This weekend a Belgian driver should contest his home grand prix for the first time since Jerome D’Ambrosio brought his Virgin home 17th six years ago.
Assuming Stoffel Vandoorne doesn’t suffer another pre-race failure (as he did in Bahrain and his team mate did in Russia), he will become the 19th Belgian driver to start his home grand prix.
No Belgian driver has ever won their home round of the world championship. Only three Belgians have stood on the podium at home: Paul Frere (second in 1956), Olivier Gendebien (third in 1960) and Jacky Ickx (third in 1968).
The latter is Belgium’s most successful F1 driver. Ickx took eight wins and a total of 25 podium finishes during his career. His first rostrum appearance came at home, though he never reached the top three again in Belgium after that.
The Belgian Grand Prix is one of Formula One’s most enduring races. This year’s instalment will be the 62nd – it’s only been missing from the world championship calendar on six occasions (1957, 1959, 1969, 1971, 2003 and 2006).
The daunting Spa-Francorchamps course held most of those events, though the race was mostly held at Zolder during the seventies after the original 14-kilometre Spa course was deemed too dangerous for F1 cars.
The final race on the old Spa-Francorchamps was won by Pedro Rodriguez at an average speed of 241.3kph. Incredibly, that race 47 years ago was completed at a higher average speed than any of the 11 rounds so far this year, the fastest of which is Valtteri Bottas’s Austrian Grand Prix win at 224.7kph.
The current track may be much shorter than the old one but at 7.004 kilometres Spa remains the longest track on the current Formula One calendar, equivalent to more than two laps of Monaco in terms of distance.
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Kimi Raikkonen forged a reputation as a Spa-master by winning this race four times out of five between 2004 and 2009. Strikingly, the first and last of those were the only victories for the cars he drove: McLaren’s MP4-19B and Ferrari’s F60 respectively.
Raikkonen might have made it five out of five had he not spun out after leading 37 laps in 2008. That allowed Felipe Massa scored his only win at the track to date after Lewis Hamilton was controversially penalised. Hamilton avenged his lost victory in 2010 and 2015.
Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo are the only other drivers in the field to have won this race. Remarkably, Fernando Alonso has never won the Belgian Grand Prix. However he did score his last pre-F1 win at Spa during the Formula 3000 support race in 2000.
The fastest laps from each race weekend at Spa-Francorchamps since the circuit was last revised:
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