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Belgium preview quotes - Mercedes, Caterham, Ferrari & more 21 Aug 2013

Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber C31. Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E20, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4-27 and Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F2012 crash at the start of the race.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Race, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, 2 September 2012 Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Practice, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 15 March 2013 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Qualifying, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday, 20 April 2013 Ross Brawn (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 Team Principal.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, 14 March 2013 Charles Pic (FRA) Caterham F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 23 May 2013 Giedo van der Garde (NDL) Caterham F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Preparations, Sepang, Malaysia, Thursday, 21 March 2013 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix Preparations, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Thursday, 18 April 2013 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, British Grand Prix, Practice, Silverstone, England, Friday, 28 June 2013 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, British Grand Prix, Practice, Silverstone, England, Friday, 28 June 2013 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, 14 March 2013 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM06.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Qualifying, Shanghai, China, Saturday, 13 April 2013 Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Preparations, Shanghai, China, Thursday, 11 April 2013 Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice, Shanghai, China, Friday, 12 April 2013 Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Practice, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 15 March 2013 Xevi Pujolar (ESP) Williams Chief Race Engineer.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, 14 March 2013 Jules Bianchi (FRA) Marussia F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, British Grand Prix, Practice, Silverstone, England, Friday, 28 June 2013 Max Chilton (GBR) Marussia F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, 14 March 2013 John Booth (GBR) Marussia Racing Team Principal.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Race, Suzuka, Japan, Sunday, 7 October 2012 Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Sauber.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 19 April 2013 Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Sauber.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, 21 April 2013 Tom McCullough (GBR) Sauber Head of Track Engineering.
Formula One Testing, Day 2, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 1 March 2013 Paul Hembery (GBR) Pirelli Motorsport Director with FanVision.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Korean Grand Prix, Practice, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Friday, 12 October 2012 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus F1 on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, British Grand Prix, Race Day, Silverstone, England, Sunday, 30 June 2013 Martin Whitmarsh (GBR) McLaren Chief Executive Officer.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Practice, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 15 March 2013 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 16 March 2013 Alan Permane (GBR) Lotus F1 Race Engineer.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 22 March 2013 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 22 March 2013 Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Race Day, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 14 April 2013 Martin Whitmarsh (GBR) McLaren Chief Executive Officer.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Practice, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 15 March 2013

Round 11, the first race following the August summer break, sees the Formula One paddock arrive at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit, the longest track on the F1 calendar. Those involved in the 2013 Formula 1 Shell Belgian Grand Prix discuss their prospects for the coming weekend…

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes
2012 Qualifying - 18th, 2012 Race - 11th

“Spa is most definitely one of the best tracks of the year and all drivers love racing there. It's a great feeling to drive through the fast corners, and particularly taking Eau Rouge at full throttle. The Belgian Grand Prix is always a special one as it's very close to Germany and so a lot of our home fans will be there for the weekend, along with some of my friends. The layout and nature of the track should suit our car, although it does require very low downforce so we will have a different aerodynamic specification to the last race. I can't wait to be back in my Silver Arrow and I hope it will be a successful weekend for us.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
2012 Qualifying - 8th, 2012 Race - DNF

“It feels like I have been out of the car for a very long time since the win in Hungary and I can't wait to get going again. I was at the factory yesterday to meet up with my engineers and get in some practice on the simulator so it was nice to see everyone and to feel the enthusiasm around the factory after the summer break. Spa is a fantastic circuit and it's so much fun to drive. We're all looking forward to the second half of the season and the opportunity to bring home some more good results.”

Ross Brawn, Mercedes team principal
“After a well-deserved summer break, the factory has been a hive of activity this week as we prepare for the Belgian Grand Prix and the start of the second half of the Formula One season. There has been a lot of work to achieve in a very short time to make sure we are ready for the weekend and everyone has been working hard. Both Nico and Lewis have been in the factory with us this week to start our preparations on the simulator and both are raring to get back into the car again. Spa is one of Formula One's most historic circuits with its characteristics loved by drivers, fans and the teams alike, and we often see some exciting and dramatic racing there. As usual, we will have a unique aerodynamic package adapted to the Spa layout. We finished the first half of the season on a high and will be aiming for an equally strong second half.”

