although this is a circuit we all like driving on, it's still a track where car performance is very important. It's definitely a circuit all the drivers enjoy and we all look forward to driving there. It's a bit different to the other circuits: we have this combination of low downforce levels and high-speed corners, there are a lot of corner combinations where they flow from one exit to the entry of the next and the circuit is quite wide so you can choose different lines. It's a good circuit for racing, too, because the long straights can give good chances to overtake, and that can make the races quite interesting.
Vitaly Petrov, Renault
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a
"I took some holiday to relax and saw my family and friends. Then I did some sports: waterskiing, jet-skiing and football, just to have some fun. It was nice to have a break and get refreshed, but I'm always ready to get back in the car. I also spent some time looking over videos of old races this year to analyse some things - the good and the bad - to see what I could learn and where I can improve. Spa is a circuit I know quite well from my GP2 experience and I'm happy to be going back there. For the set-up, it's really important to have a very good aerodynamic balance because the track has so many high-speed corners and you need good stability in the corners. Hopefully we will have our F-duct working well for this weekend so that we can be as competitive as we were in Budapest, even though Spa is a circuit with completely different characteristics. Anything is possible. If everything comes together: me, the car, and the team, the results will come as well. But we still have to wait and see how the F-duct works in free practice and how the car behaves in the high-speed corners. We know our car is already quite stable in the fast corners, but it's difficult to match the Red Bulls and the Ferraris. So it's difficult to know what to expect, but we will try our best.
Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso
2009 Qualifying - 16th, 2009 Race - 12th
After Budapest, I returned home to Monaco to decompress as they say in French! I spent the first two days of the break giving a lot of thought to how the season had gone so far, specifically, what I could do better in the upcoming final seven Grands Prix. From there, still in work mode, I travelled to Faenza to meet up with the engineers before the factory shut-down, to debrief fully on the last race, analysing the good and the bad and which direction to go in once the racing resumes. After that, it was back to Monaco for a couple of days of training to get some fitness in the bank for Spa, although I also managed some beach time, relaxing in the sun. The racing might have stopped, but there was still quite a lot of travelling, as my next destination was my home country, Switzerland, where I was attending a friends wedding. A short trip after that, as I went to Austria where, along with Jaime, we underwent an evaluation of our physical condition, as well as being put through some mental aptitude tests. I spent the week there and the trip coincided with the Champions League football match between Red Bull Salzburg and Hapoel Tel Aviv. Unfortunately, the Red Bull team lost and they will have a tough time when they play the away leg next week. I was surprised to find that even though its the middle of August, Red Bulls ice-hockey team was playing a pre-season tournament and Jaime and I were introduced to the crowd on the ice. Finally, I went back home to Monaco for a mixture of training and relaxing, as you can see from the photo of me surfing, because its always useful to do some watersports before Spa! I think the break was a good thing, even if I like racing so much that the more I drive the happier I am. Having a rest before the final push of the last seven races is a sensible idea. As for the Belgian weekend, of course I am looking forward to it: last year, our lap times were pretty competitive at Spa. My aim is to try and score points and everyone in the team is very motivated to get the most out of this weekend and start the final leg of the season with a strong performance.
Jaime Alguersuari, Toro Rosso
2009 Qualifying - 17th, 2009 Race - DNF
After the last Grand Prix in Hungary, I went home to Barcelona and didnt do very much apart from some training, but then the holiday really began as I spent the next four days in Ibiza, which is where our family usually head for in the summer. I DJed while I was there and had a good time, totally disconnecting from racing for a short while, spending time with friends and family. At the end of that week, I headed to Fuschl in Austria, where Red Bull puts its athletes through a physical and psychological evaluation. I spent four days there with Sebastien and it went well, in that my fitness level was the same as it had been pre-season, when you are normally in the best condition, before all the race travel and other commitments tend to interrupt your training programme. From Austria I flew to Italy and although driving a Formula One car is off limits, I did manage to get some driving in, with a karting session and since then I have stayed in Italy, travelling to Faenza where it was nice to spend time with some team personnel away from the working environment. Along with my girlfriend, we took the opportunity to do the tourist thing in Italy, visiting Lake Garda, where we tried a thermal spa and the cities of Florence and Verona. I will now be staying in Faenza with the team and travelling down to Spa with them on Wednesday. I cant wait! Even if we have had three weeks without a race, I have thought about Formula One every single day - its impossible not to. As for Spa, I think the track should suit my driving style perfectly, as it consists mainly of high speed corners, which I really like. We will be having our own battle in our part of the pack and if our closest rivals have tended to look stronger than us in medium to high downforce configuration, I am hoping that the lower aero downforce levels required at Spa might see us run more competitively. This is a circuit where you can make a difference as a driver and anything can happen here, so Im hoping that a points finish will be on the cards come the end of Sunday afternoon.
