Built in: 1950
First Grand Prix:
Grand Prix Helds: 40
Capacity around 70000
Track Lenght: 6.976 km
Laps Number: 44 (306.927 Km)
Corners: 15 (left:7) (right:8)
Top Speed: 335 Km/h
Start Offset line: 17 m
Best lap time: K. Raikkonen - 1'45''108
Belgium F1 2006 Track Review :
Spa Francorchamps was first used in 1924, its history long and entwining. Many drivers have won here, with its ever-changing weather conditions, making it a track very hard to master. Jim Clark hated it, yet he won four races in a row, 1962 - 1965. The sun can shine in one section of the track, yet it can be pouring with rain in another.
The danger here was ever present, with young Alan Stacey and Chris Bristow killed in separate accidents in 1960. By 1970, it was obvious that the speeds were getting too fast, so the track was discontinued, not returning again until 1983. This return saw the track distance nearly halved, with the removal of a section that was classed as really dangerous and thereafter it rewarded only the most talented.
Eau Rouge remained the most evocative corner, the scene of many accidents. Alex Zanardi escaped serious injury when he crashed his Lotus there in 1993, and in light of the tragic deaths at Imola, 1994 saw a new chicane added, but when run-offs were built in 1995, this corner thankfully came back into play.
Ayrton Senna won four consecutive races, from 1988 to 1991 and it was the scene of Michael Schumacher's very first victory in 1992. The next two years saw Damon Hill on the top step of the podium, while Schumacher took the next three consecutive wins.
Damon Hill won again in 1998, creating history in the process. In a rain drenched race that saw two starts due to chaos on the opening lap, Hill lead his team-mate home to claim the Jordan team's maiden victory that was twice as special with a one-two finish. Schumacher was clearly leading with Hill in a strong second until he came up to the McLaren of David Coulthard that was a lap down. With Coulthard backing off on the racing line, the two collided in the horrific conditions, forcing the Ferrari into retirement and Schumacher losing his cool as he attempted to confront Coulthard.
The sun shone brightly the following year allowing Coulthard to take the win. This was one of the events Schumacher was forced to miss due to injuries sustained at the British Grand Prix, however, in 2000 he was forced to settle for third place while Mika Hakkinen took the honours and the younger Schumacher, Ralf took second.
Schumacher took another win on the beautiful Belgian track in 2001. The race was red flagged after Luciano Burti suffered a massive accident after contact with Eddie Irvine. Schumacher is the winner once again in 2002, this time in front of his team-mate Rubens Barrichello in second place.
Politics intervened in 2003 meaning there was no Belgian Grand Prix but thankfully the famous venue was back on for 2004 with Raikkonen taking a commanding win for McLaren. Starting back in tenth position on the grid thanks to changeable weather conditions in qualifying, the Finn soon worked his way to the front and held on to beat Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello by three and four seconds respectively. For Schumacher, second place was enough as he secured his record breaking seventh World Championship with the result.
Raikkonen won again in 2005 in changeable conditions with Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button taking second and third positions. Giancarlo Fisichella meanwhile found out that running dry setting on a damp circuit was not the best of ideas as he suffered a heavy crash at Eau Rouge.
The long-term future of this majestic circuit is far from certain heading into 2006 with investment needed to get the facility on a par with many other race circuits and the promoters suffering from financial problems. Formula One will lose more than the Belgian Grand Prix should Spa Francorchamps be consigned to the history books.