The Belgian Grand Prix makes its return to the calendar on August 29th and drivers and fans alike are pleased to welcome back Spa-Francorchamps. Absent in 2003 due to anti-tobacco legislation, Spa is one of the world's renowned racetracks and ...
The Belgian Grand Prix makes its return to the calendar on August 29th and drivers and fans alike are pleased to welcome back Spa-Francorchamps. Absent in 2003 due to anti-tobacco legislation, Spa is one of the world's renowned racetracks and unconventional compared to modern circuits.
Constructed on the existing public roads in the Ardennes area, rather than being purpose built, Spa first hosted a Grand Prix in 1925. The last GP on the huge 14 km track was in 1970 but safety issues abounded and the the circuit was redesigned and shortened to half its original length.
F1 returned to Spa in 1983 and despite the modifications it's still described as a real racer's track. It's a power circuit and Jaguar's Mark Webber predicts that this year the speeds will be faster than ever.
"Spa is going to be very, very quick," he told his team website. "We haven't been there for a while so I think we're going to be six or seven seconds a lap faster than we were last time. It's a sensational place to drive a Formula One car. There are many important sections to Spa."
"Obviously Eau Rouge is very important as you have a long run up the hill to Les Combes but every corner you look at is important. It's a very long track and very fast, so you have to be hooked up well and truly for the whole lap."
Olivier Panis is very happy to be heading back to Spa and is determined to score some more points for Toyota next weekend. "I must say I'm delighted to be going back to the Belgian Grand Prix," said the Frenchman. "Spa is absolutely my favourite circuit and I think it is the best we have in Formula One."
"I was upset to see the race taken off the calendar last year and I think it should suit the characteristics of our car. There will certainly be plenty of opportunity for us to make use of our strong engine. And passing should not be a problem. We are overdue some championship points, and I certainly plan to score some in Spa."
Michael Schumacher won the last Belgian GP in 2002 and could claim this year's drivers' title at Spa. If he wins the race, Schumacher can say hello to title number seven and his fifth consecutive championship with Ferrari.