Rémi Taffin, Renault Sport F1 head of track operations:
Straight after the summer break we go to the hardest track of them all, Spa-Francorchamps: a circuit that gives us the ‘most’ of everything. It’s the longest, potentially the most changeable weather conditions, but from an engineer’s perspective it’s the most enjoyable as it’s so much of a challenge.
A massive 70% of the 7km track is spent flat out, equating to almost 5.5km, or the length of a standard F1 circuit. Over one lap the engine will have a total wide open throttle time of over 75secs, making it an incredible test for engines. Outright power and top speed are therefore crucial and any gains will be twice as effective in reducing lap time compared to a less power sensitive track such as Monaco. As a result, almost all our partners will use fresh engines for this race to give as much power advantage as possible.
Even though Monza sees the RS27 at full throttle for a longer time, it is the combination of this wide open throttle with the compressions and steep gradients that gives such an awesome workout. Having the right balance between reliability and top end power is always a juggling act so, for these reasons it’s one of the circuits we use as a control circuit. In fact the Energy F1-2014 Power Unit is being put through its paces at Spa as we speak.
Getting the mapping right, while also allowing enough flexibility to deal with the changeable weather is a further challenge. With the track being so long it’s not unusual for it to be raining in one area but dry in another so we try to give as much flexibility as possible without compromising that top end power and acceleration.
With the amount of work that goes in, more than double than any other circuit, winning at this track is just as rewarding as Monza – the ultimate test for an engine manufacturer.