Belgian and Italian Grands Prix
THE MAIN EVENT
Motor racing has been taking place along the roads of Belgium’s high fens for 95 years. And whether you stay in one of the villages of Malmedy, Stavelot, Francorchamps or Spa itself, you cannot escape the sense of history.
The biggest draw is the racetrack itself. Take a drive around the old circuit, which extends from Les Combes to Blanchimont, and you begin to appreciate the bravery of the drivers who used to drive flat-out in fragile machinery around these daunting public roads. Today’s modernised GP track, with corners such as Eau Rouge and Pouhon, still thrills drivers and spectators alike.
Then there’s the fickle weather, which can usually be relied on to mix things up. The nature of the climate in the Haute Fagnes region can throw up sweltering sunshine one day, then fog and pouring rain the next.
Finally, there’s the recent influx of Max Verstappen fans, with his Dutch army flocking across the border to give the venue a party atmosphere. All in all, it’s a heady concoction.
CLASSIC RACE: 1995
Unpredictable weather dominated this race. Qualifying produced a mixed-up grid with the Ferraris of Gerhard Berger and Jean Alesi in P1 and P2, while title rivals Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher were P8 and P16. When rain struck in the race, Schumacher stayed on slicks and kept wet-shod Hill behind with some very robust driving. Schumacher won, and Hill went to find him postrace to express his displeasure. The stewards agreed and gave Schumi a one-race ban, suspended for four races.
Circuit name Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps
First GP 1950 Number of laps 44 Circuit length 7.002km Race distance 307.987km Lap record 1m 47.263s Sebastian Vettel (2009) F1 races held 49 Winners from pole 17 Tyres Ultrasoft, supersoft, soft