Spa, the drivers’ circuit

Spa, the drivers’ circuit

Spa-Francorchamps, 22 August – Being an average driver is not enough to win at Spa-Francorchamps, you need to have that little something special,” is what Scuderia Ferrari test driver, Pedro de la Rosa, had to say about the historic Belgian venue, when talking to “This track is special and that’s why it always produces a very close fight between the drivers. At Spa, the driver can make the difference, which is why everyone reckons it’s a drivers’ track. Coming out on top here is like winning in Monaco: it is unique and you need to be a complete driver, one who can tackle the high speed corners as well as pulling off passing moves and keeping your foot down.”

Thrills and difficulties. “Personally, I still consider Suzuka is the most difficult circuit, but right behind it on this chart is Spa,” continues Pedro. “It is extremely difficult for the driver, as extreme forces are exerted on his body and it’s equally hard on the car, especially the engine. In the first section you are pushing very hard and, at least up until last year, Eau Rouge was taken flat. We will have to see if that is still the case with these new cars. One of my favourite parts is the uphill Pouhon corner, which is taken in sixth gear. You cover a lot of ground without braking and it’s very difficult, because there are two points where you have to hit the apex and it puts a serious strain on your neck.”

Strategy and tactics. At Spa, strategy plays a key role and is a real test of car and driver. “Even tactically, you have to be right on it, keeping an eye on the temperatures at all times. For example, the brakes are not used much, but when they are, you need to use them very hard, such as at the first hairpin and, especially at the Bus Stop (the final chicane before the finish line) which comes after a long flat out section.”

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