Mercedes GP is hoping that the high-speed nature of Spa-Francorchamps will help Michael Schumacher celebrate in style on the 20th anniversary of his Formula 1 debut in Belgium this weekend.
The team's 2011 challenger should be well-suited to the long straights and high-speed corners of Spa, having faced difficulties in recent outings at tight and twisty venues like the Hungaroring. Mercedes-Benz motorsport boss Norbert Haug reckons that the Spa characteristics and a team refreshed after the summer break could help deliver a good result on a big weekend for Schumacher.
"Our team members have been able to recharge their batteries during the mandatory shutdown period, and we will head to Spa fully motivated for the final part of the season," said Haug. "It will be a special weekend for Michael, who will mark the 20th anniversary of his Formula 1 debut this weekend, which is an outstanding and remarkable achievement. The races at Spa have historically been full of surprises and the weather has mostly played a major role. The layout of the circuit should suit our current technical package a little bit better than was the case at the previous two races."
Schumacher, who made his debut at Spa in 1991 and won his maiden race at the venue the following year, said that he was heading into the weekend eager to mark his special occasion in a good way.
"The race in Spa will certainly have a special touch to it this time, as this is where I drove my first Formula 1 race 20 years ago," he said. "It's hard to believe that this was such a long time ago.
"A lot has changed in those 20 years, but one thing has not: the track is still sensational. I just love the great nature of the location and the resulting layout with all the ups and downs. To me, Spa remains my 'living room' because it has been the stage for so many things which have been remarkable for my sporting career. This is why this time I would like to specifically send a big thank you to all my fans for their loyalty and support, which I was happy to receive during those 20 years and also since my comeback.
"Talking about the sporting side prior to Spa, we are all returning from the summer break with fresh motivation and energy, and will try to set an exclamation mark at the Belgian Grand Prix."