Spa-francorchamps Belgian GP 2002

By on

Although some pressure of Bernie recently, and in the past few years because of the Belgian laws concerning tobacco advertisements at formula 1 events, Spa Francorchamps has been the host of many historic races, spectacular crashes and is known to be one of the most demanding circuits at the driver's end. It is therefore, together with its fast corners and relatively good possibilities to overtake, on of the driver's favourites.

Track changes

Spa hasn't been changed a lot since it was introduced, although it seemed like it needed some extra investment this year to modernize the track. It all involved some minor changes.
First of all, a new stand was built for an extra 3000 f1-fans, together with some enlargement at the standing areas (bronze area in ticket sales language).
On the other hand, the track has been applied a new asphalt layer in some corners like Eau Rouge and Pouhon (also known as the double left). Besides some track maintenance, it has been modified a little bit at the Bus stop chicane exit, and with it, the pit lane entrance. That entrance is now after the slow busstop chicane, as it was earlier on right before it. As the old pitlane entrance was exactly like missing the chicane, it confused following drivers who adjust their speed to the preceding car, and would therefore miss the chicane themselves. The exit of the busstop corner is now made smoothly, making it just one chicane, as it were before seemingly two close short corners after each other.
There has also been a lot of fuss about the ontrack advertising that would cause danger in case of rain, and which we have seen already before at the Hungarian grang prix. Nevertheless, after protest of some drivers, Michael Schumacher in particular, the ads were removed before the race.

Foster's ontrack advertising New pitlane entrance

Mark ups

The only team that really striked in Spa was McLaren, with some strange loose hanging part on the left side of Raikonnen's car. That was noticable on saturday during qualifying, and strangely enough, also on sunday's race. Your first idea would be an open fuel lid, but as you may notice when a car is pitting, the refuelling happens on the right side of the car. On the picture you can see there clearly is a lid, just like on the right side. The one big difference is what is lying under it. Where the right lid covers the fuel pipe, the right side covers nothing, exept the engine and stuff, but that is nearly symmetrical with the other side of the car. It's only for construction purposes that the McLaren has a hole for refuelling. McLaren can thus go to a circuit with left refuelling, only switching the refuelling pipe, and using the same bonnet as before, just with the other hole locked. Apparently, Raikkonen's wasn't locked up, and more remarkably, the team did not solve the problem.
The front wing has changed drastically for this circuit, as McLaren normally uses a 3-plate front wing this season, they had a two-plate set up in Spa, apparently working as expected, as both McLaren's cars performed reasonably good the whole weekend.

2-plate fornt wing set-up for McLaren The left refuelling hole

Minor changes

  • Ferrari used its Canada front wing again, with just a little less wing surface than on most other tracks. It's remarkable to see that ferrari only makes minor or no changes to their car switching one circuit to another. They are certainly working hard on next year's car already, with the engine spec 2003 to be tested within this month. It also shows how well the Ferrari handles on different tracks without major modifications, and for those who doesn't know for sure yet, it's running smoothly in Maranello...BAR flip ups are back
  • At BAR, the traditional flip ups that we have seen for year now at the team, are back in business after they were replaced smaller ones, attached to chimneys. These appeared at Hungary only for cooling reasons, and as this is no real problem in Spa thanks to its high average speed, the're banned again.
  • Renault f1 started the weekend with the large Williams and CART -like flip boards on front of the rear wheels on both sides, as they had been racing 3 races with an assymetrical design on that part of the car.
  • Sauber came back (probably temporarely) from their idea to copy the exhausts of Ferrari as they tested in Hungary, and are back with the already "traditional" high exhausts.Traditional high exhausts at Sauber
  • Jaguar came with a new front suspension at the start of this grand prix, concerning a new stiffer upright that would allow better driveability of the car. Team boss Niki Lauda admitted their former front suspension was a radical new design, but as it didn't give the needed advantages, some changes were made into the more usual direction. Therenewed units were designed in co√∂peration with John Barnard's company, formerly designing the nose cone of the Prost AP03 and former chief aerodynamics at Ferrari.
  • Bridgestone announced it will be concentrating on next year's tyres from now on, illustrated by the fact that no new tyres were brought to Spa.