It’s one of the most historic events on the calendar, at the ultimate racer’s track. Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps testing the world’s finest drivers with a flat-out blast through the Ardennes forest.
…where the elite have raced since 1925, a quarter of a century before F1.
Its modern layout featuring iconic curves like - Eau Rouge, Radillion, and Les Combes that put a racing car through its paces, especially in the wet.
And while the Belgian Grand Prix has been held at Spa alone since 1985, 51 times all-up as a round of the F1 World Championship…rivals Nivelles and Zolder have both hosted on multiple occasions.
Over the years at Spa, there’s been plenty of high-drama. 1998 the most exciting, with a 13-car pile-up at the exit of La Source on the opening lap after McLaren’s David Coulthard speared into a barrier.
Jordan taking a maiden win, Damon Hill leading home Ralf Schumacher for an historic one-two result.
SOUNDBITE (English) EDDIE JORDAN,
JORDAN GRAND PRIX, 1991-2005:
“The pressure now is to stay where we are, but you can never take the results of Spa away from us.”
Then in 2014, the beginning of a war at Mercedes between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, the pair dicing for the lead on lap two - with Rosberg botching a pass at Les Combes.
The German sheared his front wing on Hamilton’s left rear tyre causing a puncture and forcing the Brit to retire, for which Rosberg was firmly taken to task by Mercedes management.
SOUNDBITE (English) NICO ROSBERG,
"Definitely one of the more difficult video blogs today with the Spa race. I have been told what Lewis said in the press, the way he has stated his version of events. All I can say is my view of the events is very different.”
Of course, last year’s race saw the first true test of the halo - with 2-time F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso launched over the top of Charles Leclerc… while further down the road, the leaders went four-wide on the approach to Les Combes. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel taking his 52nd and last win to-date.
Michael Schumacher, however, remains the king of Spa with six victories, one ahead of Ayrton Senna. Kimi Räikkönen tops the current racers with four, Hamilton and Vettel on three.
For Schumi, Spa has always been his “living room,” where he began his career in 1991, earned his seventh crown, as the only driver to clinch the title there, and started his 300th race.
SOUNDBITE (English) MICHAEL SCHUMACHER,
7-TIME F1 WORLD CHAMPION:
“In my whole history, everything comes back to Spa where everything started - and where lots of great stories happened, the emotion of the track, [and] the combination of history is the reason that Spa became my living room.”
Located 40 minutes from the nearest city of Liège, the legendary 7.004-kilometre track features 19 turns, 10 left, and nine right, and a top speed of 320 kilometres an hour. Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas reset the lap record last year. While there are two DRS activation zones: one on the Kemmel straight, the other on the pit straight. There are two DRS detection points, one on the run to Eau Rouge, the second before the Bus Stop chicane.
Historic, fearsome and fast with changeable weather conditions, it’s time for the Belgian Grand Prix.