Following the traditional summer break, all teams are now camped outside the legendary Spa Francorchamps circuit in preparation for this weekend’s 2012 Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix. The circuit is a favorite on the F1 calendar, thanks mostly to its history, the surrounding pristine scenery and the fact that it has the longest lap of any circuit during the season.

The 4.35-mile rollercoaster loop through the hills and forests of the Ardennes area of Belgium is also an excellent challenge for drivers and cars alike. Over 70 percent of the circuit 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.

Setting the correct wing level with DRS is crucial around this track and one tends to see a number of different aerodynamic solutions. As for tires, Pirelli will be bringing its hard and medium tires which were last used months ago at the Malaysian Grand Prix.  

Unfortunately, some rain is expected for the start of the weekend, which may affect the first practice session taking place later today, but hopefully things will clear up by race time on Sunday. The current outlook for the race is mild temperatures and partially cloudy skies.

Out of the past 10 Grands Prix at Spa, seven have been won from the front row, so qualifying will prove crucial. Going into qualifying tomorrow and Sunday’s eventual race, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso leads the points table in the Drivers’ Championship with 164 points, followed by Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber on 124 points and his teammate Sebastian Vettel rounding out the top three with 122 points.

For the Constructors’ Championship, Red Bull Racing is the clear leader with 246 points versus the 193 points of McLaren and 192 points of Lotus.

The 2012 Belgian Grand Prix will be particularly important for Mercedes-AMG’s Michael Schumacher, who is currently 12th in the points table and celebrates his 300th race this weekend. Spa is also the track where the legendary racer made his debut and scored his first win.