2020 Belgian Grand Prix: Preview: Those hallowed miles
Eau Rouge and Raidillon, Pouhon and Blanchimont – the corners need no introduction. Spa-Francorchamps is a place that embodies the passion and history of Formula One: true, the track may no longer snake for more than 14 kilometres in the Ardennes and names like Masta Kink and Burnenville have gone from our race weekend vocabulary, but there’s still something that links the current drivers with the heroes that braved those streets in days of yore.
Spa is magic. Still the longest track on the calendar, it’s one circuit where the driver can make the difference. It’s the track where Michael debuted and shone. It’s where Mika passed him by going three-wide with a backmarker on the Kemmel straight, it’s where Ayrton mastered the rain. It’s where Kimi triumphed four times.
Like many other historical motorsport venues, and especially so for such a fearsome track, Spa is also steeped in tragedy. It’s the place that stole Stefan Bellof from a brilliant future in Formula One; it’s where Chris Bristow and Alan Stacey passed away minutes – and a few hundred metres – from each other. It’s where Anthoine Hubert’s young rising star was cruelly taken from us last year.
Spa helped write glorious and tragic pages of our sport but, as always, the pages we are most looking forward to are the ones yet to be written. Every time driver’s get in the car here, they honour the many who did this before – those who came back with laurels and those who never returned. There will be hard days, there will be good days, but just to be racing on this hallowed ground is reason enough to smile.
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN and CEO Sauber Motorsport AG: “The week off gave us some time to regroup and get ready for the next triple header. It doesn’t need saying that everyone in the team is working extremely hard to bring improvements to our car and to extract its full potential: nothing happens from a day to the other in this sport, however, so we have to be realistic about our expectations. We have to take this one step at the time, chipping away at the gap and continuing to push between now and the final race.”
Kimi Räikkönen (car number 7):
“Spa is one of my favourite tracks and one where I have done well in the past, but previous form matters for very little in Formula One. Every year is a story on its own and we just have to focus on doing our job to the best of our capabilities. We need to keep working hard to close the gap with those in front of us. Everyone has to do their part, in the car and at the factory, to make the most of what we have.”
Antonio Giovinazzi (car number 99):
“There are venues that are a part of Formula One history and Spa is definitely one of them. When I was growing up, my idol was Michael Schumacher and he had a special relationship with this place, so when you first go out on track on Friday you cannot avoid thinking about all that history. Spa is a great track to drive, full of challenging corners: it’s a long layout and you want to keep a good flow throughout the lap.”