New-look Spa returns after one-year hiatus 12 Sep 2007
The legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit will again reverberate to the sound of Formula One engines this weekend, as the teams return for the Belgian Grand Prix. The race was absent from the 2006 calendar to allow for extensive improvement work to both the track and its facilities.
Located in the heart of the picturesque Ardennes countryside, and boasting some of the most famous corners in Formula One racing, Spa has always been one of the most atmospheric and popular rounds. A firm fixture on the calendar since 1950, it is also one of the oldest.
The extensive overhaul has seen the circuits paddock upgraded and its pit-lane facilities given a facelift. The changes are designed to level the playing field with amenities found at newer circuits like Shanghai and Istanbul Park, whilst sympathetically retaining the tracks historic charm.
For me the most important factor concerning recent changes is that they have not altered the wonderful character of the circuit, commented Super Aguri race engineer Richard Connell. The new pit lane facilities are excellent and bring the paddock up to the same standard as many of the newer circuits we visit on the Formula One championship circuit.
In addition to cosmetic improvements, significant revisions have been made to the circuits layout. Legendary corners such as Eau Rouge and Blanchimont remain the same, but the Bus Stop chicane, the La Source hairpin and the pit-lane entry have all been modified. The alterations already have several vocal supporters, including Toyotas Jarno Trulli, who enjoyed a dry run during the three-day multi-team test in July.
Spa is the best circuit in the world so I am really pleased it is back on the calendar, said Trulli. The changes to the track have taken a lot of effort but the results are good, especially the improvements to the Bus Stop chicane.
Hondas Jenson Button, meanwhile, believes that the modified circuit may help drivers pass more easily: You can overtake at the top of the hill into Les Combes, hopefully into the new chicane and you can also squeeze by at the first corner, La Source, he commented.
With just four rounds left of the 2007 season, a close four-way battle for the championship, and the positive changes to the Spa circuit, everything looks set for an outstanding race to mark the Belgian Grand Prixs welcome return to the calendar.