After a long and much-needed break, the racing circus finally arrives at Belgium to race at the most classic of them all, Spa-Francorchamps. Formula 2 drivers this weekend will undertake the ultimate test of skill and consistency in this scenic round of the FIA Formula 2 Championship.
|Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps|
|Location||Stavelot, Belgium||Circuit Length||7.004 km / 4.352 mi|
The fabled 7 kilometer circuit is the longest and one of two most coveted tracks on the calendar. The track sweeps through the hills with 19 corners, 9 right and 10 left and one particular Eau Rouge presents the track’s biggest challenge. The classic 300 Km/h left-right-left combination remains one of motoracing’s biggest challenges and will provide a natural proving ground for the young class of 2017.
The long circuit and varied corners mean there are more than many ways for a driver to find a rhythm here, with the top-speed focused sectors 1 and 3 and the downforce-focused sector 2; car setup, tyre management and overall focus will prove invaluable for drivers finding their rhythm around Spa.
Qualifying here is far from everything as Spa is one of the raciest tracks on the calendar with at least 3 almost sure overtaking spots at Turn 1 and up the hill into the Turns 5&6 ‘Les Combes’ chicane and following the Blanchimont left-hander and into the final ‘Bus Stop’ chicane at Turns 18&19. Drivers can pick and chose their racing lines for overtaking opportunities almost anywhere else on the circuit.
|2017 FIA Formula 2 Championship – Belgium (25-27 August 2017)|
|Free Practice Session 1||Fri 11:55-12:40||Qualifying||Fri 16:20-16:50|
|Feature Race (25 laps)||Sat 16:00-17:15||Sprint Race (18 laps)||Sun 10:15-11:15|
|Pirelli Tyre Compounds||2016 Pole Winner||Antonio Giovinazzi|
|2016 Feature Race Winner||Pierre Gasly||2016 Sprint Race Winner||Antonio Giovinazzi|
Session times quoted in Central European Summer Time (GMT + 02:00)
Rewind to 2016
Last year’s event proved to be one of 2016’s most exciting as the title battle between PREMA teammates Pierre Gasly and Antonio Giovinazzi slowly took on more heat. After just missing on pole to his teammate, Gasly bounced back on Saturday and took a firm win after Giovinazzi lost out due to a slow start and had to settle for sixth. The Italian bounced back on Sunday morning and took victory in the sprint race to inch closer to the lead. At this stage last year, Sergey Sirotkin and Raffaele Marciello were also still in the title battle, a stark contrast to 2017.
The Form Guide & Talking Points
Charles Leclerc’s pre-summer form meant he enters every round as the favorite for this weekend. The Monegasque leads the drivers title by a 50-point margin and has every reason to stay calm and enjoy racing around Spa. However, with wet conditions on the radar for at least Friday and possibly Saturday, Oliver Rowland and Artem Markelov have a chance to make a dent into Leclerc’s lead this week.
DAMS go into this round leading the teams’ tables with PREMA not a very distant second. PREMA’s one-man show this year could cost them in the teams’ battle and a 42-point deficit, although still recoverable, is properly sizable especially considering RUSSIAN TIME currently sit third in the table, just 13 points behind and have been one of only two teams to have scored in every race so far.
Nyck de Vries’ brilliant form this year earns him a promotion to Racing Engineering, swapping seats with Louis Deletraz who takes his former seat at Rapax. The Dutchman will be hoping to thrill the Dutch fans who came to their neighboring Spa-Francorhamps to cheer his countryman Max Verstappen.
Roberto Merhi returns to the series in the other Rapax to replace Sergio Canamasas who won’t be taking part in this event.
Images via FIA Formula 2 Championship