'First lap of Spa makes you feel sick', says Grosjean

Romain Grosjean, Haas F1 Team
© XPB 

Spa-Francorchamps is an iconic circuit and a favourite of many Formula 1 drivers. Haas F1 driver Romain Grosjean is no exception, and he links Spa with some happy moments in his racing career.

He won the GP2 title here in 2011, and it's also the venue of the 31-year-old's most recent Formula 1 podium position in 2015

"We had a good car in Belgium that year," he said. "I managed to overtake a few cars and get on the podium. Honestly, it was one of those weekends where everything just goes to plan.”

“It was great for all the guys, and for myself," he added. "We had a perfect weekend on the track. For everyone involved, it was a very good feeling. I guess it was kind of the same feeling as scoring the first points for Haas."

Asked if he felt he had a chance of a podium for Haas in Belgium, Grosjean was adamant that that was the reason he was driving in the first place.

“If I turn up at a race weekend not thinking that I’m the best, or that I can’t win the race, I’d be better off staying at home with my children.

"I always want to be on the podium. I always want to try to win the race.

"Of course, it depends a lot on the car. But in the end, you can never give up and you always strive to give your best. That’s the mentality you should have.”

The lowest point of Grosjean's Formula 1 career also took place in Spa. He was banned for one race after causing a massive pile-up at La Source in the 2012 Belgian race, during his first full season in F1.

But such incidents are now firmly behind him. These days he's just looking forward to racing on one of the most historic circuits in modern motorsport.

“I can’t choose just one part and say it’s my favourite," he said. "The whole circuit just comes together nicely.

"There are very high-speed corners and there are a lot of turns, different types, some high speed, some low. Just a good variety overall. It gives you a good feeling to drive.

"The first lap you go through flat out, you feel sick," he admitted. "Like you’re on a roller coaster because it goes up and down. You’re thinking, 'Will I make that for the race?' But once you’ve done it once it’s all okay and you just enjoy the g-forces.

“You start off with the hairpin at La Source. It’s a very low-speed corner. You need a good exit to go flat out up to Eau Rogue.

“It’s certainly a corner where you don’t want to have a mistake," Grosjean said of that famous turn. "Qualifying in clean air is certainly quite good.

"On the other hand, if you get a big tow, you can have a massive advantage going into turn five. There’s a bit of an argument for both philosophies there.

"Turn seven is quite good fun. It’s a high-speed corner going down. Then you’ve got turn eight with tricky braking. You need to be well positioned on the right hand side of the exit for turn nine.

"Then you’re downhill again massively to the double-left turns 10 and 11 – the fastest corner of the circuit. Then it’s on to the second right-to-left corner, carrying a bit more speed than you did into five and six.

"The next double right hander is very important to go to the backstraight, which is very long. You then go through the Bus Stop chicane – you need big braking.

"Then you have a very tricky low-speed corner, where the exit and the traction are tricky. It’s very difficult. If you get it right, you get a good lap time."

All in all, Spa presents Grosjean and his team with an opportunity to perform above and beyond expectations.

“You always see different approaches at Spa. Either you’re fast in sector one and sector three, which are the high-speed sectors, or you’re fast in sector two, which has more of the corners.

"Both work pretty well, so it’s a matter of how you want to approach the race."

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