2021 Belgian Grand Prix - Preview

Aug 24, 2021
Brackley

Following the summer break, the second half of the 2021 Formula One season begins at Spa-Francorchamps for the Belgian Grand Prix.

  • Toto Talks Belgium
  • Fact File: Belgian Grand Prix
  • Stat Attack: Belgium and Beyond

Toto Talks Belgium

This has definitely been one of the most intense F1 seasons that I can remember, so far. The battle is far from over and after a few weeks away from the track, we’re all really excited to get back to work.

The shutdown is such an important time for the entire team. The chance to relax and recharge is invaluable, especially with such a busy second half of the season coming up, and the fight we have ahead of us. We’re all racers at heart though, so while we enjoyed the well-deserved time off, we’re also eager to get back to doing what we love: racing!

We head to Spa-Francorchamps in a good position. We lead both Championships and the W12 feels in a better place, after the upgrades introduced at Silverstone and an encouraging showing in Hungary. But we know there is a long road ahead and so much can still happen in this season of ups and downs.

Spa is a track that we all know and love, one of the true F1 classics with its iconic corners, long-flat out sections and beautiful scenery. It’s a hugely challenging track for both the drivers and the cars, with the longest lap of the season, lots of elevation change and some very high g-forces.

The weather is also notoriously unpredictable at Spa and always throws a curveball our way. With the Belgian Grand Prix always producing exciting and fun racing, it’s the perfect place to start the second half of the season. Bring it on!

Fact File: Belgian Grand Prix

  • Spa-Francorchamps is F1's longest track with a lap distance of 7.004 kilometres, and therefore the Belgian Grand Prix has the lowest number of race laps, with only 44.
  • The long lap distance at Spa throws up a few unique challenges, for example if a car suffers damage early in the lap, it’s a long way back to the pits. The weather is also very changeable, and conditions can vary from corner to corner. A longer lap also means teams can’t fit as many laps into their practice and qualifying run plans, therefore the drivers have fewer opportunities to practice each corner and find the limit.
  • The 5.3g lateral forces experienced by the drivers through Pouhon (Turn 10) at Spa-Francorchamps are the highest of the season.
  • Drivers have their foot firmly planted on the throttle for almost 23 seconds and 1,875 metres of the track layout at Spa, from La Source (Turn 1) to the braking zone for Les Combes (Turn 5). The flat-out run from Turn 14 to Turn 18 is slightly shorter.
  • Because of the long run to Turn 5, the exit of La Source is one of the most important sections of the lap, especially on the first lap when the field is bunched up. The corner is very cambered, so it is easy to lock up the front-right tyre and make a mistake.
  • Spa-Francorchamps has the biggest elevation change in F1, with around 100 metres difference between the highest point (Les Combes, Turn 7) and the lowest point (Stavelot, Turn 15).
  • The drivers and cars go through a heavy compression of forces as they navigate the Eau Rouge and Raidillon section (Turns 2 and 3), because of the downhill entry and uphill exit. The drivers are travelling nearly at Vmax (maximum velocity of the car), pretty much going as fast as the car can go at the end of that straight, before heading through this section. This means there is 3g of vertical compression.
  • Because of the compression through Eau Rouge and Raidillon, considerations and changes do need to be made to the car set-up. For example, the front ride height needs to be picked up to deal with the forces experienced through the tyres and suspension.  
  • The tow at Spa-Francorchamps is very powerful due to the long straights, particularly the blast from Raidillon to Les Combes. On the first lap this is even more powerful, because drivers chasing can pick up a tow from multiple opponents.
  • The run from pole to the first braking zone is the third shortest on the 2021 F1 calendar, at just 163 metres – over five times shorter than the longest, Sochi (890 metres).
  • 82% of the lap distance at Spa is taken at full throttle, the second-highest percentage of any F1 track on the 2021 calendar. Only Monza has a higher percentage taken at full throttle, with 85%.
  • Drivers change gear 44 times during a lap of the Belgian GP venue, which is one of the lower figures on the 2021 schedule. This is mainly because a large chunk of the lap is covered at full throttle or in top gear. Plus, most corners that require gear changes come in groups, such as Turns 5 to 7. So, over the length of the lap, only six sets of gear changes are required.
  • The first and third sectors at Spa feature long straights and flat-out sections, but the second sector is much more twisty. This makes it challenging to find the right balance and set-up compromise, particularly with the wing level. A bigger wing will gain time in the middle sector but leave you vulnerable on the straights, while a smaller wing will provide less drag for the flat-out sections but not providing the same level of grip in the twisty corners.
  • Because of the track’s history and iconic corners, this is one of the few tracks in F1 where engineers tend to refer to the turns by name rather than number.

Stat Attack: Belgium and Beyond

2021 Belgian Grand Prix Timetable

Session

Local Time

(CEST)

Brackley

(BST)

Stuttgart

(CEST)

Practice 1 – Friday

11:30-12:30

10:30-11:30

11:30-12:30

Practice 2 - Friday

15:00-16:00

14:00-15:00

15:00-16:00

Practice 3 - Saturday

12:00-13:00

11:00-12:00

12:00-13:00

Qualifying - Saturday

15:00-16:00

14:00-15:00

15:00-16:00

Race - Sunday

15:00-17:00

14:00-16:00

15:00-17:00

 

Race Records – Mercedes F1 at the Belgian Grand Prix

 

Starts

Wins

Podium

Places

Pole

Positions

Front Row

Places

Fastest

Laps

DNF

Mercedes

12

5

14

7

12

5

2

Lewis

Hamilton

14

4

9

6

9

2

4

Valtteri

Bottas

8

0

3

0

1

1

0

MB Power

26

11

29

14

25

8

18

 

Technical Stats – Season to Date (Bahrain Pre-Season Test to Present)

 

Laps

Completed

Distance

Covered (km)

Corners

Taken

Gear

Changes

PETRONAS

Fuel Injections

Mercedes

3,614

17,627

55,342

167,213

144,560,000

Lewis

Hamilton

1,884

9,138

28,972

87,182

75,360,000

Valtteri

Bottas

1,730

8,488

26,370

80,031

69,200,000

MB Power

14,189

67,478

245,561

658,151

566,200,000

 

Mercedes-Benz in Formula One

 

Starts

Wins

Podium

Places

Pole

Positions

Front Row

Places

Fastest

Laps

1-2

Finishes

Front Row

Lockouts

Mercedes

(All Time)

238

119

250

130

240

89

58

78

Mercedes (Since 2010)

226

110

233

122

220

80

53

76

Lewis

Hamilton

277

99

173

101

167

56

N/A

N/A

Valtteri

Bottas

167

9

62

17

42

17

N/A

N/A

MB Power

508

206

526

214

422

184

89

115

 

M277176
  • Legend
    Formula One - Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, Hungarian GP 2021. Valtteri Bottas


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