After a disappointing Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Panasonic Toyota Racing heads to another historic venue for the Belgian Grand Prix this weekend. Spa-Francorchamps is back on the Formula 1 calendar after a one-year absence while improvements were carried out to the track and the infrastructure. Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli had the chance to sample the resurfaced track and the revised Bus Stop chicane when the team tested at Spa in July in preparation for this weekend's race. Following the high-speed, low-downforce demands of Monza, the team returns to a more standard aerodynamic package this weekend to cope with the undulating, challenging Spa circuit, which at 7.004kms is the longest in Formula 1. The Belgian Grand Prix marks the final European race of the season so Toyota is looking to score a strong result before the long trip east to Fuji Speedway for the Japanese Grand Prix.
Ralf Schumacher (Car 11): "Spa is another circuit close to the team's factory in Cologne, Germany so it is special for that reason. But it is also special as a track because it is unique in Formula 1, with some really impressive and challenging corners. The weather always plays its part as the Belgian Ardennes seem to have a climate all their own. Even when the rain comes it can be limited just to certain parts of the circuit. We had another difficult weekend in Italy but obviously we will use a very different aero package for Spa compared to Monza – the track has similar characteristics to Silverstone, where we were quick. We tested at Spa in July and we made good progress so we are hopeful of a strong result. Our first target is always to qualify in the top 10 with both cars and then we hope to score points from there."
Jarno Trulli (Car 12): "Spa is the best circuit in the world so I am really pleased it is back on the calendar. The changes to the track have taken a lot of effort but the results are good, especially the improvements to the Bus Stop chicane. Spa is still one of the hardest tracks in the world – a real challenge for the driver because it is very technical and very long. It is hard to find the limit at Spa as you really have to focus throughout the whole lap. You never know quite what the weather will throw at you but I have usually gone well in Belgium and I hope that is true again this weekend. We are coming towards the end of the season and the Japanese Grand Prix is next so it would be great to score more points before Toyota's home race at Fuji Speedway. I am optimistic because the team is working very hard."
Pascal Vasselon – Senior General Manager Chassis: "Spa is a unique racing environment. Motorsport culture is deeply ingrained there, the circuit is central to the economical and social life of the area and you can feel the enthusiasm of the fans. From a technical perspective, what makes it so special is the combination of a very high average speed, a lot of corners and elevation changes. It is challenging for the drivers, who like the blend of such high speed corners and the changes of elevation. It's also a demanding circuit from the car design point of view and many of the highest loads that we face during the season come at corners like Eau Rouge and Blanchimont. Unusually, the teams tested at the circuit in July to prepare for this weekend's race. Before going to Spa you always spend time on wet race strategies and the transition between wet and dry conditions. We saw all types of weather that week, which was representative of the wide range of conditions that we can expe ct to face. The drivers felt comfortable and competitive at the test so we should arrive in Belgium well prepared."