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Choice Circuits: Spa-Francorchamps

March 6, 2012 by Matt

Spa-Francorchamps Circuit Track Map Layout Diagram Schematic Belgium Belgian GP Grand Prix F1 Formula 1

Let’s talk about Spa for a bit. Yesterday’s post featured a clip showcasing the track’s most famous corner, the Eau Rouge / Radillion combination, but the whole circuit is noteworthy for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that, as mentioned, many prominent Formula 1 drivers have ranked it among their very favorites.

Located in the Francorchamps suburb of Spa, Belgium (hence its name), an F1 victory at the circuit doesn’t hold quite as much prestige as a triumph at Monaco or Monza, in spite of its popularity among the drivers. That said, there are few tracks with a more distinctive layout, looking as it does like a kind of gun. It is to F1 circuits what Orion is to constellations: An instantly-recognizable figure. Measuring nearly 4.5 miles in length, Spa is also one of the longest F1 circuits, and the Belgian Grand Prix runs for a fewer number of laps (only 44) than other races on the calendar in order to reach a preset race distance. Spa is a fast track as well, with only two slow corners, the rest consisting of straights or long, sweeping bends. Apart from the aforementioned Eau Rouge corner, the backfield of the circuit, from Rivage on, can be exceptionally enjoyable for drivers who establish a kind of rhythm through the succession of high-speed esses.

All in all, a fantastic track, and one that’s maintained its status as one of F1’s premier venues through all the regulatory upheaval of the past 20 years or so, having undergone notably few alterations compared to other circuits such as Silverstone. As far as I know, only the Chicane has been significantly reprofiled (previously it consisted of a pair of back-to-back chicanes and was named Bus Stop), the rest of the track layout remaining largely the same.

Watch the clip below as Jenson Button delivers a flying lap in his ’04 BAR-Honda:

Editor’s note: This post is part of an ongoing series discussing legendary and notable racing venues from around the globe. Read the other installments here:

Filed under: Choice Circuits, Formula 1, Racing

2 Comments

  1. Paul says:

    I always remember this track for the chicane and how many crashes there were there in real life as well as when we raced the track on the computer. Tough long fun track!

    • Matt says:

      I remember that too! Going to the guy’s house down the road in France and playing the F1 game on his computer… I never played the game as much as you did, but I remember Spa being one of the only tracks I actually wanted to practice on, just to see what the big deal was with Eau Rouge.

      :)

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