Toto Wolff, Mercedes team executive director
“Our first half of the season exceeded expectations but we will continue to work hard and to improve performance further in the second half. On paper, Spa is a circuit that should suit our car, and Nico and Lewis will be at their best on a real driver's circuit. We have a strong all-round package at the moment and good momentum after our win in Hungary. However, everybody will bring a special low-drag package for this circuit, so we won't know who has found the best compromise before we start running on Friday. We cannot take anything for granted in terms of performance and Spa is always a demanding circuit for reliability. The key will be to do our homework well in practice in order to achieve a strong race result for the team.”

Charles Pic, Caterham
2012 Qualifying - n/a, 2012 Race - 20th

“I’ve had a great holiday with my family in France and it’s always good to recharge, particularly with seven of the races in the second half of the season being flyaways, but now I’m ready to get back to racing.

“The second to last European race of the season at Spa is one of the classic Grands Prix and there’s a lot of history about the track, particularly when you look back at what it used to be like! These days it’s obviously much shorter, and safer, but it’s still a very good challenge in an F1 car, whatever the weather is like! The main technical focus on Friday and Saturday morning is getting the balance right between the outright speed you need for the high speed sections, like the run to Les Combes, and the downforce you need to push in sector two, particularly through corners like Pouhon which is very quick when you have the car set up well. Get the balance right and a quick lap of Spa is a very satisfying feeling - for the drivers inside the cockpit and the fans watching the cars through corners like Eau Rouge, it’s what F1 is all about!”

Giedo van der Garde, Caterham
2012 Qualifying - n/a, 2012 Race - n/a

“I’ve had a pretty busy August break, spending some time down in Valencia with my physio to keep up the training programme, and then off to Italy for a few days of holiday completely away from motor racing, but now it’s back to work at Spa.

"Honestly, I’ve been excited about racing in F1 at Spa ever since the start of the season, actually probably for all my life! As there isn’t a Dutch Grand Prix these days the Belgian GP is the closest I have to a home race and I know there’s going to be a lot of orange flags around the track, and a lot of support for me and the team all weekend. I know we’re not going to be in a position to fight at the front of the grid, but we’ll still be pushing as hard as possible to beat our nearest rivals, and after the last race in Hungary I’m confident we can start the second half of the season in a positive way and put on a good show for all the fans who’ll make the trip to Spa. I can’t wait!”

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari
2012 Qualifying - 6th, 2012 Race - DNF

“Spa is a very special circuit that always gets your adrenalin pumping, what with the way the track rises and falls and the very quick corners, which all go to make it a really fantastic experience for a driver. One lap of Spa is like 20 at any other track, in terms of the excitement and adrenalin it generates.

“The most demanding corner is definitely the final chicane before the finish line, because you approach it at around 330 km/h but then you have to tackle this very, very slow chicane with very little grip, because at Spa you set up the car with very little downforce. It’s here that positions change a lot during the race and it’s also important as it marks the entrance to the pit lane, which is very narrow.

“Eau Rouge is an uphill corner taken in seventh gear at over 300 km/h. Even if you take it flat out these days in a modern Formula One car, your body still experiences more compression than at any other corner in the whole championship and that’s what makes it special.

“For the best set-up at Spa you need to make a significant aerodynamic compromise, because the first and third sectors are made up entirely of long straights, where you want the minimum downforce, in order to have as much speed as possible and then there’s the middle sector which has plenty of corners where you want the maximum aerodynamic downforce. So finding the right balance is always very complex at Spa, which means this is the aspect that we will prioritise in free practice.

“Spa is considered to be a very complete circuit which provides a real challenge for both the driver and the team. Therefore, it’s one of those races, along with Monaco and Monza and the other famous tracks with a great reputation, which gives them some added worth, as all the big names have won here in the past, so hopefully this year, we can put our name there. But at the end of the day, it’s still 25 points for the win, just like any other round.

“I did well in 2005 when I came second and also back in Formula 3000. So far, I’ve never been in with a real chance of fighting for the win and I’ve often retired at Spa, usually for reasons of plain bad luck or with technical problems or down to my own mistakes. So it would be great to make up for that this year, picking up all those lost points.”

