Anyone fancy a Spa break? We know this great place in the Ardennes.
Formula 1 returns from its annual summer shutdown this weekend and, just as no holiday is complete without a trip to the spa, an F1 season just isn’t the same without a visit to the sublime Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps for the Belgian Grand Prix. After a four-week pause in proceedings, there’s arguably no better place to return to racing.
To bring you right up to speed with what’s in store, our latest race preview has the thoughts of McLaren F1 drivers Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo, and Team Principal Andreas Seidl ahead of this weekend. Plus, we point out a few things to keep an eye out for at Spa and lift the lid on how you can get your hands on some of our most sought-after merch.
How to follow
|Where||Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps|
|When||27 - 29 August|
|Start time||15:00 local, 14:00 BST, 09:00 EDT|
|Follow||TEAMStream and the McLaren App for exclusive commentary and insight|
What they say
“I can’t wait to head back to Spa to get the season back underway. After a bit of a break to unwind and prepare for the second half of the year, I’m looking forward to getting back into the car. The Belgian GP is a special race. Firstly, it's one of my favourite circuits on the calendar with a really flowing and high-speed layout. The Radillon and Eau Rouge sequence is one of the most exciting on the entire calendar, and it's really cool to take these corners flat out in a modern F1 car. Secondly, it’s home for a lot of my family, which always makes racing there a special occasion. I definitely feel the love from the fans out there too, so I’m looking forward to getting out on track and giving them a good show. We’ve had a great start to the season in the first half of the year, so now the focus is on picking that back up and carrying that through until the end of the season.”
“After a few weeks away from Formula 1, I'm looking forward to going racing again at Spa, which is an awesome circuit. It’s the perfect track to come back to with its high-speed sections and dramatic elevation changes. I’ve been back to work in the simulator at the factory this week in preparation for the weekend and I'm ready to get back at it."
“This is also a special weekend for me as I prepare to line-up for my 200th Grand Prix. If you’d have told me back at Silverstone in 2011, when I made my debut, that I'd hit 200 Grands Prix, I'd certainly have been very excited about it. It’s really a cool milestone to hit and definitely one that I'm proud of. I’ll be doing everything I can to make it a weekend to remember.”
“Following a rest period over the summer shutdown for the team to rest, recharge and get ready for the second half of the season, we’re soon ready to go racing again. We’re currently in an intense battle with our closest rivals in the Constructors’ Championship and we know we’ll need to hit the ground running in Spa to keep up the pressure. The circuit at Spa is a really unique and exciting track and presents an interesting challenge for both our engineers and drivers. This grand prix weekend is also a special moment for Daniel and the team, as we celebrate his 200th Grand Prix. To reach this milestone is a really significant achievement and proves the level of experience he’s gained over his 10-year career. He joins an elite club of drivers in passing 200 Grands Prix, and we look forward to celebrating the weekend with him.
“As we head into another triple-header, the team are going to be working hard to pick up where we left off at the end of the first half of the season, scoring points at all bar one race. The intense schedule is a challenge for the team, but one we’re ready to tackle head-on, both within the trackside team, and the team back at the factory, as well as with our colleagues at Mercedes HPP. I know the entire team are excited to get back out there and give it their all.”
What the stats say
A DNF last time out put an end to Lando’s run of 15 consecutive points finishes – a record for a McLaren F1 driver – but he returns to a circuit he knows well and finished in the points at last year. Meanwhile, Daniel has bagged points on six of the 10 occasions he’s raced in F1 machinery at Spa. In fact, three of those occasions saw him stand on the rostrum, which included a trip to the top step in 2014.
McLaren has enjoyed that winning feeling at Spa too. The legendary circuit is, of course, where our founder, Bruce McLaren, took the team’s first grand prix win in 1968. Since that unforgettable day, a further 13 wins for the team have followed, including a remarkable run of five consecutive victories from 1987 to 1991 – a feat unmatched by any other team.
What to watch out for
Fast, flowing, with plenty of straights and elevation changes – and unpredictable weather – the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps is adored by drivers and fans alike. It’s one of the easiest circuits of the season to overtake at, so getting caught up in traffic is less of a concern and a lacklustre qualifying doesn’t necessarily mean you’re out of contention for the race. Teams will therefore concentrate more on race performance as opposed to qualifying performance.
Downforce levels will be a key focus for teams during free practice. They’ll seek to find the right trade-off between running enough wing to be competitive through the more technical middle sector, while not having too much drag which could leave them struggling to defend or attack on the straights.
At 7km, Spa is the longest track on the calendar and that means the race is only 44 laps long. This creates an extra challenge for the strategists because there are fewer chances to pit. And, with Spa’s notoriously unpredictable weather, there’s a very real risk of being on track for around two minutes on completely the wrong set of tyres.
What to wear
Ever since we ran a special, one-off Gulf livery at the Monaco Grand Prix earlier this year, fans have been pining for the Gulf colours to return. Well, you’ll be pleased to hear, by popular demand, they’re coming back…
…to the McLaren Store. OK, we’ll admit, that was a little mean to get your hopes up like that but, on the bright side, from next week we’re restocking the McLaren x Gulf Collection and that means you’ll have another chance to get your hands on all that gorgeous merch that sold out in the blink of an eye last time. It’s likely to fly off the shelves again so if you want to know exactly when the restocks are live and get exclusive access to order before anyone else, you need to sign up to McLaren Plus using the form below.
Hmm… we still feel kinda bad about what we did there. How about we make it up to you by getting Lando and Daniel to sign some of those stunning, limited edition McLaren x Gulf posters and then give them away? Yeah, we thought that might do the trick. Just make sure you’re signed up to McLaren Plus and complete the entry form to be in with a chance of getting your mitts on one of the coolest posters in existence.
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