Belgium preview quotes - Ferrari, FIA, Red Bull & more 25 Aug 2011
Refreshed from their extended summer break, the teams are preparing to let battle resume next weekend at the 2011 Formula 1 Shell Belgian Grand Prix. The venue is one of the calendars true classics, Spa-Francorchamps. Nestled deep in the Ardennes forest, it is also the calendars longest, at over seven kilometres. And with epic corners such as Pouhon and Eau Rouge, its no wonder the drivers are itching to get back behind the wheel
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari
2010 Qualifying - 10th, 2010 Race - DNF
I cant wait to be back on track to continue with this run of positive results which goes back to Valencia. We will have some new parts on the 150° Italia which we hope will allow us to improve our performance a bit more. I am well aware that the championship situation is what it is, but that does not mean we have thrown in the towel. We always set out trying to win every race and, as Ive been saying for a while now, we will do the maths at the end. These past weeks, I have spoken a few times to Stefano (Domenicali) and I could tell he is very motivated: I like that sort of spirit as its mine too. It will be important to bring home some good results because the team has put in so much effort to get back on terms after a difficult start: all our guys and the fans deserve it.
Felipe Massa, Ferrari
2010 Qualifying - 6th, 2010 Race - 4th
Work was already carried out before the break to prepare for the next two races in Belgium and in Italy and we will be bringing some aero updates to Spa, including new wings to try out. Everything seems to be going in the direction we expected, so I hope we can have a good weekend. Like most drivers, I love driving at Spa and I have some good memories of winning there in 2008, finishing second the year before that, while last year I was just off the podium in fourth spot. I will be aiming for a repeat of 2008! I have been following the discussion regarding the use of DRS at the Eau Rouge corner and I think banning its use there for the whole weekend is the right decision: as racing drivers, we would always try and use DRS there and that could lead to an accident, because of the particular nature of the corner. So, just as was the case in the tunnel in Monaco, I think this is the best solution. There is always a special atmosphere at Spa and I'm not just referring to the weather. It is one of those tracks where you get a sense of history and this weekend, one of my former team mates has a historic moment of his own as Michael Schumacher will celebrate the 20th anniversary of his first ever Formula One race, which took place in Belgium in 1991. Apart from all his other achievements, this is another great one and I am sure he is proud of it. I definitely like the idea of also spending 20 years in F1, but I'm not sure if I can do it! I've enjoyed relaxing during this break, which was very welcome after a busy time up to Hungary, but now I am fully rested and eager to go racing once again, because all of us at Ferrari are keen to prove to our fans that we can do better in these final eight races than we did in the first 11.
Charlie Whiting, FIA race director
"We're not going to allow DRS to be used through Eau Rouge during practice. We want to avoid drivers going through thinking that their wing is in the right position, when it might not be. We think this is the correct safety measure to have taken at such a fast, demanding corner. Spa's obviously a great challenge for the drivers, but it can be quite a challenge for the circuit officials, also, mainly on account of its length. Any long circuit is harder from a security point of view and it can be hard to get the crowds under control. We always have to watch out for spectators climbing fences."
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull
2010 Qualifying - 4th, 2010 Race - 15th
The Spa circuit has everything that a driver dreams of - unbelievably fast corners and slow chicanes, and it can be full of surprises due to the weather. It can be raining one minute and then the sun can be shining the next. The track follows the hills of the Ardennes - and its one of my absolute favourites. Eau Rouge and Blanchimont are real highlights - in dry conditions they can be driven without any problems but in the wet its a different story and you have to have dig deep to put your foot down. My favourite part of the track is the double-left Pouhon; you put the car into sixth, take your foot off the accelerator for a moment and then its up to 280 km/h in the corner. The last chicane is difficult, as the car pulls you all over the place; you need all your concentration to keep it on the track. Its been great to have a break in the sun and to relax and do watersports, but I cant wait to get back in the car.
