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Old 30 Aug 2019, 07:44 (Ref:3924799)   #1
Born Racer
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Belgian Grand Prix 2019: Grand Prix Weekend Thread

Spa-Francorchamps, or 'Spa', as it is commonly shortened to, despite being much closer to the town of Francorchamps, is set in the Ardennes Forest and its first Grand Prix was held in 1924. Until 1970, it was run on a fearsome, much longer incarnation of the circuit (14.9km at its maximum length) than the contemporary one, which at 7km, is still the longest on the calendar. It used to consist of many fast public roads which stretched down to the villages of Malmedy and Stavelot before eventually rejoining what we have today and had monster fast straights. The notorious Masta Kink straddled two straights between Malmedy and Stavelot.

In 2019, Spa still features many glorious corners which follow the natural order of the land. It is a track that delights in having Formula 1 cars driven on it. Because of the topography, the majority of the corners just feel right, like that is the way the track is supposed to go. It doesn’t feel designed by anyone but by Spa-Francorchamps itself. This sense of a natural event is compounded by the forces of nature. The element of the weather can add a total twist in the ark of the race by means of rain showers which come out of the blue. The microclimate of this part of the Ardennes means that one moment it is sunny and the next, ominous clouds have swept in and they are pouring, sometimes in only one area. A vital decision to pit or not to pit on a seven-kilometre layout can turn a race here on its head.

Turns here are not merely numbers, but have evocative names, recalling races of years gone by.

Turn 1 is La Source. A tricky hairpin, it opens quite wide on the exit and allows for plenty of jostling on the opening lap (and DRS Detection Zone 1 on later ones) as the drivers set themselves up for Turns 2 to 4, the Eau-Rouge – Raidillon combination. Eau Rouge is actually the brief left at the bottom of the hill before the slight right, Raidillon, which climbs to the top and goes further than the eye can see from when you are entering the curve. There is a left as the drivers go over the brow and try to tame the car, gently balancing out any danger and keeping forward motion for the Kemmel Straight. These corners are spectacular to watch in person, where the gradient becomes apparent in a way that is not always the case on television.

The Kemmel Straight is the longest one and features DRS Activation Zone 1. It leads drivers to the magnificent right-left-right Les Combes complex (Turns 5 to 7). Whilst Eau Rouge and Raidillon are a pure thrill, it is these corners that begin to remind you that much of the joy of this track is in just how good the more conventional corners are. It’s a right-left chicane followed by ninety-right with a less angled entry and looks superb to drive. This is where the drivers will really be starting to enjoy the flow. Overtaking opportunities also abound into Turn 5.

The drivers plunge downhill into Bruxelles, which is Turn 8. Perhaps because of the relatively short distance between Les Combes and Bruxelles, it somehow invites drivers to dare to brake late, but it’s a risky thing, easy to put a wheel off and in any event, not so easy to gather traction on the exit.

A quick left takes the drivers 90 degrees through Turn 9 before they approach Pouhon (Turns 10 and 11). A relentless left-hander, this is many drivers’ favourite section. Whereas Raidillon is easier to take flat than it once was, Pouhon is more of a case of fine throttle feathering, a lift usually necessary. The track is so fun by this point that it could be difficult for drivers to want to remove any speed, instead seeking to be really fast and ready to barrel through Turn 12 and then slow it down a bit more for 13, Campus.

Turn 14 is Stavelot, a right-hander which sets up the drivers for 15, the Courbe Paul-Frère. It’s crucial to carry as much as speed as possible through here, because they’re now not braking again until the final corners. The left-hand sweeper of Blanchimont (Turn 16) is followed by a slightly tighter one at 17.

Hard braking is called for into the right-left Bus Stop Chicane (Turns 18 and 19), just before which there is the second DRS Detection Zone (activation is on the start-finish straight). It is easy to fumble it through here.

What are your favourite Belgian Grand Prix memories?

Circuit length: 7.004km
Number of laps: 44
Race distance: 308.052km
Dry weather tyre compounds: C1, C2 & C3
Lap Record: 1:46.286 (2018 – Valtteri Bottas – Mercedes)
First Grand Prix: 1925
First World Championship Grand Prix: 1950
First Grand Prix on current layout: 1983



To join in our predictions contest and Fantasy F1 contest, go here: https://tentenths.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=70

Constructors’ championship standings: https://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/2019/team.html

Drivers' championship standings:
https://www.formula1.com/en/results....9/drivers.html

Belgian Grand Prix tyre choices:
https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/a...ssJ9Uf9pv.html
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Old 30 Aug 2019, 07:58 (Ref:3924802)   #2
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Thanks as usual for the great intro BR. Much appreciated
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Old 30 Aug 2019, 10:25 (Ref:3924808)   #3
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Great intro BR. Having been chucked around the circuit in the British GT safety car for the first time earlier in the year, I completely concur with your descriptions of the corners. There's one thing that can't be conveyed through text alone though, and that's just how breathtaking most of the circuit is.

