F1 Winter Break
New Jules Bianchi column: The joy of Spa and Monza, two “classic” circuits
Jules Bianchi
Posted By: James Allen  |  10 Sep 2014   |  11:27 am GMT  |  23 comments

Jules Bianchi has teamed up with JA on F1 to bring readers closer to the sport, as seen through the eyes of one of the best young driving talents coming through today.

Jules has been a driver with the Marussia F1 Team for a year and a half, and is a member of the Ferrari Young Driver Academy.


Jules Bianchi writes: “One of the most popular questions we drivers are asked is ‘What is your favourite track?’ and I’m willing to bet that if you did a referendum of current F1 drivers the winner would be Spa! Also for me it is the track that I like the most, together with Suzuka.

“Why? It is not just the pleasure of driving on a fast, challenging track, with corners that can really stir your emotions, but also the atmosphere that I can feel every time I’m racing there. It’s something special; not easy to describe in words. But I will try!


“The warmth of the fans is part of it; you feel it in other places too – for example in Melbourne and Montreal, where there is a great passion for Formula 1 – but at Spa you can actually ‘feel’ the history, in my case I feel it as a chill on my skin – it is like you can sense that on this track some unforgettable moments have occurred.

“I thought, maybe, to help you to understand more what it means to drive at Spa, you could watch this video I found on YouTube of my uncle Lucien, who takes you around the track in 1962 in a sportscar. That year he also ran in the Belgian Grand Prix with a Lotus-Climax: The track has changed since then [shortened] but I think the pleasure of driving there has remained unchanged!

“It’s a little bit the same thing in Monza, the so-called ‘Temple of Speed’. Although the track in theory is not really that challenging for the driver, unlike Spa or Suzuka, the emotion of pushing the engine to the limit for long periods of time, as you do on a lap of Monza, is priceless.

“From the driving point of view, perhaps one of the most difficult things at Monza is trying to find the exact point at which to brake, given the speed at which you arrive at the chicane, particularly the one at the end of the main straight is very high (350km/h). We are travelling at around 100 metres every second so if you brake a fraction of a second too early you lose a lot of time, but if you brake too late you lock up the tyres or you can easily go off the track. There is no margin for error.

“And this year, with a lot less downforce on the cars, so less grip than last year, it was really not easy to do.



“There is another thing that makes this race unique: the passion of the fans, the tifosi, which in Italy reaches unbelievable levels. And I must say that this year I actually felt more than in the past. It’s probably because for the first time I was running with a Ferrari engine, maybe also because of my origins, maybe also because they now see me as part of the “family” of Maranello. But this week I received lots of great messages of support from the fans and I want to thank them very much.

Jules Bianchi

“It was special to race in Formula 1 at Monza with a power unit built at Maranello. But, you know, my dream is to one day be able to do it with an all red car.. in the meantime I made do with just a part of it!

“All this being said, it was really a shame that the results of these two races, kicking off the second part of the championship, were very disappointing. At Spa I had a fantastic qualifying session, getting into the Q2 session for the third time this year. But the puncture from contact with Grosjean, coming out of the Source, ruined my race. At Monza we knew we were in trouble, but we did not perhaps expect so much.

“It’s really annoying because I arrived in Belgium with such a strong desire to drive after the summer break. I took advantage of the ‘shutdown’ in F1 to recharge my batteries: no Internet, no phone, no email, just relax and have fun, at least in the first week.

“Then at the end of the break I spent a few days in the mountains to do some physical preparation for the next few months will be very stressful; we have lots of races and they are all long-haul, outside Europe.

Nicolas Todt and Jules Bianchi

“These will also be important weeks for my future, but I am very concentrated on the present. I’m used to not knowing what will happen the next year right up to the last moment, so it’s pointless getting distracted by these thoughts.

:And in any case, there’s my manager and friend Nicolas, who is working on it: he knows what to do!”


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Forza Jules


Just hoping he’s safe right now.. Fingers crossed


Thank you so much to Jules and James for this – it’s such a lovely and personal read. I’ve been a fan of Jules for a few years now and I can’t wait to read more throughout the rest of the season! Given the current controversy over the changes to radio and pitboard regulations, I’d also really like to hear the opinion of a young driver on these changes?


Bonjour Jules !

