Pirelli is set to bring the same tyre compound step to the Belgian Grand Prix as last year, which Motorsport Director Mario Isola said will give teams a variety of possible routes when it comes to strategy across the Sprint weekend.
“After just a couple of days off, there’s another Formula 1 race this weekend: the last before the summer break. The Belgian Grand Prix is one of the most prestigious races on the calendar, held on a track that’s particularly challenging for drivers, cars, and tyres. We’ve nominated the same line-up of compounds as last year – C2, C3, and C4 – to offer a wide range of strategy options; at least if the rain holds off.”
Forecasts have shown the possibility of rain on all three days of running, which would add another layer of variability from session to session. Isola also highlighted the likelihood of varied conditions in different parts of Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, which is the spans the longest distance of any venue on the calendar.
“Traditionally, the weather at Spa is a key factor throughout the weekend; the fact that the grand prix has moved dates – from the first race after the summer break to the last race before it – should make little difference, as the forecast is always variable anyway.
“The length of the track, with Spa being the longest lap of the year, and the variation in elevation – which is also the biggest of the whole season – means that it’s easy to find wet conditions on one part of the track while it’s completely dry elsewhere.”
With the Sprint format making its Spa début, Isola considered the impact of having just one practice to prepare the car for competition– especially if the session ends up being wet.
“New for this year is Spa becoming the third Sprint venue of the season, after Baku and Spielberg, with a Sprint Shootout on Saturday morning followed by a 100-kilometre race in the afternoon. With just an hour of free practice before qualifying on Friday (which, for now, seems to be the day most at risk of rain) there will be even less time than usual to set up the cars.”
Isola said that the traditionally wide range of set-up concepts at Spa– with some teams opting for high-downforce and others focusing on straight-line speed– should make for an interesting weekend with two days of racing on the agenda.
“At Spa, we tend to see some of the biggest differences in terms of aerodynamic setup between the teams: some prefer more downforce in order to push harder during the second sector while others prefer a looser car to have extra speed to attack and defend more down the straights. With two races this year, one of the most spectacular venues of the season is set to put on an even bigger show.”