McLaren Honda F1 Belgian GP preview

McLaren Honda F1 Belgian GP preview

18.08.2015: Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps snapshot 2015 BELGIAN GRAND PRIX PREVIEW

Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps snapshot
Formula1 Round 11/19
21-23 August 2015

Fernando Alonso

"After the long summer break, I can't wait to get into the car in Spa and go racing again. Hungary was a positive race for us but we know Spa will be challenging on a number of levels, so we'll be pushing to get the most out of the weekend."

Jenson Button

"I've really enjoyed the holidays, but I'm keen to get back in the car. Spa is an incredible circuit - every single lap feels sensational - so I'm looking forward to enjoying myself this weekend."

Circuit lowdown

Few circuits are more revered than the mighty Spa-Francorchamps. The track has been synonymous with Formula 1 for more than 60 years, and, with an average speed of 230km/h (143mph), it's breathtakingly fast.

At more than 7km, the undulating circuit is the longest on the 2015 calendar. However, the existing layout is only half the length of the original design, which featured in the inaugural world championship of 1950. The current track - opened in 1983 - retains much of the original high-speed challenge, as well as many of the iconic corners like La Source, Eau Rouge and Blanchimont.

More than 70 per cent of the lap is spent at full throttle, which places an emphasis on the power unit and on the car's aerodynamic efficiency. There is also the unique situation of the machinery having to cope with a 1.7g compression at the bottom of Eau Rouge, which can prove a test of reliability over the 44-lap race distance.

The weather forecast is notoriously unreliable in the Ardennes region of Belgium. Temperatures of around 20 degrees are expected, but it's harder to predict the chance and the location of the rain. If wet weather comes it can affect only one section of the track - often several miles from the pitlane - which creates considerable strategic challenges.

In the event of dry conditions, the drivers have Pirelli's Soft (Option) and Medium (Prime) tyres at their disposal. These are the same compounds that were used at last year's race, when two pitstops were the norm for most cars. Should a Safety Car appear early in the race, a one-stop strategy is also possible.

McLaren has an indelible link with Spa-Francorchamps because it was here, in 1968, that the team won its first world championship grand prix. The team now has a total of 14 wins on Belgian soil, the most recent victory coming in 2012.   

Belgium facts & stats   

It's all about: the race        

Start time        1400 (local)/1200 (GMT)

Race distance        44 laps (full world championship points awarded after 75% distance/33 laps)

2014 winner        Daniel Ricciardo

2014 pole position        Nico Rosberg 2m05.591s 200.766km/h (wet)

2014 fastest lap        Nico Rosberg 1m50.511s 228.162km/h

Safety Car likelihood        Chances of a Safety Car High. There's an 80 per cent chance that the Safety Car will appear in Sunday's race - that's largely due to accidents at Spa occurring at high-speed

Don't put the kettle on        The start, when new FIA rules mean there will be more input from the drivers; and laps 13 and 28. Last year's race was won with a two-stop strategy and, changeable weather aside, the same looks likely in 2015

Weather forecast  
      Changeable. Spa-Francorchamps is located in the Ardennes Mountains, which have a notoriously fickle microclimate

It's all about: the track       

First race        1950
Circuit length        7.004km/4.352 miles
Run to Turn One        265 metres
Longest straight        2.015km, from La Source to Turn 5, Les Combes
Top speed        322km/h on the approach to Turn 5
DRS zones        Two - on the approach to Turn 1 and, again, on the approach to Turn 5
Key corner        Turn 10, a 180-degree double-apex left-hander. The entry is fast (294km/h) and blind, and the drivers need to be totally committed in order to be fast
Pitlane length        390 metres, which is quite long. The time loss isn't that great because the cars staying on-track have to negotiate the La Source Hairpin
Major changes for 2015        None

It's all about: the car       
Fuel consumption        3.35kg per lap, which is high
Full throttle        70%
Brake wear        Low. There are only nine braking events around the lap
Gear changes        48 per lap/2112 per race

Did you know?

Heavy rain prior to the start of the 1997 Belgian Grand Prix resulted in F1's first ever Safety Car start.


