Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz Jr. says he really enjoys racing at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps as it has a bit of everything for the driver, with its long straights and fast corners, making it a unique challenge to drive there.
“I really like racing in Spa because it’s a track that has a bit of everything.
“It has very long straights where good overtaking can take place, but also very nice corners – Sector 2 in particular is very nice and flowing.
“It’s tough to find a compromise regarding the balance of the car and the set-up for the long straights and Sector 2, but I enjoy the challenge.”
Unlike the majority of drivers and motorsports fans, when asked to name his favourite corner of the Belgian Grand Prix circuit, the Spaniard did not plump for the famous Eau Rouge, instead singling out Pouhon as the best, because it is one of the toughest on the calendar.
“There’s a corner there that’s maybe not as famous as some of the others, but that I like a lot and it’s one of the toughest.
“When you say Spa, everyone always thinks of Eau Rouge, but actually one of the most difficult corners in the world is Pouhon – we drive there at around 260kph, in seventh gear, and it’s a turn to always keep in mind!”
Although Spa is one of Sainz Jr’s favourite tracks, he has never actually managed to complete a race there, so it could also be considered one of his bogey circuits.
Last time out was particularly frustrating for the Spaniard; having got a great launch off the line to find himself up eight places after lap one, debris on the track ended his hopes of a strong result, causing his tyre to puncture.
The Toro Rosso driver is hoping that this year, luck will be on his side, and he will finally get to see the chequered flag in Belgium.
“Spa is one of my favourite tracks but, strangely enough, I’ve never finished a F1 race there…!
“I think the race in 2016 was even more frustrating than the one in 2015 because I had done one of my best first laps of my life – I started from P15 and I was P7 after lap 1 – but I suddenly got a puncture in the middle of the straight due to carbon fibre pieces… So unlucky!
“I remember being so motivated and suddenly all the highs of that first lap disappeared… I was quite annoyed. Third time lucky, they say…”
Although he is usually an eminent professional during race weekends, Sainz Jr. admits that he is often tempted by the great food on offer in Belgium.
“On the way to the track we drive past many bars and restaurants where you always see people enjoying some moules, waffles or fried chips… It makes you want to join them, but during the race weekend I can’t ever do that…
“Maybe this year I can try to get away with it and have a CHEAT meal there!”