Mark Webber, Red Bull
2010 Qualifying - 1st, 2010 Race - 2nd
Spa is unquestionably one of the best tracks on the calendar. Its such a great circuit to come back to after having some time away from the cockpit. Its a real challenge for drivers and the teams because of the layout of the circuit and the unpredictable weather. Last years Grand Prix was no exception with the weather playing a role and I thoroughly enjoyed the fight with Lewis (Hamilton) and Robert (Kubica) for the podium. I expect this weekend to be the same - a tight, competitive fight between Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull Racing. It was great to re-charge the batteries ready for the second part of the championship and it was really good to spend some time with family and friends. But three weeks is plenty, you certainly miss driving the car after that length of time.
Adrian Sutil, Force India
2010 Qualifying - 8th, 2010 Race - 5th
I always say that Spa is my favourite circuit of the year. I just love the place. Theres nowhere else like it and the range of corners feel so impressive in a Formula One car. I think all the drivers have a big smile on their face when they come back to Spa.
I think we can have another competitive weekend because the last couple of races have shown what we are capable of. We seem to have a car that is working well everywhere and our qualifying and race pace has been strong. We just need to keep up the momentum and keep picking up the points.
When you come to Spa you always have to keep an eye on the weather. For the last three races it feels like the rain has been following us and we should probably expect some more rain showers this weekend.
Paul Di Resta, Force India
2010 Qualifying - n/a, 2010 Race - n/a
It feels good to be going back racing after a three-week break. I enjoyed the time off, which gave me a chance to recharge my batteries and switch off from Formula One for a while. I spent most of the time at home with friends and family. After so much travelling it was nice to stay in the same place for a while and sleep in my own bed.
The result in Hungary was the best way to end the first part of the season. There have been a few races where things didnt go our way so it felt good to get the result we felt we deserved. It helped make up for some of the bad luck weve had over the last couple of months.
Spa is a track that has historically been strong for us. And our recent form gives us every reason to believe we can carry on where we left off in Hungary. We know our competitors wont have stood still, but were still pushing hard with development and determined to get as much performance from the car before the focus shifts to next year.
Spa is not a track that Ive raced at much before. I drove there in Formula Three seven years ago, but I think it will be a completely different experience in a Formula One car. Its one of the best tracks in the world and Im excited to be going back there.
Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India chairman and team principal
I always enjoy coming to Spa. Not only is it an evocative and historic venue, its also the scene of our greatest success to date and I have many happy memories of our podium two years ago. The big difference this year is that we arrive at the Belgian Grand Prix with a car that is much more complete. In the past our great strength was straight-line speed, but the car is now strong in all areas. The proof of that can be seen in our recent results with one car in Q3 at the last four races and 14 points from the last two.
So we enter the second half of the season in high spirits. The drivers are pushing each other hard and are extremely motivated. The car is delivering good performance and we are taking the fight to the big teams. It was hard to imagine we would be in this position after our slow start to the year, but I never stopped believing. When you consider how competitive Formula One is, everyone in the team can be proud of where we are. Were well aware there is much hard work ahead to maintain this and we still have a big task facing us in the constructors championship. But following the August break we come back refreshed and ready to deliver again this weekend.
Jerome DAmbrosio, Virgin
2010 Qualifying - n/a, 2010 Race - n/a
I have been looking forward to my first Formula One Belgian Grand Prix for a very long time, and now that the weekend has finally arrived I have to say that I am really excited and I cant wait to race in front of my home fans. Its been a long time since Belgium had a Formula One driver - exactly 18 years since Thierry Boutsen last raced in an F1 car. So its going to be a very special weekend both for me and the fans and Im going to try to enjoy every moment.
Theres nothing like racing at home and Spa is clearly one of my absolute favourite circuits. Its layout gives everything one could want as a driver - fast corners, hills and long straights. It really is one of the most challenging laps in the world. And we cant forget the legendary corner of Eau Rouge. Its just amazing!
Its been great to have a break and chill out with my friends and family, staying away from planes and hotels. I am now fully prepared for the weekend in Spa and Im really looking forward to getting back in the car and racing at home.
