Tag Archives: Spa Francorchamps


Double Dutch Bus to the Garden of Motorsports

F1Weekly is blessed with the support of long-time and dedicated listeners. Our man in Amsterdam, Louis Jansen, is passionate and very knowledgeable about Formula 1.
We are, with his expressed written consent, happy to share his memories from the trip to Spa-Francorchamps last year with his lady friend and a bus load of Max maniacs.

The Dutch have a rich history in motorsports. Their seaside track at Zandvoort was home to the Dutch Grand Prix for many years, and saw many maiden wins for both man and machine.
Swedish driver Jo Bonnier scored his and BRM’s first victory here in 1959. The late great Graham Hill scored his first grand prix victory at Zandvoort in 1962, driving the beautiful BRM P57.
In 1967, the Scottish legend Jim Clark won first time out with Colin Chapman’s Lotus 49 powered by Keith Duckworth-designed Ford-Cosworth DFV.
James Hunt and the “Good Lord” Hesketh were the winners in 1975.
Max! The youngest grand prix driver and race winner.

Youngest world champion? If TAG-Heuer’s timing is right and Red Bull has the package, the young Dutch treat might deliver this historical achievement in the near future.


British GT grid set for Spa Francorchamps

A 34-car grid featuring no less than 19 GT3 entries will take to the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium this weekend (July 10/11) for the Avon Tyres British GT Championship’s fifth round of the season and annual ‘away day’.

The 4.3-mile, 20-turn Ardennes venue oozes atmosphere and history, and also offers drivers of all abilities one of the toughest tests in motor racing. It’s these factors that have undoubtedly helped attract a number of new names for this Saturday’s two-hour points-and-a-half-paying encounter.

An additional BMW Z4 GT3 run by crack Belgian outfit Marc VDS & Friends Racing for Cancer featuring the talents of Pascal Witmeur and Bas Leinders should be at the sharp end. There are also two additional Aston Martin Vantage GT3s on the entry list courtesy of Aston Martin Brussels’ Michael Schmetz and reigning Belgian GT champion, Tim Verbergt, and Leonard Motorsport AMR’s Silver Cup driver pairing Stuart Leonard and Michael Meadows.

Elsewhere, series regulars Rosso Verde return with their Ferrari for Hector Lester and Benny Simonsen, while FF Corse’s similar 458 Italia features Ollie Hancock alongside Gary Eastwood.

There’s also a fresh GT4 entry following the arrival of Track Group’s Lotus Evora, driven by Adam Balon and Ben Clucas.


Four rounds contested over three different distances have already been completed, but so competitive is this year’s entry that GT3 still awaits its first multiple winners of 2015.

Indeed, it’s consistency rather than outright pace that has proved vital to reigning Drivers’ champion Marco Attard and Ecurie Ecosse team-mate Alexander Sims establishing their slim 11.5-point lead atop the standings. Scoring big in the championship’s two points-and-a-half races, including a victory at Rockingham, helped them overcome a slow start at Oulton Park where their closest title pursuers, Liam Griffin and Rory Butcher, won the hour-long opener for Oman Racing Team.

As if to emphasise the point Triple Eight pairing Lee Mowle and Joe Osborne have yet to finish first this season but remain very much part of the fight thanks to their knack of picking up solid points’ finishes. Second place at Silverstone last time out suggests they’re in contention to make it five winners from as many rounds in Belgium.

Beechdean AMR’s former champions Andrew Howard and Jonny Adam have been at the sharp end all season but have so far struggled converting potential into big points. A victory on the opening weekend at Oulton, plus two pole positions, proves they have what it takes to close the gap.


With plenty of points still up for grabs the destination of this year’s GT4 titles remains anyone’s guess, even if one pairing has come to the fore in recent months…

Indeed, Jamie Chadwick and Ross Gunn’s back-to-back victories at Rockingham and Silverstone’s two endurance events have helped them seize control of the Drivers’ standings. After letting their enthusiasm slightly get the better of them at Oulton neither Beechdean AMR youngster has since put a foot wrong en route to establishing a 31.5-point advantage over ISSY Racing duo Oz Yusuf and Gavan Kershaw.

