Things to know ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Belgium, Circuit de Spa-Francorchampsbe

After a brief pause, Formula One returned to action at Spa for the Belgian Grand Prix, Round 7 of the heavily-updated 2020 F1 calendar. The pecking order has hardly changed for this weekend with Mercedes enjoying an enormous competitive advantage.

The longest track – The original Spa circuit was some 15km long which has been shortened to just 7.004km, but it is still easily the longest track on the current Grand Prix calendar. Drivers will need to complete 44 laps in today’s race to cover the total race distance of 308.052km.

Tight section – The pit lane is a quite tight section at Spa. Drivers have to adhere to a maximum of 80km/h when driving in the pit lane.

The dominant Mercedes – Valtteri Bottas holds the record for the fastest race lap. The Finn driver set a lap time of 1’46.286 during the 2018 Belgian Grand Prix that remained unbeaten during last year’s race at Spa.

DRS zones – Overtaking is very much possible around the Spa circuit with the Kemmel straight offering great opportunities. However, there will be two DRS zones at Spa-Francorchamps to further help drivers complete their overtaking manoeuvres. The detection point of the first is located 240m before Turn 2, with the activation point 230m after Turn 4. The second zone has a detection point 160m before Turn 18 and an activation point 30m after Turn 19.

Track changes – FIA has made a tremendous effort to make the blindingly fast Spa circuit even safer after last year’s accident in Formula 2. The four-row tyre barrier at the exit of Turn 4 has been extended. An additional kerb has been added inside the existing kerb at Turn 2. Interestingly, all of the artificial grass around the track has been removed.

Softer compounds – Formula One’s sole tyre supplier Pirelli has brought a one-step softer tyre selection to Spa compared to the tyre allocation in 2019. The decision was prompted by the fact that no driver used the C1 tyre last year. Therefore, Pirelli has come down a compound for this year with the C2, C3 and C4 available this weekend.

Long history – Spa is among the tracks that were part of the calendar of Formula 1’s inaugural year back in 1950. Today’s race will be the 65th Belgian Grand Prix with the event only missing the schedule on six occasions: 1957, 1959, 1969, 1971, 2003 and 2006.

Three tracks – Of the 64 races held in Belgium, 52 took place at the Circuit of Spa-Francorchamps. The other races were staged at Zolder and Nivelles.

The most successful - Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher is the most successful driver at the Belgian Grand Prix with six victories. The great German clinched his maiden F1 victory at Spa, just a year after debuting at the same track in the sport. Ayrton Senna is the second most successful driver with 5 victories, followed by Kimi Räikkönen and Jim Clark with four wins apiece. In the current field, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel are the only other repeat winners at Spa-Francorchamps with three triumphs apiece.

Ferrari is the most successful at Spa - Despite its current struggles, the fabled Italian team Ferrari are the leading constructor in Belgium with 18 victories, four ahead of McLaren on 14. Lotus occupies the third spot on this list with eight wins. Alfa Romeo is also a winning constructor around Spa with securing the victories at the first and second Belgian Grands Prix.

Important starting position – While overtaking is a less difficult affair at Spa, starting positions have proved vital in recent years. The race has only produced two winners from behind the front row since the circuit was reconfigured for the 2007 grand prix – Kimi Räikkönen won from P6 in 2009 and Daniel Ricciardo from P5 in 2014. In total, Spa has produced 19 victories from pole position.