Felipe Massa, Ferrari
2012 Qualifying - 14th, 2012 Race - 5th

“Spa is fantastic, something of a dream for all drivers to race there, especially in a Formula One car. There’s so much history there and it’s a wonderful challenge with all the climbs and drops and changes of direction, which all add up to make driving there a true pleasure.

“In a modern F1 car, with all the technology and the aerodynamics and the downforce, although Eau Rouge looks like a corner, you actually drive it as though it was a straight, taking it flat out every lap. So actually, the part (of the track) I think is the most fun is towards the end of the second sector and the start of the last one, where there are so many fast corners and changes of direction. The most demanding section comes after the climb from Eau Rouge, when you get a straight followed by all those downhill chicanes because the slightest mistake here costs you a lot of time over the lap.

“Everyone wants to win here. I love the circuit and I hope there are more Spa wins to come in my career. It means a lot because of its history.”

Paul di Resta, Force India
2012 Qualifying -10th, 2012 Race - 10th

“(The summer break) was very good! I had the chance to put in a bit of training, relax and spend time with my family and friends at home. It was important to make sure I come back stronger for this second part of the season. It’s going to be a very important period and I wanted to make sure I can face it in the best condition and with my batteries fully charged.

“We need to get the car working for us like before. In Budapest it was difficult to drive, but sometimes you get those tough weekends. Since then we have regrouped and analysed the previous races properly and hopefully this weekend will be a fresh start. We usually do well in Belgium and everyone is determined to get back to the situation we had at the start of the year when we seemed to be punching above our weight.”

Adrian Sutil, Force India
2012 Qualifying - n/a, 2012 Race - n/a

“I think Spa is the favourite for most drivers. It’s a real pleasure to drive there and I’ve had some good results. The high-speed corners are a really nice challenge and there are lots of overtaking opportunities. Plus, there is always the unknown of the weather and a good chance of rain.

“It is important we regain the speed we showed earlier in the year. We are going towards some tracks that should suit our car better and it’s important that we get back to scoring points at every race. I am ready to do my part by taking the opportunities when they appear and helping the team move forward. I have good memories of Spa and I would like to add some more.”

Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India team principal
“Spa is a track that we love! As I have said, the car has to be competitive on all tracks, but if I concede that Hungary was not ideally suited to us, by the same token Spa and Monza have traditionally been our stronger tracks. So that gives me a little bit of a morale boost in saying that once we are on top of the game, we should restore our competitive position.”

Pastor Maldonado, Williams
2012 Qualifying - 3rd, 2012 Race - DNF

“Spa is one of my favourite circuits because it has so much history and is so fun to drive. It's a very technical and fast circuit and you find a very wide range of corners there: uphill, downhill, very slow, medium, fast, short and long corners. It's the most complete track of the season and this tests you as a driver and also tests the car's setup. It also has the famous Eau Rouge corner which puts a lot of G force and pressure on your body. You feel this even more during qualifying when you are low on fuel and are trying to get the most from the car. The weather can be changeable and because it is such a long track, there are times where the track can be wet in one sector but dry in another which requires the teams to make some difficult strategy decisions. Two years ago I picked up my first point in Formula One here and hopefully I will be in the points again this weekend.”

Valtteri Bottas, Williams
2012 Qualifying - n/a, 2012 Race - n/a

“I first drove at Spa in 2007 in Formula Renault and immediately fell in love with the track. It's very high speed, flowing and undulating and gives you a real adrenaline rush. Achieving a good car set-up is difficult because of the wide variety of corners, but we will try to get as much information as we can during the practice sessions to find the most appropriate setup for qualifying and the race. I've had a good break during the shutdown period but I'm now itching to get back in the car. We have shown some improvements in race pace over the past few races and we know we are heading in the right direction. We will therefore be looking to have another points-scoring result this weekend that will give us good momentum for the second half of the season.”

