The Belgian Grand Prix is part of Formula One World Championship races. The initial race was held in 1925 at a racecourse in Spa region which is approximately two hours from Brussels. This circuit was built in 1921 and used for motorcycle racing until 1924. The circuit was roughly 15km (9.3 miles) cutting between Francorchamps, Malmedy and Stavelot towns. The current modernized circuit has 7.004 kilometers (191.492 miles). It has corners named after these towns for commemoration.
Cars race 44 laps to clear a total race length of 308.176 kilometers. They can reach a speed of up to 330km/hr despite the circuit being hilly. The idea of racing track was generated after the success of SPA 24 Hours, a 24-hour endurance race held at the Spa track in 1923.
Since its inception of Spa-Francorchamps which preceded the current Grand Prix, the weather has always been unpredictable. For 20 years in a row, there has been rain at one stage of the Belgian Grand Prix. Often, drivers will race on clear and bright part of the course only to find the other is rainy and slippery ground on the other.
1960s were the most memorable due to the following occurrences:
1960: Grand Prix at Spa was tragic after crashes that caused the death of driver Alan Stacy and Chris Bristow. Another driver got injuries that ended his career while Stirling Moss broke both legs. Jack Brabham drove his cooper to victory during the sad event.
1964: Bruce Mclaren was destined to win only for his Cooper to run out of fuel close to the finish line. McLaren could only watch as a lucky Jim Clark passed him some few feet from the finish and won another Belgian Grand Prix.
1965: Jim Clark won for the 4th consecutive year despite an early lead by Graham Hill. He also got stiff competition from Jackie Stewart, Dan Gurney, Ritchie Ginther and John Surtees.
1966: A sudden downpour caught drivers off guard at Burneville section. I1 cars including that of Jack Stewart spun off. He broke his shoulder, cracked his ribs and was soaked with gasoline. He was helped by fellow drivers Bob Bondurant and Graham Hill who pulled him out of his car and took him to nearby farmhouse. Two nuns in the farmhouse took care of him until help arrived.
1969: Belgian Grand Prix at Spa was cancelled after British and Italian teams pulled out. This is after Jackie Stewart demanded improvement to track surface and safety barriers representing the association of Grand Prix Drivers Association but owners of the circuit did not to improve anything.
1971: It was decided that Belgian Grand Prix should be held in alternation between Nivelles-Baulers circuit located near Brussels and Zolder as Spa was one more time considered to be too dangerous for F1. The new circuit only attracted few drivers as many said its layout was dull. Belgian Grand Prix took place in Zolder in 1973 and Nivellis in 1974 which went bankrupt the same year. Zolder held all the events up to 982.
1981: Giovanni Amadeo an Osella team mechanic died when Williams’ driver, Carlos Reutmann ran over him in pit lane. Dave Luckett a mechanic for Arrows broke his leg during the same race.
1982: Gilles Villeneuve was killed in a fatal accident during qualification.
1983: Finally the Belgian Grand Prix returned to rebuilt Spa.
1984: Zolder hosted its final F1 Grand Prix before the race went full-time to Spa.
1991: Michael Schumacher the Ferrari driver who has the record for most won Belgian Grand Prix wins (6 times) entered the race for first time. He first won in 1992. Schumacher also won in 1995, 1996, 1997, 2001, and 2002. He helped Ferrari to win unparalleled 5 consecutive drivers championships and 6 uninterrupted constructors’ championships from 1999 to 2004.
1995: Eddie Irvin escaped unhurt in a pit fire incident. Michael Schumacher won but was penalized and banned for one race because he blocked second placed Damon Hill.
1998: Schumacher tore off the front wheel after smashing into David Coulthard’s car forcing him to drive back to the pits on the remaining three. Couthard has earlier lost control at an exit and triggered a pile-up of 13 cars. The organizers had to stop and restart the race. Belgian Grand Prix missed from 2003 calendar after Belgium banned tobacco advertising. It missed once more 2006 because of major repairs at the circuit. A court suspended the license for this circuit on September 2009 due complaints about noise by local residents but it was reissued on November.
Even though this season’s race has already concluded several months prior, the planning has already begun for next year. Will we see any surprises in store? To follow along with the odds of all the Formula 1 races month-in and month-out, including the Belgian GP, visit online bookmaker bet365 for the latest developments.