Belgian Grand Prix: Circuit de Spa

Circuit de Spa
Circuit de Spa (Mr Rowlie /

There are few more iconic tracks in F1 than Spa, based out of Stavelot, Belgium. The tack has been around since 1925 and seen some of the most iconic moments in the history of the sport.

The weather usually quite unpredictable at Spa, mainly down to the fact that it’s coming to end of the summer months in the country. This can cause the track to get very wet in parts, especially as it’s quite hilly so the water tends to disperse and form puddles at the lower end of the track.


Swap Start/End

Circuit Info

Location Length Corners Capacity Year Opened
Stavelot 7.004 19 70,000 1920

Circuit Layout

Circuit de Spa Map Belgium

As you can imagine, throughout the years the course has seen a number of major changes. The first edition of the track measured a staggering 14.9 km in length and the track record set on it was 5min 4.1 seconds, to give you an idea of the sheer scale of it. This is often something that many people forget about the track, given that it currently sits at just over 7km. 

But, even with the reduced length in the modern era, the track is still the longest in the F1 calendar. It also includes the most number of turns to navigate around, at 19, making it tough both physically and mentally for the driver. 

As Spa is used a lot for car testing, it’s often a track that many drivers know quite well. But, newer drivers to the sport often struggle, mainly down to the length and the number of corners in which they have to remember. 

The track is very bumpy in places as well, which means that cars can struggle for grip entering certain corners. Whilst the surface has been addressed in more recent years, it’s still far from perfect and many drivers state that the “racing line” might not always be the best route to take. 

The initial layout of the track meant that Spa was often thought of as a speed course and utilising the long straights that were on offer, many cars were testing how fast they could go. This extends from racing cars to that of production cars as well. It’s reported that Volkswagen used the track for their higher production cars, as well as the likes of Mercedes and Alfa Romeo. 

As the speed of cars continued to increase, the number of fatalities at the track also rose. The speed of the track meant that people were getting to speeds that initially weren’t taken into consideration and as a result, many changes over the coming years needed to be made. 

By 2006, an investment of over €19 million had been ploughed into the track, meaning facilities and parts of the surface were able to be improved. The work was finished in 2007 and with it they regained their status within Formula 1 after a couple of seasons out due to finance and safety concerns. 

The bus stop chicane is one of the latest additions to the design of the track and also a great opportunity for overtaking to happen. New run offs and asphalt surface has made Spa much safer and up to the high standards that the FIA now set out for any racetracks that are involved with Formula 1. 

Recent Winners

YearDriverCarFastest Lap
2017 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1.46.603
2016 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1.51.746
2015 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1.52.504
2014 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1.52.974
2013 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1.50.756

Other Racing at Spa

Circuit de Spa Other Racing
View of the Track (Kevin Vandevelde /

As Spa is such an iconic track these days, the number of race meetings that they include is quite staggering. It’s also worth noting that the track is open to the public at certain times of the year for dedicated track days. They are generally stricter on what cars can and can’t come in, often needing to be part of a car club or have specific racing requirements for the car. 

In terms of professional series, the likes of the Blancpain Endurance Series, Formula 3, RCN, Motorbike Endurance, ADAC GT Masters, DTM, WTCC, Spa 24 hours and 1000km Spa are just some of the higher profile events. 

Fun fact – the track has also been used parts of the Tour De France cycle race. In 1980 it was a time trial stage and in 1989 had several laps of the track as part of one of the stages. 


Circuit de Spa Racing F1 Belgian Grand Prix
Alexander Nie /

The track was designed in 1920 by that of Jules de Their and Henri Langlois Van Ophem. The original layout included parts of public roads, which need to be shut off when any race meetings were in place, for obvious reasons. The first use of the circuit for Grand Prix racing was in 1925. 

One of the charms of the track at Spa was that it was surrounded by villages and just everyday objects, such as houses, streets, electricity pylons. In fact, for many years the only safety feature that was included was that of hay bales, which as you can imagine, offered very little protection. 

Original Track

The original track was finally closed in 1978 after several fatalities. In one race, there were two deaths within 15 minutes of each other and whilst not linked, highlighted just how unforgiving what little run off areas there were. As a result, the F1 governing body, FIA, boycotted the track in 1969 due to safety concerns and the seemingly increasing death toll that was taking place year on year. 

New Layout

The latest track outline has proved to be much more driver-friendly, whilst still keeping the characteristics of the Spa circuit, which is essentially speed. As a testimony to how good the track is, Michael Schumacher rated it as one of the best, which would explain the reason why he won 6 times at the track, one more than the late, Ayrton Senna. 

In more recent times, the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vetell and Daniel Ricciardo, have all done well. Realistically, It’s likely only Hamilton (3 wins) or Vettel (2 wins) will be able to break Schumacher’s record of 6 wins form the current era of drivers.