Haas F1 Team‘s Romain Grosjean has said the main thing that stands out about Spa-Francorchamps, set to hold the Belgian Grand Prix this weekend, is that the circuit is “all about speed”.
Reminiscing about his first memory of racing a car around the track, he said: “I think it was back in 2004 in a Formula Renault Eurocup race. There was something like 45 cars on the grid back then. I know we didn’t qualify that well, and in those circumstances, Spa always becomes an interesting race.
“When you see the circuit on TV, it’s one of the few where you really see how up and down it actually is. But when you get there in real life, it really goes up and down. I think the maximum gradient of Eau Rouge is something like 20 percent. It’s a big thing. In a faster car though, the better Spa gets.”
He continued to speak about his experiences about first driving the circuit in an F1 car early in his career, “Obviously, at Spa it’s all about the speed, you really see that. When you drive a Formula 1 car you go down Raidillon, reaching 300 kph before you go there then you feel like the wall’s in front of you.
“The corners are very flowing through the middle part of the track, then you’ve got Pouhon, the double-left corner – which is absolutely mega. That’s probably the best corner of the whole season.
“The low speed corners, the last turn and first turn, they’re quite key for overtaking. The key is always finding the right balance between the flowing corners and those two low speed ones. Every year in Spa though, when I go through Eau Rouge for the first time in the weekend, I feel sick. My stomach really goes up and down, but it goes away after the first timed lap. It’s an amazing circuit,” the Frenchman concluded.
“Eau Rouge was actually a bit of a challenge” – Magnussen
Grosjean’s team-mate, Dane Kevin Magnussen, admitted that he found Eau Rouge to be “a bit of a challenge” when he first drove the track in a Formula 1 car as it was the beginning of the hybrid era, and the cars at the time were lacking downforce.
He said: “My first Formula One race there back in 2014, I was most looking forward to Eau Rouge. Back then we’d just got these new hybrid cars, it was the first year of this era, and the cars didn’t really have that much downforce. Eau Rouge was actually a bit of a challenge back then, which was pretty cool.
“Usually, with these cars – and not that it doesn’t feel good anymore, it’s just less of a challenge in the bigger downforce cars. It’s not such a technical part, but nonetheless, it’s a mega part of the track.
“I think, and I could be wrong, that we could use DRS back then. You had to switch it off, then on again at the top. Nonetheless, it was a much bigger challenge back then. It’s always a great experience racing around Spa in Formula 1, it’s really one of those legendary tracks.”
“It feels like we’ve already done more than half a season of racing” – Steiner
Team boss Guenther Steiner commented that it felt as though they had already “done more than half a season of racing”, despite track action only getting underway in July, the start of the season delayed due to the restrictions imposed on global travel due to the coronavirus pandemic.
He said: “Everything seems strange this year. It feels like we’ve already done more than half a season of racing, but even if we’ve only raced six events, we’ve been working hard from March onwards. It’s been a long season even if people don’t see it given we only started racing in July. So, it definitely feels like we’re over halfway, even if we’re not. We just need to keep doing what we do.”
He went on to say that running a season in this manner and having a third triple-header, cannot become the norm as he does not consider it to be productive.
“We have to treat this as an exceptional year. A lot of the staff did not work for much of the first half of the year, so they could fill their energy tanks up. So, I think it’s a little bit lighter, but going forward, you cannot make this the normality. People cannot do this. We shouldn’t try to do this because it’s not productive.”