They, along with third placed Mike Robinson and Graham Johnson, chalked up the other two victories at Oulton, meaning three manufacturers – Aston Martin, Lotus and Ginetta – have shared the GT4 spoils thus far.

Looking to get in on the act at Spa-Francorchamps will be the Graham Coomes/Jake Hill peddled AmDTuning.com Porsche 911, which ran at the front for much of Silverstone’s three-hour race. The same can also be said of Academy Motorsport’s Dennis Strandberg and Will Moore in light of the latter’s impressive display in wet conditions last time out.


Mike Lynch, Avon Tyres Technical Manager – Motorsport, runs the rule over Spa-Francorchamps.

“Spa is our only trip abroad with the British GT Championship. The nature of the track and the weather bring unique challenges for the tyres. The long lap with very high speeds and the huge compression at Eau Rouge creates loads in the tyres not seen at other circuits on our calendar.

“Set in the Ardennes, the weather is unpredictable at best. The tyres might have to cope with track temperatures ranging from 10 to 40ºC, from dry, hot surfaces to wet and greasy – often on the same lap. However, the new-for-2015 tyre has been optimised to perform more consistently in all of these conditions. We can expect faster lap times and the racing to be even closer than last year.”

Formula 1

Champ: Vettel holds his latest trophy aloft as Hamilton and Alonso applaud
Champ: Vettel holds his latest trophy aloft as Hamilton and Alonso applaud



 SEBASTIAN VETTEL: “I don’t think we expected to be dominant here, and it surprised all of us actually; it’s a great result. I think we knew going into the race that our race pace, compared to Mercedes, maybe gave us a little in hand, but we didn’t know where we were compared to the others, especially Ferrari, and Lotus looked very quick in dry conditions also. It wasn’t clear if the rain was going to come at the end of the race, so we kept pushing, but the gap we had by that stage meant we were able to control the race from there and the last couple of laps weren’t too stressful.”

CHRISTIAN HORNER, Team Principal: “It was a fantastic win for Sebastian and the team, which came down to the first lap. He had an average start, but managed to position himself well going through the first corner and he knew that the first run through Eau Rouge up the hill was going to be critical. He went for it, got in the tow and managed to make the move stick round the outside of Lewis and then got his head down and built up a great lead. For Mark, his clutch wasn’t good in preparation going to the grid. We did our best to tidy it up but he conceded a place to Rosberg off the start. Once he was comprised in his positioning within the pack, he wasn’t able to get a clean run through La Source and Alonso managed to get a run on him down the hill and pass him into Eau Rouge. Thereafter it was a matter of trying to find a way through, past the Mercedes and Ferrari ahead, but unfortunately whenever we got close enough we seemed to lose aero performance and so Mark couldn’t get close enough to make a move. We didn’t come here expecting to win today, so it’s great to get a victory to start the second half of the season”


Pos  Driver        Team                       
 1.  Vettel         Red Bull-Renault           
 2.  Alonso         Ferrari                            
 3.  Hamilton       Mercedes                           
 4.  Rosberg        Mercedes                           
 5.  Webber         Red Bull-Renault                   
 6.  Button         McLaren-Mercedes                   
 7.  Massa          Ferrari                            
 8.  Grosjean       Lotus-Renault                      
 9.  Sutil          Force India-Mercedes               
10.  Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari                 
11.  Perez          McLaren-Mercedes                   
12.  Vergne         Toro Rosso-Ferrari                 
13.  Hulkenberg     Sauber-Ferrari                     
14.  Gutierrez      Sauber-Ferrari                     
15.  Bottas         Williams-Renault                   
16.  van der Garde  Caterham-Renault                   
17.  Maldonado      Williams-Renault                   
18.  Bianchi        Marussia-Cosworth                  
19.  Chilton        Marussia-Cosworth                  

