Belgium is a country known for its love of motorsports, with a rich history of racing dating back to the early 20th century. One of the most famous racetracks in Belgium, and indeed the world, is the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. Located in the heart of the Ardennes forest in the Walloon region of Belgium, the circuit is known for its fast and challenging layout that has provided countless exciting races throughout the years.
The origins of the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps date back to the early 1920s when a group of local businessmen decided to create a racing circuit in the town of Spa. The first track was built in 1921, and it was a 14.9-kilometer (9.3 miles) long road course that included public roads and some newly constructed sections.
The original layout of the Spa circuit included some of the most iconic corners in motorsports, such as the Eau Rouge and Raidillon complex, Les Combes, Blanchimont, and Stavelot. These corners quickly became famous among drivers for their challenging nature and high speeds, and the circuit soon became one of the most prestigious and dangerous racetracks in the world.
Over the years, the circuit went through several modifications to improve safety and reduce the lap times, with several chicanes added to slow down the cars and make the track more manageable. In 1979, the circuit was shortened to its current length of 7.004 kilometers (4.352 miles) to meet the safety standards required by the FIA for hosting Formula One races.
The current layout of Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps is a mix of fast straights, sweeping corners, and tight chicanes that test the skills and courage of even the most experienced drivers. The track is known for its high-speed corners, including the famous Eau Rouge and Raidillon complex, which is a steep uphill section that requires the driver to take a blind turn at high speeds.
The layout of Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps also includes several challenging corners, such as La Source, Les Combes, Blanchimont, and Stavelot. These corners require the driver to brake hard and then accelerate quickly, making the track a true test of a driver’s skills.
One of the unique features of the Spa circuit is its elevation changes, with several uphill and downhill sections that add to the challenge and excitement of racing at the track. The track also features a long straight, known as the Kemmel Straight, where cars can reach speeds of over 300 kilometers per hour (186 miles per hour) before braking hard for the Les Combes chicane.
A map of Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps is a useful tool for understanding the layout of the track and the location of its famous corners and chicanes. The circuit is located near the town of Francorchamps, and the track itself is situated in the middle of the Ardennes forest, with several natural features incorporated into the layout.
The circuit starts with the La Source hairpin, which leads to a short straight before entering the famous Eau Rouge and Raidillon complex. After a short straight, the drivers face the Les Combes chicane, which leads to the fast left-hand corner of Malmedy and the sweeping right-hander of Rivage.
The track then leads to the fast Blanchimont corner, which is followed by a short straight and the tight Bus Stop chicane that leads back to the start/finish straight.
The turns at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps have become iconic among fans of motorsports. Some of the most famous turns at the track include:
1. La Source – This hairpin turn marks the start of the lap and requires drivers to brake hard and then accelerate quickly.
2. Eau Rouge – This is one of the most famous corners in motorsports and features a steep uphill section that leads to a blind turn at the top. Drivers take the turn at high speeds, making it a true test of their skills.
3. Raidillon – This is the second part of the Eau Rouge complex and features a steep downhill section that leads to a sweeping left-hander.
4. Les Combes – This chicane requires drivers to brake hard and then navigate a tight left-right sequence before accelerating out of the corner.
5. Blanchimont – This high-speed corner is taken at over 300 kilometers per hour (186 miles per hour) and requires drivers to have complete trust in their cars and their skills.
6. Bus Stop Chicane – This is the final chicane on the track and requires drivers to slow down significantly before navigating a left-right sequence that leads to the start/finish straight.
The Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps is not only known for hosting the Formula One Belgian Grand Prix but also for hosting one of the most prestigious endurance races in the world – the 24 Hours of Spa. The Spa 24h is an endurance race for GT3 cars that takes place annually at the track, attracting some of the best GT drivers from around the world.
The layout of the track for the Spa 24h is slightly different from the layout used for the Formula One race. The main difference is the addition of a chicane before the Blanchimont corner, which is designed to slow down the cars and make the track safer for the GT3 cars.
The Spa 24h layout still includes many of the iconic corners and chicanes of the track, such as La Source, Eau Rouge, Les Combes, and the Bus Stop chicane. The race is a true test of endurance for both drivers and cars, with teams having to complete as many laps as possible in 24 hours.
The Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps is a favorite among Formula One drivers and fans, with the track providing some of the most exciting and challenging races on the calendar. The F1 race at Spa is usually held in late August or early September, and it is known for its unpredictable weather, with rain often playing a role in the race’s outcome.
The F1 Spa track is the same as the one used for the Spa 24h, with the addition of a DRS (Drag Reduction System) zone on the Kemmel Straight to aid overtaking. The track’s fast and flowing nature, combined with its challenging corners, makes it a favorite among drivers who relish the opportunity to push themselves and their cars to the limit.