Technical words of wisdom
Matt Morris, director of engineering

"Spa-Francorchamps is one of the classic old-school circuits. It's long; it's undulating and it's high-speed - all of which combines to make it one of the great challenges on the calendar. There are two high-speed sectors, in which there are long periods of full throttle, and one twistier sector. Car set-up is therefore a compromise between straight-line speed and cornering grip, and getting that balance right is a challenge.

"This is also a race at which you need to think on your feet because the weather is notoriously unpredictable. The conditions can change very quickly, which usually spices things up!"

Our most memorable Belgian Grand Prix: 1968

The 1968 season started well for McLaren. Denny Hulme scored the team's first podium at the Spanish Grand Prix and everyone arrived at Spa-Francorchamps hoping to be competitive.

Adding to the feeling of optimism was Hulme's performance in the Indianapolis 500 the preceding weekend. ‘The Bear' finished fourth in the 500 and he arrived in Belgium feeling bullish about the team's chances. He qualified fifth and Bruce McLaren sixth.

The race highlighted the demanding nature of the original 14km Spa-Francorchamps circuit. Brian Redman had a horrifying accident on lap seven and a spate of reliability issues shaped the remainder of the 28-lap race. Hulme enjoyed a dice for the lead with Jackie Stewart, until he was slowed by a driveshaft problem.

Stewart than ran out of fuel on the penultimate lap, handing a victory to Bruce McLaren - the last of his illustrious career, but the first for his team.

McLaren at the Belgian Grand Prix   

Wins    14    (1968, 1974, 1982, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2005, 2010, 2012)
Poles    11    (1985, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2005, 2008, 2012)
Fastest laps    8    (1974, 1982, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1999, 2004, 2010)

Team talk   

#14 Fernando Alonso

Age    34 (July 29 1981)
GPs    243
Wins    32
Poles    22
Fastest laps    21
Best result in Belgium    2nd (2005)



"It feels great to be back. I enjoyed a relaxing break over the summer shutdown, but I also trained hard and I feel in the best shape to start the second half of the year. After Hungary, we were all really encouraged by the outcome; although we were fortunate to have had some good luck, we still battled hard and finished the race with a positive result.

"Spa will be tricky for us, due to the configuration of a track that requires power, downforce and a big chunk of the lap spent at full throttle. But, from a driver's perspective it's a spectacular circuit and the fans there also make it a truly special place. It's a place at which I won when I was in Formula 3000, but never in Formula 1. I've enjoyed some really exciting battles there, and I'm looking forward to this weekend for some more.

"The next few races will be important for us: we need to continue our forward momentum, and, with the addition of some tweaks to the car and power unit, we will be looking for more progress and good correlation between the simulator and our on-track performance. That might not necessarily appear above the surface in either Spa or Monza, but we'll keep pushing development forward at each race."   


#22 Jenson Button
Age    35 (January 19 1980)
GPs    275
Wins    15
Poles    8
Fastest laps    8
Best result in Belgium    1st (2012)


"What a place to resume the second half of the season! It's such a great place to come to after the break - Spa is a circuit I've always loved right from the start of my racing career, and every lap around this incredibly special circuit is still hugely exciting and puts a massive grin on my face. It's genuinely a circuit like no other.

"I'm really looking forward to getting back into the car and seeing where we stand among our nearest competitors. We can't pretend that we're expecting a huge jump forward in performance - especially at this circuit, as it doesn't suit our car's characteristics - but, after the break, I'm feeling refreshed, positive, and ready to continue the solid progress we've made so far.

"I love Spa, I won there back in 2012, and, even when I'm not battling for the lead, I really enjoy the racing there as it usually produces fantastic grands prix. It's a privilege as a Formula 1 driver to be able to go to the circuit in the morning, get in the car, and race through some of the most legendary corners in motorsport."   


Eric Boullier
Racing director, McLaren-Honda   

"After a well-deserved summer break for the whole team, we're all ready and raring to go at the start of the second half of the season. We had an encouraging race in Hungary leading into the summer break, and we now feel refreshed and determined to continue improving our form as the rest of the season progresses.