Mark Webber, Red Bull
2009 Qualifying - 9th, 2009 Race - 9th
The most important thing for me during the break is to stay away from planes and hotels, as the last part of the championship includes plenty of those. The break helps the drivers get refreshed, away from the travel and the hotels - its not the driving that makes us tired. I dont think there is a driver on the grid that doesnt look forward to Spa, its an incredible circuit to drive on. I expect we can do well there, whether its as well as I did in Budapest is a question for everyone, but I know our team is ready.
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull
2009 Qualifying - 8th, 2009 Race - 3rd
The long break allows you to do more scheduled training, as when there are races every other week its difficult to improve your level of fitness. I tried to switch off for the first part of the holiday, and then did some more intensive training in the second half, in order to be well prepared for the reminder of the season. I love Spa, it has some of the best corner sections in Formula One, theyre long, fast-flowing and suit our car. We were very competitive in the race there last year, but we lost out in qualifying a bit. Our weakness will be the long straights and, with uphill sections too, we know it wont be easy for us, but I am optimistic for the race.
Rubens Barrichello, Williams
2009 Qualifying - 4th, 2009 Race - 7th
Spa is a great racing circuit. I took my first pole there and have won at Spa while racing in the lower categories so Im looking forward to it. Its always a challenging track and I imagine it will be even more so now we are carrying full tanks. It can be quite tricky in terms of car set-up because its so long, and you need to have a car fast enough to take on corners like La Source and Eau Rouge. It really all depends on the aero efficiency of the car as to what your lap time is. Drivers tend to go for quite different downforce levels at Spa so theres always opportunities chance to overtake. This race will be my 300th in Formula One. I feel very privileged to have been in the sport for such a long time and it feels great to reach this milestone. I still think I am at the top of my game and plan to continue being competitive long past my 300th GP!
Nico Hulkenberg, Williams
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a
After Hungary, I spent some time analysing the race weekend with my engineers and have some good data. It was nice to go into the shutdown period with a good result on the score sheets - its allowed me to fully relax and Ive since had a really nice few weeks break. It also gave me some time to increase my training schedule in preparation for some quite demanding races that lie ahead of us now. Next up is Spa, a track I obviously havent had experience of in an F1 car, but its such an iconic circuit Im really excited to get going! Weve definitely made progress with the pace of the FW32 in recent races and I definitely feel that Ive upped my qualifying and race performance. This gives me the confidence to feel quite positive about the remaining third of the year.
Sam Michael, Williams technical director
Spa is a fantastic circuit and a definite challenge for the engineers and drivers. Sectors One and Three require low drag, while Sector Two requires maximum downforce, so a well compromised set-up is crucial for getting a quick lap time. Spa is a real drivers circuit and one of the greatest layouts we have on the calendar. We will have new front and rear wings, plus some mechanical changes for the FW32 for this race. Were also looking forward to celebrating Rubens 300 Grand Prix in Belgium, an impressive achievement!
Adrian Sutil, Force India
2009 Qualifying - 11th, 2009 Race - 11th
It's been a busy time despite the lack of racing - I spent a few days in Goa, India, filming and doing some PR work and then went back home to Switzerland for some training in the mountains. After that it was time for a couple of days holiday, finally! I've come back feeling stronger and motivated and Spa is a great track to get going again. It's what I call a 'nature' track - through the forests and really follows the lines and contours of the hills. For me, it's is the best circuit on the calendar as it has some of the most spectacular corners of the year, such as the awesome climb through Eau Rouge. There's really nowhere else like it to get your adrenaline going and with the added challenge of changeable weather, we see some great, exciting racing. Of course last year the team had a dream result at Spa, with the pole and then the podium, so we'll go back there with confidence knowing that this has been historically a track we've performed very well on. But this is 2010 and we have to look at what we are doing now rather than to the past. I'm pretty confident that we've got a car that will still suit the track very well. We've still got a very strong straight-line speed advantage and the F-duct makes us quickest through the speed traps at most circuits we go to - which will help us on the long straights in Belgium. We will also test our new blown diffuser again on Friday here. It worked well in Hungary and gave an improvement over the normal floor so we'll work through more development in practice and, if it performs as well as we hope, we'll use it in the race. I can't wait to get back out there racing now - I love the track, I know we can perform in any weather conditions and we've got new developments. I really want to be back in the points again in Belgium and start the second part of the season as we mean to go on.
