Round 12 of the 2012 Formula One World Championship, and the first race after the sport’s summer break, takes place at the historic Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium next weekend.
The Belgian Grand Prix will be a special weekend for the team as it marks the 300th Grand Prix for Michael at the circuit where he made his debut in 1991.
The first and third sectors include straights where the cars exceed 315 kph, the second features ten of the 19 corners. The full throttle period from T1 to T5, including Eau Rouge, is the longest of the season and lasts over 23 seconds.
Four of the last ten races at Spa have been won from pole position and a total of seven of ten from the front row. The Safety Car has been deployed at least once in the past three Belgian Grands Prix and in six of the last ten races.
For Ross, “the summer break has given everyone at our factories in Brackley and Brixworth some time to relax and recharge the batteries before the intense second half of the season begins. Although there have only been a few working days to make improvements around the shutdown period, we have been working hard towards our aim of an improved performance in the second half of the season.
Spa is one of the real classic circuits which is much loved by drivers, engineers and the fans. It’s a great circuit to watch the cars, and you’re almost guaranteed an exciting weekend with varied weather thrown into the mix.
For the second year in succession, Spa will be a special occasion for Michael and the team as we follow his 20th anniversary last year by celebrating his 300th Grand Prix this time around. It is a fantastic achievement which has so far only been matched by one other driver, and we look forward to celebrating with him, and hopefully a strong weekend.”
Norbert feels that “Spa is a traditional circuit that sets the drivers and teams big challenges, and demands a complete range of performance from both the chassis and the engine. On a qualifying lap, the engines spend 23 seconds and nearly two kilometres at full throttle between La Source hairpin and turn five at Les Combes - the highest value of the season.
On the other hand, the second sector contains ten of the circuit's 19 corners, so good levels of medium and high-speed downforce are required. Experience shows that the typical Ardennes weather almost inevitably plays a role during the weekend and, when it does, the circuit usually ranges from damp to very wet.
Around the two-week summer shutdown that every team observed, our team has been hard at work since the last race in Hungary in order to prepare as well as possible for Spa. Spa 2012 is also a special race for our team because Michael will take part in his 300th Grand Prix weekend.
In 1991, Michael started his first race in Spa; in 1992, he won the first of 91 victories so far in Spa; and last year, on the 20th anniversary of his first start, he finished in fifth position after starting last on the grid. Everybody in our team will be working in a focused way to help Nico and Michael score the best possible results next weekend.”