The lap begins with heavy braking down to 60km/h for the tight right hander of turn one – frequently the scene of first lap fracas – before heading into the downhill section.
Leading down Eau Rouge and into Raidillion creates extreme suspension compression as the relief changes from downhill to uphill, with good engine power is required for the uphill drag.
A top speed of 330km/h – one of the highest of the season – then follows down the Kemmel straight before braking down to third gear and 140km/h for the right hander of turn five.
Turn eight at Rivage provides a challenge for the drivers as it is a medium speed, 180 degree corner heading straight into turn nine. Good balance and change of direction are required here for the ideal line before barrelling down to the high speed left hander of Pouhon – turn ten – with entry taken at nearly 300km/h.
Turn fourteen is taken at 140km/h before the cars accelerate through Curve Paul Frere, which is taken 100km/h faster and leads into the flat out turns sixteen and seventeen.
Finally, with heavy braking into the turn eighteen / nineteen chicane after a prolonged high speed section, the brakes need to be ready instantly. This rounds off the lap in style and provides a good overtaking opportunity.
Spa is very much an aerodynamic efficiency circuit where you need a reasonable amount of downforce without too much detrimental drag. We run a similar amount of rear wing to Canada which is a medium downforce setting. We also use comparably more front wing here compared to lower speed tracks to help diminish understeer in the high speed corners. This is primarily a high speed circuit and there isn’t much use of the kerbs, so the suspension is tailored to high speed balance rather than low speed travel.
There are not many braking demands here which means the focus is on keeping the brakes warm so they work immediately when required. There are three major braking areas; into the first corner, into the turn five chicane and finally into the former bus stop chicane. These sections also offer the main overtaking opportunities.
This is a circuit which puts high demand on the tyres, with the medium and hard compound nominated to give good durability. Also, the weather in the Ardennes can be very variable – even over the course of a lap – so tyre choice is crucial.
In terms of the engine a strong top end is essential; especially for the drag up Raidillon and for the Kemmel Straight which follows, as the straight is slightly uphill all the way to turn five. Elsewhere too, good horsepower is rewarded in many sections of the lap due to its undulating nature.
Keep in Touch!
The Belgian Grand Prix is our next stop, with the on-track action kicking off at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit from 10:00 local time on Friday. In the meantime, stay tuned to our website, Twitter feed and Facebook page for all the latest news from down in the paddock and back at Enstone.
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