Belgium Grand Prix Formula One preview
Today’s report from Formula One teams & drivers in Spa-Francorchamps.
Red Bull Racing
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
2013 Belgian Grand Prix preview
Spa-Francorchamps facts & stats
After a four-week break in the Formula 1 calendar, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes returns to action at one of the world’s most historic racetracks. Spa-Francorchamps has been synonymous with F1 for more than 60 years, and it’s where McLaren has enjoyed much success. The team scored its first world championship victory at the circuit in 1968 and it has won at the venue consistently ever since – including last year’s pole-to-flag victory for Jenson.
The 4.352-mile/7.004km circuit is the longest of the season, and it’s also one of the fastest, with an average speed of 145mph/234km/h. Its most challenging corners – of which Eau Rouge, Pouhon and Blanchimont are three – are revered by the drivers as their combination of high g-forces and huge speeds makes this race very tough on man and machine.
Spa-Francorchamps featured in the inaugural championship calendar in 1950, but its current design bears only a passing resemblance to the original 14km layout that last hosted a grand prix in 1970. That final race on the super-fast old track was won at an incredible average speed of 150mph, making it the sixth fastest race of all time!
The modern circuit was opened in 1979 and, despite alterations to Eau Rouge and the Bus Stop chicane, it has retained much of its fast and flowing nature. A committed driver and an aerodynamically efficient car are pre-requisites to success, but racing at Spa-Francorchamps is rarely straightforward due to the fickle microclimate of the surrounding Ardennes hills. Rain invariably features at some point during the race weekend.
Should this year’s 44-lap race remain dry, the teams will use Pirelli’s Medium and Hard tyre compounds, as they did in Malaysia, Bahrain, Spain and Great Britain earlier in the year.
- Race distance 44 laps (308.052km/191.424 miles)
- Start time 14:00 (local)/12:00 (GMT)
- Circuit length 7.004km/4.352 miles
- 2012 winner Jenson Button (McLaren MP4-27) 44 laps in 1hr29m08.530s (207.344km/h)
- 2012 pole Jenson Button (McLaren MP4-27) 1m47.573s (234.393km/h)
- Lap record Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren MP4-19) 1m45.108s (238.931km/h)
McLaren at the Belgian Grand Prix
Wins 14 (1968, 1974, 1982, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2005, 2010, 2012)
Poles 11 (1985, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2005, 2008, 2012)
Fastest laps 8 (1974, 1982, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1999, 2004, 2010)
Car 5: Jenson Button
- Age 33 (January 19 1980)
- GPs 238
- Wins 15
- Poles 8
- FLs 8
“Spa has always been on my shortlist of favourite circuits in Formula 1. 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.”
Car 6: Sergio Perez
- Age 23 (January 26 1990)
- GPs 47
- Wins 0
- Poles 0
- FLs 2
“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 1’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 Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
“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 1, 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.”
A McLaren 50 moment
Belgian Grand Prix, August 27 2000
McLaren has enjoyed many successes at Spa-Francorchamps and none more significant than Bruce McLaren’s maiden win for his eponymous team in 1968. But we’re going to reflect here on a more recent victory for the team in which Mika Hakkinen claimed his only success in Belgium.
Mika takes a convincing pole position in his McLaren MP4-15, but he’s made to work hard for victory in the 44-lap race – and he’s not helped by the weather. At 7am on race day, the gorgeous sunshine of qualifying is replaced by heavy and persistent rain – and the race is started behind the Safety Car.
Mika converts pole position and opens up a good lead during the early laps. But the rain abates and when a dry line appears Mika is caught out at Stavelot, where he spins. That lets Michael Schumacher into the lead and Mika spends the remainder of the race hunting down the Ferrari driver.
With four laps to go Mika is in Schumacher’s slipstream. He tries to pass the German on the approach to Les Combes, but his efforts are firmly rebuffed. Schumacher is then forced wide by a backmarker at the same place on the following lap and Mika seizes his chance. He sensationally dives down the inside of Schumacher and Ricardo Zonta to take the lead. He crosses the line 1.1s ahead of Schumacher to claim his fourth win of 2000.
Lotus F1 Team
Kimi Räikkönen: “Spa is the greatest racing circuit in the world”
After a strong second position last time out in Budapest, Kimi Räikkönen arrives at one of his very favourite circuits – where he has four wins already to his name – with everything to play for
You were second in Budapest before the summer break; how good would it be to go one step better at Spa?
