Belgian GP Preview – Toto Wolff: “There’s unfinished business”

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

“We really saw our team’s mindset come to life in Spain: After struggling in Silverstone, we analysed our problems and tried to come to the right conclusions within just a few days,” said Wolff.

“A lot of people worked tirelessly so that we could have a better race in Barcelona and our strong performance on Sunday was the outcome of that effort. Winning in Spain was a great reward for all the smart work in the days before and it makes me very proud to see how this team just keeps raising the bar.

“Last week, we and the other nine F1 Teams agreed to the new Concorde Agreement. We have always said that we wanted to stay in F1, so the agreement wasn’t necessarily all that surprising, but we’re happy that we could bring the negotiations to a positive conclusion. We are committed to our sport and we’re looking forward to the upcoming years which will see the biggest transition F1 has ever seen. This will reward agile, open-minded teams who can adapt successfully to the demands of the new rules.

“After a weekend off, we’re now starting the third triple-header of the year. Our next race takes us to Spa where we haven’t won since 2017, so it feels like there’s unfinished business as we head to Belgium. It’s an iconic track and one of the fans’ favourites, but finding the right set-up can be difficult because of the variety of characteristics; on the one hand you want as little drag as possible on the long straights, but on the other hand, you need a certain level of downforce to be quick through the corners. It’s also forecast to be rainy in the Ardennes, which won’t make the job any easier.

“This weekend will also be the first time that we return to Belgium after the tragic loss of Anthoine Hubert last year. It was a dark day for the entire motorsport community and our thoughts will be with his family and friends as we remember him this weekend.”

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Fact File: Belgian Grand Prix

  • Spa-Francorchamps is F1’s longest track with a lap distance of 7.004 kilometres. This tops the second circuit on the list, Baku (6.003 km), by just over one kilometre.
  • Because of its long lap distance, the Belgian Grand Prix has the lowest number of race laps in F1 with only 44 – making a race distance of 308.5 km.
  • Drivers experience 5.2g through Spa-Francorchamps’ high-speed Turn 10, known as Pouhon. This is the highest lateral g-force of the season.
  • F1 drivers keep their foot firmly planted on the throttle from the exit of La Source (Turn 1) to the braking zone for Les Combes (Turn 5). That’s an uninterrupted flat-out blast for almost 23 seconds and 1,875 metres of the track layout
  • The run from pole position to the first braking zone at Spa-Francorchamps is one of F1’s shortest at just 150.4 metres. The longest run from pole to Turn 2 in Sochi is almost six times longer at 890.6 metres.
  • The exit of La Source is one of the most important sections of the lap, due to the flat-out section that follows. It is particularly important on the first lap, when the field is bunched up and cars behind can benefit from a considerable tow up to Les Combes.
  • F1 drivers take 77.9% of the lap distance at full throttle, the fifth highest percentage of the season.
  • Despite having the longest lap in F1, drivers only change gear 38 times for each circulation of Spa, one of the lowest figures in F1. This is particularly low when compared to the busy laps of Monaco, where drivers change gears around 50 times per lap – on a track that is less than half the length of Spa (3.337 km).
  • The main reason for the relatively low number of gear changes per lap is that a large portion of the lap at Spa is covered in top gear. Additionally, most of the corners that require gear changes come in groups – for example, Turn 5 to Turn 7. Over the length of the entire 7.004 kilometres of lap distance, there are only six sets of gear changes required.
  • Spa-Francorchamps has the largest elevation change in F1, with a difference of around 100m between the highest and lowest points – the final part of Les Combes (Turn 7) being the highest and Stavelot (Turn 15) being the lowest.
  • Engineers have to find a good balance for the car in Spa in terms of downforce levels and car set-up. The first and third sectors feature long straights and flat-out sections, while the second sector is much more twisty. Running a bigger wing will be beneficial in that middle sector but will leave you vulnerable on the straights. Meanwhile a smaller wing will provide less drag for the straights but not give you the same kind of grip levels to tackle that second sector.
  • Spa’s lap distance can throw up various challenges for the teams and drivers. If a car suffers damage early in the lap, it’s an incredibly long trek back to the pits in that state and can cost a huge amount of race time as a result. The same can also be said for changeable weather conditions, such as the transition from wet to dry tyres. If the wrong call is made, you have to do the entire 7.004 km lap on the slower tyre, which could prove costly. Equally, if the right call is made, it can bring big rewards.
  • The weather at Spa-Francorchamps is notoriously unpredictable and because of the long lap, it’s not uncommon for some parts of the track to be soaked in water and others be bone dry. The amount of water around the track can be incredibly varied and this makes strategy calls even more difficult

Source: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team

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