Nestling deep in the Ardennes forest near Liege, Spa-Francorchamps is one of the most historic and evocative circuits in Formula One and makes a welcome return to the 2007 calendar after a year's absence for modernisation of the circuit and facilities.
The spectacular track layout features a mixture of long straights combined with very high-speed corners and low speed technical sections. Chassis set-up requires a compromise between reducing drag to aid straight-line speed and generating downforce to aid cornering. Braking stability is also an important consideration, particularly when stopping the car after the flat-out Blanchimont corner for the new low speed chicane.
With a 7.004 km lap, Spa is the longest circuit on the calendar and its fantastic corners, wonderful scenery and adrenalin pumping elevation changes make it a place where driver bravery and skill become even more significant than usual. The weather is notoriously changeable which only adds to the excitement of the race weekend. With so much to offer, it’s no surprise that Spa remains a big hit with the drivers.
"It’s one of my absolute favourite circuits and I am really excited that it is back on the calendar for this year,” enthuses Jenson Button. As everyone acknowledges, it’s a real drivers' track where your skill and commitment are tested to the absolute limit on every lap. The only other track that really compares to the challenge of Spa is probably Suzuka in Japan. It's a flowing circuit, which you can really get into a rhythm around. You can overtake at the top of the hill into Les Combes, hopefully into the new chicane and you can also squeeze by at the first corner, La Source. The biggest challenge is the double left-hander Pouhon and it is really satisfying to get that right."
Rubens Barrichello shares Jenson’s enthusiasm for the venue. "The Spa circuit is a well-known favourite for every driver and it is a fantastic feeling to drive around there in a Formula One car. After a year away, it will be good to return and it is certainly safer since they have made the modifications to the circuit layout. It is one of the best circuits of the year, and with the unpredictable weather and the opportunities for overtaking, you always expect a good fun race. The test in July at Spa was not one of our best; however we have made a lot of progress on the car since then, as the weekend in Italy has shown, so I go to Spa in a positive frame of mind and hoping for a good race."
Having finished in the points at Italy, Jenson also arrives in Belgium in confident mood. “We had a good weekend in Monza, coming away from a strong race performance with a point,” he said before adding a note of caution. “We have to be realistic about our prospects for Spa as the circuit demands are very different and our test in July was difficult, but I am hopeful the improvements will carry through."