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.
How has your history been at the circuit?
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.
What are the challenges of the track and should it suit the strengths of the E21?
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.
Why has Spa been so good to you in the past?
Sometimes there are certain circuits where everything seems to run smoothly, and then there are other circuits where I have no luck at all. Of course, we will do our very best to win this race. I have been on the top step of the podium a few times at Spa and I want to be there again.
Does this make Spa one of your favourite tracks?
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.
How are you feeling about your championship position?
I am now back in second which was a good way to enter the summer break. I finished ahead of Seb [Vettel] in Hungary so obviously scored more points than him there. To beat him, we need to be winning races and if we keep finishing second like we’ve done many times this year it’s probably not going to be enough for the championship, but you never know what might happen.
Where can improvements be found?
Well, obviously I keep making my life difficult on Saturdays in qualifying so then we pay a price, but we still have a good car in the race. Now we have tyres that are a little bit different we have to understand exactly how to use them. We made progress in Budapest so it should be easier in Spa, but that will be the same for everyone. To win, it’s always better to be starting near the front.
Romain Grosjean: “I’m feeling more and more comfortable”
After ‘the one that got away’ in Budapest, our Frenchman heads to Belgium full of vigour for the race ahead
What are your thoughts about Spa-Francorchamps?
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.
How is your feeling with the E21 now you have half a season behind you?
Certainly in the last few races I have felt very good in the car and have been able to push in qualifying and the race. It’s a good place to be heading into the second half of the season where there are very good opportunities for some great results.
How do you think the E21 should suit Spa’s challenges?
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.
If you could sum up these first ten races, what would you say?
That’s a difficult one, but I guess I’d have to say the word ‘potential’ is the key. For sure we’ve had some difficult moments and maybe the results haven’t always been what the team deserved, but the potential for top finishes has always been there.
What’s been your highlight of this year so far?
A much easier question! Not many people know yet, but just after the race in Hungary my little boy Sacha arrived into the world so I am now a very proud father! On track… well, I would like to say the pass on Felipe [Massa] in Budapest – which at the time I thought may have been the best of my career so far – but of course with the penalty I suppose it’s not the same. The podium in Germany would have to be my next choice; not just because it was a great result for the team, but because we were genuinely fighting for the win right to the end which was a pretty good feeling.
And on the flip side?
Monaco was not my best weekend, that’s no secret. The pace was there, but for one reason or another I just didn’t put everything together when really a strong result was definitely achievable. I still owe the mechanics and composites guys a drink for that; hopefully it will be some victory champagne later in the season…
How are you feeling heading into the second half of the season?
Very good. We proved in Germany and Hungary that we can compete right at the front of the grid and I think if we can continue to improve at the same rate we will be looking pretty good for the remaining nine races. I’m feeling more and more comfortable in the car every time I drive it which is certainly a good sign looking forwards. After our performance in the last few races, I honestly believe my first win is now just around the corner.
Eric Boullier: “We head into the next nine races on a real high”
Eight podiums from ten races have given Eric Boullier plenty to smile about in 2013 so far, and the Team Principal is hoping for more of the same from the back nine…
How would you sum up the first half of the 2013 season?
Overall I’d say it’s been a positive start. There have been a lot of high points, but also perhaps some less satisfying moments. We’ve taken eight podiums from ten races so far, which is a great achievement for the team and shows that once again we’ve clearly made a step forwards from the previous year. Of course, amongst those highlights we’ve had three races – Monaco, Montréal and Silverstone – where we did not score as many points as we should have done, but the important thing is that we recovered from these small blips to challenge for wins at the Nürburgring and also in Budapest. For me it’s a big positive to show that we have the capability as a team to bounce back and sustain a challenge against opponents with greater resources at their disposal.
If you could pick one moment as your highlight of the year so far, what would it be?
Well I think that one is quite obvious. We’re here to win, and the victory for Kimi at the opening race in Melbourne was a special moment for the whole team.
How do you rate the performances of both drivers at this mid-stage?
