Heading into this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, it’s doubtful Red Bull Racing will be able to pull off either encore it has on the table.
The team won last year’s race with Daniel Ricciardo, his third and most recent Grand Prix victory. And the team also secured its first double podium (or any podium finish, for that matter) of 2015 at the most recent race in Hungary.
Nevertheless both Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat head into Spa this week with renewed optimism and excitement for tackling one of their favorite tracks, the 4-plus mile mecca that is Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.
“When I was a kid I played the racing games quite a bit and Spa was always the track I played – it was my favorite – and when I got to drive there for real, every bit was as good as I thought it would be,” Ricciardo said in the team’s pre-race advance. “My first race was in Formula Renault 2.0 and I can still picture the first lap, thinking ‘wow’ as I went through Eau Rouge.
“When Spa’s sunny, it’s great. A proper old-school Grand Prix for the real racing enthusiast. Great atmosphere, great fans, great beer and definitely the place to come if you like the frites. Only drawback is that it’ll be 30 degrees C with blue skies one minute and hosing down the next.”
Added Kvyat, who had his first F1 race experience at the track last year, “Spa is one of my favorite tracks of the year. I think that’s a bit of cliche but I think it’s a favorite for all the drivers. It’s really long, really challenging, there are some proper fast sections and some properly balls-out corners. At Spa, more than anywhere, you feel that you’re really driving an F1 car.
“With these cars Eau Rouge is back to being a bit of a balls-out corner – especially in the wet. Pouhon is pretty much and Blanchimont still, but really only in the wet. It’s full of great, flowing, interesting sections.
“There’s great history [at Spa-Francorchamps]; the atmosphere is amazing. To be honest it’s quite hard to put into words. I like the weather. It always feels like one of the freshest weekends of the year, if that doesn’t sound strange, but it’s cold at night, and the mist and everything adds to the atmosphere. It’s a great circuit and I think it brings out the true fans and that’s quite special.”
Ricciardo reflected on his win last year, noting the strength of his low-downforce package and his opportunism in seizing the moment after the Mercedes AMG Petronas teammates’ infamous collision.
“To win the Grand Prix last year was really, really cool. It was pretty tough to drive,” Ricciardo said. “We ran really low downforce, pretty much Monza-spec. It made it tricky: tail-y but fun. Trying to keep up the rhythm when the car is moving around is not always easy – but I think it was the best package we had for the weekend.”