Ferrari logo

    Racing at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps

    2023 Scuderia Ferrari - Belgian Grand Prix Preview

    Maranello 26 luglio 2023

    One last effort for Formula 1 prior to the summer break. In recent years, the event at Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps circuit was always the first race after the holiday.

    Legendary sections. Spa-Francorchamps has always been considered the ultimate test of a racing driver. The historic Formula 1 venue and its seven kilometres (14 up until 1982) has always demanded respect and features one of the most famous bits of track on the calendar, namely Eau Rouge-Raidillon, a rollercoaster “s” bend, taken flat out in qualifying. However, that’s not the only standout section, as one should also mention the Les Combes corner at the end of the Kemmel straight, Pouhon corner where the drivers are subject to a lateral force of 3G for almost five seconds and the incredibly high speed Blanchimont. There are also two very slow turns, the last corner known as the Bus Stop and first hairpin at La Source.

    Set-up. Spa-Francorchamps is the complete race track that highlights a driver’s ability and requires a particularly efficient car. Free practice is particularly important, with the teams working on finding the best balance on the car, to suit the track’s myriad characteristics. There are very high speed sections, including two DRS zone on the start-finish line and on the Kemmel straight, where good top speed is needed to aid overtaking. There are also more technical sections where effective aerodynamic downforce is required for the corners and to help manage tyre life as these can overheat and lose performance on the last part of the lap. The other variable here is the weather, because the Ardennes in July can be very hot, but there is always the threat of rain and drop in temperatures.

    At the last two races, we weren’t able to make the most of the SF-23s potential, because we adopted too cautious an approach, as well as making a few too many mistakes. Therefore, our goal for the Belgian Grand Prix, at one of Formula 1’s truly great venues, is to get back to the path we had embarked on in Canada.
    Charles and Carlos are two of the best drivers on the grid, but we have to give them the right tools with which to express their talent. Behind Red Bull, it’s all extremely close with five teams battling it out to the nearest thousandths at every race. We therefore have to study every last detail of the weekend from Friday free practice to the last lap on Sunday, because one tenth of a second can mean a difference of one or two places.
    We know what our technical weaknesses are and our rivals are not just killing time either. So, in Belgium and for the rest of the season, we must apply maximum concentration and be willing to take risks.

    Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal

    Ferrari Stats

    GP contested 1063
    Seasons in F1 74
    Debut Monaco 1950 (A. Ascari 2nd; R. Sommer 4th; L. Villoresi ret.)
    Wins 242 (22.76%)
    Pole positions 243 (22.86%)
    Fastest laps 259 (24.36%)
    Podiums 800 (25.09%)

    Ferrari Stats Belgian GP

    GP contested 66
    Debut 1950 (A. Ascari 5th; L. Villoresi 6th)
    Wins 18 (27.27%)
    Pole positions 15 (22.73%)
    Fastest laps 19 (28.79%)
    Podiums 49 (24.75%)

    Three questions to...


    1. What is the Spa-Francorchamps circuit like from a power unit perspective?
    While the effect of power unit performance on lap time at last week’s Hungarian GP was limited, with a relatively low stress level for the PU, the opposite is true for the Belgian Grand Prix. At this track, engine power makes a significant difference, given its high power sensitivity. Efficient energy recovery is even more important on this 7 kilometre long track, with several full power sections where the MGUK can struggle to deliver its 120kW all the way to the end of the straights. Those ERS and turbo systems best capable of grabbing more of this energy will have a significant advantage and a modified ERS deployment strategy can boost car performance for several laps. 

    2. Which part of the power unit is more stressed here and why?
    The combustion engine and the turbo both have to deal with the long full power sections, when they reach high temperature levels, while the battery is stressed by the long discharge in the section from Eau Rouge to Les Combes.

    3. Tell us about you: how and when did you join Ferrari. How do you find living in Italy?
    I joined Ferrari in 2000 when the Scuderia began a multi-year era of winning the world championship. I actually came for a one year sabbatical leave from the research Institute where I was working in France. Then the magic of Ferrari took hold and 23 years later, I am still here tackling exciting challenges every day, having worked in a variety of roles. Moving to Italy has been a source of joy, finding family and friendship here in Modena, and using the small free time windows an F1 jobs offer for cycling on the roads of the Emilia region in the Apennine mountains.

    Thierry Baritaud
    Born: 24/9/57
    In: Paris (France)

    Belgian Grand Prix: facts & figures 

    0. No Belgian driver has won their home Grand Prix in the 67 editions held so far. 24 Belgians have raced in Formula 1, winning 11 times, (eight courtesy of Jacky Ickx and three for Thierry Boutsen) but none of those were at Spa-Francorchamps, nor at Zolder and Nivelles, the other two venues that have hosted this event. Only Monaco has a worse record in this respect, with no Monegasque drivers winning any of the 69 races held there. But the Principality could only count on five standard bearers in Formula 1, including Charles Leclerc.

    4. They say only the greats win at Spa-Francorchamps and the figures tend to confirm that. Only four drivers took their maiden Formula 1 victory at the Ardennes track: Peter Collins in 1956, in a Ferrari D50, who was destined to be a world champion if he had not died when still very young in 1958; Jim Clark in 1962 in a Lotus, who went on to win the championship twice; seven times world champion Michael Schumacher in 1992 for Benetton and Charles Leclerc in 2019 in the Ferrari SF90. 

    800. The number of comic book writers from Belgium, the country regarded as the home of the comic or the “ninth art” as it is known. There are over 700 of them in Brussels alone. The pioneering cartoon character was Tintin, the likeable and intrepid redheaded boy, whose books have been translated in over fifty languages. His adventures began in 1929 in the pages of a kids’ comic, Le Petit Vingtieme. Other famous Belgian comic characters are Lucky Luke (1946), Gaston Lagaffe (1957) and especiallythe Smurfs, created in 1958, who went on to greatly influence popular culture in the second half of the last century for quite some time.

    1700. The number of special beers available in just one specific bistro in Brussels, which is now a must-visit for fans of this drink, which Belgium produces in incredible quantities and varieties. It is reckoned that, every year, Belgians down 70 litres of beer per head, which is equivalent to half a pint per day

    1846. The year in which the saxophone was first produced. The musical instrument was invented by the Belgian Adolphe Sax, who combined the simple reed mouthpiece of a clarinet with the body of an ophicleide, a family of conical-bored instruments and the oboe and flute. This hybrid produced great volume similar to brass instruments, but even though it is made of brass, it is considered a woodwind instrument, because of its use of a single reed. It was first shown at the Industrial Exhibition in Paris in 1844 and was patented two years later.