Belgian GP

Haas F1: 2017 Belgian Grand Prix: Race Advance

Spa has hosted Formula 1 since 1925, with this year’s Belgian Grand Prix serving as the venue’s milestone 50th grand prix. The 19-turn circuit is a favorite of Haas F1 Team drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen. Before securing his most recent podium when he finished third in the 2015 Belgian Grand Prix, Grosjean clinched the 2011 GP2 Series title at the venerable track. And Magnussen, with two Formula One starts at Spa, has two Formula Renault 3.5 Series victories there in back-to-back seasons but with two different teams – Carlin in 2012 and DAMS in 2013.

Grosjean and Magnussen obviously look forward to Spa because of its racing heritage, but augmenting their collective fondness for the circuit is the warm welcome they receive from Haas Automation, as the venue provides a corporate homecoming for Haas F1 Team.

Romain Grosjean

Belgium is the home of Haas Automation’s European headquarters. You’ve been to many appearances and interacted with many Haas Automation customers. How have they embraced the team and Gene Haas’ endeavor into Formula One?

“Every time we do something with Haas Automation it’s been very well organized and we always receive a very warm welcome from all the guests attending. It’s been great to be representing Haas Automation in Formula One. It’s a big name in motorsports and a big name in industry. Whenever we meet their customers, especially when we’re with Gene (Haas), they’re always very happy. It feels like a big family, which is nice to be a part of.”

Spa has been called a driver’s track. Why?

“It’s just a great track. There are very high-speed corners and there are a lot of turns, different types, some high speed, some low – just a good variety overall. It gives you a good feeling to drive.”

Spa has high-speed straights and corners combined with a tight and twisting section, especially between turns eight and 15. How do you set up your car to tackle all the different aspects of the track? Do you have to make sacrifices in one section to gain an edge in other sections?

“You always see different approaches at Spa. Either you’re fast in sector one and sector three, which are the high-speed sectors, or you’re fast in sector two, which has more of the corners. Both work pretty well, so it’s a matter of how you want to approach the race.”

Can you describe the sensation you feel inside the car when you drive through Eau Rouge and Raidillon? Are you able to take that section flat out?

“The first lap you go through flat out, you feel sick, like you’re on a rollercoaster because it goes up and down. You’re thinking, will I make that for the race? But, once you’ve done it once, it’s all ok and you just enjoy the g-forces.”

How important is it to enter Eau Rouge in clean air to ensure you have the maximum amount of downforce available?

“It’s certainly a corner where you don’t want to have a mistake. Qualifying in clean air is certainly quite good. On the other hand, if you get a big tow, you can have a massive advantage going into turn five. There’s a bit of an argument for both philosophies there.”

Your most recent podium was earned in the 2015 Belgian Grand Prix. You started ninth and made it all the way to third, finishing behind the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. How did you make up so many positions?

“We had a good car in Belgium that year. I had qualified fourth, but started ninth due to a gearbox penalty. We had a good strategy and good timing with a safety car, too. I managed to overtake a few cars and get on the podium. Honestly, it was one of those weekends where everything just goes to plan.”

Prior to the 2015 Belgian Grand Prix, your last podium came in 2013 at the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas. How good did it feel to get back on the podium, especially after enduring a 2014 season where you only had two point-scoring finishes?

“It was great for all the guys, and for myself. We had a perfect weekend on the track. For everyone involved, it was a very good feeling. I guess it was kind of the same feeling as scoring the first points for Haas.”

Does a race like you had at Spa in 2015, where after a trying season in 2014, remind you that podiums are possible with determination and hard work?

“If I turn up at a race weekend not thinking that I’m the best, or that I can’t win the race, I’d be better off staying at home with my children. I always want to be on the podium. I always want to try to win the race. Of course, it depends a lot on the car, but in the end, you can never give up and you always strive to give your best. That’s the mentality you should have.”

Do you have milestones or moments from your junior career that you enjoyed at Spa?

“I won the GP2 title there in 2011. That was a great year.”

What is your favorite part of Spa?

“I can’t choose just one part and say it’s my favorite. The whole circuit just comes together nicely.”

Describe a lap around Spa.

“You start off with the hairpin at La Source. It’s a very low-speed corner. You need a good exit to go flat out up to Eau Rogue and then you’re on to turn five, the first right-left corner. That’s normally in fourth gear. Turn seven is quite good fun. It’s a high-speed corner going down. Then you’ve got turn eight with tricky braking. You need to be well positioned on the right hand side of the exit for turn nine. Then you’re downhill again massively to the double-left turns 10 and 11 – the fastest corner of the circuit. Then it’s on to the second right-to-left corner, carrying a bit more speed than you did into (turns) five and six. The next double right hander is very important to go to the back straight, which is very long. You then go through the Bus Stop chicane – you need big braking. Then you have a very tricky low-speed corner, where the exit and the traction are tricky. It’s very difficult. If you get it right, you get a good lap time.”

Kevin Magnussen

Belgium is the home of Haas Automation’s European headquarters. You’ve been to many appearances and interacted with many Haas Automation customers. How have they embraced the team and Gene Haas’ endeavor into Formula One?

