Pirelli has warned Formula 1 teams ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix that the Spa-Francorchamps track has undergone a number of changes since its last race in 2021, and this could be a significant problem for the weekend’s racing.
Since the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix, work has been undertaken on the famous Belgian track, including the addition of some gravel traps and the modification of the Raidillon. The work to obtain the dual FIA/FIM homologation that allows the return of motorbike endurance racing to Spa-Francorchamps has been going on all winter, and although the track itself has changed very little, it is now much safer for the riders.
But according to Pirelli, the addition of gravel traps will provide new challenges for the Formula 1 drivers this weekend, not least because the gravel pieces are very sharp and some of them could end up on the track if one of the drivers crosses the track limits.
The affected turns are 1, 6, 7 and 9, but there are also sharp edges near the concrete kerbs that drivers will have to be particularly careful with.
“The changes to the layout of Spa this year are some of the most significant that have been made to the circuit in the modern era of Formula 1,” said Mario Isola, Pirelli’s F1 Director, ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix.
“However, we have some elements to predict what to expect, thanks to the 24 Hours [of Spa] held this month – our biggest event in terms of numbers of people and tyres – and thanks to some asphalt samples we have taken from the track.”
“Five corners have been resurfaced, and on four curves gravel escape routes have been added which are now much closer to the edge of the track,
“Drivers will have to be more careful about the edges of the track and sharp gravel fragments that could end up on the track. In any case, the charm of a circuit like Spa has remained intact, and all the challenges that have always made it so fascinating are still in place.”
For this fourteenth round of the 2022 season, Pirelli has made its C2, C3 and C4 tyres available to the teams. The asphalt is new between Turns 2 and 4, and between Turns 8 and 9: irregularities have been smoothed out and grip has improved compared to last year, according to F1’s sole manufacturer, while with its particularly high lateral loads, Spa is one of the most demanding circuits of the year for tyres.
The famous Raidillon is just one of the areas where tyres are subjected to a variety of forces on the 7km long track.