I would have to give Kimi ten out of ten. He’s done a terrific job right from the beginning of the season and his remarkable run of twenty-seven consecutive points finishes speaks for itself. No matter what happens he’s always there, as we saw in the final few laps at Monaco. He is playing a big part in pushing the team forwards, and of course having such a popular character in the seat has its advantages too. For Romain it was a more difficult start to the year coming off the back of a tough season in 2012, and it maybe took him a little while to settle down and start performing to the best of his ability. With that in mind, it gives me great pleasure to see him learn from those experiences and to start delivering the kind of results we’ve always known he is capable of. In Germany and Hungary he really put together the complete package over two consecutive weekends, and this should now be his baseline. He knows that if he wants to be winning races and fighting for championships then he must deliver this kind of quality drive at every Grand Prix. If he can keep up this level, Romain can be a future contender for titles, I’m sure of it.
At the start of the season you stated P3 in the Constructors’ standings as the target; is this still the aim?
The championship is so close between ourselves, Ferrari and Mercedes at the moment that we really need to be aiming a little higher to make sure our goals are reached. I think therefore that to target P2 is a better ambition, and we will be pushing harder than ever to sustain that challenge. We have an ambitious group of people at Enstone and a top three placing at the end of the year is very much possible, which would be a fantastic achievement for everybody involved. We head into the next nine races on a real high.
The 2014 calendar looks set to be pretty full… what’s your take on this?
I think we first need to wait for the full calendar to be confirmed before assessing the situation in too much detail, but it certainly seems like we’ll have some extra races next year and at some different venues too which is good for the sport. We’ll also see the return of in-season testing, but we have the resources available here at Enstone to make sure the race team don’t get over-worked. Without doubt it’s going to be busy and we’ll need to make sure we achieve the right balance, but as a team we’re more than able to manage the schedule.
With major rule changes just around the corner, how do you see the remainder of 2013 unfolding?
I think we will see most of the teams – with the exception maybe of Red Bull – slowing right down in their development of this years’ cars in preparation for the challenge of 2014. With this in mind I think we are in a very strong position for the second half of the season, as our car is currently competing at the very front of the pack. We also have a strong upgrade package for Spa which will most likely form our baseline for the remainder of the year, so our aim should be to continue fighting for podiums right to the end.
Alan Permane: “I fully expect us to continue fighting at the front”
Describing the first half of the season as ‘pretty good’, Trackside Operations Director Alan Permane expects the team to be fighting for podiums right up to the end of year
We’re now entering the second half of the season; how would you rate the team’s performance in the first ten races?
On the whole I’d say we’ve had a decent start to the year. It’s frustrating to sometimes come away from a weekend knowing we haven’t quite got the most from the car, but at the past few events we’ve brought some successful updates that are working very well. Out of ten rounds so far we’ve had eight podium finishes – including a victory at the opening round – so it’s been pretty good overall. Of course, we always want to win more races – we’re here to fight for World Championships – but second in the Drivers’ Championship and a very close fourth in the Constructors’ battle – within touching distance of second and with a healthy gap behind – is a good position to be in. We’re battling with teams that have arguably got a lot more resources at their disposal, so I think we’re doing a very good job with what we have here at Enstone.
Hungary was our first race with the revised Pirelli tyre construction / compound combination; what have we learned from that?
From Budapest we’ve learned that the ‘new’ tyres seem to suit our car relatively well. We can only assess their effect on performance relative to the competition around us, and I’d say we’ve not done too badly on that front. Mercedes for example seem to be very well suited to them, but Ferrari perhaps not so much. Although we were slightly quicker than them in both Germany and Hungary, ourselves and Red Bull look very evenly matched. I wouldn’t say they’ve changed our position too much.
Belgium presents a different challenge…
Yes; a total contrast to Budapest in pretty much every area. Similar to Canada, Spa is a much lower downforce layout than most venues we visit with significantly lower temperatures; usually between fifteen and twenty 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.
Spa is a circuit which should surely suit the Device; is it on the radar for this weekend?
Absolutely. We haven’t made a final decision yet as to whether it 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.
Coming off the back of the summer break, has there been any time for further upgrades to be prepared for this race?
Although we have had a decent gap of four weeks between races, two of those are eliminated by the enforced factory shutdown. This still leaves two weeks of course; a period of time sufficient to bring a few new parts to the table as we would normally do in such a gap. 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.
With 2014 and the associated regulations changes drawing ever nearer, do you anticipate a notable switch in development focus for the rest of the season?
I expect most, if not every team on the grid to be focusing the majority of their design and aero resources on next year’s cars by this stage. The changes are so significant that – without unlimited resources – you really have no alternative but to have switched your focus in this respect if the aim is to be competitive in 2014. You may see a few small upgrades appearing as the races tick away, but I suspect we’ve witnessed the last of the major overhaul packages. If this rings true throughout the paddock – and I think it will for most teams – then I fully expect us to continue fighting at the front for the remainder of the season.
