Track tweaks at Spa ahead of race

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

The Belgian Grand Prix organisers have made some tweaks to the Spa-Francorchamps circuit ahead of this weekend’s F1 race.

The outside of the La Source hairpin – turn one – now has a longer strip of astroturf which has been increased to three metres wide. This may discourage drivers from going off the track there to gain an advantage, as happened on the first lap of last year’s race.

Drivers will be also discouraged from cutting the corner at Radillion – the left-hander at the top of the hill after Eau Rouge. A a new electronic ‘control loop’ has been installed there which will inform race control when all four of a cars’ wheels are off the track.

There are further changes at Les Combes, which was the scene of a multi-car collision on the first lap of last year’s race.

The inside of the corner now has asphalt run-off and small bumps to discourage corner-cutting, similar to those used at turn one at the Circuit de Catalunya.

More asphalt has been added on the outside of turn six in the same sequence.

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45 comments on “Track tweaks at Spa ahead of race”

  1. All very sensible updates!

  2. All they forgot to do was un-mutilate bus stop…

  3. I don’t see how the addition of asphalt is going to benefit the track at those positions.

    1. Aphalt with bumps might?

  4. why get rid of the grass! i hate to see more tarmac ruining classic tracks.

    1. They want to make them concrete as far as the eye can see because the FIA logic committee thinks that concrete and tarmac is the safest available use of space.

      By that logic, members of the FIA probably think Hackney is the safest place on Earth.

      1. No more asphalt run-off please… Pouhon used to be scary, but last year one of the Force India’s used the run-off to overtake a backmarker, and Kimi’s 2008 race should have ended there too if it hadn’t been for the asphalt. All circuits should be like Melbourne and Suzuka as far as run-offs IMO.

        1. With asphalt run-off it decreases the fear in the driver as they now know that if they run off they will only lose some position where in the old days that may be the end of the game.

  5. I regret when there was only the track, a white line and then…the grass!!!
    Now you have a kerb, a hugher kerb, astroturf, asphalt and then the grass.
    You need to convince me that this is all for safety reasons…I preferred when the track was punishing, and you could pay your mistake with some spinning, or some puncture. Now the worst you cab get is having to discuss with the “referees” if you gained advantage or not. Doesn’t seem to me to be racing spirit.

  6. sato113, same thought at the same time!

  7. Seems fairly sensible, but it’s horrible gray tracks these days. Just watching the BBC classic F1, and seeing how beautiful Spa used to look with the incredibly green Pouhon (sp).

    I just think if they’re going to have tarmac run off, why not use the Paul Ricard style run off?

  8. So they’ve removed the ‘Kimi line’ at La Source? Shame ;)

      1. Or the Badoer line. Or for instance the Vettel and Button line in Silverstone 2010?

        Why do people keep harping on about how Raikkonen went wide there? When all he was doing was avoiding Trulli and Heidfeld colliding. Just as Button went wide to avoid an accident too.

    1. No wonder Kimi said he doesn’t want to come back, he must have read about the changes before…

      1. Mike made me laugh, I hope he could have returned in the middle of the race drunk with his rally car. Miss him a lot, lots of memories of him on this track

  9. Richard Brown
    24th August 2010, 18:05

    Les Combes becomes yet another victim of the ‘oh-god-there-was-a-crash-here-last-year-due-to-a-vaguely-challenging-corner-layout-forcing-drivers-to-make-mistakes-so-we-better-neutralise-any-possible-risk’ policy.


    1. Where is it written that the layout of the corner was changed? All they did was to add high kerbs to discourage drivers from cutting the corner. Very sensible

      1. Richard Brown
        24th August 2010, 19:01

        Putting a run-off area and these supposedly ‘high’ sleeping policeman lumps – which I’ve yet to see actually damage a car’s floor when run over (accept perhaps Alonso Monza 2003 – though his car was already battered) – immediately changes the layout of the corner. It nullifies the challenge of knowing that if you run wide you’re susceptible to how the car will react to the grass conditions and the speed you took on entry, even more so in wet conditions. The same fate has met Pouhon and Fagnes already.

