Image of the original circuit. Click here for a large (156 Kb) map of the present GP (1996) circuit.
Circuit de Spa Francorchamps Circuit House Route du Circuit 55 Francorchamps 4970 Belgium Tel: +32 87275138 Fax: +32 87275296The circuit, a fearsome 9.31 miles down narrow Belgian roads, was first used in 1921, and the first Spa 24 Hrs took place in 1924. The was changed to 9.236 miles for the 1930-33 races, and a tightening of the Malmedy right hander for 1934 changed the distance to 9.29 miles. For 1939 the Ancienne Douanne hairpin was bypassed with the very steep sweep upwards from Eau Rouge (9.01 miles). For a number of years the circuit remained unchanged, although it was revised to 8.774 miles in 1956. Incremental change occured over the following years, corners gradually being eased, and a chicane was installed before Malmedy. The track distance remained unofficially unchanged.
The old circuit was considered dangerous, and the new circuit opened in 1979 at 4.317 miles. Fears that the new circuit would be a shadow of its former self were unfounded, but during 1979/80 the Bus Stop chicane was built to slow the cars into La Source (4.3179 miles). The circuit length was officially revised in 1986 by the RACB to 4.312 miles. This temporarily changed in 1994 when a chicane was installed in Eau Rouge after Alex Zanardi's huge accident the year before. The Belgian government purchased the land surrounding the track, moved back the barriers, installing a gravel trap, and for 1995 the race was held on the 1993 layout.
Further work was undertaken for 2002. The gravel traps around the Eau Rouge corner were removed, being replaced with high-grip tarmac. Tarmac was also placed around the outside of Blanchimont, and the Bus Stop exit corner was eased to make it possible to accelerate through without clattering over the kerbing. The F1 pit entry was also moved from before the Bus Stop entry corner to just before the Bus Stop exit, a seemingly more dangerous place for it given the pre-occupation with safety at the time.
The Grand Prix did not take place in 2003, due to a wrangle over tobacco legislation, but it was back for 2004 on a revised circuit. The bus stop chicane was completely reprofiled, changing the circuit length to 4.333 miles. The circuit was also re-tarmacced, increasing the circuits grip.
The Grand Prix did not take place in 2006 either, but the opportunity was taken to reprofile the bus-stop yet again, and to extend the pits and make them larger. The revised circuit length, which was used from 2007, was 4.351 miles.