Vitantonio Liuzzi, Force India
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a
After the back-to-back Grands Prix in Germany and Hungary, it was really nice to have a break. I went to one of my favourite holiday places - Mykonos in Greece - and had a few days chilling out, resting and recharging. I also spent a lot of time in the gym making sure I am physically ready for the next phase of the season. There's a lot of travelling, some tough races and, of course, some big fights to come. We're sixth in the championship right now but holding onto it won't be easy so we have to be on top form at each and every track we go to. So now we go to Spa-Francorchamps, probably my favourite track of the year as it is a mixture of adrenaline and technique. It has a great mix of really high-speed and technical corners and there is nowhere else that gives you the same rush. The weather is always something we talk a lot about as well when we go there. Rain can come at any time and, as the track is so long, you can have some parts of the circuit wet and others dry. It certainly makes things exciting! Obviously, we had a great race at the venue last year with Giancarlo Fisichella getting the pole and then finishing second in the race. At the time no one expected it from us, but after that everyone started to take notice and gave us credit for the work we were doing. I think we are still capable of a top position and certainly points this year. We will bring our blown diffuser in for further testing and I'll run it on Friday for the first time. Plus we will also have a low downforce package with a new rear wing for Spa and Monza so it will be very interesting to see how everything performs. We are still really confident of being back in business in the second half of the season.
Paul di Resta, Force India test and reserve driver
Although there's not been an F1 event since Hungary I've been pretty busy with my DTM programme so there's not been much time for holidays. I've had two races, first at the Nurburgring and then at Zandvoort, where I picked up another podium to really get into the title fight. I've also been continuing my schedule with Force India, working in the simulator with the engineers and trying to get as prepared for the Belgian Grand Prix as we can. Everyone is very pumped up to do well at this track knowing that the result last year was so good and the championship battle is so tight. Unfortunately I'm not going to be in the car this time out as Spa is a pretty unique track. We've also got some work to do on the new blown floor and the low downforce package so it's natural we need to give the race drivers the additional time to properly evaluate. I'm happy with this - although it's always hard to sit out on such a great track - as it's a team effort and we've got a big fight on our hands to hold onto sixth in the championship. I'll get my chance in Monza, which I can't wait for.
Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India chairman and team principal
Everyone in the team is looking forward to this second part of the season. We had a couple of weeks off over the shutdown period and we've all come back refreshed, strong and optimistic. We are currently sixth in the championship and we've got to make sure that we hang on to it by optimising everything we can. And Spa is a great track to start on a roll. We have a good car in low downforce trim, which counts at a track like Spa and Monza. We also have a new rear wing package to use this race in conjunction with the F-duct, which is working very well. Additionally we will be using the new blown floor on both cars on Friday. We tried it in Hungary, and we hope to actually race it in Spa if the information we gather shows as much of an improvement as it did there. All the same, we're not pinning all our hopes on Spa and Monza. It's going to be tough to replicate the kind of form we showed in Spa last year: everybody's improved, the competition is fierce and also very even in the midfield - the gaps between teams is so small now. We have also shown that we have been regularly able to score points on virtually all the tracks, not just the low downforce ones - apart from the last two races, which were unlucky in various regards, we've been in the points at a variety of track configurations. We also still have some updates coming for the rest of the season so it's going to be pushing all the way, right through to Abu Dhabi. We've got the opportunity to achieve our best finish in the championship in many years and it's not something I'm going to let go lightly.
Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone director of motorsport tyre development
"Spa-Francorchamps is a circuit with many secrets. It is the longest circuit of the season, and there are many different characteristics to it. Tyres are put under big loads here, and the circuit is too punishing for the use of our super soft tyre. Eau Rouge and sector two are particularly punishing. Despite the high speeds we see, the requirements of a lap mean that relatively high-downforce configurations are used on the cars, placing the tyres under even higher loads. The change from downhill to uphill through Eau Rouge puts the tyres under severe compression forces at high speed added to the downforce and inertia loads, so tyre pressures need to be carefully determined and monitored. The weather is often a factor, especially as you can see track temperatures ranging from 10C to 40C. Rain can come very quickly here because of the forest location, so this is another factor to consider. Spa seldom gives us a dull race, and I hope we will have an enjoyable final visit here."
Sakon Yamamoto, HRT
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a
I am looking forward to be back in action after the break. In 2007, I was already running in Spa-Francorchamps with Spyker F1. The track has a very famous corner, the Eau Rouge and there are a lot of up and downs. The weather conditions are very unique and it may change very quickly. We will need a good speed in the fast corners and also a good downforce on the car. We expect that the track layout suits our car and we try to do our best again.
Bruno Senna, HRT
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a
I always look forward to Spa-Francorchamps and Ive raced there every year since 2005. It is my favourite circuit of all the ones Ive raced at and my first time there in a Formula 1 car will be very special for me. The track is very fast with lovely gradient changes and challenging high speed corners. It is one of those circuits where the more you push, the better the lap time will be. Spa is a medium-downforce circuit and it demands a lot of high-speed stability of the car, as the average speed of the corners is quite high. It will be very important to find a confidence-inspiring car balance to extract the best lap time possible. The downforce levels of the track are in line with what we have in our car and I have a good relationship with the circuit as well, so I am really looking forward to driving the car for the time.
Dr Colin Kolles, HRT team principal
Spa-Francorchamps is everything a fascinating track should be - fast, fearsome and full of atmosphere. The circuit has a lot of challenging high-speed and downward corners and is a real test for the drivers - the wheat is separated from the chaff there. Finding the right car balance is one crucial factor, but it also is a difficult one. The weather in the Ardennes is unpredictable and it is possible for it to be raining in one part of the circuit whilst dry in another. Consequently, you have to be prepared for any conditions. After our positive result in Hungary, we are eager to show our best performance and we hope to finish the race with two cars again.
Pedro de la Rosa, BMW Sauber
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a
"It is a long time since I have raced in Spa, but it is a circuit you hardly ever forget. It is extremely challenging with the high-speed corners. Eau Rouge nowadays will be flat out, and at the end of the following straight there is a good overtaking possibility. The track is extremely nice to drive and when it rains it becomes even more exciting. I think for a typical Spa weekend you have to have rain at some point. Racing in Spa is all about rhythm, as you need to keep the cornering speed very high. I enjoyed the holiday break, but I must say I prefer this after the end of the season. I did a lot of sports and can't wait to go racing again, especially as our car is getting better and better. I am desperately looking forward to hunting for some more championship points."
Kamui Kobayashi, BMW Sauber
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a
"I have had good experiences racing in Formula Renault and GP2 in Spa-Francorchamps. It is a great track for a driver, and really exciting! That is mainly because of its high-speed corners. Plus the views you get from the circuit being integrated into the natural landscape are exceptional. I am quite sure our car will be good in these fast corners. Perhaps it won't be so good on the straight, but let's wait and see how it goes when we all get back refreshed after the summer break. What always worries me a bit is the weather in Spa. It can be very unpredictable and include heavy rain in some parts of the circuit, while it is dry in others."
James Key, BMW Sauber technical director
"It will be good to go back to Spa and we are looking forward to racing on this unique circuit, which is always a big favourite with the drivers. The track layout is obviously very different from the circuits we have recently raced on. For the first time since the Canadian Grand Prix in June, we will be returning to a lower drag configuration for the car. Certainly we want to continue with the recent form we have shown, and the package for Spa is based around the ongoing developments we have introduced since Valencia. We will need to leave our options open as regards car set-up and downforce levels to find the best possible compromise for the fast sectors one and three, where you benefit from low drag, and sector two, which favours a higher downforce level. As always in Spa, you need to be flexible and take the unpredictable weather conditions into account. We are very much looking forward to an exciting Belgian Grand Prix and the restart of the season after the summer break."
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes GP
2009 Qualifying - 10th, 2009 Race - 8th
"It's been nice to have a short break but it will be good to start racing again next weekend. Spa is definitely up there as one of my favourite circuits and it's one of the most challenging tracks that we race on. The lap is very high-speed with some great corners, including Eau Rouge of course, and it's just a great place to drive a Formula One car. The last race in Hungary was difficult for us but I know that everyone at the factory has been working hard since the shutdown and we hope to have a better weekend in Spa."
