THE 2016 FORMULA 1™ BELGIAN GRAND PRIX

After a year absence, the Belgian Grand Prix has returned to the spectacular and historic Spa Francorchamps Formula 1 circuit. This circuit is well loved by the teams and drivers, and renowned for letting a driver’s skills make some difference – particularly through the renowned Eau Rouge corner. The original circuit at Spa was a 14.1 Km road course linking the villages of Malmedy, Stavelot and Francorchamps in the Ardennes Forest. It crossed two valleys and it was not unusual for half the circuit to be wet while the other half, in the neighbouring valley, to be dry.

The original circuit was unbelievably dangerous for both drivers and spectators. On the 12th of June 1966, Formula One changed forever. BRM teammates Jackie Stewart and Graham Hill, along with American privateer Bob Bondurant, aquaplaned on the first lap at the Masta Kink of the old Spa Francorchamps Formula 1 circuit. After hitting a telegraph pole and a woodcutter’s shed, Stewart ended up trapped by the steering column of his BRM for 25 excruciating minutes. Although seven cars were off the circuit, the red flag was not waved. Stewart had internal injuries, several broken bones and was soaked with fuel. Hill and Bondurant had to borrow tools from a spectator to remove the steering wheel. Hours passed – Stewart’s medical treatment was farcical with the ambulance driver getting lost. Stewart then led a crusade to improve circuit and car safety, which led Formula One out of the insanity of the dead-or-glory era. Gradually Formula One adopted the safety equipment we now take for granted, including safety belts and quick-release steering wheels.

The modern Spa circuit was reopened in 1979 and, fortunately a lot safer but it retained the best sector of the original circuit including La Source, Eau Rouge and the Raidillon with a magnificent new section added between Les Combes and Stavelot that bypassed the Masta straight.

SPA FRANCHORCHAMPS CIRCUIT INFORMATION

General

At 6.968 Km, Spa-Francorchamps is the longest active Grand Prix circuit and it is the third fastest on the F1 calendar.

Spa-Francorchamps is one of the world’s most fascinating circuits. Eau Rouge, Blanchimont, La Source – these names accelerate the heartbeat of motor racing fans and racers alike and is a fascinating circuit in every respect. It is a combination of different types of circuits, it is situated amidst a fantastic landscape and, on top of that, it has a long and exciting tradition. The changes between extremely fast and very slow stretches are unique.

This circuit is well loved by the teams and drivers, and renowned for letting a driver’s skills make some difference – particularly through the renowned Eau Rouge. The size of the circuit, with a variety of corners and straights over undulating ground ensure that finding the perfect setup is nearly impossible. Overtaking is possible, particularly as tyres wear, and there is often rain at one end of the circuit whilst the other is dry. Accurate weather predictions are rare.

What the drivers say

In the hills and forests of Belgium, the Spa-Francorchamps circuit winds up and down through fast and slow curves to present the greatest challenge to the drivers, and for the teams the requirements in setting up the car also provides a challenge.

As a result of the high speed sections the teams are obliged to run only medium downforce, while the mechanical grip comes from softened suspension with the longest wheel travel for any circuit. The car is loaded with aerodynamic forces, unloaded by centrifugal force as the cars crest the hills, and compressed once more as the car bottoms out through Eau Rouge. This also necessitate higher ground clearance to preserve the plank and skid block from illegal amounts of wear; this in turn reduces the efficiency of the diffuser and front wing, so more downforce has to be recovered by winding on more wing angle.

Important – most of all – is ‘Eau Rouge’. Here, the drivers have to take every km/h they can with them on the uphill climb, otherwise they will lose an enormous amount of lap time.

RACING PROGRAMME AND EVENT TIMETABLE

Although not yet finalised for 2016, we have included a provisional race timetable for the Formula One practice sessions, qualifying session and race times. The support races, which will be run over the weekend, will be the GP2 Championships, Porsche Supercup Cup and the Mini Cooper Challenge races. Time schedules for these support events are however not yet available.

FRIDAY
10h00 – 11h30 Formula One First Free Practice Session
14h00 – 15h30 Formula One Second Free Practice Session
SATURDAY
11h00 – 12h00 Formula 1 Third Practice Session
14h00 – 15h00 Formula 1 Qualifying Session
SUNDAY
12h00 Formula 1 Drivers Parade
13h30 Formula One Grid Presentation
14h00 Formula 1 Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix