All drivers regard the Belgian Grand Prix as a special race – for most of them Spa-Francorchamps is their favourite circuit – but for Jerome D’Ambrosio this weekend’s event will have added significance as it is his first home race in Formula 1.
“I have been looking forward to my first Formula One Belgian Grand Prix for a very long time, and now that the weekend has finally arrived I have to say that I am really excited and I can't wait to race in front of my home fans,” says the Virgin Racing driver. “It's been a long time since Belgium had a Formula One driver – exactly 18 years since Thierry Boutsen last raced in an F1 car. So it's going to be a very special weekend both for me and the fans and I'm going to try to enjoy every moment.
“There's nothing like racing at home and Spa is clearly one of my absolute favourite circuits. Its layout gives everything one could want as a driver – fast corners, hills and long straights. It really is one of the most challenging laps in the world. And we can't forget the legendary corner of Eau Rouge. It's just amazing!
“It's been great to have a break and chill out with my friends and family, staying away from planes and hotels. I am now fully prepared for the weekend in Spa and I'm really looking forward to getting back in the car and racing at home.”
Despite not having the same connections to the track as D’Ambrosio, team-mate Timo Glock is also very fond of visiting this particular circuit.
“After the back-to-back races of Germany and Hungary it was really nice to have a break and relax, but now I can't wait for the second part of the year,” says the German. “To come back racing in Spa is a perfect way to pick up the rest of the season. It's one of my favourite races, it's a fascinating layout and a historical circuit.
“The track is very fast and long, with some very tricky corners, so any small mistake ruins the lap. The weather is often a factor, especially due to its changeable conditions. Rain can come very quickly here, but this is part of the thrill of racing here. I'm really excited and I'm looking forward to the weekend ahead.”
Team principal John Booth points out that Virgin Racing have got both cars to the checkered flag at each of the last five races – a trend he will be hoping the team can continue in Belgium this weekend.
“We are raring to go and want to put in another good performance at the Belgian Grand Prix to continue with the good run of double-car finishes we enjoyed in the first part of the season,” says Booth. “From Canada onwards we have been able to finish every single race with both our cars staying out of trouble and showing good reliability, so we've got to make sure we hang on to our good form.
“Spa-Francorchamps is an excellent track to start the eight-race run to the end of the season. It's a classic race of the Formula One season, with a mix of high and low-speed corners separated by long straights, making it a proper mid-downforce track. It's important to have good change of direction at this 7.004 km track as so many of the corners lead into one another and having a stable rear end in high speed is also vital. The weather is always unpredictable so we will have to be ready to react during the weekend.
“This is going to be JÃ©rÃ´me's twelfth race in F1, but it's a special weekend for him as he is racing at home. I'm sure this will make him push even harder and it will be great to see all the Belgian fans supporting their driver at their home race.”