Michael Schumacher, Mercedes GP
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a
"Spa has always been my favourite racetrack and so for that reason alone, I am really looking forward to going back and racing there. It has been ages since I have last been there. Our weekend will obviously be handicapped by my grid penalty and consequently it will be difficult to expect special things from the race. On the other hand, every racing kilometre is important and welcome because we can learn from it with regards to our car. I will definitely try to make the best out of the weekend."
Ross Brawn, Mercedes GP team principal
"The summer shutdown has been a well-deserved opportunity for our staff to have a break in the middle of the season but we are all looking forward to the racing getting underway again with the Belgian Grand Prix next weekend. Spa is one of the classic racing circuits on the calendar which is loved by drivers, engineers and fans so it is always one of the highlights of the year. The circuit is dominated by straights at the start and end of the lap with a twisty middle section and the drivers love the fast sweeping corners, including the legendary Eau Rouge. With the shutdown, we have had limited time to work on the car since Hungary, however we will do our best to have a good weekend in Spa to kick-off the final run of seven races to the end of the season."
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"Spa is a classic race in the Formula One season and I am sure everybody in the paddock as well as the media and the spectators worldwide are looking forward to this special Grand Prix which is run partly on narrow public roads that are used for daily traffic throughout the year. Our team will be focused on achieving respectable results for Michael and Nico."
Jenson Button, McLaren
2009 Qualifying - 14th, 2009 Race - DNF
We come into the Belgian Grand Prix knowing that we have some catching-up do to; we didnt have a particularly strong race in Hungary, and the whole team wants to get back to the front again as quickly as possible. While were optimistic that the bodywork rules clarification will close the gap among the top teams, and that both Spa and Monza should suit our package better than the Hungaroring, its still important that we regain the momentum wed reached earlier this season.
I love racing at Spa - its one of the truly great circuits, and a Grand Prix that Id love to win. I didnt have the best race here last year, when I was punted out at the top of the hill on the first lap, so that just gives me additional motivation to do well here.
While I dont think these two European races will be pivotal to the title fight, it will nonetheless be harder to introduce bigger upgrades to the car at the end-of-season flyaways, so its important for the whole team that we score well in both events.
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
2009 Qualifying - 12th, 2009 Race - DNF
Although its been great for the whole team to have had the factory shutdown and a well-deserved holiday, I think were all really looking forward to getting back into the title fight. The break gave us some valuable thinking time to consider how to improve our car for the remainder of the season - and we head into these two races not only optimistic of some better results, but also of stronger pace for the rest of the year.
Neither Jenson or I had a great race at Spa last year - I didnt see much of it from the cockpit, but I think Jenson was pushed into a spin from behind at Les Combes and the resulting accident took me out too. So it was weird to watch the whole race back in the garage.
For this year, too, I head to Spa off the back of a disappointing non-finish in Hungary. Weve investigated the causes, and think weve identified the reason and are confident that it shouldnt happen again. Personally, I think Spa is one of the great Formula One tracks, and one Id really love to win. Ill be going flat-out to try and get us back into the hunt again in Belgium, and it would be fantastic if we could take home another win at the end of the weekend.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
The summer break was extremely welcome for a number of reasons - firstly, it provided the whole team with a much-needed rest period after some particularly relentless races; secondly, it gave our engineers time for consideration and thought ahead of the closing run of races; and, finally, the downtime proved very useful in enabling us to carry out some maintenance work to our windtunnel, which should improve its correlation.
After a disappointing Hungarian Grand Prix, we are pushing hard to regain the performance relative to our rivals that we had enjoyed earlier this season. While we believe our recent upgrades have given us a downforce improvement, it appears that the package hasnt yet delivered to its full potential, particularly in terms of providing the drivers with a consistent, confidence-delivering platform.
We were able to carry out some useful evaluative tests during practice in Hungary, which provided us with some useful data and avenues for experimentation. And well take that programme further in Spa, running floor rakes during practice to supply us with more information.
As weve always stated, we believe there are some large areas of performance locked within the car and its recent upgrade, and we are confident that our solid-engineering approach will enable us to fully unlock them sooner rather than later.
More to follow.