Success at Spa – An Engineer’s Guide to the Spa-Francorchamps Circuit
A tight first corner with heavy braking down to 60kph before leading into the downhill section.
The run down Eau Rouge and into Raidillion creates extreme suspension compression as the relief changes from downhill to uphill. Good engine power is required for the uphill drag.
Top speeds of 330kph – one of the highest of the season – before braking down to 3rd gear and 140kph for this right hander.
Rivage provides a good challenge as it is a medium speed 180 degree corner heading straight into Turn 9. Good balance and change of direction are required here.
Pouhon is a high speed left-hander, with entry taken at nearly 300kph.
Turns 14 + 15:
Turn 14 is taken at 140kph before the cars accelerate through Curve Paul Frère – which is taken at 100kph faster than that – before leading into the flat out Turns 16 and 17.
With heavy braking into the chicane after a prolonged high speed section, the brakes need to be ready instantly. Turn 18 provides a good overtaking opportunity.
We use comparably more front wing here compared to lower speed tracks to help diminish understeer in the high speed corners.
Spa is very much an aerodynamic efficiency circuit where you need a reasonable amount of downforce without too much detrimental drag. We run a similar amount of rear wing to Canada which is a medium downforce setting.
This is primarily a high speed circuit and there isn’t much use of the kerbs, so suspension is tailored to high speed balance rather than low speed travel.
There are not many braking demands here which means the focus is on keeping the brakes warm so they work immediately when required. There are three major braking areas; into the first corner, the Turn 5 chicane, and then the former bus stop chicane. These sections also offer the main overtaking opportunities.
This is a circuit which puts high demand on the tyres. Also, the weather in the Ardennes can be very variable – even over the course of a lap – so tyre choice is crucial.
You need an engine with a strong top end here; especially for the drag up Raidillon and the Kemmel Straight which follows, as this is slightly uphill all the way to Turn 5. Elsewhere too, good horsepower is rewarded in many sections of the lap, especially due to its undulating nature.
Inside Line: The Latest News from Enstone
The Future Starts Here
It’s been a successful start to the 2013 season for the seven burgeoning talents of Lotus F1 Junior Team, with championships, wins and podium finishes flowing in thick and fast across a variety of motorsports’ premier junior categories.
From Formula Renault 3.5 [where Marco Sørensen recently completed a dominant double victory at the Red Bull Ring] all the way through to International KF Karting [which has seen Dorian Boccolacci clinch two prestigious titles already this year], the future looks bright for our rising stars.
For the full lowdown on their progress so far this season, check out our two part special mid-season review:
As if the #WhereIsKimi challenge wasn’t enough to get our fans’ creative juices flowing during the summer break, we joined forces with Official Partner burn energy to create the intricate and ingenious Kimibot papercraft! A real test of skill and with the added bonus of a signed Kimi race suit up for grabs, this one kept keen craftsmen occupied for hours… Click here to download yours –
The Story So Far…
Everyone loves a good stat or two, so during the break we decided to take an ultimately geeky look back at our season in numbers so far.
Did you know for example that Kimi has equalled his personal record for highest number of podium appearances in the opening 10 races of a season  set back in 2003?
Perhaps you’ll find it interesting to discover that of the 36 drivers to have started a Grand Prix for the team, Romain now has the 10th
highest number of race appearances?
Or maybe you’ll be waiting with baited breath for the next Lotus F1 Team victory, which will be the 50th
visit to the top step in our 33 year Formula 1 history?
For more bobble hat action, click here:
Looks Who’s Talking: Social Media in Action
Loath to leave fans feeling totally deprived of Formula 1 action during the summer break, we gave followers of our social media feeds the opportunity to take the Iceman with them around the world for a chance to win a host of top prizes!
The concept was simple. Fans were invited to download a Kimi mask [click here to get yours:
] then print it off, cut it out and put it on. They then just had to keep it handy wherever they might be, and take some snaps for a chance to win tickets to live concerts from selected Columbia Records artists, signed caps from Kimi and Romain and a host of other Lotus F1 Team goodies!