Fastest lap: 

Not classified/retirements:               

Driver        Team                         
Di Resta      Force India-Mercedes               
Raikkonen     Lotus-Renault                      
Pic           Caterham-Renault  

World Championship standings, round 11:                

Drivers:                    Constructors:             
 1.  Vettel        197        1.  Red Bull-Renault          312
 2.  Alonso        151        2.  Mercedes                  235
 3.  Hamilton      139        3.  Ferrari                   218
 4.  Raikkonen     134        4.  Lotus-Renault             187
 5.  Webber        115        5.  McLaren-Mercedes           65
 6.  Rosberg        96        6.  Force India-Mercedes       61
 7.  Massa          67        7.  Toro Rosso-Ferrari         25
 8.  Grosjean       53        8.  Sauber-Ferrari              7
 9.  Button         47        9.  Williams-Renault            1
10.  Di Resta       36       
11.  Sutil          25       
12.  Perez          18       
13.  Vergne         13       
14.  Ricciardo      12       
15.  Hulkenberg      7       
16.  Maldonado       1

British F3

A five-car Carlin team will take on rivals from Fortec and Double R this weekend
A five-car Carlin team will take on rivals from Fortec and Double R this weekend

Buller closing in on British F3 title as Carlin ups the ante – 

With half the season complete, the highly competitive 2013 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series returns to the UK this weekend (10/11 August) for three 30-minute races at historic Brands Hatch GP Circuit in Kent.
Following races at Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, Fortec Motorsports’ Will Buller, has a solid lead of 21 points as he arrives back on home tarmac.
“Obviously every weekend is important, but Brands Hatch will be critical for me to make sure I’m heading to the Nurburgring in the best position possible. I’ve not been in such a strong position in the F3 series for several years, but I know what I have to do to win. We got good points at Spa, I couldn’t have asked for much more, but I’m aiming to leave Brands in a stronger position that I left Belgium.”
The County Down racer will be looking to defend from his two main title rivals, Jordan King and Antonio Giovinazzi. The two rookies are having a strong debut year in Formula 3 and, like Buller, have each taken a pair of wins from the first six races. Both drivers continue to grow in stature and arrive back in the UK brimming confidence after strong weekends at the home to the Belgian Grand Prix, Spa-Francorchamps.
This seasons other podium visitors are Jann Mardenborough, Sean Gelael and Felipe Guimaraes, all of whom endured difficult weekends at Spa-Francorchamps, GT Academy winner Jann surviving a scary clash with Carlin team-mate Nicholas Latifi at Eau Rouge in the first race.
Multiple series champions, Carlin arrive at Brands Hatch with two new drivers in its ranks. Joining regulars, King, Mardenborough and Latifi are Chinese racer, Peter Li Zhi Cong and the very familiar face of 2012 British F3 runner-up and Malaysian star, Jazeman Jaafar. Both drivers are making one-off appearances this weekend, with Li Zhi Cong testing the water ahead of a potential full campaign in the New Year.
Another title is up for grabs this year, that is the all-important National Class for non-FIA spec machines. Leading the way after a ‘perfect’ weekend at Spa was Chinese driver Sun Zheng, but the CF Racing man will have a swarm of West-Tec cars to contend with this weekend on a circuit he has never driven at before.
“We’re prepared for this weekend, but I haven’t driven there before so it will be a new challenge. We did well at Spa, I think we can do well again there (at Brands Hatch).”
Joining New Zealander Chris Vlok at West-Tec are the experienced duo of British racer Cameron Twynham and Emirati driver, Ed Jones. With Zheng now 44 points ahead of Jones in the standings, it will require a huge effort from the West-Tec driver to reel in his Chinese counterpart.
Track action gets underway on Saturday with qualifying at 11:15 and the first race of the weekend in the afternoon at 14:55. Sunday features two races, the first of which begins at 11:00, the final race of the weekend closes the meeting at 16:50.
Finally, a minute’s silence will be held on Sunday morning ahead of race two of the weekend to remember Jeremy Lord, the former British F3 Championship co-ordinator and head of British Formula 3 teams group FOTA, who passed away in June after a brief battle with cancer.