"We've persevered through some tough moments, but the positivity and steadfast commitment to McLaren-Honda's future success are evident in every single member of this team. Our drivers, too, have been unwavering in their support and are working hard to keep pushing us forward, extracting the maximum from the package at every opportunity.

We're also incredibly grateful for the support of our partners, who are incredibly loyal, and who are united behind our development programme. In the second half of the season, our fight towards the front will continue, and we'll work hard to build on our steady, solid progress in pursuit of performance.

"Spa is a truly spectacular circuit - arguably the best on the calendar for many - but, given the unique power and downforce package required, the track won't play to our strengths. Therefore, of course, we must be measured in our optimism, and we will need to wait for Singapore and beyond before we can see the fruits of our labours reflected on track."   

Yasuhisa Arai
Honda R&D senior managing officer - chief officer of motorsport   

"After a well-deserved and positive result in Hungary, the summer break was good rest for the trackside team, while Sakura continued on with the power unit development.

"As we planned, Honda has updated our combustion characteristics to further improve our power units for Spa and the second half of the season. This weekend's free practices will be important to test the pairing of the power units to the cars. The Belgian race, however, will surely be a difficult one for the team and drivers, with expected grid penalties and a long and unforgiving power circuit.

"Nevertheless, McLaren-Honda's focus is to improve race by race. We know we can learn a lot from the circuit for immediate future, and hope that we can come out of the weekend with some positives."   


