2022 AM Wings_Mono Negative

Mike on... the Belgian Grand Prix

Rain, go-karts, fries! Team Principal Mike Krack has had the full Spa-Francorchamps experience, but what does he want from a Belgian Grand Prix Sprint weekend?

Mike Krack

There's something magical about a misty morning at Spa-Francorchamps. Huge crowds come to this corner of the Ardennes, no matter the weather, to see a Grand Prix on one of the truly great circuits. But this isn't a historic monument, it's a living, breathing monster of a racing circuit – a 'rollercoaster' according to Team Principal Mike Krack, who first came here as a child and caught a double dose of the racing bug.

He's got a few memories to recount about that but also plenty to say about the here and now: a good response from the team after a tough Sunday in Budapest, the demands of a tricky Sprint weekend heading into the summer break and the need for everybody to go away from here and put their feet up.

Join I / AM to get MIke's series straight to your inbox as soon as it's available.

This is Mike on…

Gearing up for Belgium

"The races at this point in the season are coming along rapidly, and there's not much time to pause. While our garage crew headed straight from the Hungaroring to Spa-Francorchamps, engineers went back to the factory for 48 hours of analysis, analysis, and more analysis. It's been intense – but the reaction has been excellent. Strong, positive intent from everyone in the team. In previous years, coming away from a race with both cars in the points would have been a good weekend. Now, we think we can do better.

"From the moment the chequered flag fell in Budapest, the collective effort between technical, race team, performance and operations, combined with all the supporting functions, has been exemplary. Lance and Fernando were actively involved in all the discussions, providing their feedback, helping to find solutions. I'm really happy with the way it went. There was zero finger-pointing. From the moment we left the track it was: 'OK, what are we going to do for Spa?'"

The response

"I was quite vocal last Sunday, saying we have to face reality – but I think everyone knew that. We have lost ground to the top cars, but the reaction has been positive. The upshot of our initial discussions was a huge effort to rework some parts for Spa. Nobody said it couldn't be done, no-one said we shouldn't attempt it.

"It's not going to solve all our problems overnight, and I'd be lying if I said we had time to completely understand everything – but we made good progress. From Budapest we described the problem, work was done in the wind tunnel, and solutions were found. We had reconfigured floors and some other parts arriving in Spa late on Thursday night, and the crews worked through the night to have them fitted in time for FP1."

Mike on belgium mechanic image

Risk and reward

"A Sprint weekend is never the easiest time to do something like this, because with just one practice session before you're locked into your final specification, you can't do the sort of floor-on, floor-off testing that you would like – but we need to learn as much as we can in this period before the shutdown.

"We have an upgrade scheduled for Zandvoort, but we can't wait until Zandvoort to take steps – maybe we can learn something here that will help us when we get to the Netherlands. That means running these parts here but in a sensible spec. There are a lot of points available this weekend, and we can't be reckless in the pursuit of learning."

Maximising the potential

"There's a difference between what we do from a design point of view, and what we do operationally. Trackside, we have to maximise what we have. As I've said before, Sprint weekends are not the time to take operational risks – because normally it just doesn't work. The car will have the performance it has, and our job at the track is to execute our plans well.

"Once the car is locked into its final spec for Qualifying, we're not going to change the basic level of performance – that's a job for the team back at base. I've been saying what I always say: don't try to be super-clever; don't attempt to overcompensate for any deficiencies or find performance that the car does not have. I'm a firm believer in the notion that if we have perfect execution, make no mistakes in the garage, no mistakes in pitstops, minimise errors, then we will do well."

Bringing a raincoat

"The weather isn't great this weekend, but it reminds me of my childhood. It really brings back memories. I saw my first Grand Prix here. My father raced here – before I was born – and when I was a child, we'd always bring the camper van to Spa and the Nürburgring for the Grand Prix, for 24-hour races and so on. I have very fond memories of watching BMWs, Volvos, Prost and my big hero Senna.

"In my memory, it is usually cold and wet! I remember my father being keen to go home, and me saying, 'Let's watch one more lap, one more lap, one lap and so on…' I loved being here, though I was also very fond of stopping at a friterie on the way out. I just assumed the fries were a mandatory part of the Spa experience! I will push our Performance Director Tom McCullough and Sporting Director Andy Stevenson to make a pitstop at a friterie this weekend."

Mike on belgium rain coat

The rollercoaster ride

"Spa is a great place to watch a race – even if you do need an umbrella. It's a rollercoaster. When you walk down into the track and then look up at the huge wall that is Raidillon, it's mesmerising. Magical. I always used the tunnels and bridges to walk the whole lap, discovering things like the karting circuit in the infield. I've raced there a few times since and have lots of good memories. Don't think I was anywhere near good enough to be giving any tips to Lance or Fernando though!"

The shutdown

"It's Fernando's birthday this weekend, though I think he's more like 22 than 42, and we'll try to make it a special day. We also had a get-together on Thursday night, to thank everyone for their hard work in the first half of this year.

"I think the shutdown is a good thing. It's good to reset. Everyone has worked very hard and you can see a little bit of fatigue creeping in. On the other hand, we're all racers and we want to be at racetracks. We're excited to go to Zandvoort, fit more upgrades, and keep pushing – we could do that right after Spa – but I think there are limits. People burn out if they don't take a break. You want everyone to go away, have some rest, spend time with their families and come back ready to attack. That's definitely what I'm going to be doing. And I hope you, our fans, have a good break as well."

You. Us. Together.

I / AM membership

The ultimate fan experience.

Get closer to the team with unparalleled access, behind-the-scenes insights and once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and enjoy exclusive competitions, rewards, offers and more.

I / AM banner