Toyota - Ralf Schumacher (#11), Jarno Trulli (#12):

After a disappointing Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Toyota heads to the Belgian Grand Prix looking to conclude its European campaign on a high note.
Both Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli had the chance to sample the resurfaced Spa track and the revised Bus Stop chicane when the team tested there in July, and safety campaigner Trulli was happy with the outcome of the earthworks.

"Spa is the best circuit in the world, so I am really pleased it is back on the calendar," the Italian said, "The changes to the track have taken a lot of effort, but the results are good, especially the improvements to the Bus Stop chicane. It is hard to find the limit at Spa as you really have to focus throughout the whole lap, and it is still one of the hardest tracks in the world - a real challenge for the driver."

The team returns to a more standard aerodynamic package this weekend to cope with the undulating, challenging Spa circuit, and is hopeful of a better result than in Monza.

"We are coming towards the end of the season and the Japanese Grand Prix is next, so it would be great to score more points before Toyota's home race at Fuji Speedway," Trulli admitted, "I am optimistic because the team is working very hard."

Schumacher, meanwhile, is optimistic that the TF107 can return to the sort of form it showed earlier in the season.

"We had another difficult weekend in Italy but, obviously, we will use a very different aero package for Spa compared to Monza," he said, "The track has similar characteristics to Silverstone, where we were quick. We tested at Spa in July and we made good progress, so we are hopeful of a strong result. Our first target is always to qualify in the top ten with both cars and then we hope to score points from there."

Red Bull Racing - David Coulthard (#14), Mark Webber (#15):

If anyone is looking forward to getting out on track this weekend, it is David Coulthard, whose Italian Grand Prix lasted less time than any of his rivals.

With Mark Webber also failing to score at Monza, the Belgian GP presents a final chance for the pair to add to the Red Bull team's tally before the circus heads to the Far East, and DC is looking forward to the chance, echoing the thoughts of others about the Spa circuit.

"Spa is a fantastic circuit, and I absolutely love it," he enthused, "I am looking forward to hopefully having a very strong weekend and, of course, that means scoring a point. It will be difficult to do, because you have got two McLarens, two Ferraris and two BMWs straight away that have got pace and have got reliability and they tend to be in the top six places. Then you are fighting with Renault, Williams and Toyota - so there are a lot of cars trying to squeeze into the final two points places.

"We have always got to look for the fact that, despite my retirement, Mark's car ran reliably in the race and he was so close to being in a position to score a point, which is very valuable for where we are at this time. Now we have four more opportunities to actually do that, and we are trying as hard as we can. We are in sixth place in the constructors' championship, which may not sound wonderful, but it is better than the seventh we were in previously!"

Engine guru Fabrice Lom admits that, after the high-speed rigours of Monza, Spa could prove to be a tough event for the Renault V8s powering Coulthard and Webber - just as it will for any other driver using a 'second race' powerplant.

"Spa includes some very long straights, which means a high proportion of the lap is spent at full throttle," he explained, "There is also a high number of gearchanges, and a lot of high lateral and even vertical 'g' loadings. But, in my opinion, the main difficulty is with the lubrication system and specifically the oil feed through the Raidillon. This is something that the engine was designed to cope with, as we knew Spa would be on the calendar and that we would have to face this unique challenge. We tested at Spa in July, and we have no particular worries in this area."
CRASH.NET RADIO RECENTLY SPOKE EXCLUSIVELY TO DAVID COULTHARD. TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL: CLICK HERE
Williams - Nico Rosberg (#16), Alex Wurz (#17):

With just a handful of races remaining, Spa provides a perfect platform for another potentially great midfield battle between the likes of Red Bull, Toyota, Honda and Williams, but also carries greater weight for both the Grove team's pilots.

While Nico Rosberg's performances this season have attracted attention from other teams - including Mclaren if paddock rumour is to be believed - veteran team-mate Alex Wurz finds himself under pressure to hold on to the second seat. The Austrian, however, remains unfazed by the possibility of a swift return to the rank of footsoldier and is focused on the job at hand.

"Spa is a fantastic race track, so I'm very much looking forward to racing there," he insisted, "In terms of performance, I'm not really sure what we can expect. We tested there a few weeks ago, but it's difficult to tell how we will go in the race, although I think it'll probably be pretty close again. As a team, we'll go there with high hopes following Nico's sixth place in Monza. If we can secure some more points, we'll help to strengthen fifth in the constructors' championship for the team and that's my goal for the race."

Rosberg shares the sentiments about the Ardennes circuit as his rivals, and is keen to maintain his recent run of form.

