Google+ Jack Leslie F1: 2016 Belgian Grand Prix Preview

24 August 2016

2016 Belgian Grand Prix Preview

The 13th round of the 2016 season will see Formula 1 return to the famous Spa-Francorchamps circuit for the Belgian Grand prix.
© Octane Photographic
The F1 circus will reconvene in the paddock refreshed, revitalised and ready to get back to racing after the factory shutdown and summer break. 

The mid-season pause meant there were a few quiet weekends, but gave those working in the sport a crucial chance to relax and take some time off after an intense run of races. 

Following the fascinating German Grand Prix at the end of July, Lewis Hamilton has a 19-point lead in the standings over his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg. 

The second part of the season kicks off at Spa-Francorchamps for the 61st running of the Belgian GP. The track, situated in the Ardennes Forest, is a formidable challenge and is world-renowned for its history and drama. 
© Octane Photographic

The current layout may be a shadow of its former self - the terrifying 8.761 mile circuit that was raced on until 1978 - but it's still a tricky circuit to master and produces some truly memorable racing.

A lap of the 4.352 mile track starts on the pit straight, which is where the first of two DRS zones will be positioned. La Source is the first corner drivers have to tackle at Spa, providing a strong overtaking opportunity. 

A good exit is crucial for the long run downhill to the second, third and fourth corners. The pit exit feeds cars back out on track to the right-hand side of this straight (which is where the old start line was), before drivers come to the iconic Eau Rouge and Raidillon corners. 

The Kemmel Straight is next up and is where the second DRS zone will be, which makes the medium-speed right-left chicane of Les Combes a strong overtaking place. It's important to get the first part right to gain time through the second section. 

Malmedy, Turn 7, is a fast right-hander that is particularly difficult in wet conditions. The drivers then head downhill before tackling Rivage – Turn 8. It's a long hairpin, followed by the right of Turn 9. After a short straight is the underrated Pouhon corner, a never-ending left-hander.

The right-left chicane of Des Fagnes is next up before the first of the two right-handers that make up the Stavelot complex. This is where the second sector comes to an end. Part one requires a dab on the brakes, while drivers may need to lift slightly for the second section. 

A good exit is crucial for the long, flat-out run through Turns 16 and 17, the latter being Blanchimont. The fast section leads onto the slow final chicane, a right-left section introduced in 2007. It's a good overtaking spot due to the heavy braking zone. The pit lane entry, which is extremely narrow, is to the right-hand side at the last corner. 
© Octane Photographic

The current layout shares just three corners with the original circuit – the high-speed Blanchimont corner, the La Source hairpin and the Eau Rouge/Raidillon complex. The charming and characterful venue is a favourite among the drivers and teams, thanks to its history, challenging corners and unpredictable weather. 

The race holds fond memories for many of the current crop of drivers - Kimi Raikkonen has won there four times, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton taking victory twice and Felipe Massa, Jenson Button and Daniel Ricciardo all triumphing once. 

Michael Schumacher is the most successful driver at the race, having won it six times. Ayrton Senna is next up with five victories, while Ferrari leads McLaren in the constructors’ table with 16 wins to 14. 

The track features varying characteristics. Sectors one and three are very fast with long straights that require a car with high aero efficiency, while sector two is made up of tighter corners that require high grip and downforce levels. F1’s tyre supplier Pirelli will take the medium, soft and super-soft compounds to this weekend’s race. 

Mercedes will undoubtedly be the team to beat once again, bouncing back from the Hungary disappointment. But Red Bull could pose more of a threat, especially in the middle sector. Some teams will bring updates to Spa, despite focus starting to switch to 2017.

Belgian Grand Prix Fact File: 

Location: Francorchamps, Belgium 
Track Length: 4.352 miles 
Direction: Clockwise 
Turns: 19 
Laps: 44 
First race: 1950 
Lap record: 1:47.263, Red Bull, Sebastian Vettel
Tyre compounds: Medium, soft and super-soft
2015 race winner: Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
2015 pole position: Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:47.497
2015 fastest lap: Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:52.416
Live on: Sky Sports F1 and Channel 4

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