The word Spa, to an F1 fan at least, is almost the equivalent to a candle lit dinner under the moonlight/a drive in a supercar. In short the mere mention of the word triggers unparalleled emotions in most fans, none more so than the F1 teams themselves.
The Sauber F1 team, fresh from a spirit lifting new ownership transition, head to the track with the hope of scoring their first points in what has been a difficult, if not career building, 2016 season.
Spa, at 7.004km long per lap, is the longest track on the calendar which brings with it the reciprocal power and aerodynamic demands.
Sauber have identified the these areas along with braking stability as the key performance areas that they hope Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr will exploit come race day.
Both drivers will no doubt be buoyed by the news of a new aero package and their new head of track engineering, Xevi Pujolar, who has previously worked with Max Verstappen. The new package has been a long time coming and I thought to have put both drivers in a far more advantageous position at a track that they both rate very highly.
The Swede is looking to recapture the momentum that saw him fight his way into the drivers of the day rankings at a track which should suit his aggressive wheel to wheel style of racing. Ericsson remembers the top 10 finish last year fondly & will look at boost his team battle chances in Belgium:
“the track at Spa is quite long with some interesting corners and passages – Eau Rouge, Blanchimont, Pouhon and so on. Engine power is the crucial factor.”
Nasr has been a regular at the Olympic games being held in his native Brazil, which has seemingly served to motivate him heading into the second half of the year. He loves Spa and has a through understanding of the nuances of the circuit, which we suspect may give him the edge he needs:
“Spa-Francorchamps is the opener of the second part of the season – and my favourite circuit on the calendar. The track is unique, having a lot of high-speed corners and a great corner combination. As a driver you get a nice flow going – up and down – through these corner combinations. From the technical side, the combination of low downforce and traction is essential to be competitive.”
It might be asking too much too soon to expect a points finish immediately at Spa for the Swiss team. That being said, F1 is a sport that throws up more spanners than a backyard mechanical shop. The realistic expectation is for both drivers to at least get into Q2 and fight closer to the top 10 which should lay down a marker for the back to back trip to Monza.
Rhea Morar @RheaMorar