Belgium GP: Preview - Renault


Nico Hulkenberg is focused on commanding his R.S.19 at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps, with his aim the top ten.

What do you like about Spa-Francorchamps?
Nico Hulkenberg: Spa is one of my favourite tracks to race at in Formula 1. Everything about the place makes it so special. The scenery in the forest, the unpredictable weather, the awesome corner combinations; it all adds up to create this really cool challenge. Spa is known for its elevation changes and fast corners. It's a real thrill when you nail a lap and head through Eau Rouge, Pouhon and Blanchimont at high-speed. I think Spa suits my style of driving and we'll be aiming for a solid run this weekend to start this second-half of the season on the right foot.

How challenging is a lap?
NH: It's a long lap with a lot of things to get right. It can be tricky to find the right balance on the car; you need high-downforce for some of the corners in the middle part of the lap, while also not taking too much off to ensure a good top-speed on the straights. It has a nice flow to it and you need to piece together the sectors. The weather can be a bit weird in Spa; one part of the circuit might be dry, while another could be wet. Anything can happen there, and we know a big opportunity could arise.

What did you do over the summer break?
NH: The break certainly came at a welcome time for us after a disappointing July. We know the season has fallen below our expectations so far and it's up to us now to ensure we recover it for the remainder of the year. I relaxed a little, recharged the batteries on a boat in Croatia. But now it's time to get going again and I'm ready for the challenge. These next two back-to-back races are almost a make or break for our season. We have to be on it.

Daniel Ricciardo is back in town ready for the second part of the 2019 season. The first challenge, tackling the longest track on the calendar, Spa-Francorchamps.

What are your thoughts on Spa-Francorchamps?
Daniel Ricciardo: I think most drivers love racing at Spa. It's such a cool place and a track with a lot of history. I seem to have a decent record there; a win in 2014 and podiums in 2016 and 2017. It's a long lap - the longest of the year - so if you do make a mistake you know there is a chance to make it back up somewhere. There are so many corners to get right and it's never over until you cross that line.

Do you have a favourite corner?
DR: Of course, we all love taking on Eau Rouge - that's a wicked corner - but I really enjoy the middle sector. It flows nicely with quick changes of direction. Pouhon - Turn 10 - is rapid nowadays and it's probably one of the most enjoyable corners on the calendar. It's pretty brave, over 280kph in seventh gear. It's a great feeling, especially on an all-out qualifying lap.

Are you looking forward to the rest of the season?
DR: It's been a challenging season so far, we can't hide from that. There have been some positives, some things not so good, so the summer break was ideal for us. It was nice to take some time off, have a holiday in Los Angeles, and not think too much about racing. It was the same for the team, so hopefully we're all feeling refreshed now. We're targeting a better second-half of the season to catch our competitors. I know we can do it, we just need cleaner weekends.

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Published: 28/08/2019
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