The 2016 Formula One World Championship’s summer break ends this weekend with round 13, the Belgian Grand Prix, which once again is held at Spa-Francorchamps.
Though beautiful, Spa is a notoriously tough track that has taken the lives of many of the best drivers in history. Weather, traffic, and setup all play an important role in the outcome here.
Stretching 4.35 miles, it’s the longest on the calendar and one of the most thrilling. That’s because of a unique combination of long straights, fast corners and severe elevation changes. They combine to produce one of the fastest average speeds of the year: 146 mph.
Over 70 percent of the track is taken at maximum throttle, which is tough for drivers but particularly so for engines that need to deliver good top-end power, drivability and responsiveness to negotiate Spa’s fast corners. The fast corners and varying grip levels mean tires also get a good workout. Pirelli has nominated its medium, soft and supersoft compounds.
One final factor is the changeable weather. Fortunately, the current weather forecast calls for fine conditions throughout the weekend. Sunday’s race should see the peak temperature hit 82 degrees F (28 degrees C).
Going into the weekend, Mercedes AMG has confirmed that reigning world champion and current points leader Lewis Hamilton will be taking an engine penalty due to some changes made to his power unit.
The Briton leads the 2016 Drivers’ Championship with 217 points. His teammate Nico Rosberg is in second with 198 points and Red Bull Racing’s Danial Ricciardo is in third with 133 points. In the Constructors’ standings, Mercedes has 415 points versus the 256 of Red Bull and 242 of Ferrari [NYSE:RACE]. Last year’s winner in Belgium was Hamilton.