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2011 Belgian Grand Prix Preview

From: Myron L
Sent on: Thursday, August 25, 2011 7:51 PM

2011 Formula One Season

Race: Belgian Grand Prix
Track: Spa-Francorchamps
Lap Distance: 7.004km / 4.352 miles
Number of Laps: 44
Race Distance:[masked]km /[masked] miles
Top Speed: 322kph / 200mph
Average Speed: 237kph / 147mph
Average Corner Speed: 150kph / 93mph
Full Throttle: 70%
Brake Wear: Low
Downforce: Medium
Tire Usage: Medium
Tire Compound: Medium / Soft
Pit Lane Loss (approx): 18 seconds
Fuel used per lap: 3.5kg / lap
Fuel Laptime Penalty: 0.43 s/ 10kg
Pit length: 386 meters

Key Issues – Correct racing line and aerodynamic efficiency

We welcome F1 back with a race at everyone’s favorite track – Spa – for the 2011 Belgian Grand Prix. Spa-Francorchamps is one of the most historic races in Formula 1 as it was added to the F1 calendar in 1950. This circuit is, by some, considered to be the most challenging circuit in the world. The Spa circuit has been shortened over the years from its original 14.9km length, which comprised almost entirely of public roads and used in its unchanged form from 1950 to 1970.

The reason for the shorting came about from safety concerns. A number of detailed revisions have been made since, and in its current configuration the circuit will host the 56th Belgian Grand Prix. The current 7.004km lap retains much of its original design and follows the natural undulations of the Ardennes region. This track presents something for everyone; fast straights, a twisty middle section, and vertical changes from the legendary Eau Rouge and Pouhon turns. In the past teams with the best areo package most likely led the charge to victory lane. The biggest modification this last year at Spa is a large section of the grass behind the apex curb at turn 6 has been laid with asphalt and three bumps (similar to those in Barcelona, Valencia Monza) have been placed across the run-off area to prevent drivers from wandering from the boundaries of the race track this year (a.k.a. preventing corner cutting).

Not only is Spa loved by all and exciting, but this track has an element of surprise – the weather. The Belgian Grand Prix is noted for the fickle nature of its weather, and these wet conditions have contributed greatly to a number of memorable victories in adverse conditions along with major track incidents. The rain has been known to leave one half of the track soaking while the other half completely dry which increases the challenges for drivers trying to find that best line and maintaining grip. Currently the weather forecast is showing for rain over the race weekend.

The main challenges for the drivers at this track will be adapting to the weather but maintaining grip in the tires. Critical areas for drivers will be turns 2-3 (Eau Rouge) a flat out, uphill turn that can leave drivers searching for traction. Another is turn 10 (Pouhon), a fast downhill sweeping left hander once again leaving drivers trying to find the correct line. Finally the slow chicane at turns 18 and 19 that encourages overtaking after the fast straight. Spa-Francorchamps is 410m above sea level and has the average air pressure of 968 mbar. As a consequence, the circuit’s ambient characteristics will result in a significant reduction in engine power, roughly a 7% reduction.


Unfortunately for this race the teams will not be running DRS. According to race director, Charlie Whiting, he says, “We’re not going to allow DRS to be used through Eau Rouge during practice. We want to avoid drivers going through thinking that their wing is in the right position, when it might not be. We think this is the correct safety measure to have taken at such a fast, demanding corner.”

At the time of this publication the weather forecast for the Belgian Grand Prix is cloudy with no mention of rain.

An interesting fact:
Jerome d’Ambrosio, 25, this year became the 23rd Belgian Formula One driver. No Belgian has ever won the Belgian Grand Prix. Of the 23 Belgians to have raced in Formula One, only two have won grands prix: Jacky Ickx and Thierry Boutsen.

We hope you can join us for another exciting race weekend, especially if you’re in NYC.

We hope to see you soon,

Myron

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