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eau rouge zaffelli f1 belgian grand porix track changes circuit design fast

Spa facelift means “difference between new and old asphalt”

eau rouge zaffelli f1 belgian grand porix track changes circuit design fast

The legendary Eau Rouge sweep is expected to be faster after the Circuit Spa-Francorchamps received a facelift well ahead of this weekend’s 2022 Belgian Grand Prix, the $80-million refurbishment made in the name of safety and improved racing aka faster.

Formula 1’s championship season resumes with Round 14 with practice on Friday at the Spa-Francorchamps, a historic venue that has hosted the country’s Grand Prix on 54 occasions.

Jarno Zaffelli, founder of the Dromo Circuit design company, tasked with the changes – including resurfacing certain areas of the legendary track including the Eau Rouge through Raidillon iconic squiggle –  believes the track will be faster.

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He told reporters, ahead of the race weekend: “Eau-Rouge will be a flat-out corner and it will provide opportunities, the drivers will feel the difference between the new and the old one asphalt.

“If we look at the GT cars during the 24 Hours of Spa, the pole was 1.7 seconds faster than last year. We know that this year the F1 cars are generally slower than 2021, so here there won’t to be a big gap.”

Nevertheless, the increasingly faster modern F1 cars, are sure to be quick, although not worth comparing to than last year’s visit when F1 raced the final year of the previous generation cars, which are vastly different to the 2022 cars,

Track was last resurfaced in 2010, since then technology has evolved

BELGIAN GRAND PRIX F1/2010 - SPA 29/08/2010 - START© FOTO ERCOLE COLOMBO

As for the key areas that have been resurfaced and the reasons thereof, Zaffelli said: “Last time that the track was paved was almost 20 years ago. Since that time, the performance of the race vehicles and motorbikes has hugely increased. The technology available for asphalt materials and paving equipment has also changed dramatically.

“Dromo’s experience and expertise is actually the development of the mix design specific for each circuit. In the design and the further developments, we took into consideration the new regulations and the new tyres.

“We had about 20-plus iterations of Eau Rouge. We spent several days with professional drivers in our in-house simulators to get their feedback.

“We spent then two full days with professional drivers in Vi-Grade sim centre, supervised by Thierry Boutsen and Emanuele Pirro. Between October and November 2021 the work was then fine-tuned in the simulators for F1 and GT cars with Marco Bonanomi, to get their feedback.

“This work helped us a lot to choose the final design that was then submitted to the FIA Circuit Commission prior to the works that were carried out in the first months of the 2022 season.

“In addition, we had our internal analysis of the circuit, a LIDAR scan of the area, and then a complete analysis to finalise all the details,” concluded Zaffelli.

Ferrari: Tarmac not gravel is expected to eliminate the “track limits” problem

track limits, abuse, valtteri bottas,

In their Belgian Grand Prix preview, Ferrari reported: “This year, the circuit has undergone various modifications: the track layout itself is almost identical to the previous one, apart from a change to turn 9 – Les Combes – which features new kerbs that should allow the corner to be taken at greater speed.

“The famous Eau Rouge-Raidillon section of track, the uphill esses, remains unchanged, although the run-off area on the left hand side at the top of the climb has been substantially altered and increased in size. The historic chalet has disappeared, now replaced by a large grandstand.

“Going against the trend seen at other venues, the tarmac run-off areas on the outside of most of the corners, with the exception of Eau Rouge-Raidillon and Blanchimont corner, have been replaced with gravel, to eliminate the “track limits” problem, as going wide now involves losing time or getting stuck off track.

“This is a circuit where the driver can still make a real difference. The first braking point at the La Source hairpin requires the car to slow from 285 to 80 km/h, before accelerating down the hill and onto the uphill esses and the long Kemmel straight.

“Pouhon is another tricky corner, a left hander which puts a big strain on a driver’s neck muscles. Stavelot is the penultimate braking point on the lap, before accelerating through Blanchimont, before slowing on the approach to the Bus Stop chicane which leads onto the start-finish straight,” concluded the Ferrari summary.