The dramatic and challenging Spa-Francorchamps circuit takes the Formula One teams into the final quarter of the season, as West McLaren Mercedes looks to consolidate its lead in both the Drivers' and Constructors' Championships. Spa is a ...
The dramatic and challenging Spa-Francorchamps circuit takes the Formula One teams into the final quarter of the season, as West McLaren Mercedes looks to consolidate its lead in both the Drivers' and Constructors' Championships.
Spa is a driver's dream and considered one of the most exhilarating places to drive a Formula One car. McLaren started an impressive run of five consecutive one-two finishes here in 1987 with Alain Prost. Aryton Senna then went on to achieve four successive Belgian Grands Prix wins from 1988 to 1991.
At 4.329 miles, Spa is the longest track on the Grand Prix calendar and boasts what is widely regarded as the greatest and most daunting corner in the world: Eau Rouge. This climbing right-hander requires both precision and commitment, challenging the drivers to carry as much speed as possible over the brow and into the 190mph sprint towards Les Combes.
This medium-speed right/left corner provides a good opportunity for overtaking for competitors who succeed in taking a fraction more speed from the exit of Eau Rouge. Drivers also have the chance to make up positions at the Bus Stop chicane if they can outbrake opponents after the 180mph Blanchimont run.
La Source is also worthy of a mention. This tricky hairpin sits not far from the start/finish line and has inevitably led to many an incident during race starts as a crowd of cars attempt to squeeze around the tightest of corners. Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard will be hoping to secure their ninth all-West McLaren Mercedes front row in qualifying to help avoid any early melees when the red lights go out.
'For me, and I'm sure I speak for most of the drivers, Spa is one of the greatest circuits in the world,' says David Coulthard. 'It has a perfect mixture of fast straights, fast corners and tricky hairpins and accelerating through Eau Rouge always gets the adrenaline pumping.'
Mika Hakkinen says: 'I am looking forward to the challenge of Spa as it is a fantastic circuit, though setting up the cars can be difficult. Because the track is so long, it can be dry on one part of the circuit but raining on another, requiring a compromise in handling.'
'The Hungarian Grand Prix once again demonstrated the competitive nature of Formula One,' comments Ron Dennis, 'and the need for us to maintain our focus and efforts as we enter the closing stages of the Formula One World Championship. Therefore we are going to the Belgium Grand Prix determined to increase our advantage in the World Championships.'