Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Belgian GP Preview - Toro Rosso

Formula 1 people are not very good at holidays and most of them are probably glad to get back to work after the summer break. The fact that the return to active duty involves travelling to Spa-Francorchamps makes the start of the second half of the season even better, as the Belgian track is unanimously considered one of the very best, if not the best on the entire nineteen race calendar.

Even if the fearsome 14 kilometre track was consigned to history after the 1970 race, the current layout, at around half that distance, still contains some of the most exciting high speed corners in the world. Racing drivers being the strange creatures that they are, reckon that the famous Eau Rouge flick-flack is not the challenge it used to be now that it’s generally taken flat out in the dry – which doesn’t happen all that often given the unusual microclimate in this part of the Ardennes forests. But that leaves plenty of other challenges and you won’t hear drivers pooh-pooh Pouhon, a fearsome left hander entered at over 200 km/h and they still blanche at Blanchimont.

Setting up a Formula 1 car for this unique challenge is all about keeping the car glued to the track through the high speed corners, while keeping drag to a minimum, so one is looking at similar downforce levels to those seen in Canada. Of course, you also need plenty of engine power for the charge up the hill from Eau Rouge and the other high speed sections and the tyres get worked hard too, which is why Pirelli is bringing its Medium and Hard compounds. On the tyre front, this is one weekend, where the rain tyres can never be kept down the back of the truck as you never know when they might be needed and the rubber situation is further complicated by the fact the weather can change from one part of the track to the next. Looking at weather forecasts for Spa-Francorchamps is up there with predicting the winning lottery ticket numbers in terms of useless occupations, but for the sake of being thorough, currently we are meant to be in for a mainly dry and warm weekend, with just the chance of a shower at some point on race day.

Both our drivers like Spa and are looking forward to the Belgian weekend, hoping to do even better than last year, when both of them finished in the points; Jean-Eric Vergne taking the flag in eighth place, one ahead of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo

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