2011 Formula 1 Belguim Grand Prix: Mercedes GP Preview
Finally after a long month break, F1 returns to one of the if not the best circuit in racing: Spa-Francorchamps. The mix of long straights and fast corners, combined with a picturesque setting and notoriously changeable weather keeps it at the top of both drivers and spectators favourite circuits. Part of the magic of Spa is that it is known and respected as one of the most challenging in the world, and to prove that fact only six drivers have managed to win the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa more than twice: Juan Manual Fangio and Damon Hill both have three wins to their name, Jim Clark and Kimi Raikkonen managed one better with four wins and Ayrton Senna won the race five times. The undisputed Spa master though, is Michael Schumacher who has won a record six times. This race is especially sepecial for him. Spa marks Michael's 20th year in F1 having made his debut in the 1991 Belguim GP.
This is where I drove my first ever Formula One race 20 years ago. Itís hard to believe that this was such a long time ago. A lot has changed in those 20 years, but one thing has not: the track is still sensational. I just love the great nature of the location and the resulting layout with all the ups and downs. To me, Spa remains my Ďliving roomí, because it has been the stage for so many things which have been remarkable for my sporting career. This is why this time I would like to specifically send a big thank you to all my fans for their loyalty and support, which I was happy to receive during those 20 years and also since my comeback. Talking about the sporting side prior to Spa, we are all returning from the summer break with fresh motivation and energy, and will try to set an exclamation mark at the Belgian Grand Prix.
Itís not only one of the most challenging tracks that we race at, but itís also great fun to drive a Formula One car there. The circuit layout has many high-speed areas so it should suit our car well. Itís been nice to have a short break over the last few weeks and to spend time relaxing with my family and friends, but it will also be good to get back into the racing rhythm again this weekend. I know that the guys at the factory have also enjoyed the break, and that we will all be pushing hard from now until the end of the season to get the best possible results.
ďSpa is one of those tracks which are universally loved by drivers and fans, and the racing is always thrilling, usually helped by a large dose of inclement weather. Itís a truly classic circuit, and the fast, sweeping corners make it a great venue to watch the cars in action. With the two-week shutdown, there has been limited opportunity to develop the car since the last two races in Germany and Hungary, a situation which of course applies to everyone. However, we will be working hard to make the most of the weekend, and look forward to an exciting countdown to the end of the season. Congratulations to Michael who marks his 20th anniversary in Formula One this weekend. It has been an honour and a privilege to work so closely with him for 17 of those 20 years, and I look forward to more good times ahead together.
This is one of the classic circuits and a true link back to the road racing history of Formula One. There is little left to say about the track itself - it offers a complete challenge to the car and engine, with some of the slowest and fastest corners of the season, plus the longest full-throttle period of the year at over 23 seconds, which is the reason why we dyno-test our engines using Spa simulation runs. Our team members have been able to recharge their batteries during the mandatory shutdown period, and we will head to Spa fully motivated for the final part of the season. It will be a special weekend for Michael, who will mark the twentieth anniversary of his Formula One debut this weekend, which is an outstanding and remarkable achievement. The races at Spa have historically been full of surprises and the weather has mostly played a major role. The layout of the circuit should suit our current technical package a little bit better than was the case at the previous two races.