Spa-Francorchamps, home of the Formula One Belgian Grand PrixEnlarge Photo
After the traditional summer break, the 2015 Formula One World Championship continues with round 11, the Belgian Grand Prix, taking place this weekend at the legendary Spa Francorchamps circuit. The 4.35-mile length makes Spa the longest circuit on the calendar, and the Ardennes forest backdrop also makes it one of the most iconic and revered in the world.
The circuit contains significant elevation changes, challenging corners and plenty of opportunities for overtaking. And most of the lap—over 70 percent, in fact—is taken at maximum throttle, making it a great 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, as well as the tight Bus Stop chicane and La Source hairpin.
The weather is an important factor at Spa and teams therefore have to be ready for all circumstances. Temperatures of around 70 degrees F (21 degrees C) are expected, but it’s harder to predict the chance and the location of the rain. Right now we’re expecting conditions to remain dry throughout the weekend.
If wet weather does come, it sometimes only affects one section of the track, which creates considerable strategic challenges, particularly when it comes to tires. To cope with this wide-ranging set of demands, Pirelli has selected the most versatile compounds in the range: medium and soft.
Last year’s winner was Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo. Going into this year’s race, Mercedes AMG’s Lewis Hamilton leads the 2015 Drivers’ Championship with 202 points. His teammate Nico Rosberg is second with 181 points and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel is third with 160. In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes leads with 383 points followed by Ferrari with 236 and Williams with 151.
In other F1 news, Ferrari has confirmed it has extended Kimi Räikkönen’s contract through to the end of the 2016 season. This means Räikkönen will be racing alongside Vettel for at least one more season. The Finn’s poor performance this season—he trails his teammate by 84 points—led to suggestions Ferrari may be seeking a new driver for 2016. That won’t happen until 2017, most likely, by which point Räikkönen will be 36.