Formula One: 2016 Belgian Grand Prix – Preview.
Up and down.
Lewis Hamilton: “It’s crazy how quickly this year is going by. It seems like a few weeks ago we were in Barcelona for winter testing and now we’re through the summer break, heading to Spa. The first half of the season was a bit of a rollercoaster, so it’s great to be in the position I’m in with more than half of the races behind us. There will be more up and downs to come, I’m sure. But the way myself and the team have performed so far gives me huge confidence. I’m feeling refreshed, re-energised and ready to go after a fun few weeks off, so hopefully everyone else has had a good rest too and we’ll come out fighting. Spa is a great track – one that every driver enjoys. It was great to finally get back on the top step there last year, so fingers crossed I’ll be able to have another strong race this time around.
It’s been such a proud few weeks for British sport, with the Olympics and then Cal Crutchlow becoming the first British MotoGP winner in more than 30 years. I’ll do my best to keep the flag flying this weekend. A big shout-out to the British fans heading out to this one. I’m sure they’ll be out in force as always!”
Nico Rosberg: “It’s been great to have a couple of weeks with the family to relax and recharge the batteries. I’ve loved every minute – but now it’s time to get back to work! For me, it’s like a clean slate at this stage. What’s happened so far this season is in the past. I can’t wait to get in that car, put my foot down and get everything I can from these next races. Belgium is a great place to kick start the year after the break. It’s such an awesome track, with so many challenges and usually some crazy weather just to mix things up even more. If you ask any driver they will tell you how much they love racing here. And, if you look back through the years, there have been some great moments too – that mega move from Mika Häkkinen on Michael Schumacher down the Kemmel straight, for example. All of that history just makes it even more special, so I’d love to add my name to the winner’s list. I’m feeling strong in myself, I know I’ll have the best car out there and I’m massively pumped to be back on track, so let’s see how it goes.”
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: “We return from the summer break with fresh energy for the next phase of the season – and we will need all of that energy, as time and again we’re reminded that nothing is clear cut. We were expecting Hungary to be tough, with Hockenheim playing more to our strengths. That wasn’t the case. It’s an unusual situation to be winning for so long, so you can’t expect it to last – especially against opposition with such passion and resource as those around us. We will continue to fight hard. For the drivers, it’s the same story. There are more than 200 points to be won in their title battle and a lot of racing to be done yet. Lewis is on an impressive run, just like Nico had at the end of last season and into this one. The advantage constantly swings, so it will be exciting to see how their battle pans out.
We’re also pleased to see both of our Junior drivers side-by-side at Manor, with Esteban joining Pascal on the grid from this weekend. The coming races will be important for both of their development, so we will watch their progress with great interest. There is plenty to be excited about heading into these next nine races. I, for one, can’t wait to get back out there.”
Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical): “Spa is one of the truly great Formula One venues, with long straights, a range of high-speed corners and significant elevation change creating spectacular racing and making it tough to find the best setup. You need a car which is quick through the corners for good lap time – but the long Kemmel straight leaves drivers prone to overtaking if they’re carrying too much drag. The speed they can carry through Eau Rouge is also crucial, with significant compression through this corner a notable setup consideration. Today, with the Hybrid systems, energy management also comes into play. Drivers must manage the lap wisely to protect against attack from behind and give themselves the best chance of making a pass themselves. There is so much variety and opportunity in the circuit. It’s a great formula and one which new venues should look to emulate. What’s more, thousands of enthusiastic fans from across Europe flock to this race and camp around the circuit. I have huge respect for them, as it can get very cold and wet out there. This is definitely a race which sorts the true fans from the glamour seekers! It’s important to get a good result here, as it’s a good test of all-round performance and sets you up for the rest of the season, so we’ll be pushing hard.”