After the long summer break, Formula One racing returns this weekend with the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix, which will once again be held at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in the beautiful Ardennes. A lot has transpired in the past couple of weeks, with Toro Rosso confirming 16-year-old Dutch racing driver Max Verstappen—now the youngest in F1 history—for a seat next year, Russia’s Sochi race track getting the tick of approval from the FIA, and Caterham replacing Kamui Kobayashi for this weekend’s race with Le Mans driver Andre Lotterer. To top it all off, the Lotus F1 team has revealed that it lost $107.9 million in 2013, believed to be the biggest loss for a racing team in the history of motorsport.

But getting back to the Belgian Grand Prix, the race is one of the highlights of any F1 season. At 4.35 miles in length, the Spa track where the race is held is the longest circuit on the calendar. In fact, the next longest is Silverstone at 3.66 miles. And, over 70 percent of the circuit is taken at maximum throttle, making it a stiff challenge for drivers, but particularly for engines that need to deliver good top end power, drivability and responsiveness to negotiate the fast, flowing corners such as the famed Eau Rouge and Blanchimont and the tight Bus Stop chicane and La Source hairpin.

The track surface is somewhat abrasive at Spa as well. Drivers will have to complete 44 laps and Pirelli has nominated its P Zero White medium and P Zero Yellow soft tires, a softer combination compared to last year. Unfortunately, some rain is expected for the weekend so we might see the full wets come out. The current outlook for the race is cool temperatures and a strong chance of rain.

Last year’s winner was Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel. Going into this weekend’s event, Mercedes AMG’s Nico Rosberg leads the 2014 Drivers’ Championship with 202 points, with his teammate Lewis Hamilton in second with 191 points and Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo a distant third with 131 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes AMG has 393 points versus the 219 points of Red Bull Racing and 142 points of Ferrari.


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