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PostSubject: F1 - 2013 BELGIAN GRAND PRIX - SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS   Tue Aug 20, 2013 8:00 pm


After a long summer break, Formula One returns this weekend at the legendary Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium for the 2013 Formula 1 Shell Belgian Grand Prix. The 2013 Belgian Grand Prix marks the eleventh round of the 2013 FIA Formula 1 World Championship.

Nestling in the Ardennes forests in Belgium lays one of the most spectacular motor racing circuits in the world. Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps is the longest circuit on the schedule at 4.325 miles in length. This 19-turn layout has a wide variety of corners; including flat out blind crests, high speed sweepers and slow speed chicanes.

Spa-Francorchamps is a natural environment for Formula 1 cars; high speed corners such as Eau Rouge and Pouhon illustrate the epic downforce levels and cornering capabilities of F1 cars. Spa also demonstrates the power and top speeds of F1 cars, too; the run from La Source to Les Combes is the longest full-throttle section on the F1 calendar at a total of 25 seconds wide open on the throttle at 205 mph. In every sense, Spa is an extremely fast circuit.

The Belgian Grand Prix can often throw up surprise results, due to the unpredictable weather and unusual circuit characteristics compared to other circuits.

Belgian Grand Prix fast facts

-Driving direction: Clockwise
-Length of pit straight: 0.5 mile
-Average speed of lap: 145 mph
-Longest period at full throttle: 1,850 metres (25 seconds)
-Full throttle percentage: 72 %
-Time on brakes: 12 %
-Gear changes per lap: 44
-Highest g-force: 5.2 g
-Total race distance: 191 miles

Overtaking opportunities

Spa-Francorchamps has long straightaways that lead into tight chicanes. This means that there are genuine overtaking opportunities, with slipstreaming particularly common on the Kemmel Straight.

The first overtaking opportunity comes at La Source, drivers exit the final chicane at around 40 mph then roar down the start/finish straight to 180 mph before braking hard for turn 1 to just 37 mph. This is a key passing place because rivals can benefit from the large braking zone into the final turn, then they battle along the start/finish straight into turn 1. A DRS zone will be placed on the pit straight – the detection point for this DRS zone is just before the chicane of turns 18 and 19.

The second passing opportunity comes at Les Combes, the drivers are full throttle for around 25 seconds from La Source to Les Combe’s – turn 5. The cars reach around 205 mph on the Kemmel Straight. This is a common passing place, as the full throttle section preceding Les Combe’s is the longest wide open section of any circuit.

The DRS makes the Kemmel Straight even more critical, with the activation point being on the exit of Raidillon. A driver on the offensive will want to be as close as possible to their rival exiting Eau Rouge, in order to be one second within their rival onto the long straightaway.

The last common passing place comes at the bus stop chicane, the cars will reach 200 mph before braking to just 40 mph for turn 18 – the heaviest braking zone on the circuit therefore an ideal passing opportunity.

What to watch for

Undoubtedly, the weather is always a worry when teams come to Spa-Francorchamps. Not only can rain come very suddenly in the region, but because of the vast size of the circuit, it can rain on only circuit sections on the circuit and not on others. Consequently, grip levels will vary considerably, and teams will have to decide whether grooved tyres are worth fitting.

Even if there is no rain, the temperatures can often be cool at Spa. The high speed loadings should generate heat into the front tyres, but the minimal braking at Spa means heating up the brakes will be critical for “hot laps”.

This will be the first Grand Prix at a circuit that puts high loads on the tyres since Pirelli reverted back to the 2012-spec compounds. This may well help teams who struggled to manage the rapidly degrading 2013 compounds at high speed circuits. However, this will be a journey into the unknown for every team.

The Hungaroring and Nurburgring mostly had low speed turns that didn’t “load” up the tyres for sustained periods. Eau Rouge and Pohon at Spa will be a tough test of the durability of these new tyres. And not just durability in the wear/degradation sense – but durability in terms of the construction of the tyres.

Car requirements

Spa-Francorchamps is a medium downforce circuit. Sector two requires a higher level of downforce, in order to maximise cornering speeds during Pouhon. The other flowing corners in sector two such as turns 12 and 13 also require high downforce levels. However, sectors one and three feature extremely long full throttle sections of up to 25 seconds.

The run from La Source to Les Combes, and from turns 15 to 18 are long flat out sections that require an aerodynamically efficient car and a high top speed. This can be achieved by flattening the front and rear wings, or, taking parts off the front wing to minimise aerodynamic drag. The full throttle section between the exit of La Source and leading into Les Combes is the longest full throttle section of any circuit – that alone making it tough on the engines.

