Williams Martini Racing: Belgian And Italian Grands Prix Preview
The Formula One schedule continues after the Summer break with the races coming one right after another starting with Spa this weekend.
ROUND 13 OF 21
The Spa-Francorchamps circuit is one of Formula One’s most iconic and revered. The extreme climb through Eau Rouge with clouds of spray hanging between the trees of the Ardennes forest is one of the sport’s most memorable sights. Spa is one of precious few circuits to retain the magic of its original form through a modernized and shortened layout, thanks to sweeping elevations around legendary sections of road at Eau Rouge, Pouhon and Blanchimont. The 7km lap is perhaps the most treasured of the season for the drivers. Williams has won three times at Spa with Nigel Mansell claiming the 1986 race, followed by Damon Hill in 1993 and 1994.
For Spa, Pirelli have made available the medium, soft and supersoft tyres.
The first thing to say is that we expect dry and warm weather all weekend which is not typical of the conditions that we tend to see in Spa. The circuit itself is quite interesting with high power and drag sensitivity favouring low drag and powerful power units. Top speed is particularly important, so most cars are set-up with low drag, compromising speed in sector two to give them better opportunities to overtake into turns five and 18. Teams also tend to run cars quite stiff as you need good change of direction and whilst Eau Rouge is no longer a difficult corner, you still need to be cautious with ride heights to ensure the car doesn’t bottom-out there. Spa places high demands on tyres. In typical cool temperatures we would expect to see front graining at the start of the weekend with more even front and rear wear by race day. We are back to medium, soft and supersoft compounds which we have plenty of experience with this year, which combined with the 7km lap, means we expect to see most cars on two-stop strategies. Spa is a circuit which should favour us and our target will be to challenge from the start to get some good points.
This is definitely one of my favourite tracks, mainly because of the high speed corners. It’s extremely enjoyable to drive. It’s normally quite a good track for us, the only thing with Belgium is that the weather can be quite unpredictable across the weekend. It’s definitely one of the best circuits in the world so I’m really looking forward to going back. We were on the podium there in 2014, so that’s a good memory. I’ve also had quite a bit of success in Belgium with Formula Renault, Formula 3 and GP3 so it’s always one of the best tracks to go to for me.
Belgium is one of the best tracks in Formula One. Most of the drivers love the old style, including me. I’m really looking forward to having a great race at Spa. It’s a place that can be wet and dry pretty much at the same time, so I hope it will be a good weekend for us and that we have a fantastic race. It’s always a pleasure to race there and feel the car perform at one of the best tracks in the world. I’ve got great memories from Belgium – I’ve been on the podium and I won there in 2008. It’s definitely a place I always enjoy visiting and a great pleasure to race around.
ROUND 14 OF 21
The Italian Grand Prix at Monza was first held during the inaugural Formula One season in 1950 and is home to some of the most passionate fans in Formula One. Four times during a single lap the FW38 will exceed 195mph due to the circuit’s layout. Monza’s history surrounds the circuit with corner names linking back to past greats and the original banking from the 1950s is ever-present. Monza hosts the last visit to Europe for the Formula One fraternity before they head to warmer climes. The Italian Grand Prix has had six Williams victors, with Felipe Massa securing two emotional podiums in 2014 and 2015 in front of the Tifosi.
For Monza, Pirelli have made available the medium, soft and supersoft tyres.
Monza is an abnormal track as it has the highest average speed of any circuit we go to and a similar top speed to Baku. The average corner speed is quite low though so this leads to a totally different aerodynamic requirement to any other track. Therefore, most teams will be seen running a type of rear wing that will only appear once a year. Again the circuit rewards strong power units and high efficiency, particularly low drag. In terms of strategy, the pit loss is quite high with the long pitlane situated alongside a fast straight. Low cornering speeds equate to relatively low tyre energy and so there is therefore a strong tendency to try and achieve a one-stop race. Over the last few years we have had good results at Monza, and our hope is to consolidate on a good result from Belgium and push hard into the remaining races of the season.
The Italian Grand Prix is always a really special race weekend. The fans are really passionate and it’s a high speed circuit with low downforce, therefore racing is always very good in Monza. The weather is fantastic as well, so all in all it’s just a great race weekend with nice fans and an amazing track. I also get to drive there from my home in Monaco - it’s about a three hour drive - so one flight less for the year! A nice way to mark the end of the European races.
Italy has been very good to me. I’ve had two podiums there in the last two years, as well as a podium when I was with Ferrari. Monza is definitely one of the greatest and most historic races in Formula One. The fans are so passionate and enjoy just being there and enjoying such fantastic racing, it’s incredible to see. I know the fans there very well from my years with Ferrari and they still support me massively. It’s always such a pleasure to race in Monza.