With some entertaining, hilarious and downright ridiculous entries flooding in from across the globe, we’ve had hours of fun admiring the creative genius of our digital community. Click here to check out some of the very best efforts so far:
Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team
Spa – 21/08/2013
The Belgian Grand Prix, the first race after Formula One’s summer break, takes place at the historic Spa-Francorchamps circuit in the Ardennes region this weekend.
Spa features the longest full-throttle period of the season at 22.7s and 1.84 km from Turns 1 to 5
Engines are at full throttle for 72% of the lap with 11 of the 14 corners taken in fourth gear or higher
At 7.004 km, the lap at Spa is 2.1 times longer than at the season’s shortest venue, Monaco (3.340 km)
This circuit has a 75% risk of a Safety Car deployment, placing it in the ‘very high’ risk category
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sauber F1 Team
Preview – 2013 Shell Belgian Grand Prix
11th Round of the FIA Formula One World Championship, 23rd to 25th August 2013
Hinwil, 19th August 2013 – After a two week summer break the Sauber F1 Team is looking forward to the Belgian Grand Prix at the circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, which is taking place from 23rd to 25th of August. Sauber F1 Team drivers Nico Hülkenberg and Esteban Gutiérrez both spent some time unwinding from the first half of the season with their families and friends, and recharged their batteries with some fitness training in order to tackle the second part of the 2013 Formula One World Championship.
Nico Hülkenberg (car number 11):
“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 loose 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 Gutiérrez (car number 12):
“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, 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.“
|Circuit||Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps / 7.004 km|
|Race distance||44 laps / 308.052 km|
|Schedule||Qualifying 14:00 hrs Race 14:00 hrs local time (14:00 hrs CEST)|
|Driver||Nico Hülkenberg||Esteban Gutiérrez|
|Born||19.08.1987 Emmerich (DE)||05.08.1991 Monterrey (MX)|
|Height / Weight||1.84 m / 74 kg||1.80 m / 63 kg|
|First GP||Bahrain 2010||Melbourne 2013|
|Best race result||4th Spa (2012)||11th Barcelona (2013)|
|Best qualifying||1st Sao Paulo (2010)||14th Sepang (2013)|
|Points 2013||7 (currently 15th)||0 (currently 18th)|
|Points in total||92||-|
|The Sauber F1 Team has 7 points to its tally and currently holds 8th place in the Constructors’ Championship.|
Sahara Force India F1 Team
2013 Formula 1 Shell Belgian Grand Prix Preview
Sahara Force India looks forward to the Belgian Grand Prix, the eleventh race of the 2013 season.
Team Principal, Dr Vijay Mallya, reflects on the team’s recent performances.
Dr Mallya, despite a difficult couple of races the team remains fifth in the standings. What is the focus going forward?
We are approaching the second part of the year in the same way we approached the first half. We know the car is mechanically sound and the drivers have been happy with it, so we need to unleash its potential. Getting on top of the new tyres is certainly a challenge and an area we are focussed on, but it’s the same for everyone. With nine races to go and a close battle in the championship it’s vital that we are competitive on all tracks.
Do you feel confident that the team can recapture its form in time for Spa?
Tyres have played a very important role this year from race one onwards. We were on top of the tyre game up until Silverstone and then in Germany and Hungary we have struggled with the new tyres. We need to get on top of that and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to. We just need time and I’m quite optimistic that we will come back strong.
Spa is a track that always seems to suit this team. What are you expectations for the weekend?
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.
Paul on Spa
Paul Di Resta gets ready for the second half of the season.
Paul, how was your summer break?
It 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.
After some difficult races before the break, are you and the team ready to bounce back?
I don’t want to let this Championship get away from us. We started off really well and there is no reason why we can’t keep doing that. We have missed some opportunities lately and that allowed our rivals to close in, but I have faith in the team and I know everyone is working hard for the races ahead.
So are you confident for the second half of the season?
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 on Spa
Adrian looks forward to his favourite race of the season.
Adrian, are you feeling refreshed from your summer break?
We travel so much during the year so it’s nice to have a quiet period to just stay at home and relax. I spent most of the time in Switzerland and did quite a lot of training. I’m coming back feeling fresh and ready for the big challenge we have in the second half of the season.
You always say that Spa is your favourite track so you must be looking forward to this weekend…
I think it’s 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.
How are you approaching this weekend?
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.
Belgian GP Preview
When: Friday 23rd – Sunday 25th August, 2013
Where: Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
Round: 11 of 19
Xevi Pujolar, 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 230kph 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.
