|Round eight of the 2014 GP2 Series sees the Racing Engineering team heading to the Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, one of the most popular circuits on the calendar with drivers and spectators alike. Although the last round in Hungary was disappointing in terms of results for the team and drivers, Stefano Coletti and Raffaele Marciello, both men were among the very fastest in the two races held over the weekend.
Below Thomas Couyotopoulo, Sporting Director of Racing Engineering, looks forward to the challenges of Spa-Francorchamps:
Thomas, after the summer break Spa-Francorchamps is the next venue on the calendar this week, apart from some days off, has the team been busy those last weeks?
This small summer break has allowed us to make a complete service of our two Dallara GP2 cars, including chassis check, repainting most of the bodywork elements, gearbox maintenance etc. The cars have been working well during the last back-to-back events and we have had a lot of potential, but you have to continue working hard to keep up the performance and prepare for the following events. The engineers have been analysing many parameters to arrive in the best possible state at Spa GP. Most of the team have been able to enjoy some holidays before heading to Belgium and the second part of the 2014 season.
Spa-Francorchamps is a very particular race track. What is it that makes it so special and liked by teams and drivers?
Spa has always been one of the, if not the, most preferred race track of the season for drivers and teams due to its very interesting layout, profile and history. Many different race car categories are competing here and it is a great challenge every year, in any car. The lap is the longest one of the season and the elevation changes adds excitement, particularly through the incomparable "Eau Rouge". The beautiful natural surrounding completes the package and the fans usually don't want to miss this great event of the calendar, despite the challenging weather conditions.
From a technical point of view, what are the main challenges of the upcoming event in Belgium?
Spa is a complex compromise because you would like to run with quite a lot of downforce to cope with some difficult corners, some of them being downhill and "off-camber" but the long straights are forcing everyone to run with a quite low downforce level to achieve a good top-speed and lap times. The very likely damp or wet track condition adds difficulty for drivers and teams, and here in particularly because some areas of the circuit can remain dry while others are wet! The tyres will suffer from a large amount of lateral and vertical forces through every lap so the GP2 cars will use the Pirelli Hard and Medium compounds for this venue. The length of the lap will also mean that, during the 30min qualifying session, it will be crucial to manage the tyres through the whole lap and get the maximum out of them during these few laps.
Racing Engineering has a history of always being very fast at Spa. Do you think this trend can be continued this year?
Last year, we qualified second with Fabio Leimer and Julian Leal also got a good second place finish in Race 2 so we should be able to continue in this direction and offer the possibility to both our drivers to be on the podium this weekend. We have seen during the previous events this season that Lello and Stefano are both capable of fighting for podium spots so they and we have to continue to work and fight for it.