Xevi Pujolar, Williams chief race engineer
“After the August break it is great to be back racing again and the whole team is looking forward to arriving at Spa-Francorchamps this weekend. It is one of the most challenging circuits in the world for both the car and drivers as you see every kind of corner from long flowing curves to twisty chicanes and hairpins. It's one of the fastest circuits with an average speed of 230km/h and is also the longest single lap of the year at 7.004km. With DRS and the long lap resulting in large differences in tyre degradation between strategies, overtaking is usually easier here than at many other tracks. Weather is often very changeable here and although early forecasts show a chance of rain on Sunday only, this can quickly change. Also, given the length of the circuit there is an added challenge in selecting tyres in changeable conditions as certain parts of the circuit can be much wetter than others. Overall, we are looking forward to getting the final races of the season underway.”

Remi Taffin, Renault Sport F1 head of track operations
“A massive 70 percent of the 7-kilometre Spa-Francorchamps is spent flat out, meaning the track remains one of the biggest test of engines on the F1 calendar. Even though Monza sees the RS27 at full throttle for a longer time, it is the combination of the wide open throttle with the compressions and steep gradients that gives such an awesome workout. La Source to Eau Rouge and onto the Raidillon sees the engine at maximum revs, diving downhill and then climbing through several metres, putting the engines and internals under considerable stress. Having the right balance between reliability and top end power is always a juggling act as a result - and one that is particularly rewarding when you get it right.”

Jules Bianchi, Marussia
2012 Qualifying - n/a, 2012 Race - n/a

“On the one hand it is very important for everyone in the sport to have a good long break. On the other hand I was ready to go racing again after just one week! That was three weeks ago now, so I am very much looking forward to Spa this weekend and also to the second half of the season, which is very important for us as we have to give it 100 percent to ensure we achieve our objectives. Over the break I have had the chance to reflect on my debut season so far, think about how I can bring all of that experience together to make me stronger and also focus very hard on my physical condition so that I can perform at my best through the run of long-haul races coming up. It will be good to race at Spa again as it is a fantastic track and it will be very special to get my first taste of it in an F1 car.”

Max Chilton, Marussia
2012 Qualifying - n/a, 2012 Race - n/a

“I can’t wait for Spa this weekend. The break has been a good opportunity to think about the first half of the season but it will be good to be back in the car again. I’m feeling very positive about what we need to do in the remaining nine races and I’m ready for the challenge. Although we haven’t been racing, the break has still been a busy time as I treated it a little like a ‘training camp’ and spent part of it on a pretty intensive physical programme. Having raced at Spa a few times now, I’m looking forward to my first experience of driving a Formula One car at what is a very special circuit. It’s a different challenge, with the exceptionally long lap and fantastic mix of long straights and high-speed corners and it certainly ranks high on my list of favourites.”

John Booth, Marussia team principal
“It is good to return after the summer break and have everyone in the team rested and ready for the second phase of races. With only two European rounds remaining, the long haul run will be quite demanding, so the chance for some much-needed respite has been key for everyone. We also head into the second part of the season still holding 10th place in the constructors’ championship and we are keenly focused on what we need to do at every turn to ensure we maintain that position. The challenge begins again this weekend in Spa at what is a favourite destination for our Team and the fans. There we will have some new suspension parts and brakes to evaluate and, as ever, consistent progress during the course of the weekend and a two-car finish ahead of our nearest competitors are the target outcomes.”

Nico Hulkenberg, Sauber
2012 Qualifying -12th, 2012 Race - 4th

“I am probably not the only driver to say Spa-Francorchamps is one of my favourite circuits. It’s a track with a lot of history. It’s an old school circuit with great corners like Eau Rouge and Pouhon. I have great memories from last year, it was my strongest career finish so far finishing fourth, which was really good. In terms of the car, it’s important to have a really efficient one. There are a lot of medium and high-speed corners, where you need the down force, especially in sector two. But you also need to lose the drag on the straight, because there are long straights, especially out of turn one through Eau Rouge, which is flat, and then again coming back to the start and finish line. There are a lot of straights, so top speed is also important. The Ardennes area of Belgium has a really nice atmosphere and I enjoy going to there.”

Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber
2012 Qualifying - n/a, 2012 Race - n/a

“Belgium will be an interesting race with everything we have done to the car during the past GPs. Obviously qualifying in Hungary was not good, because of the time we lost in FP3. But I think we can manage to get into the position we were expecting, which is around P10 in Spa-Francorchamps. It is one of the tracks that I enjoy driving the most, because it has a lot of quick corners and it just flows. You can feel the limits of the car at really high speeds. One lap is quite long and sometimes you even face varying weather conditions in different parts of the track - on one side it might be raining, while the other side might be dry. This makes it very challenging and interesting. In terms of the setup, we will have to be clever about which downforce levels we want to race, because you have very long straights, and at the same time you have high-speed corners, where you need the downforce. As a racing driver it is impossible not to enjoy the track, because it has fast corners, you are going uphill, downhill and I am really looking forward to it.”

Tom McCullough, Sauber head of track engineering
“After the August break the whole team feels refreshed and we are looking forward to the remaining nine races. Spa-Francorchamps is a favourite track for many engineers and drivers as the track requirements are different to the majority of the tracks we visit. The circuit efficiency penalises higher levels of drag so the rear wings will return to the medium levels of downforce. As always, we will have to keep an eye on the forecast as this often influences the race weekend in Spa-Francorchamps. The track is made up of primarily medium and high-speed corners with significant flat out sections. Pirelli has selected the medium and hard compounds for our return to Spa. We have improved the competitiveness of the C32 throughout the first half of the season and we aim to capitalise on that between now and the end of the year.”

Pirelli
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director

“Spa is not only an epic circuit, but also one of the biggest challenges for our tyres all year. Mostly this is because of the very high-energy loads that go all the way through the tyres, both vertically - due to the big compressions such as Eau Rouge - and also laterally at fast corners like Blanchimont. Often, the tyres are subjected to forces acting in different directions at the same time, which increases the work still further. So looking after the tyres is very important, particularly as it’s such a long lap. This means that there are a very wide variety of possible strategies available at Spa as well, with plenty of time to be won and lost if the right tactics are chosen. However, any strategy has to be very flexible, because it’s the changing weather that often makes Spa such a fascinating race. The conditions can change extremely quickly, which then makes how the teams use the intermediate and wet tyres the key to success - as we have seen so often in the past. Both our wet-weather tyres have proved their performance over previous races; with the intermediate tyre in particular showing how well suited it is even to inconsistent and drying conditions. There are plenty of overtaking opportunities, and the blend of performance and durability offered by our nominated tyres should maximise those chances this weekend.”

Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus
2012 Qualifying - 4th, 2012 Race - 3rd

“Usually I’ve achieved a good result at the Belgian Grand Prix, but what has happened there before doesn’t help me right now. Of course, it doesn’t cause any harm either and it would be great to win at Spa for a fifth time. Extra points are always good and if you win the race no-one scores more points than you. For me there have only been good memories from Spa and it’s great to go racing there. You can’t get the same kind of a feeling anywhere else. It’s great to race with a modern racing car at a proper circuit which has such a great tradition.

“Spa offers very challenging high-speed corners and you need to get the right set-up for the car. As we've seen so many times this year, a good grid position is extremely important. It will be very decisive at Spa too, even though it is maybe easier to overtake there than at some other tracks. It’s crucial to have a good car aerodynamically to tackle the fast corners and it’s a long lap, so to get the right time you really need to maintain the best rhythm. So much depends on the qualifying result, so we need to find a decent set-up on Friday and Saturday and have a solid qualifying session on Saturday afternoon. I don’t know how it will suit our car this year. Last year we were not very strong there. I think we know the reasons and for sure our car is better this year, but is it good enough to be fighting for a win? We will see on Sunday.

“I bet every driver likes Spa. For me it is the greatest racing circuit in the world. It is my favourite place. I have liked the place since my first ever visit there in 2000 with Formula Renault.”

Romain Grosjean, Lotus
2012 Qualifying - 9th, 2012 Race - DNF

“What a track; it’s fantastic! It’s a superb rollercoaster of a circuit, then there’s the added bonus that they speak French meaning it’s almost another home race for me after Monaco and Canada. It’s going to be good. If we have the pace we displayed in Budapest at a more normal circuit with better overtaking opportunities - and a bit wider track too - then I think good things could well be possible.