British F3


Buller and King share the wins in wet Spa double-header- 
Honours were shared yesterday between Fortec Motorsports and Carlin as Will Buller and Jordan King took victories in race one and race two of the second round of the 2013 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series. CF Racing’s Sun Zheng was the man to beat in the National Class, taking both race wins from the pair of chasing West-Tec entries.

Buller masterful in wet first race at Spa

Fortec Motorsports’ Will Buller showed his experience in a dominant display in race one of the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series at Spa-Francorchamps, coming from the fourth row on the grid to take his second win of the season. Sun Zheng took his maiden National Class victory after a race long battle with West-Tec’s Jordan Oon. 
A heavy downpour descended upon the circuit an hour before the 30-minute race was scheduled to start and Buller seized the opportunity to increase his championship lead; pole-sitter Nicholas Latifi crashed out late-on after a collision with Carlin team-mate Jann Mardenborough at the famous Eau Rouge corner.
As is often the case at Spa, La Source, the hairpin first corner, was the scene of bunching of the ranks, and Felipe Guimaraes’s Fortec Dallara fell victim to this on the opening lap. A strong start from Double R Racing’s Antonio Giovinazzi and Sean Gelael saw them progress from their grid positions, but the Italian went too deep at the hairpin, forcing Jordan King wide too as the Carlin man was on his outside.
Gelael nipped through the middle, following the line taken by Latifi, Buller and a pacey Mardenborough, but it was Latifi who lead into Eau Rouge, before a bold more off the racing line in the middle of the left-right-left corner, saw the driver from County Down take the lead of the race, a position that was never really challenged.
King, making his way through the field after a less than ideal start to his first lap was soon past Latifi and try as he might, King couldn’t achieve the same pace as Buller; the wet conditions not helping his cause, and the gap extended to over four seconds. 
NISMO athlete Mardenborough continued to impress in his maiden year of single-seaters, a good battle emerging between he, Gelael and Latifi in the middle of the race. Gelael was hot on the heels of the young Brit and after overtaking him for fourth, the Nissan GT Academy star was back past two thirds of a lap later.
On what would be the penultimate racing lap of the race, Latifi lost ground to Mardenborough and Gelael after a poor exit of the Bus Stop chicane. The two Carlin team-mates fought hard, with the British driver narrowly getting ahead on the run dow to Eau Rouge. The pair then collided in the middle of the high-speed corner, with Mardenborough taking off over Latifi’s rear wheel, landing upside down and sliding into the barriers at Raidillon. Both drivers emerged unhurt, quite unlike their cars. Mardenborough’s car was deemed fixable for race two, Latifi’s not.
A safety car period followed and the final racing lap was a procession to the flag, with Buller exerting the experience amassed in F3 over his rivals with aplomb. 
CF Racing’s Sun Zheng led the three-car National class battle from start to finish, the Chinese driver taking his first class win of the year ahead of Team West-Tec duo Jordan Oon and Chris Vlok. Oon did take the class lead briefly, but Zheng who admitted struggling with tyres temperatures throughout the race, re-took his lead shortly after.
Vlok had a brief battle with Giovinazzi after the Italian pitted to fix a faulty rear light, but spent the majority of his race chasing his team-mate as he learnt the circuit on this his first visit to Spa-Francorchamps. 


Will Buller #3 Fortec Motorsports (Race Winner)
“We had a difficult day yesterday with suspension issues. The race was good, I like the wet here and I’ve won here before, so I was feeling confident. I got into the lead and pulled out a nice gap. The car was great and I’m really looking forward to the race later, I think we’ll be strong now whatever the weather. I’ll start eighth in the next race, but I came from seventh in this one, so I’m pretty use to it!”