"I'm not overly optimistic, but we've clearly made progress since the test [at Spa] and I hope we can keep that momentum going," he said, "As we've shown in the past few races, we've delivered over and above our expectations, so I hope that we can continue that form and exceed our targets this weekend."

Scuderia Toro Rosso - Vitantonio Liuzzi (#18), Sebastian Vettel (#19):

One of only two teams yet to score this season, Scuderia Toro Rosso heads to Spa hoping that the unpredictable nature of the circuit, and its associated microclimate, can help it open its account.

Sebastian Vettel will be hoping the final stop on the European calendar will yield a more favourable result after a promising qualifying performance at Monza was undone by a disappointing race result.

Nonetheless, Spa is a circuit the German knows somewhat better than those he has recently competed on and will be hoping the added experience - the only ingredient missing from what many consider a complete package - will help him show well in a car that appears more under-developed as the season progresses.

For Vitantonio Liuzzi, the race will signal another chance for him to try and impress prospective employees before he is left fighting for a place on the F1 grid at the end of the season.
Spyker F1 - Sakon Yamamoto(#20), Adrian Sutil (#21):

THe other team still pointless with four races to run is Spyker and, amid further rumours of another change of ownership, the Silverstone-based team heads to Belgium for the second outing with its B-spec car.

Pleased to have got two cars got to the finish in last week's Italian Grand Prix, Spyker is aware that the unique low downforce package required at the Italian track made it hard to quantify how much progress has been made over the previous A-spec machine. The Belgian GP at Spa should provide a much better guide to the team's form, with chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne looking forward to being ablke to make a real comparison between new and old.

"I think most of the gain comes from aero and, at Monza, you're just taking all the wing off and running it with no downforce, so you don't really see the benefits," he explained, "We've got some improvements for Spa, including some updates coming on the diffuser, so we always said that this was just the start of the process. It is moving forward, and Spa will be better.

"Monza was a bit of a mixed bag, there were good and bad bits. I was disappointed with qualifying. All year we've struggled to get one lap out of the car, and last weekend was no exception. I think we felt there was quite a bit more in the car than we got out in qualifying, and I think our race pace and Friday pace confirmed that. In fact, our race pace was more competitive than we've been all year.

"Getting two cars to the finish was good. Sakon [Yamamoto] put in a very good performance, finishing ten seconds down on his team mate, by far his most competitive finish of his F1 career. It was a good effort from him and he matched the pace of Adrian [Sutil] all weekend, so there are a lot of positives."

Sutil's performances in 2007 nhave improved as the year has gone on, and the team is confident that the German can go well again at Spa after an solid test there in July.

"When you look at the race results, you'll see us in 19th and 20th positions and I'm sure you'll think not much has changed, but I think we can be very positive about the team's performance over the [Monza] weekend," team principal Colin Kolles insisted, "As a team, we did not make any mistakes, two new cars ran faultlessly and both got to the finish despite only having a limited testing programme beforehand.

"We also showed an improvement in race pace over the A-spec cars, with both Adrian and Sakon setting times very similar to the Toro Rossos and Super Aguris. This year, we have struggled on tracks with low downforce and high speeds but, in Monza, we were much closer than before. I think it was a solid debut that we can certainly build on.

"I think Spa-Francorchamps should suit us better than Monza, and we'd like to think that we can better our performance. Our goal has now got to be to get off the back row of the grid so we can take advantage of our improved race pace. We would like to secure tenth in the constructors' championship, ahead of Toro Rosso, and perhaps, with a strong result in Belgium, we could move up. We had a good test there in July, Adrian knows the track very well - he was the F3 lap record holder there - and, as we showed in Germany, if the weather is changeable, we are one of the few teams that are able to take full advantage of the conditions."

Super Aguri F1 - Takuma Sato (#22), Anthony Davidson (#23):

Perhas contentiously, and perhaps against the odds, Super Aguri has scored points in 2007, but the team is determined to hold on to its elevated position in the constructors' championship as the European leg of the season draws to a close.

According to Takuma Sato's race engineer Richard Connell, Spa should be another decent weekend for the Leafield-based operation.

"We have numerous set-up tools available so that we can adapt our car to the characteristics of the circuit and ensure we get the best performance from the SA07 across the weekend," he explained, "Spa, with respect to other circuits on the F1 calendar, is a low downforce circuit and we will run an optimised aerodynamic set-up to reflect this. History shows that the SA07 is well suited to these low downforce, high efficiency circuits, and the team has given very good qualifying and race performances in Canada and the USA, where we would usually run a similar aerodynamic package.

