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Race information - Belgium 2017 // F1 gets back to work at the spectacular Spa circuit

Published by Christine

The Spa-Francorchamps track is always popular, and it's even more so because it brings Formula One back into our lives after a four week summer break. The track is exciting, the drivers love it, the sun shines, the rain pours, and the championship fight gets back underway. There's plenty to look forward to over the next few days, so read on for all the important information to get you through the Belgian Grand Prix weekend.

Event schedule

The main talking point as the season ramps up again is how close the championship is at this point in the season. We're more than halfway through the 2017 calendar, and there are just 14 points between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton. The gap is 33 points if you add Valtteri Bottas into the mix as well. There's so much still to play for, and as the season has shown us, the momentum can swing from one direction to the other pretty quickly. This weekend we'll see who can come out of the summer break starting blocks to kick off this final swing in style.

It's Stoffel Vandoorne's home race and the Belgian driver can celebrate having just been confirmed at McLaren for 2018 (assuming that is considered to be a good thing these days). However, he'll take a hefty engine penalty for his home race, which must be disappointing for the rookie. There are contracts starting to be signed around the grid, so it's a great time for drivers to be putting on good performances to make sure they have a seat for next season.

It's also worth a reminder of how many teammate battles we've seen this season. Whilst Hamilton and Bottas seem to be getting on better than ever, things are a little more tense at Red Bull, and Force India have also had to deal with some irate drivers as well. The pressure is mounting, so there could be more mistakes and more angry radio rants in the future, so watch this space.

Session timetable
DateDaySessionTimeLocal time
25 AugFridayFree Practice 109:00
GMT +01:00
10:00
GMT +02:00
Free Practice 213:00
GMT +01:00
14:00
GMT +02:00
26 AugSaturdayFree Practice 310:00
GMT +01:00
11:00
GMT +02:00
Qualifying13:00
GMT +01:00
14:00
GMT +02:00
27 AugSundayGrand Prix13:00
GMT +01:00
14:00
GMT +02:00

Support racing for this event includes FIA Formula 2, GP3 Series, and Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup.

Expected conditions

The five day weather forecast suggests this weekend could see the return of some rain at Spa, and that means conditions could be really tricky. The track is so long and covers such a lot of ground, that there could be completely different weather situations at either end - rain at one, dry as a bone at the other. Friday is set to be dry, with rain moving in for both qualifying and the race.

Mostly sunny

Spa, Friday

24℃

  • Low 17℃
  • Humidity 61%

Mostly sunny

Isolated thunderstorms

Spa, Saturday

24℃

  • Low 16℃
  • Humidity 71%

Isolated thunderstorms

Scattered storms

Spa, Sunday

22℃

  • Low 14℃
  • Humidity 73%

Scattered storms

Circuit history

Circuit information
CircuitCircuit de Spa-Francorchamps
LocationSpa
CountryBelgium
TimezoneGMT +01:00
Race debut1950
Laps44
Length7.004 km
Distance308.052 km
Line offset0.124 km

This weekend sees the 62nd Belgian Grand Prix, and it is one of the few that has been on the calendar since the start of the world championship in 1950. It has missed a few years on and off, but the Spa circuit hasn't seen significant changes since 2007. This year, the changes are for safety with additional and upgraded tyre barriers, as well as extended kerbing and new drainage around the track.

The tyre barrier upgrade includes inserting tubes into the interior of the tyres, which is presumably in response to last year's huge crash suffered by Kevin Magnussen. The tyre barrier deformed significantly, and there was a red flag period while the driver and the car were recovered, and repairs were made. The additional tubing gives the tyres more strength whilst retaining the flexibility of the tyre barrier itself.

Five drivers in the current F1 field have experience of winning at Spa, including Kimi Räikkönen, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton, as well as Felipe Massa and Daniel Ricciardo. Ferrari are the most successful constructor, although will want to forget last year when their drivers collided at the first corner.

Results for the 2016 Belgian Grand Prix
SessionDriverTeamTime
Free Practice 1Nico RosbergMercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team1:48.348
Free Practice 2Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing1:48.085
Free Practice 3Kimi RäikkönenScuderia Ferrari1:47.974
QualifyingNico RosbergMercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team1:46.744
Grand PrixNico RosbergMercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team1:44:51.058
Fastest lapLewis HamiltonMercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team1:51.583

Tyre compounds

This year, the teams will be able to use the ultrasoft tyres at Spa, with Pirelli bringing them to the track for the first time. Although not a street circuit, the characteristics of the track should suit the softer compounds, as we know that this year's Pirelli tyres are quite durable anyway. There are high speeds both on the straights and through the corners, so look for aggressive and adaptable strategies.

Pirelli's racing boss and F1 spokesperson, Mario Isola, says: "Pirelli was racing at Spa for the 24 Hours last month, which showcased everything this circuit is famous for: changeable weather, unpredictable competition, and heavy demands on the tyres. Now that we are bringing the ultrasoft tyre there for Formula One, we would expect those demands to increase further... two stops would appear to be a likely strategy but we will know more after the first free practice sessions.

Selected tyre sets per driver
Soft tyreSupersoft tyreUltrasoft tyre
Lewis Hamilton436
Valtteri Bottas346
Daniel Ricciardo139
Max Verstappen139
Sebastian Vettel337
Kimi Räikkönen337
Sergio Pérez346
Esteban Ocon346
Felipe Massa157
Lance Stroll157
Fernando Alonso229
Stoffel Vandoorne139
Carlos Sainz238
Daniil Kvyat238
Romain Grosjean346
Kevin Magnussen436
Nico Hülkenberg238
Jolyon Palmer238
Pascal Wehrlein337
Marcus Ericsson247

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
DayAttendeeRepresenting
ThursdayValtteri BottasMercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport
Felipe MassaWilliams Martini Racing
Esteban OconSahara Force India F1 Team
Kimi RäikkönenScuderia Ferrari
Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren Honda
Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing
FridayCyril AbiteboulRenault Sport F1 Team
Zak BrownMcLaren Honda
Yusuke HasegawaHonda Motor Co. Ltd
Christian HornerRed Bull Racing
Guenther SteinerHaas F1 Team
Franz TostScuderia Toro Rosso
SaturdayThree fastest drivers
SundayFirst three finishing drivers

Race stewards

The FIA stewarding process includes a former F1 driver to offer added insight. These stewards are overseeing the weekend's action.

FIA stewards
NamePosition
Gerd EnnserMember of the DSMB's Executive Committee for Automobile Sport, and a Formula One and DTM steward.
Baham LekhalCross Country Rally and Enduro Champion and WTCC Steward.
Mika SaloFormer Formula One driver, ALMS GT Champion and double Le Mans GT2 class winner.

All content in the series Belgium 2017