The magnificent Spa-Francorchamps circuit welcomes Formula One back from its summer break for the Belgian Grand Prix, round 11 of the 2013 FIA F1 World Championship. With nine races in the next 14 weeks the second half the season packs a lot of action into a short space of time.
The championships are delicately poised: Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing hold the lead in their respective competitions but the chasing pack has stayed within range. A good run of form now could see the world champion and his Milton Keynes-based squad build an unassailable position, while poor races here and in Italy – neither of which have been strong for RBR in recent history – will set up a furious finish to the season.
Spa-Francorchamps provides a thorough test of man and machine. The sweeping curves, high speeds and roller-coaster profile make this circuit a firm favourite with drivers but a headache for engineers who have to find a workable compromise between very different demands. Do you bring a low-downforce package for the fast first and third sectors and lose time in the make-or-break middle part of the lap or go for higher downforce and potentially be a sitting duck for overtaking on the long, fast Kemmel straight? Over the years the advantage has swung back and forth.
Pirelli are bringing their two hardest compounds to the Ardennes, as was the case in 2012. Last year Jenson Button won with a one-stop strategy, while the majority of the field, including third-placed Kimi Räikkönen, opted for two. Of course Spa is one of the most-likely F1 venues to see the intermediate or full-wet tyres in action, and with rain forecast for the weekend there’s every chance of seeing another classic, chaotic Belgian Grand Prix.
Length of lap: 7.004km Lap record: 1:47.263 (Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing, 2009) Start line/finish line offset: 0.124km Total number of race laps: 44 Total race distance: 308.052km Pitlane speed limits: 80km/h throughout the entire event weekend.
CHANGES TO THE CIRCUIT SINCE 2012 ► The tyre barriers around the outside of Turns 3 and 4 have been renewed. ► Additional kerbs, 50mm above the existing kerbs, will be installed behind the kerbs on the apex of Turns 5, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14 and 15. DRS ZONES ► There will be a two DRS zones in Belgium. The detection point for the first zone will be 240m before Turn 2, with the activation point 310m after Turn 4. The second detection point will be 160m before Turn 18, with the activation point 30m after Turn 19.
Belgian GP Fast Facts
► Spa was one of the venues for the inaugural F1 World Championship season in 1950. It has been the circuit used for the bulk of Belgian Grands Prix, hosting the race for 45 of its 57 runnings. ► Sebastian Vettel leads the World Championship after the Hungarian Grand Prix. This traditionally has been a point at which championship potential is assessed, regardless of the number of races that follow. Recent history suggests the leader after Hungary is rarely overhauled. In the last 13 seasons, only four times has the lead been relinquished. Michael Schumacher trailed Mika Häkkinen in 2000, Kimi Räikkönen was third in 2007 with Lewis Hamilton leading, and Vettel himself lay third in both 2010 and 2012, Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso respectively spending the summer break on top. ► The calendar has become increasingly back-loaded in recent years. The Belgian Grand Prix used to herald the beginning of the run-in to the end of the season with three or four races (depending on whether it preceded or followed the Italian Grand Prix) coming after. Eight further grand prix will follow Spa in 2013.
► Michael Schumacher reigns supreme at Spa-Franchorchamps with six victories (1992, 1995-97, 2001-02). He made his F1 debut at Spa in 1991 and came back to record his first F1 victory a year later. Victory in 2001 was Schumacher’s 52nd, overtaking Alain Prost at the top of the order. He refers to it affectionately as his ‘living room’. In 2012 it was the venue for his 300th Grand Prix. ► The 2012 Belgian Grand Prix marked the end of an unusual run for another world champion. Räikkönen’s F1 record at Spa prior to this saw the Finn either win or fail to finish every time he came to the famous circuit. With Sauber in 2001 he failed to get off the line. He had an engine failure with McLaren in 2002 and spun off in the final laps while dicing for the lead in 2008. He’s won the race in 2003-05 and 2009. His ’04 and ’09 victories came in uncompetitive cars that failed to record other wins in those seasons. In 2012 he could only manage third – which nevertheless means he’s been on the podium at every Belgium Grand Prix ever time he’s seen the chequered flag.