“It’s always great to meet the Haas Automation guests around the world. It’s great to see how enthusiastic they are about the Formula One project. It’s good to feel like one big team.”

There was a time in between the 2008 and 2009 racing seasons where you worked as a factory welder. What was the company you worked for and what were some of the projects you worked on?

“The company was called Schröder Metal. I was basically welding things for shops, signs and so on.”

You seem to have a good rapport with Haas Automation customers when they’re at the track. Did that time spent as a welder perhaps give you a good idea of how people make a living with their hands, specifically, how machinists use Haas CNC equipment to build things, just like you did as a welder?

“I have a good understanding of how the customers work and what they do. I feel there’s a good relationship based on that synergy between myself and the whole company.”

When you finally got the support you needed to continue your racing career and run Formula Renault in 2009 with Motopark Academy, how big was that moment?

“It was a very big moment and a really good feeling. I was pretty depressed about not being able to race, so when I got the opportunity back it was an amazing feeling.”

Spa has been called a driver’s track. Why?
“I think it’s just because it’s an extremely fast, technical and challenging circuit.”
Spa has high-speed straights and corners combined with a tight and twisting section, especially between turns eight and 15. How do you set up your car to tackle all the different aspects of the track? Do you have to make sacrifices in one section to gain an edge in other sections?
“No, Spa is just flat out. You’re pushing everywhere.”
Can you describe the sensation you feel inside the car when you drive through Eau Rouge and Raidillon? Are you able to take that section flat out?
“I’m sure it will be pretty easy flat out. It’s a bit like a rollercoaster.”
How important is it to enter Eau Rouge in clean air to ensure you have the maximum amount of downforce available?
“Not so important. It will be flat anyway.”
Do you have any milestones or moments from your junior career that you enjoyed at Spa?
“I’ve won in every category I’ve raced there with the exception of Formula One. I have many good memories from competing at Spa.”
What is your favorite part of Spa and why?
“Eau Rouge and Pouhon are probably the best sections, but the whole track is just amazing.”
Describe a lap around Spa.
“It’s fast, challenging and fun.”

Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps
Total number of race laps: 44
Complete race distance: 308.052 kilometers (191.415 miles)
Pit lane speed limit: 80 kph (50 mph)
This 7.004-kilometer (4.352-mile), 19-turn circuit has hosted Formula One since 1925, with last year’s Belgian Grand Prix serving as the venue’s 49th grand prix.
Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps is the longest venue on the Formula One calendar, outdistancing the second-longest venue in Formula One, the 6.003-kilometer (3.730-mile) Baku City Circuit, by 1.001 kilometers (.622 of a mile).
Sebastian Vettel holds the race lap record at Spa (1:47.263), set in 2009 with Red Bull.
Jarno Trulli holds the qualifying lap record at Spa (1:44.503), set in 2009 with Toyota during Q2.
Racing became increasingly popular in Europe after the first World War, and the original 14.9-kilometer (9.31-mile) Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps was based on a triangle of public roads running between the villages of Francorchamps, Malmedy and Stavelot in the Ardennes Forest. Motorcycle racing began at the track in 1921, and in 1925 the track held its first grand prix, won by Antonio Ascari in an Alpha Romeo. Over the years, the track’s reputation grew, especially when a revamp in 1939 created the signature Eau Rouge and Raidillon corners, a fast and sweeping uphill, left-right-left combination. But after coming into existence after the first World War, the second World War intervened and left the circuit badly pockmarked by heavy artillery. Racing wasn’t able to resume until 1947 when repairs were complete. The track has undergone four more revisions since, the most drastic coming in 1979 when a new permanent section of the track was built to create a much shorter 6.968-kilometer (4.330-mile) circuit. Its current 7.004-kilometer (4.352-mile) layout debuted in 2007 when the bus stop chicane was modified, creating a switchback double hairpin, and the main straight to La Source was lengthened.
DYK? Only six drivers have managed to win the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa more than twice. Juan Manual Fangio and Damon Hill each have three wins to their name, Jim Clark and Kimi Räikkönen have four wins apiece, and Ayrton Senna won the race five times. The undisputed master of Spa is Michael Schumacher, who won a record six times.
During the course of the Belgian Grand Prix, lows will range from 13-14 degrees Celsius (56-58 degrees Fahrenheit) to highs of 19-22 degrees Celsius (67-71 degrees Fahrenheit). Relative humidity ranges from 53 percent (mildly humid) to 94 percent (very humid), with a dew point varying from 9 degrees Celsius/49 degrees Fahrenheit (dry) to 16 degrees Celsius/60 degrees Fahrenheit (comfortable). The dew point is rarely below 6 degrees Celsius/43 degrees Fahrenheit (dry) or above 18 degrees Celsius/65 degrees Fahrenheit (muggy). Typical wind speeds vary from 3-21 kph/2-13 mph (light air to moderate breeze), rarely exceeding 32 kph/20 mph (fresh breeze).

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