McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has attempted to quell expectations the Woking-based team could be challenging at the front in Belgium.
In Hungary, number one driver Jenson Button
could win a race this season and that Spa-Francorchamps would probably be their best chance
to do that.
He later backtracked somewhat by saying a podium
was a more realistic goal, and Whitmarsh definitely seems to think a victory challenge is not on the cards.
“Spa has been the scene of many victories for McLaren
through the years – not least, our very first grand prix win, achieved by Bruce McLaren
himself back in 1968. And while we're not contenders for outright victory this time round, the whole team is looking forward to another opportunity to build on our ability to understand and operate the MP4-28,” Whitmarsh remarked ahead of the eleventh round in the 2013 F1 World Championship.
Button meanwhile also seems to have calmed down: “We don't go to Spa with the package to win, but I'll still be making the most of every single lap around this place – it'll still feel incredible,” added the 2009 F1 World Champion.
“Spa has always been on my shortlist of favourite circuits in F1. I still remember my first grand prix there, back in 2000, when I out-qualified Michael Schumacher in a Ferrari
– that felt pretty special.
“Then I think back to my victory there last year: I had pretty much the perfect weekend – my car was fantastic, I got pole position and just led the whole race. It was one of the most satisfying wins of my career just because I felt strong and confident for the entire weekend.
“The thing about Spa is that it just feels awesome to nail a quick lap around there – you need a car that's perfectly synced to the driver, because it's such a long lap, and there are so many big corners, that you need to find that perfect balance. And getting the set-up right – and running flat-out for nearly two minutes – feels incredible.”
Whitmarsh agrees that Spa is special - although he points out that the weather can make it a very tricky grand prix.
“There's absolutely no denying that Spa-Francorchamps is one of the greatest racetracks in the world,” Whitmarsh continued. “It occupies that exalted position alongside circuits such as Monaco, Silverstone, Monza and Suzuka; venues with a storied past and a demanding nature that make them some of the standouts on a packed calendar.
“For everyone in F1 though, a weekend in Spa can be tough and demanding. The unpredictable weather means that there's rarely a straightforward path for our drivers and engineers to clearly pursue through the weekend. The cold and the rain make life difficult for the spectators, too, but they are rewarded with some of the best views in the world of racing cars at the limit.”