Hitting the Apex: Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps

It’s Belgium Race Week! Read on for everything you need to know about the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.

Written by Mees Drijgers

July 28, 2023

The Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, often referred to as Spa, is a racing circuit located in the municipality of Stavelot, Belgium, near the town of Francorchamps. The original track was built in 1921 in the shape of a triangle. It was designed by Jules de Thier and Henri Langlois van Ophem, and it used the public roads between the towns of Francorchamps, Malmedy and Stavelot to create a motorsport circuit that was nearly 15 kilometres long.

Photo via @mercedesamgf1 on Instagram

The track hosted its first-ever Grand Prix in 1925 and joined the F1 calendar in 1950. During the 1970s, the Belgian Grand Prix moved to tracks such as Zolder and Nivelles due to the growing concerns regarding driver safety at Spa-Francorchamps. In 1979, the track was redeveloped, shortening it to a 7 kilometres track and allowing its return to the F1 calendar in 1983. Nowadays, the track also hosts the 24 Hours of Spa and the World Endurance Championship 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.

Photo via @astonmartinf1 on Instagram

Spa has also been the site of recent fatal accidents in Junior formulae, namely F2’s Anthoine Hubert in 2019 and FRECA’s Dilano Van ‘t Hoff in 2023. The FIA has been making strides to make the track safer for drivers in light of these crashes and changes like the addition of extra run-off at the Eau Rouge/Raidillon part of the track, modification of gravel traps, and resurfacing of the track. Drivers and fans alike have been vocal about concerns over safety because while Spa is a historic track, the case for the safest possible circumstances for the drivers is paramount.

 

GENERAL INFORMATION

  • Track distance: 7.004 km / 4.352 miles

  • DRS zones: 2

  • Corners: 19

  • Elevation: 102.2 metres

  • Laps: 44

  • Race lap record: 1:46.286 Valtteri Bottas (2018)

  • Direction: clockwise

According to F1.com, Spa-Francorchamps configuration for this year is as follows:

 

PREVIOUS TYRE COMPOUNDS

  • Selected compounds in 2022: C4 (soft) C3 (medium) C2 (hard)

  • Selected compounds in 2021: C4 (soft) C3 (medium) C2 (hard)

The most successful driver at the track is Michael Schumacher, who recorded 6 wins at the circuit. The pole position record belongs to Lewis Hamilton, who has scored 6 pole positions at Spa. Ferrari is the most successful constructor, with 14 victories.

Photo via @alpinef1team on Instagram

Due to its fast, twisty and hilly nature, Spa-Francorchamps is one of the most challenging tracks to drive. Despite this, it is still an all-time favorite among F1 drivers, with its long straights and fast corners allowing them to push the car to its limits. It is also the longest circuit on the F1 calendar. Due to its length and the nature of the Belgian weather, it can be raining at one part of the track and completely dry at the other, which results in varying levels of grip across the circuit. Spa-Francorchamps features some of the most well-known corners on the whole calendar, such as Eau Rouge, Raidillon, Kemmel, and Les Combes.

PREVIOUS WINNERS

  • 2022 Max Verstappen

  • 2021 Max Verstappen

  • 2020 Lewis Hamilton

  • 2019 Charles Leclerc

  • 2018 Sebastian Vettel

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mees was introduced to the world of F1 by one of her friends in July 2020 and hasn’t missed a race weekend since. Her favourite drivers are Alex Albon, Lewis Hamilton, Oscar Piastri, and George Russell; outside of F1, she also actively supports Liam Lawson and Callum Ilott. She specialises in writing about F2, but is looking to specialise in FE and IndyCar as well, after starting to watch both series in 2022. After getting her Bachelor’s degree in English Language and Culture, she is currently getting MA degrees in Translation and English Literature & Culture. When she’s not watching motorsport, she’s either watching football matches (preferably Real Madrid), reading a book, or watching streams on Twitch.

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