        There was no need for it. Your opinion of it being ‘sensible’ is valid and fair. But, it’s these ‘sensible’ decisions which are slowly ripping the soul out of many of the non-Tilke entities.

        1. I respect your opinion, but I think that in this case you’re over-reacting. I mean the reason they did that was that drivers gave no respect to the grass you speak of and were cutting that corner all the time, why should they be allowed to do so? Sleeping policeman works, no need to go far down memory lane to 2003, there was a famous case of Vettel damaging his car on one of those(don’t remember which race that was, maybe you will?). The drivers don’t go too fast into the corners just knowing they’re there. And in the wet the kerbs are super slippery as well. Plus in Les Combes there was an asphalt escape road anyway which Schumacher used in 1995 race to good effect.

          P.S. Completely agree about Pouhon and Fagnes but this is different

          1. I think your righ here Alex. No need to critisize just everything they do because it is a chane.

            Something actually makes sense.

    2. I think it’s more of a ‘oh-god-drivers-can-go-straight-through-and-have-a-massive-advantage-lets-neutralise-any-possible-advantage’ policy.

      Rubens Barrichello cutting those 2 corners and passing 10 cars in the process:

      1. Richard Brown
        25th August 2010, 14:44

        It’s his choice to cut the corner whether there’s grass or not. Given we have seen, as with the bollards at Turn 1 & 2 at Catalyuna mentioned, they don’t actually damage the car that much, but instead rely on the annoyance of how many there are dotted around the run-off area, if Barrichello were to make a similar V-line this year, the way his car bounced up on the grass a couple of times is probably replicative of what the bumps would do, but this year he would actually end up with less dirt on his tyres and less grass in his radiators. If anything it’s advantageous perhaps

      2. Richard Brown
        25th August 2010, 14:52

        Also, I just counted how many cars he passed, given I see you only got your 10 figure from that over-exaggerated, highest-rated comment on YouTube – which if you read was referring to the whole clip, not Les Combes.

        He passes 5 cars, 4 of whom had the 1st Lap crash. Seeing that he would have got sucked into it had he stayed on the racing line, surely that’s just commendable survival-of- the-wisest stuff, as opposed to cheating

  10. The question now is, armed with these data about who went off the track and when, what the stewards will do about it and how quickly. This still does not answer the question of “advantage” and the means the refs have to measure it.

    They also need to take stronger action at La Source. Basically the best line is to take the runoff on the exit. I think the solution is not to roughen up the run off there, but to put a set of nasty curbing further down the next straight on the left, preventing a car from rejoining the track from the runoff flat out.

    1. I like this a lot. This seems safer and more fair at the same time. There definitely needs to be more “natural” and immediate punishment for when a car leaves the official track. Naturally, I’m with some of the others who say bring back the grass, but I know the FIA will never be convinced of this.

    2. If you go wide at La Source you lose time. Coulthard explained this during the race at the time and it’s demonstrated by all the other drivers who went wide and struggled to keep their place.

      Not just at Spa but at all tracks.

      Just about every race drivers go wide and lose places.

      One time Kimi goes wide and by a stroke of luck (and KERS) he keeps his position and people can’t stop bringing it up. What about the 999 other times that it didn’t benefit a driver?

  11. I want to see more grass than asphalt. Punish the drivers!

    1. I think gravel will punish then more, s with grass you do have a situation where you can escape but with deep gravel chances are slim & even if you do you will damage your cars under body.

  12. Asphalt is totally pointless. As mentioned above it totally changes the character of a corner and makes it ridiculously easy if you make a mistake. In addition to this ‘sleeping policemen’ can in themselves be dangerous, and asphalt just looks bloody awful to boot.

    Perhaps circuit owners, designers, architects and the FIA should take a look at actual fans opinions and see the an overwhelming majority simply detest asphalt.

    I mean come on. These changes have maimed Spa even further :(

  13. Drivers will be also discouraged from cutting the corner at Radillion – the left-hander at the top of the hill after Eau Rouge. A a new electronic ‘control loop’ has been installed there which will inform race control when all four of a cars’ wheels are off the track.

