The summer break was a good chance to relax and to reflect on what’s been an incredible start to the year for us as a team. But personally, I can’t wait to get back in the car and back into the battle for the Championship. I had some difficult weekends in the first part of the season, but then a bit of good fortune at the last race in Budapest kept me from damaging my car on the wall during that first lap, so hopefully that was a sign that my fortunes are changing at just the right time. There were so many positives to take from the opening eleven races, but both myself and the team always want more and know we are capable of more. The aim is to put the more difficult times of some of the previous weekends behind us and to recreate the best moments at every race from now on. I love driving at Spa, so there are few better places to start. I had good results there in 2008 and on my first visit to the circuit with this team last year, plus the win in 2010 of course. I haven’t won there as many times as I’d like but that win was a really special one, so I really want to add to that and that’s definitely the target this weekend.
Spa - In the Cockpit with Lewis
Spa is an amazing circuit. You really feel like you’re going somewhere here – up into the woods, around the back and then all way back down again. Heading down into Turn One, it’s really important not to lock up and run wide as traction is usually pretty weak on the exit of the corner and you need good drive down onto the following straight. It’s flat out down there and then on through the spectacular Eau Rouge – the corner everyone knows at Spa! Carrying good speed through the whole of this section is crucial, as a lot of time can be gained or lost.
The long straight down to Turn Five is the best overtaking opportunity around the circuit. With a low downforce configuration on the car, braking from such high speed into this corner can be really tricky. You’re then straight into the second part of the chicane at Turn Six and accelerating through Turn Seven. This is another corner where good traction is required on exit before heading downhill into Turn Eight – a beautiful, long, sweeping right-handed corner. You then have to position the car quickly on the right to ensure you carry good speed through Turn Nine and can get on the power nice and early.
You need a decent lift on entry to Turn Ten, then it’s straight back on the power again through Turn 11 and down a short straight into the Turn 12 / 13 chicane, where it’s important to really hug the apex through the first part as you can quite often get understeer through the second. It’s back on the brakes into Turn 14, but from there it’s flat out through the kinks of Turns 15, 16 and 17. Through this section you have to keep the steering as smooth and straight as possible to avoid scrubbing off too much speed.
The final chicane of Turn 18 / 19 is tricky, as by this stage both your tyres and brakes have dropped a lot of temperature. It’s so easy to lock up on entry and there’s very little grip through this tight right / left combination, but it’s important to get it right as a small mistake can put you on the back foot heading into the next lap – particularly if another car is close on your tail.