Nestled in the Ardennes Forest deep in the Belgium countryside, there lies a formidable ribbon of tarmac that, throughout the years has produced some of the best racing witnessed in the history of Motorsport, the name of this historic track you ask? The Intimidating Spa Francorchamps.
Spa has a reputation amongst fans of all Motorsport as one of the most formidable and challenging race tracks in the world, it’s fast sweeping nature and picturesque setting means fans from all over the world make the pilgrimage to witness the Grand Prix weekend. So what truely makes Spa unique, and why is it so important to the world of F1? Well since its inception in 1920, the track has slowly decreased in length, from the mighty 14km original circuit running on public roads to the current 7km layout we have now. During the 60’s it was part and parcel with racing that the danger of getting killed was all too stark. With numerous heavy crashes a regular feature of the early Grand Prix’s (including one with Jackie Stewart in 1966), enough was enough in 1970, and the long circuit was lost forever.
But the current specification is still regarded as one of the most rewarding race tracks in all of Motorsport. The run down from Eau Rouge, through Radillion down the Kemmel Straight is considered by many racing drivers as the best piece of track in the world. Flat out in a modern F1 car, with huge compression as cars hit the base of the hill through Eau Rouge, the driver is put through his ultimate test. Like the first sector, the end of the lap is just as ferocious, with the old Blanchimont section remaining where cars are flat out for a full 15- 20 seconds. This combined with the ultra fast downhill, double apex left hand Pouhon section means drivers are flat out for over 72% of the lap. This true test of both driver and car mean’s it has gone down in folklore as favourite track on the calendar.
So why is it so important that F1 keeps Spa on the Calendar? Along with the fabled Monaco, Silverstone and Monza Grand Prix’s, Spa is one of the old elite. An ancient track with ancient heritage. It defines what Formula 1 racing is all about, from the ridiculous elevation changes to the old grandstands and famous sweeping sections. As times move on and new circuits are designed such as the Sakhir Circuit in Bahrain, and the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi, certain tracks are lost to history. However Formula 1 has always been an historic sport and it is heritage and atmosphere that F1 fans and driver’s alike, look for in a circuit. In the current days of safety and huge run off’s, Spa along with Monza are there to remind us of the danger of Grand Prix racing. It is a circuit that rewards bravery and courage, where the best driver’s in the world are truely defined, and for that reason Spa deservers the utmost respect and a permanent place in F1.
My name is James Parker, I am Business Developments Manager of Official Merchandise and also permanent blogger and writer.
Most of my work can be found on the Official Merchandise Blog.
I am a passionate Motorsport and Formula 1 fan, with a passion for writing about the sport I have loved for nearly 14 years.