This need for good straight line speed places an extra focus on engines. Most teams will run brand new engines for each of their cars this weekend, so that they have the maximum horse power and will be less prone to failure if they are fresh units, with no previous stress on components like the pistons which will be put under immense stress when drivers stay wide open at such high RPM’s for such a long time.

Running lower downforce levels also will also help overtaking and defending, even with DRS-assistance when attempting to overtake.

Tyre selections

Pirelli will bring their Medium and Hard compound P Zero tyres to Spa-Francorchamps for maximum durability. The graphic below shows Pirelli’s 2013 range of P Zero tyres:

Video footage

Here are laps of Spa at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps with Nico Rosberg driving his Mercedes-Benz WO2 during the 2011 Belgian Grand Prix event:

Weekend schedule in UK time:

Thursday 26 July 2013

Friday Practice 1 10:00 – 11:30
Friday Practice 2 14:00 – 15:30

Sat 27 July 2013

Saturday Practice 10:00 – 11:00
Qualifying 13:00

Sun 28 July 2013

Start of Formation Lap 13:00
2013 Hungarian Grand Prix Race Start 13:03

Full weekend schedule in local time

Thursday 22nd August:

Formula One Press Conference - Press Room   15:00

Friday 23rd August:

Formula Paddock Club Pit Walk   08:45 – 09:45
Formula One Practice 1   10:00 – 11:30
GP2 Practice Session  12:00 – 12:30
Formula Paddock Club Pit Walk   12:35 – 13:45
Formula One Practice 2   14:00 – 15:30
GP2 Qualifying Session  15:55 – 16:25
Formula One Press Conference - Press Room   16:00 – 17:00
Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup  16:45 – 17:30
GP3 Practice Session  17:50 – 18:35

Saturday  24th August

Formula One Pit Stop Practice   08:30 – 09:15
Formula Paddock Club Pit Walk   08:30 – 09:35
GP3 Qualifying Session   09:45 – 10:15
Formula One Practice 3   11:00 – 12:00
Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup Qualifying Session  12:25 – 12:55
Formula Paddock Club Pit Walk   13:00 – 13:45
Formula One Qualifying   13:00
GP2 First Race (25 laps or 60 mins)  15:40 – 16:45
GP3 First Race (13 Laps or 30 mins)  17:20 – 17:55

Sunday 25th August

GP3 First Race (13 Laps or 30 mins)  09:25 – 10:00
GP2 Second Race (18 laps or 60 mins)  10:35 – 11:25
Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup Race (14 laps or 30 mins)  11:45 – 12:20
Formula One Paddock Club Pit Walk   12:25 – 13:15
Formula One Drivers Parade   12:30
Formula One Starting Grid Presentation 12:45 – 13:15
Formula One National Anthem  12:46
Start of Formula One Formation Lap 13:00
Start of 2013 Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix   14:03

UK Television schedules – BST time

In addition to Sky F1’s coverage of the 2013 Belgian Grand Prix, BBC is showing this weekend’s Grand Prix sessions live. All live sessions can also be viewed on BBC’s F1 website, free of charge: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/formula1/

Friday 23rd August

Practice 1: 08:55 BBC Two

Practice 2: 12:50 BBC Two

Sky Sports F1 Coverage

Practice 1: 08.45

Practice 2: 12.45

Saturday 24th August

BBC Coverage

Practice 3: 09:55 BBC Two

Qualifying: 12:10 BBC One

Sky Sports F1 Coverage

Practice Three: 09:45

Qualifying: 12:00 pm

Sunday 25th August

BBC Coverage

Race: 12:10 BBC One & BBC Red Button

F1 Forum, 15:15 BBC Red Button (IPTV only)

Sky Sports F1 Coverage

Race: 11.30 am

Live timing and scoring is available for every session at http://www.formula1.com/ Registration is required to view live timing. If you wish to watch this Grand Prix outside the UK, please check your local listings.

Previous winners of Belgian Grand Prix

2004 – Michael Schumacher – Ferrari
2005 – Kimi Raikkonen – McLaren-Mercedes Benz
2007 – Kimi Raikkonen  – Ferrari
2008 – Felipe Massa – Ferrari
2009 – Kimi Raikkonen  – Ferrari
2010 – Lewis Hamilton – McLaren-Mercedes Benz
2011 – Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull-Renault
2012 – Jenson Button – McLaren-Mercedes Benz


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