19 August 2014
F1: van der Garde back for Spa blast
Giedo van der Garde believes Eau Rouge can still be 'flat-out' as he returns to the Sauber cockpit for 90 minutes of F1 action on one of his favourite circuits.
Having missed out at the Hungaroring, Giedo van der Garde will be back behind the wheel of a Sauber at this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix.
The Dutchman – eclipsed in his nation's F1 consciousness overnight by the announcement that 16-year old Max Verstappen will make his grand prix debut next season – watched as Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez got mileage under their belts in Budapest practice, but will replace the Mexican in FP1 at Spa-Francorchamps this weekend.
For van der Garde, the return could not come at a better place, with Spa not only the closest thing to a 'home' track on the F1 schedule, but also one that he, along with the majority of the field, looks forward to driving.
“For me, Spa-Francorchamps is one of the nicest tracks in the world,” the former Caterham F1 racer confirmed, “As it is close to the Netherlands, it is my home circuit, and I like the track a lot because it is a quick one, with many medium to high speed corners.
“It is not easy to set-up the car there though. You need to have a stable car, especially for the high speed corners, and it is a technical circuit because some sectors have several consecutive corners. Last year in Q1 it was raining, and I ended up in P3, which was quite entertaining.”
Unlike Sauber team-mate Adrian Sutil van der Garde believes that some of Spa's signature sections will still be a blast.
“With this year's new F1 cars, I believe we will have more top speed on the straights, but less downforce in comparison to 2013,” he explained, “I think Eau Rouge and Blanchimont will still be flat-out, but my favourite corners are turns 5-7 after the Kemmel straight. The right-left-right combination is quite technical, and you can use different lines there. This is what makes Spa so special.”
Despite losing the first 90 minutes of the weekend while van der Garde gets his laps, Gutiérrez is also looking forward to the first race back after the summer break.
“It is one of those tracks which is like an adventure - it goes up and downhill,” he explained, “As the straights are quite long, engine power is crucial, which could be a challenge for us, but the weather also plays a huge role at Spa-Francorchamps, and the mixed conditions can add excitement to the race weekend.”
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