Silvia Hoffer Frangipane, Akiko Itoga


18.08.2015 / MaP

More News

Pirelli F1 Belgian GP preview
 Belgian Grand Prix Preview: Spa-Francorchamps, August 20-23, 2015- Medium and soft P Zero compounds as Formula one enters second half of the season- High speeds and a long lap make Spa one of the most challenging tracks of the year more >>
Gian Carlo Minardi -Road to Spa -Francorchamps
After a three weeks break, the F1 Worls Championship is ready to start again with enthusiasm thanks to the appeal of the Spa-Francorchamps and to the results at the Hungaroring. It also restarts with some uncertainties due to the variable weather condition more >>
Sauber F1 Team 2015 Shell Belgian Grand Prix preview
11th Round of the FIA Formula One World Championship, 21st to 23rd August 2015After a two week summer break and factory shutdown, Formula One and, therefore, also the Sauber F1 Team returns to the legendary Ardennes race track in Spa-F more >>
Infiniti Red Bull Racing F1 Belgian GP preview
Daniel RICCIARDO: So, Daniel, when did you first encounter the Beast of the Ardennes? When I was a kid I played the racing games quite a bit and Spa was always the track I played – it was my favourite &ndas more >>
Williams Martini Racing F1 Belgian GP preview
BELGIAN GRAND PRIX RACE SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS21 – 23 AUGUST 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 more >>
Lotus F1 Team drivers Belgian Grand Prix preview
BELGIAN GRAND PRIX  -  21/22/23 AUGUST 2015SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS ROMAIN GROSJEAN  -SPARK REIGNITEDRomain Grosjean bounces back from the summer shutdown ready for results on the splend more >>
Lotus F1 Team Belgian GP Spa preview
BELGIAN GRAND PRIX  -  21/22/23 AUGUST 2015SPA-FRANCORCHAMPSFEDERICO GASTALDIHEALTH SPALotus F1 Team Deputy Team Principal Federico Gastaldi returns from the summer shutdown galvanised more >>
Infiniti Red Bull Racing F1 - Daniel Ricciardo win Spa battle
BELGIAN GP – RACE  DANIEL RICCIARDO, Finish Position: WINNER! Start Position: 5th“You know everyone was saying we didn’t really have a chance around here, but I think we had some really good pace more >>
Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Spa race review
Nico Rosberg took second place in today's Belgian Grand Prix, while Lewis Hamilton retired in the latter stages of a dramatic race at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. •    Lewis pitted on the second lap after suffering a puncture more >>
McLaren Mercedes F1 Spa race review
2014 BELGIAN GRAND PRIX Spa-Francorchamps, Sunday August 24“Formula 1 delivered a magnificent afternoon’s entertainment here in Belgium today”Both McLarens featured prominently in an action-packed race on the world’s most challenging racetrack. more >>
Sahara Force India F1 Spa race review
2014 Formula 1 Shell Belgian Grand Prix: Race   Sahara Force India scored two points in today’s Belgian Grand Prix as Sergio Perez finished in ninth place. Teammate Nico Hulkenberg finished in P11. The team has now scored 100 points, making this more >>
Pirelli Belgian GP Spa F1 race review
2014 Belgian Grand Prix – Racephoto caption:  Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) celebrates winning the Belgian Grand Prix.- Daniel Ricciardo wins his second consecutive race with a two-stop strategy: sets his fast more >>
Renault F1 Belgian GP race review
BELGIAN GRAND PRIX RACE  Infiniti Red Bull Racing and Renault scored their third victory of the season in today’s Belgian Grand Prix.Daniel Ricciardo finished ahead of Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg at the legendary Spa-Fran more >>
Scuderia Toro Rosso F1 Spa race review
2014 BELGIAN GRAND PRIX – SUNDAY 24/08/2014 Daniil Kvyat (STR9-04)RacePosition: 10th“This was a good but tough race, especially the end where I was defending my position against Hulkenberg who was on new more >>
Caterham F1 Team Spa race review
2014 BELGIAN GRAND PRIXSpa-Francorchamps, Belgium – 24 August 2014Marcus Ericsson, P17André Lotterer, RET André Lotterer, car #45: “I didn’t even get  the chance to sweat unfortunately more >>
Sauber F1 Team Spa race review
Shell Belgian Grand Prix – Race – Sunday, 24.08.2014Weather: sunny/overcast and dry, 13-16°C air, 21-31°C trackIn the Belgian Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps the Sauber F1 Team drivers applied different strategies, which in th more >>
Lotus F1 Team Belgian GP race review
Who'll Stop The Rain - 2014 Belgian GP, Sunday 24th August  Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean both suffered forced retirements from the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps. Pastor parked his car early in the race with a suspected exhaust failure more >>
Top 3 F1 finishers quotes from Spa
Belgian Grand-Prix 2014 Quotes   Daniel Ricciardo ­ Three time GP winner. To be honest any win is special in F1. But here in Spa, it is a very strong race.It is a different sensation leading a race for so long, having snatched more >>
Spa F1 race result 2014
FORMULA 1 SHELL BELGIAN GRAND PRIX at Spa Francorchamps 20141     3     Daniel Ricciardo     Red Bull Racing-Renault     44     Winner     5     25 more >>
McLaren Mercedes F1 Spa qualifying review
2014 BELGIAN GRAND PRIX – QUALIFYING“I simply can’t over-state how much I love driving here; it’s superb fun”Spa-Francorchamps, Saturday August 23In treacherously difficult conditions at the famously da more >>