“It should fit our car pretty well. In fact, the second half of the season looks good overall in terms of how the tracks should suit the E21. Hopefully we’ll have everything we need to win races. I’m looking forward to it as it’s a special track and I also won the GP2 Series title there in 2011, so it’ll be good for me to be back there again.”

Alan Permane, Lotus trackside operations director
“Similar to Canada, Spa is a much lower downforce layout than most venues we visit with significantly lower temperatures; usually between 15 and 20 degrees ambient. We will also be using the hard and medium compound tyres which - combined with the cooler climate - have not been our strength I think it’s fair to say. We have, however, been putting in a lot of time and effort to get the harder tyres working better in lower temperatures, and I’m fairly confident we’ll head into this race remaining equally competitive.

“We haven’t made a final decision yet as to whether the [passive double-DRS] Device will be deployed, but we’ve been conducting a lot of simulation work with the concept to help clarify that decision and there’s a good chance we’ll see it make an appearance.

“The advantage we have with Spa being so close geographically is that we can be working on the cars back at Enstone right up until the Tuesday night before the race, and still have sufficient time to get them to the circuit ready for work on Thursday morning. We’ve got several updates coming up - both mechanical and aerodynamic - so we’re confident of making another step forward.”

Jenson Button, McLaren
2012 Qualifying - 1st, 2012 Race - 1st

“Spa has always been on my shortlist of favourite circuits in Formula One. I still remember my first Grand Prix there, back in 2000, when I out-qualified Michael Schumacher in a Ferrari - that felt pretty special.

“Then I think back to my victory there last year: I had pretty much the perfect weekend - my car was fantastic, I got pole position and just led the whole race. It was one of the most satisfying wins of my career just because I felt strong and confident for the entire weekend.

“The thing about Spa is that it just feels awesome to nail a quick lap around there - you need a car that’s perfectly synced to the driver, because it’s such a long lap, and there are so many big corners, that you need to find that perfect balance. And getting the set-up right - and running flat-out for nearly two minutes - feels incredible.

“We don’t go to Spa with the package to win, but I’ll still be making the most of every single lap around this place - it’ll still feel incredible.”

Sergio Perez, McLaren
2012 Qualifying - 5th, 2012 Race - DNF

“We had a positive race in Hungary, which was a nice way to end the first half of the season. Hopefully, it gave everybody within the team the motivation to return to work after the summer break with renewed focus. I’m certainly feeling incredibly strong and refreshed and am really looking forward to getting back into the cockpit and back to work.

“There’s no better place to kick off the season’s second half than with races at Spa and then Monza. They’re two of Formula One’s most iconic and evocative tracks, and two of the greatest challenges for any driver. I love Spa, but I didn’t get too much of an opportunity last year: after qualifying fourth, I was one of the victims of the first-corner accident, so I didn’t get to see what our car could do.

“So I’m going to Spa this year with added motivation to do well. It’s such a great place - I love fast corners, and the feeling of taking to the car to the limit around such a big and long circuit is incredible. The racing at Spa - particularly with KERS Hybrid and DRS - is usually pretty intense, so I’ll be looking forward to another exciting weekend.”

Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
“There’s absolutely no denying that Spa-Francorchamps is one of the greatest racetracks in the world. It occupies that exalted position alongside circuits such as Monaco, Silverstone, Monza and Suzuka; venues with a storied past and a demanding nature that make them some of the standouts on a packed calendar.

“For everyone in Formula One, a weekend in Spa can be tough and demanding. The unpredictable weather means that there’s rarely a straightforward path for our drivers and engineers to clearly pursue through the weekend. The cold and the rain make life difficult for the spectators, too, but they are rewarded with some of the best views in the world of racing cars at the limit.

“Spa has been the scene of many victories for McLaren through the years - not least, our very first Grand Prix win, achieved by Bruce McLaren himself back in 1968. While we’re not contenders for outright victory this time round, the whole team is looking forward to another opportunity to build on our ability to understand and operate MP4-28.”

More to follow.

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