Those toiling within the globe-trotting FIA Formula One World Championship earned a three-week reprieve following the German Grand Prix in Hockenheim. The mandated summer shutdown allowed crew members to reacquaint themselves with their families and recharge prior to the stretch run of this year’s 21-race calendar which resumes on 26 August with the Belgian Grand Prix at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.
Measuring in at 7.004 km (4.352 miles), Spa is the longest venue in Formula One, outdistancing the series’ second-longest track, the 6.003 km (3.730-mile) Baku City Circuit by 1.001 km (.622 of a mile, keep up!).
As well as its length, Spa is known for its reputation of being a driver’s track, thanks in large part to the addition of the signature Eau Rouge and Raidillon corners in 1939 which created a fast and sweeping uphill, left-right-left combination that drivers view with reverence and attack with gusto.
Spa has hosted Formule One since 1925, with this year’s Belgian Grand Prix serving as the venue’s 49th grand prix. The 19-turn circuit is a favorite of Haas F1 team drivers Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutiérrez. Before securing his most recent podium when he finished third in last year’s Belgian Grand Prix, Grosjean clinched the 2011 GP2 Series title at the venerable track. And Gutiérrez, with two Formula One starts at Spa, has enjoyed some fine drives in the wet when he visited the circuit during his junior career in GP2 and GP3.
A wet track is common at Spa, but it’s also common for other portions to be completely dry, as its vast layout means late summer showers can drench some parts of the track while leaving others untouched. Slicks obviously won’t work in the wet, and intermediate tyres and full wet tyres obviously won’t work in bone dry conditions. It’s a conundrum that has often greeted drivers at the Belgian Grand Prix.