Timo Glock, Virgin
2010 Qualifying - 17th, 2010 Race - 18th
After the back-to-back races of Germany and Hungary it was really nice to have a break and relax, but now I cant wait for the second part of the year. To come back racing in Spa is a perfect way to pick up the rest of the season. Its one of my favourite races, its a fascinating layout and a historical circuit.
The track is very fast and long, with some very tricky corners, so any small mistake ruins the lap. The weather is often a factor, especially due to its changeable conditions. Rain can come very quickly here, but this is part of the thrill of racing here. Im really excited and Im looking forward to the weekend ahead.
John Booth, Virgin team principal
After having a couple of weeks off over the factory shutdown period, weve all come back refreshed, ready and looking forward to the second part of the season. We are raring to go and want to put in another good performance at the Belgian Grand Prix to continue with the good run of double-car finishes we enjoyed in the first part of the season. From Canada onwards we have been able to finish every single race with both our cars staying out of trouble and showing good reliability, so weve got to make sure we hang on to our good form.
Spa-Francorchamps is an excellent track to start the eight-race run to the end of the season. Its a classic race of the Formula One season, with a mix of high and low-speed corners separated by long straights, making it a proper mid-downforce track. Its important to have good change of direction at this 7.004 km track as so many of the corners lead into one another and having a stable rear end in high speed is also vital. The weather is always unpredictable so we will have to be ready to react during the weekend.
This is going to be Jeromes 12th race in F1, but its a special weekend for him as he is racing at home. Im sure this will make him push even harder and it will be great to see all the Belgian fans supporting their driver at their home race.
Rubens Barrichello, Williams
2010 Qualifying - 7th, 2010 Race - DNF
I love Spa-Francorchamps; the track is very special. It is the place where I claimed my first Formula One pole position back in 1994. It was in very tricky conditions as the track was drying out, but that is something that happens quite a lot at Spa. We are going to have a new aero package for this race that I hope will give us a better chance to fight for points. It is a real drivers circuit with no time to breathe during a lap.
Pastor Maldonado, Williams
2010 Qualifying - n/a, 2010 Race - n/a
I know Spa well having raced there in Italian Formula Renault (2003), Formula Renault V6 Eurocup (2004), World Series by Renault (2006) and GP2 (2008 - 2010). It is one of my favourite tracks and a place where I have achieved important results in my career, including victory in my championship-winning GP2 season. I will enjoy the whole weekend in Belgium as it is a fabulous circuit, but Eau Rouge has to be my favourite corner. Ill do my best to improve on our previous results and I cant wait to get there.
Sam Michael, Williams technical director
Spa is one of the greatest circuits in the Formula One Championship. Large variations in terrain provide a challenge to the engineers to cover all of the different corner types, from slow speed curb riding to the flat out Eau Rouge. Race day can be really interesting when the weather changes as it can rain on one side of the circuit and be dry on the other! We will bring new rear wings which feature a different drag level and some diffuser modifications to evaluate during practice.
Michael Schumacher, Mercedes
2010 Qualifying - 11th, 2010 Race - 7th
"The race in Spa will certainly have a special touch to it this time, as this is where I drove my first ever Formula One race 20 years ago. It's hard to believe that this was such a long time ago. A lot has changed in those 20 years, but one thing has not: the track is still sensational. I just love the great nature of the location and the resulting layout with all the ups and downs. To me, Spa remains my 'living room', because it has been the stage for so many things which have been remarkable for my sporting career. This is why this time I would like to specifically send a big thank you to all my fans for their loyalty and support, which I was happy to receive during those 20 years and also since my comeback. Talking about the sporting side prior to Spa, we are all returning from the summer break with fresh motivation and energy, and will try to set an exclamation mark at the Belgian Grand Prix."
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes
2010 Qualifying - 12th, 2010 Race - 6th
"Spa is probably one of my two favourite circuits on the Formula One calendar, along with Suzuka in Japan. It's not only one of the most challenging tracks that we race at, but it's also great fun to drive a Formula One car there. The circuit layout has many high-speed areas so it should suit our car well. It's been nice to have a short break over the last few weeks and to spend time relaxing with my family and friends, but it will also be good to get back into the racing rhythm again this weekend. I know that the guys at the factory have also enjoyed the break, and that we will all be pushing hard from now until the end of the season to get the best possible results."