Les français sont avec toi !! et j’espère que tu prendras la suite d’Olivier Panis (et aussi pourquoi pas à Monaco puisqu’il semble que ce circuit te convienne bien)

Glad to see young drivers still are passionnate about F1 and “real” race tracks. I hope Jules will land a good car sooner than later. I am not sure a Sauber drive is ideal but he has proven his quality at Marussia, it’s about time to move on (up actually). A 3rd Ferrari would be great for him.

If not then Marussia is better than reserve driver


I would love to have seen the old Spa and Monza circuits at their peak, like in the Grand Prix movie when they were thrilling.

Still great tracks,just more quaint these days.


Thanks a lot James & Jules for this note book. Jules deserve a better car for next year. I hope that Nico Todt and FDA will work well to allow him to reach Sauber or who knows?…Scuderia Ferrari if Alonso leaves. Mattiaci said that Ferrari have to take risks


Thanks Jules. I enjoy watching you race, and look forward to seeing you move up the grid with a better car…..preferably a red one 😉


The video bit is great. Very nice of Jules to share this with us. I enjoyed the description of his sense of history toward Spa and Monza. If it comes to that and next year Ferrari has to field a third car, I hope Jules will be a contender to that seat. Looking forward to your next insight. Marc


Not sure about Ferrari fielding a third car, but if they do then Bianchi will be in there – guaranteed 🙂


The fun titbit of the day is that the Fiat Board,which owns Ferrari, decided last week that it is to become a London based company with an HQ in Amsterdam.

So is Ferrari now an English brand by proxy?


No, It’s Dutch now obviously. Max Verstappen will probably be in a Ferrari within a year or two 😉


Great column, it’s very nice to be able to read something like this from current drivers. I especially like how he included a video. Hope we see him in a Ferrari one day.

His signature is actually rather like a racetrack.


Love the video of uncle lucien. Great thing to have in the familly photo album!


yes safety, or lack of it, is amazing. not just the cars themselves, and the houses and telephone poles, but also the racing “suit”- street clothes.

But most amazing was the VW coming down Eau Rouge the wrong way, and then later passing what looked like a Ford station wagon, and a Chevy Suburban, out on the course!! you don’t see that in Friday practice these days-


Didn’t even see the VW Bug! Great example of “selective attention”. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJG698U2Mvo for the classic case.


Likewise re the video — although I don’t speak French you could hear him giving shout outs to the various corners (same names as today). But seeing the houses right beside the “track” is pretty horrifying from today’s safety point of view.


Bianchi is a superb driver, but his signature is dreadful! At least he drives better than he signs autographs……………

Good little insight, but I suspect he (and all the other drivers) are doing their high humidity training to cope with the debilitating moisture and mugginess of the Equatorial Singapore Jungle heat. I wonder if the drivers get locked in a sauna for a few hours with their full racing kit on………………perhaps Mr Bianchi can shed more light on this later!

Having been to the Eden Project in South Cornwall, when the biome’s were turned upto around 30 C and 85% humidity (which is what the Singapore race is usually held in) and only been able to last around 20 minutes before I had to go outside, my admiration and respect for all the drivers fitness went up several levels…………..

As Bianchi himself says, the “fly away” races remaining are all very stressful, and draining, so all that fitness training now starts to pay dividends. Modern grand prix drivers are true athletes, and Bianchi is one of the best of the lot.


I have no idea how he gets three “3”s out of his name, but I like his signature – it’s nice and simple, which would have to be an advantage when you have to quickly sign your name a couple hundred times 😉


LOL………..oh, the autograph/s, the bane of the modern day grand prix driver!


PS As Bianchi is “sponsored” by Ferrari, I wonder if his car gets a “works” engine rather than a “customer” engine?

I’ve always been intrigued by the relationship and differences between engine suppliers and customer teams, in so far is it as simple as the “works” teams (to use a curry analogy) get the “full vindaloo” engines while the customer teams get the “milder korma” engines?


I hope bianchi makes it to ferrari one day.

talking about the best, button says hamilton is alright.



BTW::: the inclusion of Lucien Bianchi video from YouTube was fantastic! Really adds to the authenticity of another interesting column by Jules, to know that he found that for us and made sure to include it.

Forza, Bianchi!! Bocca al Lupo!!

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