F1 Spa-Francorchamps - Preview


Woking, United Kingdom, Aug 25, 2009

Lewis Hamilton
“Like Monaco, Silverstone and Monza, it’s one of the historic circuits that I grew up watching on television when I was younger – which makes it just that bit more special for me, because it’s so easy to imagine the heroes of the past racing here. It’s also a magnificent circuit, a place where you can really push the limits of a Formula 1 car: driving through Eau Rouge, Pouhon or Blanchimont is an incredible sensation – your whole body is on the limit and you are still pushing to go faster still. I love Spa – I don’t think it should ever leave the Formula 1 calendar.”

Heikki Kovalainen
“I think everyone in Formula 1 looks forward to Spa. For the drivers, the circuit is a fantastic challenge: unlike some of the places we visit, Spa has real character, and it’s a place where the confidence and commitment of the driver can make a difference. The big corners mean you need to be brave and take risks – and also mean you’ll have a big accident if you get it wrong. I love this place, I think it’s the best circuit on the calendar.”

Martin Whitmarsh
Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

“Despite making some major improvements to MP4-24, we go to Spa knowing that the circuit’s high-speed configuration is unlikely to play to our strengths of our car. Having said that, our new technical package makes us confident that we’ll be a strong contender for points as we look to improve on our fourth position in the constructors’ championship. We’ve enjoyed a tremendous record here, winning 10 times, and both Lewis and Heikki love this place so I’m looking forward to another exciting race.”

Norbert Haug,
Vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

“Spa has every element to make a circuit interesting, from long and demanding corners like Pouhon and Stavelot to the tight hairpin La Source which can be taken at a speed of only 70km/h. We have won four of the previous eight grands prix at this demanding circuit, the one with the second highest average speed after Monza of all grand prix circuits. The last two grands prix at Budapest and Valencia have completely different characteristics and according to experience at Spa there will hardly be tropical temperatures like at the previous two races. In these two races, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes scored 27 of 36 possible points - no other team was more successful. After 46 races, Lewis continues to be the driver in the field who during this period, since the beginning of the 2007 season, scored the most points and wins and he started almost half of his Formula 1 races from the front row. Only twice he did not finish. Heikki showed a good upward trend with second on the grid and fourth in the race lately. Spa will be a big challenge for everybody in the team and I don’t see us in a position to perform there as well as in the previous two races. Nevertheless, we approach the second grand prix which will be held within eight days after the summer break with great impetus and very positively - at least, our hit rate there was not so bad in the previous eight grands prix.”


McLaren at the Belgian Grand Prix…

10 years ago (August 29 1999)

Victory went to David Coulthard, pole and fastest lap to Mika Hakkinen. The pair touched at the first corner, enabling the Scot to establish a decisive lead over the Finn that he maintained to the end. Mika finished second – 10 seconds behind.

20 years ago (August 27 1989)
McLaren dominates the race – Ayrton Senna dominates the race driving an MP4/5, leading every lap from pole position. Team-mate Alain Prost ably backs him up, setting fastest lap on his way to runner-up spot.

30 years ago (May 13 1979)
John Watson salvages a point for the team, starting 19th but climbing to a points finish in sixth at the wheel of an M28B at Zolder. Watson’s team-mate Patrick Tambay underlines the team’s poor form by failing to qualify his M26.

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