Those toiling within the globe-trotting FIA Formula One World Championship earned a three-week reprieve following the German Grand Prix July 31 in Hockenheim.
The mandated summer shutdown allowed crew members to reacquaint themselves with their families and recharge prior to the stretch run of this year’s 21-race calendar, which resumes Aug. 26-28 with the Belgian Grand Prix at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.
Measuring in at 7.004 kilometers (4.352 miles), Spa is the longest venue in Formula One, outdistancing the series’ second-longest track, the 6.003-kilometer (3.730-mile) Baku City Circuit, by 1.001 kilometers (.622 of a mile). In addition to its length, Spa is known for its reputation of being a driver’s track, thanks in large part to the addition of the signature Eau Rouge and Raidillon corners in 1939, which created a fast and sweeping uphill, left-right-left combination that drivers view with reverence and attack with gusto.
Spa has hosted Formula One since 1925, with this year’s Belgian Grand Prix serving as the venue’s 49th grand prix. The 19-turn circuit is a favorite of Haas F1 Team drivers Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutiérrez. Before securing his most recent podium when he finished third in last year’s Belgian Grand Prix, Grosjean clinched the 2011 GP2 Series title at the venerable track. And Gutiérrez, with two Formula One starts at Spa, has enjoyed some fine drives in the wet when he visited the circuit during his junior career in GP2 and GP3.
A wet track is common at Spa, but it’s also common for other portions to be completely dry, as its vast layout means late-summer showers can drench some parts of the track while leaving others untouched. Slicks obviously won’t work in the wet, and intermediate tires and full wet tires obviously won’t work in bone-dry conditions. It’s a conundrum that has often greeted drivers at the Belgian Grand Prix.
Specifically greeting Grosjean, Gutiérrez and the members of Haas F1 Team at Spa is a large presence from Haas Automation, as the venue provides a corporate homecoming for Haas F1 Team.
Its primary partner, American machine tool manufacturer Haas Automation, has its European headquarters strategically located in Brussels, about 150 kilometers (93 miles) west of Spa. This allows Haas Automation to provide its customers with the best sales, applications and service support in the industry. The modern 5,787 square-meter (62,300 square-foot) building includes a full service department and a comprehensive spare parts warehouse staffed by a multilingual team of factory-trained and Haas-certified support personnel. The facility also incorporates an extensive showroom stocked with the latest Haas CNC machines running demonstrations and customer test applications while housing a fully-equipped training area, where Haas personnel instruct Haas Factory Outlet (HFO) service engineers and customers from all over Europe. To facilitate quick delivery of product throughout Europe, the Brussels location maintains an inventory of new machines onsite in a 3,000 square-meter (32,291 square-foot) warehouse, with additional machines housed in nearby Antwerp that are always ready to ship.
Haas Automation’s European distribution system is based on the highly successful HFO concept, where a network of locally-owned distributors is exclusively dedicated to the sales, service and support of Haas products. Every HFO fields a service department staffed with factory-trained personnel and houses an extensive inventory of spare parts. Technicians are locally dispatched in service vehicles fully stocked with the parts and tools needed to successfully repair the customer’s machine the first time out.
If this structure seems akin to what Formula One teams do on a daily basis as they prepare for and compete in a grand prix, it should. The lineage between Haas F1 Team and Haas Automation is strong, as is the methodology. Both will be on display in Belgium – at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in the Haas F1 Team garage and in Brussels at Haas Automation Europe.