Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

Belgium 2012 - Race information // Everything you need to know about the Belgian Grand Prix

Published by Christine

Even the most hard-hearted F1 fan will be desperately waiting for this weekend's race, after five long weeks of summer break. The drivers have been off on their holidays, but have returned to their strict training regimes to prepare for the return to action in Belgium. The action in Spa is usually pretty good, the weather changeable, and the drivers desperate to show what they can do. That sounds like a recipe for a good racing weekend to me!

Event schedule

Fernando Alonso heads up the driver's championship but it's by no means a dominant lead. Red Bull, meanwhile, have a firm grip on the lead in the constructor's battle as the teams behind them chop and change. There was an enforced two week shutdown during August, but aside from that the teams have been free to come up with new and ingenious ways to make their cars go that little bit faster. Spa causes chaos by its very nature, and the back-to-school feeling could add some drama to the weekend.

Session Timetable
DateDaySessionGMT +0100Local
31 AugFridayFree Practice 109:0010:00
Free Practice 213:0014:00
1 SepSaturdayFree Practice 310:0011:00
Qualifying13:0014:00
2 SepSundayGrand Prix13:0014:00

Support racing for this event includes GP2, GP3, and Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup.

The weather

You'd be silly to assume there will be no rain over the Belgian F1 weekend, but the long range forecasts suggest that race day might see some sunshine. There's talk of showers during Friday practice, with the weather turning sunny, if a little cloudy, over the weekend itself. Of course, that is sure to change as the Spa circuit can have its own microclimate at times.

rain

Spa, Friday

17℃

  • Low 8℃
  • Humidity 75%

Light showers

clear

Spa, Saturday

19℃

  • Low 8℃
  • Humidity 63%

Mostly sunny

moderate

Spa, Sunday

21℃

  • Low 11℃
  • Humidity 65%

Somewhat cloudy

Circuit map

Sidepodcast image
DRS Zones
DRS detection235m before Turn 2
DRS activation320m after Turn 4

The activation point for DRS this year has been modified slightly, moved 50m later than it was in 2011. The overall position of the DRS is similar, though, and last year, the system came under some criticism that it made overtaking too easy. Stefano Domenicali was particularly vocal about the "foregone conclusion" that overtaking became, whilst Martin Whitmarsh took the opposite view. He was more of the opinion that the fans wanted overtaking, and had to take the rough with the smooth.

Although DRS is allowed throughout the lap during practice and qualifying, it is banned up and over Eau Rouge, in the interests of driver safety.

The circuit

Circuit Data
NameCircuit de Spa-Francorchamps
LocationSpa
TimezoneGMT +0200
First Race1950
Laps44
Length7.004 km
Distance308.052 km
Start / Finish Offset0.124 km

Formula One drivers rave about the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, even Kimi Räikkönen likes it! In an increasingly Tilke-based calendar, Spa offers a respite from medium-speed corners. It offers sweeping curves, long straights and elevation changes.

Given Spa's tendency to provide it's own weather, and the length of the track itself, it can be raining at one end of the circuit and not at the other. The challenge in managing tyres, strategy and setting up the car to be good in all conditions can be a real headache for engineers.

There have been a few superficial changes to the track since 2011, with more artificial grass installed, and the FIA insisting on their own approved paint for the white lines. Some drainage areas at turns 9 and 10 have been levelled off, too.

2011 Results
SessionDriverTeamTimeLinks
Free Practice 1Michael SchumacherMercedes1:54:355Live / Results
Free Practice 2Mark WebberRed Bull1:50.321Live / Results
Free Practice 3Mark WebberRed Bull2:08.988Live / Results
QualifyingSebastian VettelRed Bull1:48.298Live / Results
Grand PrixSebastian VettelRed Bull1:26:44.893Live / Results
Fastest LapMark WebberRed Bull1:49.883

Tyre compounds

Hard and medium compounds
Hard and medium compounds

For the 2011 race, Pirelli brought the soft and medium compounds to Spa, but this year they've moved things up a notch. Instead of the soft tyre, we have the hard compound alongside the medium. That does mean the white and silver compounds are back in the same race weekend, even though that was supposed not to occur. Meanwhile, Pirelli's boss explains how the tyres might affect the race:

It’s certainly one of the most demanding circuits that we face all year, because of the high speeds and extreme forces involved, which are often acting on the tyres in more than one dimension. The nomination of the hard and the medium tyres will allow drivers to push hard from start to finish, which is what Spa was designed for.

- Paul Hembery

Press conference schedule

Official press conferences are organised by the FIA and happen four times during the weekend. The qualifying and post race press conferences will take place after the television unilateral interviews.

Press Conference Schedule
DayLocalAttendeeRepresenting
Thursday15:00Jenson ButtonMcLaren
Pedro de la RosaHRT
Vitaly PetrovCaterham
Charles PicMarussia
Michael SchumacherMercedes
Jean-Éric VergneToro Rosso
Friday16:00Mattia BinottoFerrari
Ross BrawnMercedes
David GreenwoodMarussia
Paul HemberyPirelli
Paddy LoweMcLaren
SaturdayPost qualifyingThree fastest drivers
SundayPost raceFirst three finishing drivers

Race stewards

The FIA stewarding process was changed last year to include a former F1 driver to give added insight. These are the stewards overseeing this weekend's action.

F1 Stewards
NamePosition
Garry ConnellyExecutive Committee Member of the FIA Institute and Director of Australian Institute of Motor Sport Safety
Steven ChoppingPermanent Chairman of the stewards panel for the V8 Supercar Championship
Eliseo SalazarF1, IRL, WRC and Dakar driver

All content in the series Belgium 2012