    This actually seems to make sense. A nice technical way to measure drivers cutting the corners, without actually modifying the corner or runoff. Why don’t they just leave the runoff areas as they are and install these control loops in all the kerbs?

    1. Good question. Technology seems good enough now that these sort of things could be used everywhere. And allows more immediate reaction. Go too far once and get a warning, next time it happens in the same corner you get a penalty. No more of this 15 laps of waiting for stewards to decide!

      1. Considering the amount of money available in F1 should they want it, there is not one reason why sensors can’t be placed in the cars, to measure exactly where they are all the time, and alert the stewards immediately that someone takes a short cut.

        The fact it hasn’t happened is ridiculous.

        This isn’t like Soccer, The stewards already take an hour to make a decision. Why not make them accurate as well.

        1. It might be a test here. If succesfull, they could apply it at other corners and other tracks. That would make a lot of sense.

      2. The question was not if Alonso went off track, but whether he was forced off by Kubica or if he went off to gain an advantage.

        The stewards need to look up the video evidence, then tell Ferrari, then debate about how Alonso thinks differently, then again look at more video footage etc etc

        BTW it took the same 12 laps with the Hamilton Vettel overtake in Magny Cours 2008.

        BTW in the past they would put someone at the corner where cutting occurred. I remember them telling Massa to knock it off with the chicane cutting through teh chicane after La Piscine

  14. @Joey-Poey

    I’m afraid that’s far too sensible to even be considered by the FIA.

    For a start it actually might work, at no detriment too the racing, and not require any tinkering with its format at all, it would never pass their checks.

    1. Well drat. We could maybe throw some bugs into the program? That would possibly spice up the show.

  15. I’m happy with the first two mentioned changes, but I dont think that Les Combes needed anything done to it. Wasted money really. The tarmac is where the racing happens, the drivers need to keep to it rather than rely on asaphalt outside of the white lines to get them out of jail for free.

  16. If the asphalt run off is there to improve the retardation of a car in crash, for safety reasons, then I wont argue that. However, there should be something to punish errors, which the run off doesnt do. Case and point is the run off at Maggots and Becketts. The grass therer was suffeciently safe and punished mistakes – so why put run off there that patenly was not needed?

    A logical solution would be, in corners like Pouhon, to have a three metre wide grass verge immediently on the edge of the track, followed by the run off. Obviously at corners like Eau Rouge this wouldnt be workable or safe, but it would mean that error would be punished, and the run off is still there in the case of a major off.

    Or maybe even use the TechPro barriers to compensate for the re-introduction of grass verges.

  17. It would have benn better to put gravel there : highly disuassive, and no room for driving errors

  18. After watching the latest BTCC round from Silverstone I see that they have a different way of discouraging drivers from taking the wrong line through a corner (ie going outside the white lines) – they Black Flag them.
    Not only that, but the officials warned all the teams and drivers before the start of the race that it was going to happen, and even told them which corners would be closely watched.
    And I think it worked too……

  19. no one cuts Radillion or les Combes anyway…i’m confused. seems a bit pointless.

    1. Les Combes gets cut quite often. I posted the link above already, but see this example:

      1. yes but that is during first lap mayhem. It is never cut as an ‘escape’ apart from on the first lap.

  20. i think the main reason for introducing these changes especially at les Combes was first lap incident there last year. The rookies ploughed in and ruined the race for Button, Hamilton and many others, where because of this runoff now, those contenders would have been able to regoup and rejoin, albeit a few places down.

    I agree with most sentiments here, and probably the best idea i have read was about La Source hairpin, why not have a raised kerb dividing the off-section and the track, as then anyone running wide would be forced to slow to rejoin the track, or risk damage or a spin if taking it flat out.

    Mistakes, and over-runnign a corner should be punished, not by a crash or potential injury, but by a severe time penalty, i.e. no way of making that time up at all by holding the line. Rejoin immediately, or be forced to ride over big kerbs that will unsettle the car at anything over 10% throttle

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