2016 Formula One Belgian Grand Prix, Preview
Vijay Mallya on Spa
Vijay Mallya sets his sights on a strong showing in Spa as the Formula One season resumes.
Vijay, the team’s strong season continued with more points last time out in Germany. What can we expect this weekend in Spa?
VJM: “More of the same, I hope. We are performing well and delivering results, and Spa represents a good opportunity to continue our run of points finishes. The updates we introduced at Silverstone have made a difference and there is still more performance to be extracted from our chassis. I think all teams have now switched their focus to 2017 so the pecking order should not change dramatically. Some tracks will suit us more than others, but Spa is certainly a track where the VJM09 can be strong.”
The team is now within 15 points of fourth place in the championship. How do you see the battle unfolding…
VJM: “There’s still a long way to go, but at least we are in the fight. I regard our podium in Monaco as the turning point of our season – both in terms of the result and our public perception. Then, our strong showing in Baku just reinforced the great job we are doing as a team. It’s a fierce battle in the midfield, but we are performing well. Since Monaco we have scored 67 points compared to the 31 of our nearest rival. If we continue scoring at this rate, it will be interesting to see where we can end the season.”
Nico on Spa
Nico Hulkenberg wants to continue his run of strong results with more points in Spa.
Nico: “It’s nice to get back to action after a month without racing. Holidays are fun – you spend time with your friends, take your mind off work and recharge your batteries – but nothing beats the thrill of a Formula One car. So it’s great to be back, and I can’t think of a better place to return to racing than Belgium.
“When I was little, I would go and watch the race in Spa rather than in Germany as it was much closer to where I lived. My dad took me there twice and I remember looking at the drivers and wishing to be in one of those cars.
“Spa is one of the best tracks out there. It may sound like a cliché, but it really is great fun to drive it – it’s up there with Suzuka. It’s got great flow, lots of challenging and ballsy corners, high speeds and changes of elevation. It’s just a great place. Everyone talks about Eau Rouge, but my favourite corner in Spa is Pouhon – the very quick downhill double-left hander. Eau Rouge and Raidillon are legendary, but they’re not the challenge they used to be.
“For all the excitement on track, Belgium is one of the quietest weekends off it. There’s not much around the circuit and most of the evenings you just stay in the hotel and have a quiet dinner with your physio or a few friends. It’s the opposite of some of the “lifestyle” events like Barcelona, Budapest or Montreal – but it’s a nice change to have some more relaxed events. Hopefully we will be able to pick up where we left off in Germany and continue showing our points-scoring form.”
Sergio on Spa
Sergio Perez looks forward to getting back to action in Spa this weekend.
Sergio: “The summer break was a great opportunity to relax, especially as this season is quite long and the races don’t leave us too much time to recover. It was nice to spend some time in Mexico, with my family, my dogs and my friends: it’s always great to go home and I can’t wait to be back there later in the year when we come racing in Mexico City.
“Spa is one of the most historical tracks; one of those kids dream about, with legendary corners like Eau Rouge. You never get a boring race there. There are many fast corners and you pay a price for all mistakes because it’s an old-school track with not much run-off. It’s one of the circuits where the driver can make a difference and bravery is rewarded. I have got some great memories from Spa: I won there in GP2 and I had a battle for the lead against Hamilton on the first lap last year.
“The key to being fast around Spa is having a good rhythm and enough downforce to be quick in the corners without losing too much on the straights. You want to be able to attack and defend in sector one, but not have too little wing to be struggling in the twisty parts of sector two. It’s a fine balance you need to strike and it can make or break your weekend.
“Eau Rouge is not as difficult as it used to be: you still need to be very precise about where you put your car, but you can easily take the corner flat-out. A key corner to gain or lose time is turn one: you can easily lose two tenths on that one alone if you make a mistake, and getting the exit right is crucial to carry as much speed as possible down the hill, up Raidillon and onto the Kemmel straight.
“We have been really strong in the last few races before the break and hopefully we can keep this form in the second part of the season. Being in the battle for fourth place in the championship gives us a lot of motivation and we approach every weekend knowing we can be strong. I am enjoying my driving and working with the team, and I think we have everything in place to be competitive this weekend.”