Pastor Maldonado: 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: 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 setup 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.
Rémi Taffin, Renault Sport F1 Head of Track Operations: A massive 70% of the 7km 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.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport Director: Spa is one of the fastest and most spectacular races on the calendar, with a real sense of speed and history. We’re taking the P Zero Orange hard and P Zero White medium compunds, which cope well with the high speeds and significant energy loadings that characterise the track. Spa is the longest circuit on the calendar, which increases the demands on the tyres but also opens up the opportunity for different strategies. Adding to the complexity of the race is the notoriously changeable weather in the region: it can even be very wet on some parts of the circuit while it stays completely dry on other parts. So the role that the Cinturato Green intermediate and Cinturato Blue wet tyres play could be crucial – and a completely dry Spa weekend is a comparatively rare occurrence.
Scuderia Toro Rosso
2013 Belgian Grand PrixView
Race Laps: 44
Pitlane altitude (m): 416
Air / track temp ( C): 17 / 19
ATM Press (HPA): 977
Hum (%): 45
Wind (direction / kph): SSE 2
P1: BUT (1:47.573 Q3)
P2: KOB (1:47.871 Q3)
P3: MAL (1:47.893 Q3)
CF1T best: P19 KOV (1:51.739 Q1)
P1: BUT (1:54.293, L40)
P2: VET (1:54.198, L39)
P3: RAI (1:53.640, L34)
CF1T best: P14 PET (1:56.741, L28)
Medium-low downforce track
Easy on brakes and cooling
Minimum ride height is determined by T3 (Eau Rouge)
Longest circuit length of the season
7th gear ratio needs to take into account affect strong winds can have on speed on the main straight
Tend to run on the limiter in 7th gear to allow higher revs in Eau Rouge
Top speed can be reached by T5 or T18 depending on wind direction
Top speed is important for good lap time in S1/S3 and for overtaking
S2 is a downforce dominant sector
No IN lap after the chequered flag
Bumpiness: medium / low
Overtaking chance: medium-high
Ride height setting particularity: high front ride height for T3
Engine severity: very high
Gearbox severity: very low
Lat / long grip: longitudinal
Aero eff ratio: high
Safety car history: 2012 – 1 (laps 1 to 4), 2011 – 1 (laps 13 – 16), 2010 – 2 (laps 2-3 and 38-40)
Track grip evo during w/e: high
Aero settings: medium / low
Brake wear severity: low
Brake cooling necessity: low
Charles Pic: “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: “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!”
Marussia F1 Team
What we’re saying about the 2013 Formula 1™ Belgian Grand Prix – 23-25 August
The 2013 F1 season gets back on track this weekend as the sport concludes its annual summer break and heads to Spa for the 2013 Formula 1™ Shell Belgian Grand Prix.
There can be no better circuit to get back into the racing groove than the hallowed asphalt of Spa-Francorchamps and its majestic setting in The Ardennes. This picturesque backdrop, together with the track’s blend of long straights and challenging fast corners, ensures that Spa retains its ranking as one of the season’s best races by drivers, teams and fans alike.
At 7.004km, the circuit continues to be the longest on the F1 calendar and features 19 corners – 10 left-handers, 9 right.
Jules Bianchi, Driver #22
“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% 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, Driver #23
“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 1 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, Team Principal, Marussia F1 Team
“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-need 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.”
Belgian Grand Prix Preview: Spa-Francorchamps,
HARD AND MEDIUM PIRELLI TYRES FOR SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS
Before the mid-season break, the Formula One teams visited the slowest permanent track on the calendar: the Hungaroring. Now they head to one of the quickest of all: Spa-Francorchamps, in the foothills of the Ardennes. Pirelli is bringing the P Zero Orange hard and P Zero White medium tyres: the two hardest compounds in the range. These are perfectly suited to the high-energy demands of the circuit, with its rapid corners and fast compressions such as the legendary Eau Rouge. One of the key characteristics of Spa is its variable weather conditions, which means that the Cinturato Green intermediate tyres and Cinturato Blue full wet tyres are also likely to be called into play over the course of the weekend.
Paul Hembery: “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.”
