Formula One

Belgian GP Track Layout, Turns and DRS Zones Analysed

From one of the slowest to one of the fastest tracks in the calendar. F1 heads straight from the Hungaroring to Spa-Francorchamps for this weekend’s Grand Prix. Here is everything you need to know about the Belgian GP layout. While you are at it, take a look at the F1 predictions and the odds for the weekend.

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The start of the race. 28.08.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 14, Belgian Grand Prix, Spa Francorchamps, Belgium, Race Day. –, EMail: [email protected] © Copyright: Moy / XPB Images – Photo by Icon sport

Belgian GP Layout: The Drivers’ and Fans’ Favorite

Ask the drivers around the grid about their favorite F1 track, and odds are you will probably get the same answer 20 times: Spa Francorchamps. The legendary Belgian GP layout is a favorite among drivers and fans. Combining fast and extremely challenging corners, Spa is a breath of fresh air in the schedule.

The lap starts down the short main straight, which is immediately followed by La Source – the slowest corner on the track. A tight, 180-degree right-hander, the first turn often sees plenty of contact and the occasional crash.

Exiting La Source, the drivers head down a long straight before preparing for arguably the most famous corners in the world. While turns 2 through 4 are often referred to as Eau Rouge, that is actually a misconception: Eau Rouge is the name of the short dip to the right that leads to the legendary uphill esses, named after the valley where the corner is located. The esses themselves are actually called Raidillon.

From Raidillon, the cars continue flat out down the long Kemmel Straight, braking hard for Les Combes. This is arguably the best overtaking spot in Spa, thanks to the massive tow down Kemmel Straight. From Les Combes, the cars take Malmedy, a short right-hander, flat out, before braking for the wide radius left-hander Rivage.

The downhill descent starts now. From Rivage, a short straight leads to Speaker’s Corner, a quick left-hander. Almost flat out, the cars go through Pouhon – two blindingly quick left-handers in quick succession. This leads to Fagnes, a medium speed right-left complex. Exiting Fagnes, drivers just tap the brakes to take the famous Stavelot, an extremely technical medium speed right-hander. Getting a good exit out of Stavelot is crucial, as drivers will go the next 15 to 18 seconds without lifting.

Exiting Stavelot, the cars go through Curve Paul Frere, a quick right-hander named after the 1960 Le Mans winner. Then comes Blanchimont, the double left-hander complex taken at speeds exceeding 300 km/h. After Blanchimont comes another short straight that leads to the Bus Stop chicane. The cars slam the brakes to take the final two corners, heading back into the front straight to complete a lap around Spa-Francorchamps.

Spa-Francorchamps Circuit DRS Zones: A Big Advantage for the Chasing Car

Spa has two DRS zones. The second one is located on the main straight, and is a fairly short one. It does give drivers a chance to overtake into La Source, though.

The first DRS zone, on the other hand, is huge: although drivers only gain access to the overtaking assist in the middle of Kemmel Straight, it creates a massive slingshot effect when combined with the tow from the cars – or cars – ahead. In other words, being the chasing car down Kemmel is often a major advantage.

The detection spot for the first zone is located in the middle of the front straight. For the second DRS zone, the detection point is located on the Bus Stop’s entrance.

Spa-Francorchamps Racing History

1950Giuseppe FarinaJuan Manuel Fangio
1951Juan Manuel FangioGiuseppe Farina
1952Alberto AscariAlberto Ascari
1953Juan Manuel FangioAlberto Ascari
1954Juan Manuel FangioJuan Manuel Fangio
1955Eugenio CastellottiJuan Manuel Fangio
1956Juan Manuel FangioPeter Collins
1958Mike HawthornTony Brooks
1960Jack BrabhamJack Brabham
1961Phil HillPhil Hill
1962Graham HillJim Clark
1963Graham HillJim Clark
1964Dan GurneyJim Clark
1965Graham HillJim Clark
1966John SurteesJohn Surtees
1967Jim ClarkDan Gurney
1968Chris AmonBruce McLaren
1970Jackie StewartPedro Rodriguez
1983Alain ProstAlain Prost
1985Alain ProstAyrton Senna
1986Nelson PiquetNigel Mansell
1987Nigel MansellAlain Prost
1988Ayrton SennaAyrton Senna
1989Ayrton SennaAyrton Senna
1990Ayrton SennaAyrton Senna
1991Ayrton SennaAyrton Senna
1992Nigel MansellMichael Schumacher
1993Alain ProstDamon Hill
1994Rubens BarrichelloDamon Hill
1995Gerhard BergerMichael Schumacher
1996Jacques VilleneuveMichael Schumacher
1997Jacques VilleneuveMichael Schumacher
1998Mika HakkinenDamon Hill
1999Mika HakkinenDavid Coulthard
2000Mika HakkinenMika Hakkinen
2001Juan Pablo MontoyaMichael Schumacher
2002Michael SchumacherMichael Schumacher
2004Jarno TrulliKimi Raikkonen
2005Juan Pablo MontoyaKimi Raikkonen
2007Kimi RaikkonenKimi Raikkonen
2008Lewis HamiltonFelipe Massa
2009Giancarlo FisichellaKimi Raikkonen
2010Mark WebberLewis Hamilton
2011Sebastian VettelSebastian Vettel
2012Jenson ButtonJenson Button
2013Lewis HamiltonSebastian Vettel
2014Nico RosbergDaniel Ricciardo
2015Lewis HamiltonLewis Hamilton
2016Nico RosbergNico Rosberg
2017Lewis HamiltonLewis Hamilton
2018Lewis HamiltonSebastian Vettel
2019Charles LeclercCharles Leclerc
2020Lewis HamiltonLewis Hamilton
2021Max VerstappenMax Verstappen
2022Carlos Sainz Jr.Max Verstappen

Spa-Francorchamps was part of the F1 schedule from the very beginning. The series ran on the famous 14 km original layout until 1970 before taking a 13-year break. F1 returned to Spa in 1983, now on the new, shortened layout.

The current Belgian Grand Prix layout has seen plenty of famous moments. The 1991 race saw the debut of a promising young German talent: a certain Michael Schumacher, who was drafted in from Sauber-Mercedes’ entry in the World Sportscar Championship as an emergency replacement for the arrested Bertrand Gachot. A year later, Schumacher went on to score his first F1 win on the same track – the first of a record-setting six in Spa.

In 1998, a massive pile-up on a wet start saw David Coulthard trigger a 13-car crash. On the second start, with over half the field running on spare chassis, Schumacher took the lead and looked set for another win. But Coulthard once again was involved in controversy: while being lapped, the Scot slowed down to allow Schumacher by, but failed to move away from the line. Unsighted, Schumacher hit the back of Coulthard’s car, retiring on the spot before famously going after the Scot driver in the McLaren boxes. In the end, Damon Hill took advantage and led home a shock 1-2 for Jordan, securing the Irish team’s first ever win in F1.

Six years later, a second place finish was enough for Schumacher to secure his historic seventh world championship.

Last year, Verstappen was the fastest in qualifying, but started down in 14th after picking up multiple engine penalties. It wasn’t enough to deter him, however, and the Dutchman quickly climbed up the order to win.

What Lies Ahead for 2023

Just like most downforce-dependent tracks, Spa should heavily favor Red Bull. The RB19 excels at high speed corners and long straights, which Spa-Francorchamps has in spades. McLaren could also benefit from the Belgian GP layout’s high speed nature.

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