Ross Brawn, Mercedes team principal
"After the summer break, everyone is looking forward to the second half of the season getting underway in Belgium this weekend. Spa is one of those tracks which are universally loved by drivers and fans, and the racing is always thrilling, usually helped by a large dose of inclement weather. It's a truly classic circuit, and the fast, sweeping corners make it a great venue to watch the cars in action. With the two-week shutdown, there has been limited opportunity to develop the car since the last two races in Germany and Hungary, a situation which of course applies to everyone. However, we will be working hard to make the most of the weekend, and look forward to an exciting countdown to the end of the season. Congratulations to Michael who marks his 20th anniversary in Formula One this weekend. It has been an honour and a privilege to work so closely with him for 17 of those 20 years, and I look forward to more good times ahead together."
Norbert Haug, Vice-President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"It is always a pleasure to visit Spa-Francorchamps. This is one of the classic circuits and a true link back to the road racing history of Formula One. There is little left to say about the track itself - it offers a complete challenge to the car and engine, with some of the slowest and fastest corners of the season, plus the longest full-throttle period of the year at over 23 seconds, which is the reason why we dyno-test our engines using Spa simulation runs. Our team members have been able to recharge their batteries during the mandatory shutdown period, and we will head to Spa fully motivated for the final part of the season. It will be a special weekend for Michael, who will mark the twentieth anniversary of his Formula One debut this weekend, which is an outstanding and remarkable achievement. The races at Spa have historically been full of surprises and the weather has mostly played a major role. The layout of the circuit should suit our current technical package a little bit better than was the case at the previous two races."
Vitantonio Liuzzi, HRT
2010 Qualifying - 14th, 2010 Race - 10th
"Spa-Francorchamps is every driver's favourite circuit, because of its high-speed nature and the challenge it represents. Our car should be better suited to tracks like this, so Im really looking forward to it. Its a bit of an anniversary because on August 28, 2004 I finished the Formula 3000 race on the second step of the podium having started from pole. For me, Spa is the nicest track of all!"
Daniel Ricciardo, HRT
2010 Qualifying - n/a, 2010 Race - n/a
"Among several memories from my 55 career podiums, I started from pole and won one of the last Formula Three British races in Spa in 2009, so it's a circuit that I know. In the small formula cars it gets boring because you run out of power on all those long straights, but I'm really looking forward to driving a Formula One car there. The weather is always a question mark. I love the middle sector and its great flow. It's one of the best circuits and should suit us well.
Colin Kolles, HRT team principal
"Spa-Francorchamps is a great race track, with many high-speed corners. But there is also a disparity in the corners between Blanchimont, which is taken at 300 km/h, and the La Source hairpin, which is taken at only 60 km/h. The car set-up must reflect the need to perform with complete stability in the very fast and medium-speed corners, while also having the mechanical traction to deal with the Bus Stop chicane and La Source. The weather is often hard to predict but we should be well prepared for a strong performance.
Paul Hembery, Pirellis motorsport director
Spa-Francorchamps is one of those legendary names in motorsport, which has become a real icon of the Formula One season. It is a track that tests ultimate commitment, so once again we have to supply tyres that are capable of not only absorbing the colossal forces that they are subjected to on a regular basis, but also of delivering maximum performance in complete safety. In many ways Spa is one of the most unpredictable tracks of the season, and since we have never tested here, we have very little data to go on. From what we have seen in the past though, in Valencia and at the Nurburgring especially, we are confident that this combination of the medium and the soft tyre strikes the correct balance between performance and durability, equipping the drivers to display every aspect of their talents. Its a race that rewards brave overtaking manoeuvres, which is exactly in keeping with our own tyre philosophy as well. The weather in Belgium as always will be a question mark, but with so many wet races behind us already this year, this is one area where we are definitely gaining in experience more rapidly than we anticipated!