Jean Alesi: “Spa is a circuit that everyone talks about and over the years I’ve not heard anybody say anything apart from the fact that it is awesome. It’s so fast and so challenging, but one of the key characteristics is the fact that it’s very long. So it’s never monotonous, as you do very few laps compared to other tracks. Managing the tyres takes a special skill: there are lots of fast corners and the length of the track as well as the variable temperatures mean that your tyres can actually cool down after the first part of the circuit. But in qualifying, if you start off with your tyres too warm, then you won’t get the maximum performance from them throughout the entire length of the lap. There’s a huge amount of variation possible in terms of set-up as well: some teams add downforce to get more grip in the mid part of the lap, and that will also have an effect on how the tyres work. Probably the most important characteristic is the high possibility of rainfall. You can have a completely dry corner and then a fully wet track a few corners later. Underneath the water though, the surface is quite abrasive and offers good grip, so you can still drive. The bigger problem is the sudden rivers of water that run across the track in a zigzag shape: you’ve got to know where they are, so that the aquaplaning doesn’t catch you out. There’s also a lot of spray at Spa when it rains, which makes visibility very difficult in wet conditions.”
The circuit from a tyre point of view:
Spa is one of the circuits that has featured on the Formula One world championship since it got underway in 1950. While the track has altered radically over the years (the current layout dates from 1979) it maintains its fast and flowing nature, with an average lap speed in the region of 230kph.
The circuit is just over seven kilometres in length, making this comfortably the longest lap of the year. Cars are on full throttle for around 80% of the lap, sometimes for more than 20 seconds at a time. The variation in the lap means that starting from pole is not as important as it can be on other circuits.
At high speeds, aggressive camber angles can cause blistering as heat builds up around the edges of the tyres. However, teams are expected to comply with Pirelli’s maximum recommended camber angles, which should help prevent this phenomenon.
Further information about Spa and the demands it places on tyres, as well as more information about how tyres are tested in the laboratory, can be found on a 3D animated video starring Pirelli’s Racing Manager Mario Isola.
Technical tyre notes:
The big compression at Eau Rouge subjects the front tyres to the highest vertical load of the season: 1000 kilograms.
The top two last year (Button and Vettel) used a one-stop strategy, while the third-placed finisher (Raikkonen) stopped twice. There was also plenty of variation in the start tyres selected: while most drivers started on the medium tyre, Hulkenberg started on the hard tyre and finished fourth with a two-stop strategy.
The performance gap between the hard and medium tyre is likely to be more than a second per lap.
The tyre choices so far:
|PZero Red||PZero Yellow||PZero White||PZero Orange|
Meet the Pirelli F1 Team: Jaime Alguersuari and Lucas di Grassi, F1 test drivers
Once more, Pirelli is able to rely on two high-calibre test drivers this year: Jaime Alguersuari and Lucas di Grassi, from Spain and Brazil respectively. Jaime has done the first two tests this season, while Lucas is scheduled to take over later this year.
Their work consists of assessing the latest experimental compounds from Pirelli during private tests, driving a 2010 Renault that has been modified to replicate the latest regulations. Once they have driven on the prototype tyres, they give their feedback to Pirelli’s engineers about each compound’s characteristics and how the tyres could be improved for the future. The use of two test drivers ensures that the engineers get two different perspectives and opinions: essential when tyres are being developed for a grid of 22 drivers.
Jaime became the youngest driver to start a Formula One race when he made his debut in 2009, then he completed two further full season with Toro Rosso before becoming a Pirelli test driver, with a best result of seventh in Italy and Korea in 2011. As well as a skilled racing driver, he is also a talented DJ, topping the charts in Spain.
Lucas drove for the Virgin Formula One team during its debut season in 2010, taking the car to 14th in Malaysia. He joined Pirelli in 2011 and is also a factory Audi driver in endurance racing, finishing on the podium at this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours.
Other news from Pirelli:
Pirelli recently announced its return to the World Rally Championship next year, making a comeback following its last spell in the WRC as single tyre supplier from 2008 to 2010. This time, three other tyre suppliers have also been appointed to supply the WRC.
Pirelli’s last outing in Spa was at the Spa 24 Hours last month. This was one of Pirelli’s biggest-ever logistical operations, with 8552 tyres available on site, transported by a convoy of 19 trucks. The fitting service delivered a tyre every 26 seconds on average (over a 22-hour period).
Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen tested a GP3 car on Pirelli tyres last week. The Finn tried out the car in Barcelona during an official development test. “The GP3/13 is a very good tool for young drivers, especially when you have to learn about tyre management like we have in F1,” he said.
