The new for 2023 Sprint format returns in Belgium for more action, more jeopardy, and more excitement.
Usually on the calendar at the end of August, the Belgian Grand Prix has moved to become the final race before the summer break.
Fact File: Belgian Grand Prix
Despite several long, flat-out sections, Spa is middle of the pack when it comes to fuel consumption. Constant stop/start is what uses the most fuel, so tracks such as Hungary where we raced last week are higher on fuel consumption.
Tyre duty and wear are some of the greatest of the season at Spa, with high averages across all four corners of the car.
The long lap distance brings with it a few unique challenges. For example, if a car gets damaged early in the lap, more time is lost getting back, and the weather is very changeable so conditions can vary massively from corner to corner.
It also means that the lap takes longer to complete, therefore you can’t fit as many laps into practice and qualifying run plans to test different setup configurations. That will be of particular interest this weekend with the Sprint format and parc fermé conditions after FP1.
The first and third sectors at Spa feature long straights and flat-out sections, but the second sector is twisty. This makes it challenging to find the right balance and set-up compromise, particularly with the wing level. A bigger wing will gain time in the middle sector but leave you vulnerable on the straights, while a smaller wing will provide less drag for the flat-out sections but not providing the same level of grip in the twisty corners. This is a similar predicament to Baku.
Belgium's Spa-Francorchamps circuit is among the most historic on the Formula One calendar, having hosted a Grand Prix as long ago as 1924. Run on narrow public roads, the original Spa layout was a colossal 14.9 kilometres long and notoriously dangerous. Lap distance was reduced slightly over subsequent years and some corners eased, but when the 'old' layout staged its final Grand Prix in 1970 it still measured just over 14 kilometres.
Spa remains the longest circuit on the calendar. Its mix of long straights and challenging fast corners, coupled with a picturesque setting, mean most drivers rank it amongst their favourite tracks. Integral to the challenge is the fearsome Eau Rouge which, with its high speed and sudden elevation change, maintains its reputation as one of the world's most technically demanding corners.
The weather is notoriously changeable too, with the Ardennes micro-climate meaning it can often be simultaneously raining on one part of the track and dry on another.
Spa-Francorchamps is the longest circuit we visit, measuring 7.004km.
Given the length of the track, it is perhaps no surprise that the Grand Prix has the lowest number of race laps at just 44.
Lewis Hamilton and George Russell talk about the 2023 Belgian Grand Prix with the PETRONAS Preview.
Watch the video to find out more.
The summer shutdown, introduced several years ago, is a mandated two-week break that all teams must observe. No F1 activities may take place and is incredibly important in enabling team members time to recharge ahead of the second half of the season.