Race Details Race Times: 3pm & 4pm Laps: 18 & 9 Last Time Here Winners: Nic & Andrew Weather: Random The 2010 Grand Prix, won by Lewis Hamilton, which was also Rubens Barrichelo's 300th GP The Track Designed in 1920 by Jules de Thier and Henri Langlois Van Ophem, the original triangle-shaped course (Seen below) used public roads between the Belgian towns of Francorchamps, Malmedy, and Stavelot. The track was intended to have hosted its inaugural race in August 1921, however this event had to be cancelled as there was only one entrant. The first car race was held at the circuit in 1922, and two years later saw the first running of the now famous 24 Hours of Francorchamps race. The circuit was first used for Grand Prix racing in 1925. The old race track continued through the now-straightened Kemmel curves to the highest part of the track (104 metres above the lowest part), then went downhill into Les Combes, a fast, slightly banked downhill left-hander towards Burnenville, passing this village in a fast right hand sweep. Near Malmedy. Spa is located in the Belgian Ardennes countryside, and the old circuit was (and still is) used as everyday public road, and there were houses, trees, electric poles, barnyards, fields and other obstacles located right next to the track. Before 1970, there were no safety modifications of any kind done to the circuit and the conditions of the circuit were, aside from a few straw bales, virtually identical to everyday civilian use. Former Formula One racing driver and team owner Jackie Oliver was quoted as saying "if you went off the road, you didn't know what you were going to hit". Spa was the fastest road circuit in Europe at the time, and it had a nasty reputation for being dangerous and very fast- it was a circuit known to be one for the brave, and most drivers were frightened of it. The old Spa circuit was unique in that speeds were consistently high with hardly any let-up at all for 3–4 minutes. This made it an extraordinarily difficult mental challenge, because most of the corners were taken at 180+ mph and were not quite flat- every corner was as important as the one before it. If a driver lifted just that little bit more, then whole seconds, not tenths- would be lost. Even the slightest error of any kind was punished very harshly in more ways than one. But this reality also worked inversely- huge advantages could be gained if a driver came out of a corner slightly faster. Like the Nürburgring and Le Mans circuits, Spa became notorious for fatal accidents, as there were many deaths each year at the ultra-fast track, especially at the 1960 Belgian Grand Prix where 2 drivers, Chris Bristow and Alan Stacey were both killed within 15 minutes (although Stacey's accident was caused by a bird hitting him in the face) and Stirling Moss had crashed at Burnenville during practice and was severely injured. When Armco crash barriers were added to the track in 1970, deaths became less frequent there but the track was still notorious for other factors. The Ardennes Forest had very unpredictable weather and there were parts where it was raining and the track was wet, and other parts where the sun was shining and the track was completely dry. This factor was a commonality on long circuits, but the weather at Spa was always more unpredictable than other long circuits, combined with the fact that it was an ultra-high speed track with all but 1 corner (La Source) being extremely high speed made it one of, if not the most dangerous race track in the world. Multiple fatalities during the 1973 and 1975 24 Hours of Spa touring car races more or less sealed the old circuit's fate, and by 1978, the last year Spa was in its original form. In 1969, the Belgian Grand Prix was boycotted by F1 because of the extreme danger of Spa. There had been 10 racing fatalities in total at the track in the 1960s, including 5 in the 2 years previous. The drivers demanded changes made to Spa which were not possible on short notice, so the Belgian Grand Prix was dropped that year. Armco was added to the track and sections of it were improved (especially the Stavelot and Holowell sections), just like Armco had been added for the 1969 Le Mans race. One last race there the following year on the improved track was still not satisfactory enough (even after a temporary chicane was added at Malmedy just for that race) for the drivers in terms of safety, and even with the chicane, the drivers averaged 150+ mph (240 km/h) during the race. The most famous part of the circuit is the Eau Rouge / Raidillon combination. Having negotiated the La Source hairpin, drivers race down a straight to the point where the track crosses the Eau Rouge stream for the first time, before being launched steeply uphill into a sweeping left-right-left collection of corners with a blind summit. The 2005 and 2006 F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso explained: "You come into the corner downhill, have a sudden change [of direction] at the bottom and then go very steep uphill. From the cockpit, you cannot see the exit and as you come over the crest, you don't know where you will land. It is a crucial corner for the timed lap, and also in the race, because you have a long uphill straight afterwards where you can lose a lot of time if you make a mistake. The Blanchimont high-speed left-hand turn, present in both the old 14 km circuit and the new, shorter, 7 km track, is the final sweeping corner of the track before the chicane, which leads to the pit straight. This turn and the approach to it have caused serious accidents over time, the most recent being in 2001, when Luciano Burti lost the front wing of his Prost due to a clash with Eddie Irvine's Jaguar, losing front downforce and steering, leaving the track at 185 mph (298 km/h) and piling into the tyre wall, the impact knocking him out and burying the car into a mound of tyres. Problems have also occurred in lower classes of racing with Tom Kristensen having a very violent crash in a Formula 3000 car in 1997 after running wide on the entry to the Blanchimont turn and subsequently hitting the wall effectively throwing the monocoque back out in the middle of the track, where it was hit by numerous cars before coming to a complete halt. Formula 1 returned to Spa for 2007, with a modified track layout. The Bus Stop chicane was moved back towards Blanchimont and the La Source hairpin moved forward. This allowed more space for the new pit lane. The modifications gave a longer start/finish straight. New asphalt runoff was added to the inside and outside of Les Combes for the 2010 race, in line with the prevailing trends at other Formula One circuits. The triangle layout^ Hotlap This weeks hotlap is by myself, with a lap done in practice. Last Time Out The feature got underway, with instant action, with 4th and 5th place sitters Ben & Liam getting tangled up, and dropping down the order. the front stayed status quo, with Oz leading Matt, Gaz and Adam. Oz built up an early lead with Matt seeming to be unable to keep up. Liam and Ben worked their way through Jamie & Jeremy, with Ben then passing Benji, but Liam wasnt so succesful with Benji putting him in a wall on his attempt. The pit-stops came around, with the Spam Fritters Racing drivers, seeming to trigger early stops, with Gaz managing to Jump Matt into P2. Adam soon caught and passed Matt, with not much changing there after, with Jeremy having a late spin to promote Benji up. Post race Oz was given a penalty, dropping him to P3 meaning Gaz won the race, with Adam promoted to P2. The sprint started with Benji jumping Liam into P1, The midfield proceeded to ensue in chaos with Ben, Matt and Adam, all being involved in accidents. Benji still led with Liam P2, Oz managing to get into P3. Liam eventually got past Benji, Oz managing the same on the last lap. Liam took his first win of the season, with Oz P2, Benji P3, & Gaz P4. Questions Spa is one of the most iconic tracks in history, how does it rate in your opinion? The bus stop chicane was modified in 2006, but how do you rate the new version to the old? Real drivers have specific tracks they want to win at, are you like this, having specific tracks you would like to win at? The season is about 2/3 through, how is it going compared to expectations?