The P Zero White medium and P Zero Orange hard compounds have been nominated for the 2013 Belgian Grand Prix.
Renault Sport F1
For most people, grands prix are 90 minutes of action-packed sporting drama unfolding on their television screen. However for Mark they are the culmination of several intense days in the host country out on track and in the media spotlight. As the world of FormulaOne becomes ever more global, the demands on him continue to rise.
In the first part of a brand-new ‘Getting to know Aussie Grit’ series, Mark gives us a unique insight into his hectic grand prix routine and how he manages to relax in his downtime.
The decision making actually begins long before he takes to the cockpit of his RB9 and dons his famous yellow-topped helmet. The first thing on his to-do list is pack in preparation for a busy week ahead. “I don’t really pack that much,” says Mark. “I just need jeans and t-shirts and maybe a jumper to go out for dinner. Unless there is a specific function which is rare, I don’t carry any suits or black ties.”
Three or four days before race day it is time to set off from his home in the UK to the host country. With over 200 grands prix to his name, he’s been in a fair few airports around the world and bumped into a few other famous names. “You always see people here and there,” says Mark. “I met Jose Mourinho quite recently. I went up to him, introduced myself and told him I thought he was good for sport and he jokingly acted surprised that I had recognised him. We had a good laugh. I’ve also bumped into Bear Grylls at Heathrow and Sharon Stone.
“Naturally the public also come and say hello. In the UK there are always people that recognise you and when you land in the F1 host country, people always gather to greet you. It’s great to see that passion about the sport.
“Nowadays I tend to use a private plane to European races. In such an intense sport you’ve got to find all the little tricks you can to keep your energy levels up and it’s the travel that saps it out of you.”
Once he has arrived, he will transfer directly to his hotel, which will be his base for the next four days. “I like to stay close to the track,” adds Mark. “For example in Shanghai, lots of guys stay in the city because the hotel is good there but I have found a hotel not too far from the circuit that I like. It’s not the Ritz but it doesn’t need to be. I hate sitting in traffic and hate being driven. In some countries I have to be a passenger which is an experience to say the least, so I like to keep the drive to a minimum.
“When I’m not eating at the track, there are also specific restaurants I like. Melbourne has some fantastic restaurants like Rockpool which I love. Canada also has some great places but anything that is Italian or Thai suits me really. I also enjoy seafood but that’s something I stay away from on race weekends.”
He has a busy day of media commitments on Thursday, followed by an even busier day of practice on Friday, before qualifying on Saturday and the all-important race on Sunday. “Friday night is always very late at the track, generally I leave at around 9.30pm,” reveals Mark. “Thursday and sometimes Saturday can be a bit lighter but it depends on how the car is feeling. However if we have had a strong day, these are the days when there is an option to see family or relax a bit.
“Annie, my partner, will probably come to about 50% of the races, my dad 30% and my mum even fewer. However they know I’m there to do a job. I might be able to sit down and grab a quick bite to eat with them whilst I prepare, but that’s it.
“My dad is starting to use FaceTime but when my family aren’t there in person I only tend to send the odd text message once a weekend to let them know if it’s looking good on the car front and how I am.”
It is vitally important in such a high-pressurised environment to relax, so away from the track Mark tries to avoid any unnecessary fatigue at all costs. “I’ll spend most of my time in the hotel. You definitely won’t see me lining up for cabs,” Mark adds. “I can do that away from race weekends. Instead I might watch television because I like chat shows with good interviews or documentaries.
“I’m also a bit of a reader. I enjoy books by managers and captains of industry and I’ve read a few sporting autobiographies such as Roy Keane’s which was pretty fiery to say the least. Andre Agassi’s was also very good. Both are guys who have had long careers at the top level of their sport. However I struggle with films, because they usually don’t grab my attention.”
You’d be wrong in thinking the race, his post-race media interviews or the engineers’ debrief brought an end to Mark’s weekend. “If I win or have a phenomenal race, I might have 100 messages on my phone,” Mark says. “You’ve got to reply to them all which is never straightforward. Even if I have a bad day there will still be messages, although most people don’t tend to get involved as they don’t know what to say.”
More often than not, it’s then back home to the UK to recharge his batteries and spend some time in the simulator at the Red Bull Racing factory in Milton Keynes before it starts all over again at the next race.
Like what you’ve read? Keep checking markwebber.com for the next instalment in the ‘Getting to know Aussie Grit’ series.