Pirelli Spa F1 qualifying review
2014 Belgian Grand Prix – Qualifying- Cinturato wet and intermediate tyres seen in mixed conditions of qualifying in Spa- Dry race expected tomorrow with full allocation of slick tyres- Rosberg claims pole position for Mercedes with intermediate more >>
Caterham F1 Team Spa qualifying review
BELGIAN GRAND PRIX: FP3 & QSpa-Francorchamps, Belgium – 23 August 2014 Fastest laps / positions:FP3: LOT 1:54.294, P21 / ERI 1:55.008, P22Q1: LOT 2:13.469, P21 / ERI 2:14.438, P22  more >>
Scuderia Toro Rosso F1 Spa qualifying review
2014 BELGIAN GRAND PRIX – SATURDAY 23/08/2014  Daniil Kvyat (STR9-04)Third Practice Session Best lap: 1:49.893, pos. 7th, 11 lapsQualifyingBest lap: (Q1) 2:10.445, (Q2) 2:09.377, pos. 11th more >>
Sahara Force India F1 Spa qualifying review
2014 Formula 1 Shell Belgian Grand Prix: Qualifying  A wet qualifying session at Spa-Francorchamps saw Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg qualify in P13 and P18 respectively for tomorrow’s Belgian Grand Prix.  more >>
Sauber F1 Team Spa qualifying review
Shell Belgian Grand Prix – Qualifying – Saturday, 23.08.2014Weather: wet/dry and overcast/sunny, 10-13°C air, 17-22°C trackQualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps saw Adrian Sutil clinch 14th position, whil more >>
Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Spa qualifying review
Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps - 23/08/2014  QUALIFYING  Nico Rosberg took pole position for the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix this afternoon, with Lewis Hamilton completing a Silver Arrows front row lockout in wet conditio more >>
Infiniti Red Bull Racing F1 Spa qualifying review
BELGIAN GP – QUALIFYING  SEBASTIAN VETTEL, Position: 3rd, (3rd Practice – P13, 1:50.814) “Yesterday was a different story to today. Today we did a lot more laps and I think the rain helped us, in dry conditions we c more >>
Lotus F1 Team Spa qualifying review
Can You Wipe Me Down - 2014 Belgian GP, SaturdaySaturday 23rd August  Spa-Francorchamps served up a deluge of rain and hail in the build-up to qualifying but a thrilling session went ahead on time today for the Belgian Grand Prix. more >>
Top 3 qualifyer quotes from F1 in Spa Francorchamps
FIA FORMULA ONE CHAMPIONSHIP - Belgian Grand-Prix 2014Nico Rosberg commented : "I am very excited. It was not as difficult as it looked. We got there in the end and I was able to push. It is only qualifying and I was able to push. I was feeling good at Ea more >>
Spa F1 qualifying result 2014
FORMULA 1 SHELL BELGIAN GRAND PRIX at Spa Francorchamps 20141     6     Nico Rosberg     Mercedes     2:07.130    2:06.723    2:05.591  &n more >>
Spa F1 Free Practice 3 result
2014 FORMULA 1 SHELL BELGIAN GRAND PRIX at Spa Francorchamps 20141     77     Valtteri Bottas     Williams-Mercedes     1:49.465         122     3     Daniel Ricciardo     Red Bull Racing-Renault   & more >>
Alexander Rossi has Eventful Debut in Spa for Marussia F1 Team
Friday August 22nd, Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, BelgiumAlexander Rossi: #42Free Practice 1Position: P20Best time: 1:57.232Number of laps: 20Track Length: 7.004 kmWeather Conditions: DryAlexander more >>
Pirelli Spa F1 Friday practices review
2014 Belgian Grand Prix – Practice SessionsNico Rosberg (Mercedes) sets the fastest time in this morning’s first free practice session for Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix.- Cool temperatures at Spa as Formula one returns after the more >>
Renault Sport F1 Spa practices review
BELGIAN GRAND PRIX  Spa-Francorchamps  Key practice points:•    After a long summer break the FIA Formula One World Championship resumed with the opening day of practice for this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix more >>
Infiniti Red Bull Racing F1 Spa practices review
BELGIAN GP – FRIDAY PRACTICE   DANIEL RICCIARDO First Practice Session: Position: 9, Best Time: 1:52.972, Laps: 19Second Practice Session: Position: 8, Best Time: 1:50.977, Laps: 16“I think we knew more >>
Sauber F1 Team Spa practices review
Shell Belgian Grand Prix – Practice – Friday, 22.08.2014Weather: overcast and dry, 13-17°C air, 17-33°C trackThe first practice day for the Belgian Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps didn’t go exactly according to plan more >>
Lotus F1 Team Spa practices review
Falling in Love Again - 2014 Belgian GP, FridayFriday 22nd August  Romain Grosjean ended the first day of running for the Belgian Grand Prix with more to come from the team’s E22 at Spa-Francorchamps. Romain ended the first session with the more >>
Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 SPA practices review
 Spa-Francorchamps - 22/08/2014   MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS began the Belgian Grand Prix weekend at the top of the time sheets - Nico Rosberg setting the pace in the first practice session and Lewis Hamilton topping the second at the Circuit de S more >>
Scuderia Toro Rosso F1 Spa practices review
2014 BELGIAN GRAND PRIX – FRIDAY 22/08/2014 Daniil Kvyat (STR9-04)First Practice SessionBest lap: 1:53.594, pos. 12th, 21 lapsSecond Practice SessionBest lap: 1:50.725, pos. 7th, 25 laps"I real more >>


2001-2023 full copyright