The Formula One circus is headed to one of the most popular circuits with teams, drivers and fans alike: Circuit National de Francorchamps, bounded by the towns of Malmedy, Stavelot and Francorchamps in the Ardennes, for the Belgian Grand Prix. One of the few circuits that puts driver skill to the fore, it includes the renowned Eau Rouge corner. The size of the circuit, with a variety of corners and straights over undulating ground ensure that finding the perfect set-up is nigh impossible. Overtaking is possible, particularly as tyres wear, and there is often rain at one end of the circuit whilst the other is dry. Accurate weather predictions are rare.
This is a circuit that often sees surprise results, typically due to inclement weather interfering with the natural order of things, but sometime simply due to drivers being able to get more out of their package than expected. That said, there's little substitute for outright horsepower around here, though efficient aerodynamics, good kerb riding and excellent balance are all big contributors to a great laptime.
Track: The short start-finish straight at Spa Francorchamps sees drivers reach 180mph on the approach to La Source Hairpin: this tight, 35mph right-hander leads to a downhill stretch, back up to 180mph for Eau Rouge: taken flat out, the track drops before climbing steeply left, right then left again, retaining the 180mph entry speed. This is vital for the long run down the Kemmell straight, with speeds up to 210mph before braking hard for the 90mph Les Combes right hander. A left-right flick through the Malmedy chicane follows immediately with increasing speeds up to 175mph before the 70mph Rivage hairpin, a right-hander that is both downhill and off-camber, exaggerating any understeer.
From Rivage, there is a 100mph/160km/h left hander ahead of the short straight to the 135mph, double apex left hander of Pouhon; with an exit speed of 170mph this leads to the right-left 90mph chicane of Fagnes. Another short straight, leads to the double apex right-hander of Stavelot: a bumpy, 95mph downhill bend that sees cars accelerating to 150mph on the exit, before the long sweeping left-hander of Blanchimont. Drivers will reach speeds of 190mph before braking hard for the bus stop chicane (or the pit lane entry, which is located mid-way through the chicane away from the racing line).