Belgian GP Preview – Wolff hopes to “challenge Red Bull and Ferrari for wins”

© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Mercedes released the 2022 Belgian Grand Prix preview featuring comments from team boss Toto Wolff. You can read the full preview below!

“We headed into the break off the back of a strong run of races and our biggest race weekend points score so far this year, in Hungary,” Wolff said.

“While we’re still not quite in the fight for victories, we’re getting closer, so we need to keep the momentum going and the pressure on.

“The Shutdown is an important time for the team to take some time off, recharge and spend time with their families, whose support throughout the year is invaluable. There are few opportunities to do so during the season and the development race is relentless, so the break has been well deserved for everyone in the team.

“We’re set for an intense second half of the season, with nine more opportunities to find improvements, make progress and hopefully challenge Red Bull and Ferrari for wins.

“Spa-Francorchamps needs no introduction. A classic track with an old-school feel, the scene of many iconic moments in F1 history and an incredible challenge for both the car and drivers.

“We’re excited to be back there, hopefully we can put on an awesome show this year for all the fans in Belgium, and we’ll also be celebrating 55 years of Mercedes-AMG too, with some fun activities,” the Austrian concluded.

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Fact File: Belgian Grand Prix

  • Spa-Francorchamps is the longest lap distance on the F1 calendar, measuring 7.004 kilometres. It also has the lowest number of race laps, with just 44.
  • It used to be one of the biggest challenges for engine duty and time spent on full throttle, but with the new regulations and new tracks joining it has fallen down the list. It still remains in the top five, though.
  • Despite several long, flat-out sections, Spa is middle of the pack when it comes to fuel consumption, as constant stop/start is what uses the most fuel – so tracks such as Montreal and Monaco are higher on fuel consumption, compared to Spa and Monza.
  • Tyre duty and wear are some of the highest of the season at Spa, with high averages across all four corners of the car.
  • The long lap distance at Spa brings with it a few unique challenges. For example, if a car gets damaged early in the lap, more time is lost getting back, and the weather is very changeable so conditions can vary massively from corner to corner. And it means the lap takes longer to complete, therefore you can’t fit as many laps into practice and qualifying run plans to test different setup configurations.
  • From the exit of La Source to the braking zone for Les Combes, the drivers have their foot firmly on the throttle for around 23 seconds (and 1,875 metres) of track layout.
  • Because of this flat-out section, the exit of La Source is incredibly important, as it leads down the long straight to Eau Rouge and Raidillon.
  • There’s a difference of around 100 metres between the highest (Les Combes, Turn 7) and the lowest point (Stavelot, Turn 15) on the track, the highest elevation change of the season.
  • The drivers and cars typically experience a heavy compression of forces through the downhill entry of Eau Rouge and the uphill exit of Raidillon. They are travelling at pretty much Vmax (maximum velocity of the car), almost as fast as the car can go before heading through this section. This means there is 3g of vertical compression. Some resurfacing and reshaping has taken place through this section, which may well have eliminated one of the biggest bumps and softened the compression forces slightly.
  • The tow at Spa-Francorchamps is very powerful due to the long straights, particularly the section after Raidillon. On the first lap this is even more powerful, because drivers chasing can pick up a tow from multiple cars. The lack of DRS on lap one also increases this effect.
  • 80% of the lap distance at Spa is taken at full throttle, one of the highest percentages of any F1 track on the 2022 calendar.
  • The first and third sectors at Spa feature long straights and flat-out sections, but the second sector is 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. This is a similar predicament to Baku.
  • 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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