Just one week after the Italian Grand Prix the Etihad Aldar Spyker Formula One Team will be back on track for the last European race of the season, the Belgian Grand Prix. After one year's absence from the calendar, the Spa-Francorchamps circuit makes a popular return to the 2007 championship.
The track is a favourite with drivers for its long, sweeping bends and dramatic climb from the tight La Source hairpin to Eau Rouge, one of the most challenging corners in the championship. With plenty of overtaking opportunities, the race is usually one of the most unpredictable of the season, not least due to the temperamental weather that can punctuate a race weekend. As the longest track on the calendar at 7.004km, the circuit snakes its way through heavy forest, hills and valleys that can each experience different weather conditions and, as such, it's not uncommon for rain to be falling at one part of the circuit, but another part to be completely dry. Good tyre and set-up calls can be key to success and as the Etihad Aldar Spyker Formula One Team showed in the European Grand Prix, this race could be a great opportunity to pick up a competitive finish.
The team's new B-spec car will be making its second Grand Prix appearance in Spa. Two cars got to the finish in last week's Italian Grand Prix, but the unique low downforce package required at the Italian track made it hard to quantify how much progress has been made over the A-spec car. The Belgian GP at Spa should provide a much better guide to the team's form.Colin Kolles, team principal and managing director
Was the B-spec debut in Monza as you had hoped and expected?
"When you look at the race results you'll see us in 19th and 20th positions and I'm sure you'll think not much has changed, but I think we can be very positive about the team's performance over the weekend. As a team we did not make any mistakes, two new cars ran faultlessly and both got to the finish despite only having a limited testing programme beforehand. We also showed an improvement in race pace over the A-spec cars, with both Adrian and Sakon setting times very similar to the Toro Rossos and Super Aguris. This year we have struggled on tracks with low downforce and high speeds but in Monza we were much closer than before. I think it was a solid debut that we can certainly build on."Are you expecting more in Belgium?
"I think Spa-Francorchamps should suit us better than Monza, and we'd like to think that we can better our performance. Our goal has now got to be to get off the back row of the grid so we can take advantage of our improved race pace."This is now the last race in the European season, are you on course to achieve your objectives?
"We would like to secure 10th in the constructors' championship ahead of Toro Rosso and perhaps with a strong result in Belgium we could move up. We had a good test there in July, Adrian knows the track very well - he was the F3 lap record holder there - and as we showed in Germany, if the weather is changeable we are one of the few teams that are able to take full advantage of the conditions. There are also three races to run after Belgium where we have scheduled updates, so until the championship is actually finished, anything is possible."Do the team consider the Belgian Grand Prix to be another 'home race'?
"With our strong Dutch connections, it's inevitable that this Grand Prix will be a very busy one for us and we hope that we will have a lot of supporters as it's the race closest to the Netherlands. But for us, we won't treat it any differently to any other race weekend, it's important to stay focussed on the job in hand."