"Our priority is to finish the Belgian Grand Prix weekend having maintained our eighth position in the constructors' championship. We will, of course, always aim to add to our points tally for the year but, with the highly competitive level of our midfield rivals and reliability of the entire field, this is not always possible. So, if we can maintain our advantage over the teams currently behind us, which is certainly possible, then the weekend will have been a success.
TYRES:

Formula One's return to Spa will see Bridgestone's medium and soft compound Potenza face the longest circuit of the season, needing to combat a diverse mix of corners, including the world famous Eau Rouge, in each 7km lap.

"Spa is extremely challenging as it is a very fast track," head of track engineering operations Kees van de Grint commented, "To the contrary of some other fast tracks, where the downforce loads placed on the tyres are lower because of low drag set-ups on the cars, here a higher level of downforce is applied. This means the tyres are placed under gruelling conditions with high speeds and high loads for almost the entire lap."
The tyre options, selected after July's group test, have been used in combination on five previous occasions this season - in Australia, the United States, France, Germany and, most recently, at the Italian Grand Prix last weekend - but with unpredictable weather a feature of any visit to Belgium, Bridgestone will also have its wet and extreme wet tyres at the ready.

"Wet conditions can change so quickly that it is very difficult to make the right call," van de Grint continued, "We always calculate and present to the teams the conditions when you should change from the dry tyre to the wet tyre and then to the extreme wet, and vice versa - but, in race conditions, it is not so straightforward. We can control many things, and we have many computers, but the one thing that we can't control is nature."

THE TRACK:
Race Distance: 44 laps - Circuit Length: 4.352 miles (7.004km)

Nestling deep inside the Ardennes forest near Liege, Spa-Francorchamps is one of the most historic and evocative circuits in Formula One and makes a welcome return to the 2007 calendar after a year's absence for modernisation of the circuit and facilities. Spa features a mixture of long straights combined with very high speed corners and low speed technical sections.

Chassis set-up requires a compromise between reducing drag to aid straightline speed and generating downforce to aid cornering. Braking stability is also an important consideration, particularly when stopping the car after the flat-out Blanchimont corner for the new low speed chicane.

With a 7.004 km lap, Spa is the longest circuit on the calendar and its fantastic corners, wonderful scenery and adrenalin pumping elevation changes make it a place where driver bravery and skill become even more significant than usual. The weather is notoriously changeable which only adds to the excitement of the race weekend.
THE WINNER?

After being somewhat embarrassed by McLaren's sheer pace around Monza, Ferrari will be feeling somewhat vindicated as they head to Spa and although only seven days separate the races, Spa should prove a better suit for the F2007.

If Ferrari needed a confidence boost, the fact that they had the fastest package at Silverstone - the circuit many consider to be closest to Spa - then they can head to Belgium with their eye on the main prize.

Even so, Spa is one of those circuits where anything can genuinely happen - think back to Jordan's 1-2 result in those exceptional 1998 circumstances... Still, Lewis Hamilton didn't drive there in 2006 with GP2 so will be more on the back foot than normal and this could be the only prompt Fernando Alonso needs to get back in charge. A crucial race for all concerned if there ever was one...
LAST SEASON:

There was no Belgian Grand Prix in 2006, following the late decision to cancel the race so that rebuilding and reprofiling work could take place for 2007 and beyond, in an attempt to keep Spa on the calendar in the longer term.

However, the 2005 edition saw Kimi Raikkonen takes his second Spa success to boost his claim to the world title. Things did not go all the Finn's way, however, as McLaren team-mate Juan Montoya retired late on after colliding with the lapped Antonio Pizzonia and allowed points leader Fernando Alonso into P2. That was not enough to allow Alonso to become the youngest world champion, however, as the title race continued to Brazil. With Michael Schumacher out on lap 14 following a collision with Takuma Sato, the Japanese driver's BAR team-mate Jenson Button completed the podium, while Mark Webber, Rubens Barrichello, Jacques Villeneuve, Ralf Schuamcher and, against the odds, Tiago Monteiro, completed the scorers. Giancarlo Fisichella posted the first retirement of the race after a major off at Eau Rouge, denying Renault a chance to extend its advantage over McLaren in the constructors' race.

1. Kimi Raikkonen Finland McLaren-Mercedes 44 laps
2. Fernando Alonso Spain Renault-Renault +28.3
3. Jenson Button Britain BAR-Honda +32.0
4. Mark Webber Australia Williams-BMW +69.1
5. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Ferrari-Ferrari +78.1
6. Jacques Villeneuve Canada Sauber-Petronas +87.4
7. Ralf Schumacher Germany Toyota-Toyota +87.5
8. Tiago Monteiro Portugal Jordan-Toyota +1 lap

 

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