McLaren-Mercedes, which looked like a potential race-winning team a month ago, struggled in Hungary because of “a rare strategy error”. But this weekend, McLaren will be well suited to the Spa circuit’s layout, the team’s CEO, Martin Whitmarsh, says.

McLaren-Mercedes, which looked like a potential race-winning team a month ago, struggled in Hungary because of “a rare strategy error”. But this weekend, McLaren will be well suited to the Spa circuit’s layout, the team’s CEO, Martin Whitmarsh, says.


Following Friday practice in Hungary two weeks ago, the team opted for the harder compound Michelin tyres, believing that the tyre would suit the circuit as the race weekend progressed. But cooler than expected temperatures saw both Kimi Raikkonen and David Coulthard suffer from a lack of grip and on day. The Scot finished ninth and Raikkonen was forced out with mechanical problems.


"Our performance was not at the required level in Hungary as a result of our tyre choice. However, we believe that Spa Francorchamps is a circuit that will play to the strengths of our current package,” Whitmarsh said on Wednesday.


“With its fast, sweeping characteristics, Spa is renowned for high rates of attrition and offers a long lap, with technical corners and a relatively low grip surface that sees us use a medium to low downforce configuration,” he added.


McLaren-Mercedes last won the Belgian Grand Prix with Mika Hakkinen in 2000. In 2002, David Coulthard finished fourth, with Raikkonen starting on the front row but retiring with an engine problem.


“My victory here in 1999 is without a doubt a highlight of my career. Spa is a fantastic challenge to drive with numerous exciting corners separated by long, fast straights. It is vital to take maximum speed onto the sweeping section of track that leads to Les Combes, as this is a potential overtaking opportunity if you were able to carry the pace at Eau Rouge,” Coulthard said.


“Other corners that stand out for me are Blanchimont, which is again taken flat out, and the double apex of Pouhon. In preparation for the race, some modifications have been made to the Bus Stop chicane. The entry has moved to the right to allow for a larger run off area, with some additional re-profiling to the second section of the chicane. It was an overtaking opportunity, so it will be interesting to see if it has affected this in any way," he added.