Heikki Kovalainen, Lotus
2010 Qualifying - 16th, 2010 Race - 16th
After a really good break in Finland itll be good to get back to work. Im feeling better than ever and its always exciting heading to Spa. Eau Rouge is, of course, the corner everyone talks about and while it is still flat-out its actually not that hard for us now, but its still a big thrill. Any corner you take at 300 km/h is pretty quick so you hang on the wheel pretty hard so that you dont get any snap out of the corner, build up a good speed down then you feel all that compression as the car bottoms out through the corner and then youre up the hill. Its still very exciting!
Its been said so many times before but Spa is what a racetrack should be - hardcore corners, massive speed, overtaking opportunities and passionate fans, and, being Spa, anything can happen with the weather. Actually, its not just Spa this year - weve had rain following us all season so in Spa maybe well have a hot and sunny weekend for once! I doubt it its almost certain it will rain somewhere on the circuit at some point over the weekend and that could well be an opportunity for our team. We just have to keep pushing and make sure were in the hunt if theres an opportunity to be grabbed, work hard all weekend and keep taking little steps forward.
Jarno Trulli, Lotus
2010 Qualifying - 18th, 2010 Race - 19th
Since Hungary Ive been able to spend the last couple of weeks with my family in Miami - Ive had a good rest and after we took such a step forward for me in Hungary I cant wait to get back on track. Honestly - its hard to describe in simple terms just how much happier I was in the car from the very first laps in Budapest but it really was like night and day. For the first time all season I could work on the setup from a baseline I had confidence in, and that puts me and the team in a really good position for the rest of the season.
Its also good that the next race is at Spa - its pretty much the total opposite of Hungary, so itll be another good chance to keep learning how to get the best out of the new system on a much quicker track with more high speed corners. Enoughs been said over the years about what a great circuit Spa is, and for me its the same as everyone else - it has some unique challenges and it brings out the best in the whole team - the drivers love the track, the engineers have to work hard to set the cars up right for the whole lap and the mechanics have to be on it all weekend to deal with the changing weather conditions, so while everyone talks about it being a drivers track, for me its really a teams track.
Tony Fernandes, Lotus team principal
"The whole team has had a good break and now they are all back and ready to get back to work in Belgium. We will do our best in Spa to keep taking measured steps forward and we need to make sure we have put the reliability issues that have affected some of our recent performances behind us.
"Off track, while the team took a deserved rest the last couple of weeks have been as busy as ever for me. We announced this week that we have taken a significant stake in QPR and while that is another new challenge it also opens up some very exciting opportunities for all the businesses I am involved with. One of the most interesting areas we will be looking at straight away is what we can learn in Team Lotus about the interaction between QPR and its fans - across the whole football industry there is a much more integrated day to day relationship with clubs supporter bases than F1 and its teams have with their fans and I think that we can learn a huge amount very quickly about how we can be even more accessible to our fans than we Team Lotus has been since day one.
While QPR has obviously been a focus for the last few months we are also progressing exactly as planned with the wider Team Lotus and Caterham Cars group. We have already made a number of very big announcements this year, about our racing, road car and football activities, let alone AirAsia and Tune Group, and there is more to come over the next few months that will keep us moving forward in exactly the right direction.
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
2010 Qualifying - 2nd, 2010 Race - 1st
After a month out of the cockpit, I think every driver on the grid is really looking forward to racing on a track like Spa-Francorchamps, which is easily one of the greatest circuits in the world. Spas always been one of my favourite tracks - its a place where you really feel on the limit, and thats pretty awesome in a Formula One car. Im already looking forward to my first flying lap on Friday morning. Corners like Eau Rouge, Pouhon and Blanchimont are fantastic, just because theyre so fast - Pouhon, in particular, is incredible, because youre really at the limit of the grip level, and youre gently playing with the throttle and trying not to scrub off too much speed with the steering. Getting it right is an amazing feeling.
I think we go into the race weekend in a pretty good place - weve won the last two Grands Prix and the car feels strong; weve worked hard to improve the set-up, so its really inspiring confidence at the moment, which means you can push it that little bit further, particularly in qualifying. Of course, the weekend is likely to be affected by the weather, which is always somewhat unpredictable at Spa. Id prefer a dry race, but, to be honest, Ill take any track condition: I just cant wait to get back out in my car!