King victorious in Spa second race, as Zheng doubles up in the national class
The day’s earlier race was a similarly wet affair and Jordan King had to work hard for his second win of the Cooper Tires British F3 Inernational Series at Spa-Francorchamps. The Carlin racer battled from seventh on the grid to win and was engaged in a fascinating fight for the race lead until the flag. Sun Zheng asserted his authority in the National Class taking yet another convincing win from West-Tec’s Jordan Oon.
After making a rapid start in wet conditions off the reverse grid, King overtook a number of his rivals before La Source, but it was Double R Racing’s Antonio Giovinazzi that took the lead from fourth on the grid, followed by a rejuvenated Tatiana Calderon, also a fellow Double R driver, with King third.
Race one victor and championship leader Will Buller started eighth on the grid, but was up to fifth by the end of lap one, tucked inside the third Double R Racing car of Indonesian, Sean Gelael. 
When the rain clouds moved on, race leader Giovinazzi’s tyres began to overheat and he was quickly picked off by first King, then Buller as they went on to battle closely over the final half of the race, with King narrowly holding off the Fortec man’s challenge, crossing the line just 0.5s ahead.
Behind them Giovinazzi held on to take his second podium of the season, ahead of team-mates Calderon and Gelael. Jann Mardenborough struggled in his Volkswagen-powered Carlin-Dallara after his earlier incident in race one, the Nissan GT Academy star is confident the car will be back to it’s best for tomorrow’s third and final race of the weekend.
Felipe Guimaraes had a lonely race after starting from the back of the grid. Having battled through the National Class entrants, the Brazilian set about chasing after Mardenborough’s Carlin machine, but he didn’t make the inroads he would’ve liked into his International Class rival.
For the second time today CF Racing’s Sun Zheng won the National Class with a storming drive after an early off at Poulon. The Chinese driver first got past pole-sitter Chris Vlok, before a more taxing scrap with Vlok’s West-Tec team-mate Jordan Oon. Once past Oon, Zheng marched into the distance, taking the flag eleven seconds ahead of the West-Tec pair.


Jordan King –  Carlin (International Class Winner)
“Starting seventh it was a bit crazy at the first corner. I got through the field and got into field, then second not as soon as I’d like, and then got an opportunity for the lead which I took. I don’t know if Will and I had different downforce, but it was so hard to pull away from him, so on a few ocassions I had to just park it on the apex. I’d pull away and he was straight back onto me. I knew he’d have a go on the last lap and I think we did touch, I had to go defensive, but it was fine and off we went. A second win, we’re moving forward.”
Sun Zheng – CF Racing (National Class Winner)
“The start was okay, but I struggled with the International class cars, I couldn’t see and I went off at Poulon. I rejoined last, but my speed was good. I had a few fights, but it was nice to get back ahead and take another win. Hopefully tomorrow holds another win!”
The final race of the weekend gets underway today (Saturday) at 11:50 CET and will be shown live across the Motors TV network in Europe. 
Third-race grid: Latifi – King – Mardenborough – Guimaraes – Giovinazzi – Buller – Gelael – Calderon – Zheng – Oon – Vlok