► Ferrari are the most successful constructor in Belgium with 16 victories to McLaren’s 14. Both, however, have won the race a dozen times at Spa-Franchorchamps. ► McLaren share with Lotus the distinction of having won the Belgian Grand Prix at all three venues to host it. In addition to their 12 wins at Spa, McLaren have a John Watson victory at Zolder in 1982, while Emerson Fittipaldi triumphed at Nivelles in 1974. The only other grand prix the Nivelles circuit was also won by Fittipaldi, driving for Lotus in 1972, for whom Gunnar Nilsson (1977) and Mario Andretti (1978) won at Zolder, while Jim Clark (1962-65)) and Ayrton Senna (1985) triumphed at Spa.
Belgian GP Race Stewards Biographies
LARS ÖSTERLIND FIA WORLD COUNCIL MEMBER; HONORARY PRESIDENT OF THE SWEDISH AUTOMOBILE SPORT FEDERATION
Lars Österlind is a highly experienced FIA steward who has officiated at more than 100 grands prix and a similar number of World Rally Championship rounds. A social sciences graduate and lifelong motor sport enthusiast, Österlind was President of the Swedish Rally Commission from 1978-1982, then President of the Swedish Automobile Sport Federation from 1982-1996. He became Honorary President in 1996 and has been a member of the FIA World Council since 1984. Outside motor sport Österlind has specialised in management, working as a consultant and pursuing his own business interests. He is also experienced in local government at city council level.
FARHAN VOHRA MEMBER OF THE FEDERATION OF MOTOR SPORTS CLUBS OF INDIA
Farhan Vohra, an economics graduate from Loyola College, Chennai, and a member of the FMSCI, India’s national motor sport authority, is best known to the F1 paddock for his work at Buddh International Circuit, home of the Indian Grand Prix. Last year his work at Buddh was recognised when he was won the Best Clerk of the Course award at the FIA Gala. Vohra is one of the FMSCI’s senior stewards and alongside his duties at several grands prix for the FIA has also been a steward for FIM, motorcycling’s governing body. A long-time competitor, involved in motor sport since the mid-1990s, Vohra started officiating in 2006 after taking a break from active competition. He has since been the Clerk of the Course for all Indian national championships, both racing and karting.
DEREK WARWICK FORMER FORMULA ONE DRIVER AND WORLD SPORTSCAR CHAMPION
Derek Warwick raced in 146 grands prix from 1981 to 1993, appearing for Toleman, Renault, Brabham, Arrows and Lotus. He scored 71 points and achieved four podium finishes, with two fastest laps. He was World Sportscar Champion in 1992, driving for Peugeot. He also won Le Mans in the same year. He raced Jaguar sportscars in 1986 and 1991 and competed in the British Touring Car Championship between 1995 and 1998, as well as a futher appearance at the Le Mans in 1996, driving for the Courage Competition team. Warwick is a frequent FIA driver steward and is President of the British Racing Drivers’ Club.
Belgian GP Championship Standings (Drivers)
Belgian GP Championship Standings (Constructors)
Belgian GP Formula One Timetable & FIA Media Schedule
THURSDAY Press Conference
FRIDAY Practice Session 1 Practice Session 2 Press Conference
SATURDAY Practice Session 3 Qualifying Followed by unilateral and press conference
SUNDAY Drivers' Parade Race Followed by podium interviews and press conference
10.00-11.30 14.00-15.30 16.00
ADDITIONAL MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES
QUALIFYING All drivers eliminated in Q1 or Q2 are available for media interviews immediately after the end of each session, as are drivers who participated in Q3, but who are not required for the post-qualifying press conference. The TV pen is located in front of the media centre entrance staircase, adjacent to the FIA hospitality unit.
RACE Any driver retiring before the end of the race is available at the team’s garage/hospitality. In addition, during the race every team will make available at least one senior spokesperson for interview by officially accredited TV crews. A list of those nominated will be made available in the media centre.