Fresh from celebrating its 200th Grand Prix, Bridgestone will race towards its next centenary, with its 201st race since 1997, the ING Belgian Grand Prix, round thirteen of the FIA Formula One World Championship.
As a contrast to the all-new Valencia street course, the next event will take place at a now permanent race facility which is steeped in motor racing folklore, Spa Francorchamps.
At 7km long, Spa is the longest circuit on the calendar, by well over a kilometre, and there is quality in its layout as well as quantity in its length. This is a high speed circuit, but in contrast to most high speed tracks, this is one where high downforce is required from the cars. A tight turn one leads into the downhill approach to the world-famous Eau Rouge and Raidillon corner combination and this is the beginning of a 19 corner challenge that seemingly never lets up until the penultimate turn, the fearsome Blanchimont and then the final chicane.
In tyre terms it’s a severe track and Bridgestone will bring the hardest two compounds from the range, the hard and medium. This is a change from last season when the medium and soft compound tyres were used. Speeds regularly approach or exceed 300kph, whilst the slowest speeds on a lap are seen in the first turn, which F1 cars tackle at just over 60kph. Bridgestone comes to Spa fresh from a tyre test in Monza where the hard and medium compounds were used.
Hirohide Hamashima – Bridgestone, Director of Motorsport Tyre Development, said: What are the points of interest at Spa?
“Spa is extremely challenging for drivers and for tyre engineers too. The layout is the longest of the year and it has a lot of complexity, with the added challenge of significant gradient changes. It is a high speed circuit, and one with particularly high loads on the tyres because of the high levels of downforce used. Added to this, the weather in Belgium is often variable and we have seen rain a number of times previously, so Spa is likely to give everyone a lot of hard work. We have changed the tyre allocation a step harder for this season as last year we had issues with heat durability, which should be less of a problem with the harder compounds.”
Stats & Facts
Number & Spec of tyres brought to Belgium 2,000 (wet/extreme wets and hard & medium dry)
Pole position time 2007: 1min 45.994 (Raikkonen)
Fastest race lap 2007: 1min 48.036 (Massa)
Top three 2007: Raikkonen, Massa, Alonso