August 24, 2009

F1 on SPEED!: BELGIUM, man, BELGIUM! 2009!

It doesn't get any better than this.  We leave the boring street circuit in Valencia and head to the most exciting and vibrant track on the F1 calendar, the Swimming Pool at Spa-Francorchamps.  While Silverstone is probably my favorite circuit overall, if someone held a gun to my feathered head and said "only one track ever again," I'd probably choose Spa.

There's nothing you need in a race course that Spa doesn't have.  Elevation changes, high speed straights, both high- and low-speed turns, legendary curves, history out the ears, and rain.  Lots and lots of rain.  In fact, 2008's Grand Prix of Belgium was far and away the most dramatic race in a season chock-filled with drama.

Let's take a look at the track map for this wonderful circuit:

The named turns alone are worth the price of admission:  La Source, Eau Rouge, Raidillon, Beau Rivage, Pouhon, Blanchimont... any one of them would be the stars of a lesser track, but here they weave a course that pretty much every driver, and every F1 fan, loves.  From a steep climb at Eau Rouge that makes Raidillon a blind turn, to the steep downhill starting around 11 and ending around Blanchimont, no track on the calendar has more or steeper elevation changes.

Yet for all that, it's a very fast track, and will probably have the lowest downforce settings we've seen yet this year.  Monza will have lower yet, of course, but Spa is just a lot more fun than the Italian track. 

Of course, the ever-present threat of rain at this track in the Ardennes means that the setup is almost a crapshoot.  Do you plan for rain and crank on the wings and raise the ride height, only to suffer if it's dry?  Or do you take off wing angle, lower the chassis as far as it'll go and go for the speed, only to find that you can't stick to the road in the rain?  Headaches abound for the unwary, not to mention ping-ponging off the barriers before Raidillon.

No, it doesn't get any better than Spa-Francopants, and the good sprouts at SPEED will be bringing us their usual stellar coverage, beginning with Friday's Second Practice live from 7am to 840am.  Saturday brings us the plausibly live Quals session, from 7am to 830am.  The race, then, is on Sunday, LIVE, from 630am to 9am.  Bring your inflatable rafts and water wings, and let's go racing!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 05:48 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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1 Always excited about Spa, the most beautiful circuit to me. Was watching the IRL race last weekend and felt that Infineon Raceway was a bit like a dusty Spa. If you turn the track map around and squint a lot it looks like it a bit too. Can't wait!

Posted by: flotsky at August 25, 2009 04:08 AM (xlYL2)

2

In addition to being an awesome track, I love to say the name of the track. 

Very much looking forward to this race and to Monza. 

I'll bring the Belgian waffles, guys!

 

Posted by: Mallory at August 25, 2009 08:00 AM (WJ2qy)

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