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Friday atmosphere images from the 2018 Belgian Grand Prix
NEWS

F1 2018 set for full throttle restart at Spa Francorchamps

Aug 252018

F1 is back in action, and it couldn’t be at a better venue. Spa Francorchamps!

Even the name sounds like it has just won a race. As one of the oldest and longest circuits on the modern F1 calendar, its status both in and out of the paddock is enshrined in legend.

Stand anywhere along the catch fencing of the famous rollercoaster Raidillon and Eau Rouge sweep, and you’ll quickly understand why. The back-draught of cars blasting past literally takes your breath away. Drivers nail the racing line at full power downhill, flick left then right, and rocket uphill out of view again. Leaving nothing but a shower of sparks in their wake. It’s a blink of an eye spectacle at over 300km/h, and it has been happening at Spa for over 90 years.

And that’s just the start of the lap. Set around the picturesque Belgian Ardennes countryside, the modern circuit that the Silver Arrows and their competitors tackle today was once part of a massive 14.9km course set on public roads. Despite being roughly half that distance for a single lap in its current form, the circuit has lost none of its challenges. Massive elevation changes, high-speed high-g-force corners, and a mountain weather system that regularly means half of the circuit can be wet, and half is dry are just some of the highlights of racing at Spa.

 

Nobody knows this better than Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport Team boss Toto Wolff: “Our first stop after the summer break is Spa - an historic circuit that has been the venue of some of the most spectacular races in F1 history. Corners like Eau Rouge are known to race fans around the world and the race always attracts a huge and very enthusiastic crowd.

“From a team's perspective, the circuit is quite tricky, as it is not easy to find the right set-up for a track that has long straights, considerable changes in elevation and high-speed corners. You want to have enough down force to be quick through the corners, but at the same time not carry too much drag for the long straights.”

 

Lewis Hamilton agrees too: "When you attack it flat out, when you get to the bottom of it, your insides drop. And then when you get to the top they come back up and it feels like everything will come out of your mouth - which is quite exciting when you are going 200mph!"

 

Even off track the atmosphere is electric. Away from the glamour of the paddock, it’s a case of no grandstand, no problem. At every turn fans pack out the tree-lined banks and grass verges, hoping to glimpse a flash of the modern F1 metal boosting around the 19-corner circuit. And they are on the edge of their seats for good reason.

The season restart on race day re-ignites the titanic title fight between Lewis Hamilton and main rival Sebastian Vettel. After the first 12 races of the year, the two drivers sit just 24 points apart in the drivers’ standings, with Lewis currently holding the edge and the top spot. At the end of the season either driver could walk away as a five time F1 World Champion and claim their spot as the second [equal to Juan Manuel Fangio] most successful F1 driver of all time.

 

F1’s new found intensity continues after Spa, with a Grand Prix going live nearly every other weekend ahead of the championship finale in Abu Dhabi on the 25th November. We’re excited, and you should be too. Stay with us for the second half of the season to get the inside line on how it plays out.

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