The ‘bus stop’ chicane on the Spa-Francorchamps circuit was in actual fact once a bus stop. This is largely due to the fact that while the current layout has been in use since 1983, large parts of the circuit were still public roads until 2000. It also means that the Belgian classic could have been regarded as a street circuit.
Pirelli exclusively supplies the 24 Hours of Spa, the biggest event of the year for Spa-Francorchamps and Pirelli. Pirelli normally supplies around 12,000 tyres and more than 100 personnel including engineers and technicians. The scale of the event is so big that it requires Pirelli to be onsite setting up and preparing for the race almost two weeks before the race. The 2020 race in October will actually run for 25 hours – as the clocks will go back one hour in the middle of the night.
The Belgian Grand Prix predates both the British and Monaco grands prix. The first Grand Prix was held there in 1925, while the circuit was still in its infancy after being designed in 1920. The Grand Prix in 1925 isn’t the track’s oldest running race though with the 24 hours of Spa originating in 1924. The 24 Hours of Spa saw its 70th edition finished with an underdog story this year as the Walkenhorst Motorsport entered the Pro Class for the first time and emerged victorious. Previous winners of the prestigious event including Grand Prix heroes such as Mike Hawthorn, Gerhard Berger, Jochen Mass, Jacky Ickx and Giuseppe Farina.
One of the most iconic corners in the motorsport universe didn’t actually feature on the original circuit. Before becoming synonymous with Spa-Francorchamps, Eau Rouge was a humble, 15-kilometre river in the Belgian province of Liège. Earning its name thanks to red oxide deposits found in the river, is also prominent outside of motorsport history too, acting as an administrative boundary in the Roman Empire and a state border between Prussia and the Netherlands in the 1800s.
At just over seven kilometres, Spa-Francorchamps is the longest circuit that’s hosted Formula 1 in the modern era, post 1976 when the epic Nurburgring Nordschieife in Germany dropped off the calendar. But the original layout was more than twice as long, with a 15-kilometre route devised using the public roads that connected the towns of Francorchamps, Malmedy and Stavelot. This layout was incredibly fast and very dangerous, leading F1 drivers to boycott the Belgian Grand Prix in 1969. F1 stayed away from Spa for 12 years until returning on the newly-revised shorter track in 1982.
Remarkably, the Belgian Grand Prix has never been won by a Belgian driver. That includes not only the races at Spa but also those held at other circuits such as Zolder and Nivelles. Jacky Ickx, who won eight times in Formula 1, came closest when he finished third for Ferrari at Spa in 1968. Belgium might soon claim a home victory, however. While there are no drivers currently racing under the Belgian flag, Dutchman Max Verstappen was born in Belgium to a Belgian mother. In fact, he’s one of three current F1 drivers whose mum hails from the country, along with Lando Norris and Lance Stroll.
Shane Richmond is a technology writer and...