Belgian GP Preview – Toto Wolff: “Bring it on!”

© Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Mercedes released the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix preview featuring comments from team boss Toto Wolff. You can read the full preview below!

“This has definitely been one of the most intense F1 seasons that I can remember, so far. The battle is far from over and after a few weeks away from the track, we’re all really excited to get back to work,” Wolff said.

“The shutdown is such an important time for the entire team. The chance to relax and recharge is invaluable, especially with such a busy second half of the season coming up, and the fight we have ahead of us. We’re all racers at heart though, so while we enjoyed the well-deserved time off, we’re also eager to get back to doing what we love: racing!

“We head to Spa-Francorchamps in a good position. We lead both Championships and the W12 feels in a better place, after the upgrades introduced at Silverstone and an encouraging showing in Hungary. But we know there is a long road ahead and so much can still happen in this season of ups and downs.

“Spa is a track that we all know and love, one of the true F1 classics with its iconic corners, long-flat out sections and beautiful scenery. It’s a hugely challenging track for both the drivers and the cars, with the longest lap of the season, lots of elevation change and some very high g-forces.

“The weather is also notoriously unpredictable at Spa and always throws a curveball our way. With the Belgian Grand Prix always producing exciting and fun racing, it’s the perfect place to start the second half of the season.

“Bring it on,” concluded the Austrian.

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Fact File: Belgian Grand Prix

  • Spa-Francorchamps is F1’s longest track with a lap distance of 7.004 kilometres, and therefore the Belgian Grand Prix has the lowest number of race laps, with only 44.
  • The long lap distance at Spa throws up a few unique challenges, for example if a car suffers damage early in the lap, it’s a long way back to the pits. The weather is also very changeable, and conditions can vary from corner to corner. A longer lap also means teams can’t fit as many laps into their practice and qualifying run plans, therefore the drivers have fewer opportunities to practice each corner and find the limit.
  • The 5.3g lateral forces experienced by the drivers through Pouhon (Turn 10) at Spa-Francorchamps are the highest of the season.
  • Drivers have their foot firmly planted on the throttle for almost 23 seconds and 1,875 metres of the track layout at Spa, from La Source (Turn 1) to the braking zone for Les Combes (Turn 5). The flat-out run from Turn 14 to Turn 18 is slightly shorter.
  • Because of the long run to Turn 5, the exit of La Source is one of the most important sections of the lap, especially on the first lap when the field is bunched up. The corner is very cambered, so it is easy to lock up the front-right tyre and make a mistake.
  • Spa-Francorchamps has the biggest elevation change in F1, with around 100 metres difference between the highest point (Les Combes, Turn 7) and the lowest point (Stavelot, Turn 15).
  • The drivers and cars go through a heavy compression of forces as they navigate the Eau Rouge and Raidillon section (Turns 2 and 3), because of the downhill entry and uphill exit. The drivers are travelling nearly at Vmax (maximum velocity of the car), pretty much going as fast as the car can go at the end of that straight, before heading through this section. This means there is 3g of vertical compression.
  • Because of the compression through Eau Rouge and Raidillon, considerations and changes do need to be made to the car set-up. For example, the front ride height needs to be picked up to deal with the forces experienced through the tyres and suspension.
  • The tow at Spa-Francorchamps is very powerful due to the long straights, particularly the blast from Raidillon to Les Combes. On the first lap this is even more powerful, because drivers chasing can pick up a tow from multiple opponents.
  • The run from pole to the first braking zone is the third shortest on the 2021 F1 calendar, at just 163 metres – over five times shorter than the longest, Sochi (890 metres).
  • 82% of the lap distance at Spa is taken at full throttle, the second-highest percentage of any F1 track on the 2021 calendar. Only Monza has a higher percentage taken at full throttle, with 85%.
  • Drivers change gear 44 times during a lap of the Belgian GP venue, which is one of the lower figures on the 2021 schedule. This is mainly because a large chunk of the lap is covered at full throttle or in top gear. Plus, most corners that require gear changes come in groups, such as Turns 5 to 7. So, over the length of the lap, only six sets of gear changes are required.
  • The first and third sectors at Spa feature long straights and flat-out sections, but the second sector is much more twisty. This makes it challenging to find the right balance and set-up compromise, particularly with the wing level. A bigger wing will gain time in the middle sector but leave you vulnerable on the straights, while a smaller wing will provide less drag for the flat-out sections but not providing the same level of grip in the twisty corners.
  • Because of the track’s history and iconic corners, this is one of the few tracks in F1 where engineers tend to refer to the turns by name rather than number.

Source: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team

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