Belgium Grand Prix Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps

Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, home to the Belgium Grand Prix will be the first race after the Formula One summer break marking Round 13 of the 2010 Formula One World Championship.

One of the grand old circuits of the Formula One Calendar Spa-Francorchamps or Spa as it commonly known has seen several configurations since its inception way back in 1922. The track was originally 15 km (9.3 mi) long, but after World War II, the track had some changes. The uphill U-turn right after the famous Eau Rouge corner called “Virage de Ancienne Douane” was eliminated and cut short, thus giving birth to the Radillon uphill sweeping corner. The sudden right-hander at Malmedy was eliminated and bypassed, and was made part of the Masta Straight. The slight right-hander that was originally Holowell (the corner before Stavelot after the second Masta Straight) was eliminated. And finally, instead of going through a slight left-hander that went into the town of Stavelot and a sharp right-hander at a road junction in Stavelot, a shortcut was built that became a very fast, very wide right-handed turn that bypassed Stavelot.

All these changes made the final configuration of the old Spa circuit 14 km (8.7 mi) long. All these changes made Spa the fastest open road circuit in the world, and in the final years of the old circuit, drivers could average 150+ mph (245 km/h) on the circuit, but Spa gained a reputation as being an extremely dangerous circuit after many several fatalities and many serious accidents eventually causing the F1 drivers to boycott the circuit until circuit safety was improved which in turn eventually caused the biggest change, with the circuit being shortened from 14 km (8.7 miles) to 7 km (4.35 miles) in 1979.

In this new configuration the original start/finish line, was moved from the downhill straight before Eau Rouge, to the straight before the La Source hairpin. Even though the new circuit is much safer the new layout still retains the fast and hilly nature of the old circuit. Winding its way through the Ardennes forest where speeds in excess of 330 km/h (205 mph) can be reached.

Another of the unique aspects of Spa has nothing to do with the circuit layout – the weather. Which because of the circuits location is famously unpredictable weather where drivers can frequently be confronted with one part of the course being dry while another stretch is rainy and slippery.

The Spa circuit is famous for two of the fastest and difficult corners of any Formula one circuit Eau Roughe and Blanchemont, both of these corners need to be taken flat out to achieve a fast lap and probably demonstrates the importance of driver skill more than any other circuit in the world.

Even with the FIA rule changes to reduce grip and down-force, the best modern Formula One Cars typically have no problem taking these corners flat out, however that may not be the case for this years new teams who’s cars have nowhere near the down-force of the more established teams at the front of the grid.

CIRCUIT DATA

Length of lap: 4.352 Miles (7.004km)
Lap record : 1:19.071 (Michael Schumacher, Ferrari )
Number of Turns: 19 (9 RH, 10 LH)
Number of race laps: 44
Total race distance: 190.41 Miles (308.05km)
Pitlane speed limits: 60km/h during practice sessions; 100km/h during qualifying and race

Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps Layout

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