Let’s just race 19 times at Spa Francorchamps

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As Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez gear up for this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, it offers a stark reality about current-day Formula 1 circuits.

I can’t take credit for it, it was Paul Charsley’s brother, Steve, who once told me that what makes Spa perfect is its imperfections. That’s the difference between today’s Tilke designed circuits and legends of F1 such as Spa and Monza. He was right…very right but then he, like Paul, is a really sharp guy and gets the plot.

Nico and Sergio get the plot too. So does every driver on the grid.

Nico on Spa

Nico: “Spa is a favourite for all the drivers. When I think of driving there it just makes me smile because it’s got so many special high-speed corners – the corners you want to experience in a Formula One car. You’ve also got the history of the place and the unpredictable weather which often helps spice up the racing. 

“We go there hoping to bounce back from a tough race in Hungary. The improvements we’ve made to the car will really help us in Spa, especially through the high-speed corners. The engine also plays a big part around the lap. We are competitive and I am confident we can start the second part of the season strongly.”

Sergio on Spa

Sergio: “Spa is an amazing track and I enjoy racing there. The first sector and the run through Eau Rouge feel very special in a Formula One car and it’s definitely a highlight of the year. The track can also produce really good racing because there are a few corners where you have a good chance to overtake.

“I think the characteristics of the track and its emphasis on power and top speed should suit our car. You also have to expect wet weather at some point during the weekend so it could be quite unpredictable. We have shown some good pace in the last few races and we should be in a position to get a good result.”

Its the natural hill angles of Eau Rogue and Pouhon, the high-speed corners and La Source. It’s the nearly five miles of exquisite driving. There isn’t a section at Spa that is boring or marginalized.

The length of the track makes strategy a real challenge and the the unique character and imperfect nature of its elevation changes and radius turns is simply amazing. It’s one of precious few real circuits left in F1.

It was originally designed in 1920 and for a terrific look at what it was back then, check out this vintage vault production from Shell.

It still is one of the “fastest and finest” motor racing circuits in Europe!

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mikewmartin

Doesn’t NASCAR run about 80 times a year on the same oval? I wouldn’t mind seeing F1 at Spa 19 times a year……well 18 and Monza:)

McSerb

Well, this is not NASCAR. Of course Spa is the best circuit, but in Formula 1 they drive on different circuits that suit different cars. Spa would always keep the same teams on top (bottom too) and the same refers to any other circuit if the whole championship were to be held on it. After the first 3-4 races nobody would come to watch. Yes, I know you were joking and so was I.

Negative Camber

Well, it was purely a rhetorical question to support my love of Spa. :)

runnah

I too love a nice Spa day.

Paul KieferJr

Lots of people would enjoy a nice day at Spa, but that usually involves massages, soaks in some small pool, manicures and/or pedicures and other beauty treatments, and that’s just not my thing. :-D

mikewmartin

And my response was to support mine:). Totally get it…..

Bematta

When the real F1 sound is back in the game again I will go there again, now it’s just lame no matter the track

peter riva

All with only mechanical grip… is it any wonder we preferred racing back then?

peter riva

And hey, 152 minutes!

peter riva

And check out the crowd – enough to make Bernie jealous! NO TV and thy were all there…

Paul KieferJr

“…..and we had to walk uphill both ways, in fourteen feet of snow, no snow shoes, and WEEEEEEEEEE liked it!” :-D

Paul KieferJr

Sorry, but you can’t run on just Spa. The true champion tests himself (or, herself, if we get to that point) on different types of tracks , and the best overall performance wins (and, yes, NASCAR has four different types: short tracks of a mile or less, medium mile-and-a-half, the superspeedways of 2 miles or more, and the two road courses, and even then, the cookie cutters aren’t as similar as you would think, but that’s beside the point).

runnah

Perhaps they should take the elements from Spa and incorporate them into the new tracks that are designed. Thing like elevation changes, off camber corners and double apexs all make for more exciting racing. Tracks like COTA are great but on the other hand places like Russia are just terrible.

SamWah

I keep hearing Eau Rouge is steep, but the views we get don’t show it. Can anyone tell me what’s the angle or grade going up, and the elevation change? The only thing I saw said it’s 300 meters between highest and lowest track portions, but not what/where they were.
Regarding views, I remember seeing the Monaco GP on ABC’s wide World Of Sports, and a long shot of the cars going uphill, which I recall was rather steep. We just don’t get shots like that any more. The up-close-and-personal loses the context of the overall course.

KMK90

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-zWDqiSAkFqU/Tj1JibZLk9I/AAAAAAAAAMA/iLoE01RIl7c/s1600/Spa+Raidillon.jpg

check out this photo for the height comparison.

I don’t have a exact height difference but it looks huge on such a short difference.

(and the actual hill/turn is called “Raidillon” while the corner at the bottom is “Eau Rouge”)

Paul KieferJr

Compared to what I drove up (and down) on the side of a huge hill, this is nothing. I figure it was at least a 30-degree angle.

SamWah

The street I live on has a 27% grade. I saw over at ESPN/UK today that this is supposed to be a 1 in 4, so 25%. The thing is, it would be nice to see it. The run up to T1 at Austin gets shown.

MIE

The climb is 40.8 metres with an 11% gradient.

jiji the cat

Well it’s my favourite track as well NC, however I would have to have Suzuka in there too.

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