I'll have to catch up with this after the WEC at Silverstone though. Hope it's a good race!
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Old 30 Aug 2019, 11:20 (Ref:3924813)   #4
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Great intro BR. Having been chucked around the circuit in the British GT safety car for the first time earlier in the year, I completely concur with your descriptions of the corners. There's one thing that can't be conveyed through text alone though, and that's just how breathtaking most of the circuit is.
Great intro BR, thanks! For me, the highlight of the F1 season, and Green is absolutely right, everything about a lap around Spa is breathtaking.
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Old 30 Aug 2019, 11:39 (Ref:3924816)   #5
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Y'know, I always thought Blanchiment was T17!
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Old 30 Aug 2019, 12:11 (Ref:3924820)   #6
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Originally Posted by Peter Mallett View Post
Y'know, I always thought Blanchiment was T17!
I guess it depends on who you ask.

Wikipedia lists it as T17. But the circuit map presented there has T2 before Raidillon de l'Eau Rouge, which is not shown on the F1 map. They also include T6 on Kemmel, and Pouhon as a single turn.

The track's own website describes Blanchiment as a double left-hander, along with Pouhon as a double, so I guess they're both right.

It's T16 & 17 on the F1 map. T17 & 18 on the Wikipedia map.



However, the full list of corners from the circuit's website is:

T1 - La Source
T2,3,4 - Le Raidillon.... de l'Eau Rouge
T5 - Kemmel
T6,7,8 - Les Combes
T9 - Bruxelles (Rivage)
T10 - Speakers Corner
T11,12 - Pouhon
T13,14 - Fagnes
T15 - Campus (Stavelot)
T16 - Paul Frère
T17,18 - Blanchimont
T19,20 - Chicane (Bus Stop)
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Old 30 Aug 2019, 12:17 (Ref:3924822)   #7
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For me, the highlight of the F1 season, and Green is absolutely right, everything about a lap around Spa is breathtaking.
What is there not to like about Spa.... other than a bit of snow!
Certainly a not to be missed event, and I have already found a bar on the beach in Calpe that will be showing the full Sky Qualy and Race coverage. So I am set for Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
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Old 30 Aug 2019, 12:20 (Ref:3924823)   #8
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I guess it depends on who you ask.
Yes I looked at Wiki. I reckon it's 18 because 17 is pretty much an easy run through flat out. 18 needs a bit more concentration.
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Old 30 Aug 2019, 12:21 (Ref:3924825)   #9
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What is there not to like about Spa.... other than a bit of snow!
Certainly a not to be missed event, and I have already found a bar on the beach in Calpe that will be showing the full Sky Qualy and Race coverage. So I am set for Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
Nice one! Apart from being at the GP, what could be better.....

Apologies to Greem for my tablet adjusting the spelling of his name in an earlier post. Darn technology!
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Old 30 Aug 2019, 12:26 (Ref:3924826)   #10
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Yes he's usually orange.
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Old 30 Aug 2019, 13:12 (Ref:3924830)   #11
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Yes he's usually orange.
I've just got back from a week in the sun on Cyprus. I'm pink, slightly more freckled than usual and orange at the same time!
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Old 30 Aug 2019, 13:55 (Ref:3924834)   #12
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Looking forward to the race. After the break... in a way it feels almost like the launch of a new season. And at Spa... such a bonus.

Richard
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Old 30 Aug 2019, 13:56 (Ref:3924837)   #13
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Listening to FP2 on the radio. Seems Ferrari are looking good so far, but we've heard that enough times this season
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Old 30 Aug 2019, 14:59 (Ref:3924844)   #14
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Great intro as ever. Looking forward to this one. I wonder if we will see an invigorated Bottas, now he has retained his seat at Mercedes?
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Old 31 Aug 2019, 07:30 (Ref:3924930)   #15
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Y'know, I always thought Blanchiment was T17!
Me too! On the first map T16 is easy T17 keeps your eyes wide open.
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