Jenson Button, McLaren
2010 Qualifying - 5th, 2010 Race - DNF
I love racing at Spa, but, unfortunately havent done too much of it recently as Ive been taken out of the last two Belgian Grands Prix through no fault of my own. This year, Ill be hoping for a little more luck!
It felt great to go into the summer break off the back of the win in Hungary. That was a race I think we could just as well have won in the dry as in the damp - which will be worth bearing in mind in Spa, as itll probably be wet and dry - and everything in between - at some point during the weekend.
Once again, our aim will be to put pressure on the championship frontrunners, particularly Red Bull. Our car definitely feels really driveable right now, so I dont think this weekends tyre compound selection will affect us too much. We learnt a lot about the Pirelli Medium after the race in Valencia, and I think weve moved on quite a bit since then.
I dont think DRS will be as critical here as its been at some of the other circuits. Im still not certain where it will be deployed, but theres always been lots of opportunities to use the slipstream up the hill out of Eau Rouge to pass into Les Combes. Itll be interesting to see whether DRS can add even more to the show - it should hopefully be another great weekend for Formula One.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
Its exciting to be returning from the summer break and heading straight back into the fray at Spa: its one of Formula Ones greatest circuits, and always a place where the unexpected tends to happen. As we all know from races here in the past, the weather in Spa can be notoriously fickle - and with the field so competitively poised, thatll put great emphasis on solid and effective teamwork. A good call on tyre choice at a critical point in the race could make a massive difference to the result.
This final stretch of European races will break the back of the calendar, so its important that we hit them aggressively and confidently before pushing on into the final flyaways. The whole team has returned to work feeling refreshed, relaxed and recharged, and Im confident that well see the benefit of that at the racetrack: our engineers and strategists are hungry to get back to business, and our mechanics are fit and ready to continue the excellent progress they have been making all season with fast and reliable work in the garage and the pit lane.
Despite winning three of the last five Grands Prix, we are still hugely determined to be stronger than before. Time and time again, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes has proved its resilience and determination, particularly at this crucial stage of the world championship. We are more than ready for this fight and relishing every race.
Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber
2010 Qualifying - 19th, 2010 Race - 8th
Spa is a very beautiful circuit, and one of my favourites. It has a lot of high speed corners which should suit our car well, because it has a similar average speed to Silverstone. Normally the temperatures are not very hot there, so for the tyres it should not be too difficult. But the weather is always very unpredictable, as it was in Silverstone, at the Nurburgring and in Budapest, so this could be another very tricky race. Sometimes you are in a situation where you have to decide for which conditions you set up the car before you are sure what the weather will be like. If they are difficult, we have to stay cool in the race and make the right decisions. Then we can score a strong result.
Sergio Perez, Sauber
2010 Qualifying - n/a, 2010 Race - n/a
After quite a long break when everybody was on holiday, it is nice to get back into the car again and to the race rhythm. Im very much looking forward to the Belgian Grand Prix. Spa is a very special place. I think we can pick up again the momentum from before the race in Hungary, and do well there. It is one of my favourite circuits because I love Eau Rouge and the other fast corners. I won in Spa in Formula Three, and also last year in GP2. Personally the break was good for me to fully recover from the Monaco accident.
James Key, Sauber technical director
Were looking forward to getting into the next part of the season and going to Spa, which requires a medium to low downforce level. To date it will be the lowest downforce level the teams have run, but a lot will depend on the weather conditions, because they are very unpredictable. As always in Spa, we have to monitor the weather closely over the weekend. The circuit itself is very popular with the drivers, and a great place to engineer a car. The track is primarily high speed with long straights and well known corners. This should suit our car reasonably well. The Pirelli tyres are the soft and the medium compounds. We know from Silverstone that the soft tyre works well with the high speed corners, but we have some work to do with the medium compound. The car will have updates to the front wing and a new rear wing which is Spa specific. After a difficult race in Hungary were hopeful of a better performance in Belgium.
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