British F3

Latifi Spa 2013


Carlin’s Nicholas Latifi led home a mighty Carlin 1-2-3 in this afternoon’s Cooper Tires British F3 International Series qualifying session at Spa-Francorchamps, the Canadian driver finished two-tenths ahead of Jordan King who was a tenth ahead of Jann Mardenborough, and was also the holder of the second fastest time, taking pole position for race three on Saturday. National class pole went to CF Racing’s impressive young Chinese racer Sun Zheng. 
The Ardennes was basked in beautiful sunshine this afternoon and Latifi took off immediately where he left off in free practice, setting the pace with a 2:16.735. This provided his rivals with a challenging time to beat, and his team-mates King and Mardenborough would soon emerge as his closest rivals.
As the session progressed King went quickest of all with a 2:16.295, but a final run from Latifi produced a time of 2:15.542, which was good enough to ensure he took a maiden pole position for tomorrow’s first race, before his second best time saw him double that record. King will start both race one and the final race of the weekend from second on the grid.
Just over four tenths separated the top three finishers, and Mardenborough, who finished third in both free practice sessions, continued his impressive efforts with a lap of 2:15.972. The time ensures he starts on the second row for race one and race three in what is a busy weekend for the young Nissan GT Academy racer; as Mardenborough will also race in the Total 24 Hours of Spa in the Nissan GT Academy Team RJN Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3.
Behind the Carlin drivers it was Double R Racing’s Antonio Giovinazzi and Fortec’s Felipe Guimaraes who brought the main challenge. Giovinazzi’s 2:16.372 good enough for fourth in race one, Guimaraes’ 2:16.630 giving him a row three start. Positions are reversed for race three with Guimaraes ahead of his Italian rival by ten thousandths of a second.
Championship leader Will Buller had a tough afternoon in his Fortec Dallara – Mercedes, the young Northern Irish racer showed glimpses of the pace that took his to two wins here in 2011, but his efforts, a 2:17.672, were only good enough for seventh in race one, and a 2:17.793 resulting in sixth for the final race.
Columbian Tatiana Calderon sparkled in the Belgian sunshine, a sixth place for race one and eighth for race three, coupled with a consistent performance throughout free practice will give the Double R driver cause for cheer. Team-mate Sean Gelael qualified eighth for race one and seventh for race three. 
The National class was dominated by Sun Zheng’s Neil Brown Engineering powered Dallara F311. From the outset the Chinese star was comfortably ahead of West-Tecs two Australasian chargers, Chris Vlok and Jordan Oon. Zheng will start from class pole for both race 1 and race 2, ninth overall; a positive test session at Anglesey boosting his confidence and understanding of Formula 3 machinery. 
Nicholas Latifi, #1 Carlin – Dallara – Volkswagen (International Class Pole) 
“I confused myself with that lap, I didn’t realise I was in the 15’s with my time, I thought I was in the 16’s, and I was frustrated, but then when I realised what my time was, I was very happy. It’s great to get a pole position, we have really good pace here this weekend and I’ m confident of having a good first race. It was amazing result for the team, a 1-2-3 for both races is huge.”
Sun Zheng, #87 CF Racing – Dallara – NBE (National Class Pole)
“We’ve done a lot of testing before coming here, I’m still getting used to the car. Silverstone wasn’t very good for us. We didn’t get a chance to test properly so we were worrying about set-up a lot, but I’m feeling prepared, the team feel prepared; it’s very good and we look ok for tomorrow. I’m not sure if we can get ahead of anyone in front  of us, but I’ll try to follow them and learn from them. My target is to come to the International class in the future, so it will be great to experience racing against those cars.”
Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series
 Provisional qualifying times / Spa-Francorchamps (BEL) / 25 July 2013
Leading International class runners

1  Nicholas LATIFI / CDN, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen  2:15.542

2  Jordan KING / GBR, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen  2:15.865

3  Jann MARDENBOROUGH / GBR, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen 2:15.972

4  Antonio GIOVINAZZI / ITA, Double R Racing Dallara-HWA Mercedes  2:16.372

5  Felipe GUIMARAES / BRA, Fortec Dallara-HWA Mercedes  2:16.630

National class

1  Sun ZHENG / CHI,  CF Racing Dallara-NBE  2:18.832

2  Jordan OON/ AUS,  Team West-Tec Dallara-Toyota  2:21.290

3  Chris VLOK / NZL,  Double R Dallara-Toyota 2:22.728
Third-race grid: Latifi – King – Mardenborough – Guimaraes – Giovinazzi – Buller – Gelael – Calderon – Zheng – Oon – Vlok