Haas F1 Team driver Esteban Gutierrez says taming Spa-Francorchamps’ notoriously fickle weather requires drivers to react quickly while also remaining “open-minded” strategy wise.
The famous 4.352-mile venue – the longest of the season – hosts the Belgian Grand Prix, round 13 of the 2016 F1 championship, this weekend as the traditional summer break draws to a close.
Unpredictable weather conditions have often thrown a spanner in the works of teams in the Ardennes and Gutierrez explains how they should prepare for these.
“I think you need to make quick decisions throughout the weekend, especially during the race as it’s a way to gain an advantage,” the Mexican said. “Making a wrong decision can be very detrimental, but that’s what’s special about Spa.
“It’s a very long track and it can sometimes only rain on one part of the track, on one or two corners, and if you’re on slicks you just need to deal with it. Ultimately, you only want to come in for full wets if it’s raining throughout. You really have to be ready and open minded during the weekend.”
Besides its weather, Spa is first and foremost known and revered for its daunting layout that features iconic high-speed corners such as Eau Rouge, Pouhon, and Blanchimont. However, there are also slower sections, which force teams to find the right balance in terms of setup.
“It’s a track where you have to compromise a lot because you don’t want to lose too much speed on the straight and you don’t want to lose too much downforce in the corners,” Gutierrez added. “It’s important to have an efficient car to find the best compromise between aero and the mechanical set up.”
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