Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps

The world’s most challenging track

Watch GT RACER’s “The Six Hours of Spa” and experience every mile of the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps – including the mythical Eau Rouge into Raidillon.

The Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps is fast – very fast. With only one hairpin over its more than four miles, Spa features enormous straights, some of which are connected to each other by long, sweeping corners that can be taken flat out. Most of Spa’s corners can be conquered with speeds of more than 180 mph.

Hairpin at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. Photo: Shutterstock.

The track is a huge mental challenge for drivers. Taking a corner wrong can cost full seconds (as opposed to fractions of seconds), but drivers who get it right can pick up huge advantages. It’s a top-level mind game at breakneck speed. And sadly, necks have indeed been broken on this tarmac – to this day, the track frightens some of the best drivers in the world.

As at the Nürburgring and Le Mans, the races at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps started out running on public roads. One of the circuit’s major events early on was the first Belgian Grand Prix in 1925. Even back then, at nine miles – double the length of what the track is today – Spa was blistering fast, possibly the fastest track in all of Europe.

A view of the famous Raidillon de l'Eau Rouge at Spa-Francorchamps. Photo: Shutterstock.

And to make it even faster, the only really slow uphill U-turn at the bottom of the Eau Rouge creek valley was taken out in 1939 and replaced by a fast sweep straight up the hill called Raidillon. This section of the track is today Spa’s most famous corner because it is a particularly tricky, incredibly fast change in direction with a simultaneous rise in elevation. World Champion Fernando Alonso describes the section this way: “You come into the corner downhill, have a sudden change [of direction] at the bottom and then go very steeply uphill. From the cockpit, you cannot see the exit and as you come over the crest, you don’t know where you will land. It is a crucial corner … because you have a long uphill straight afterwards where you can lose a lot of time if you make a mistake. But it is also an important corner for the driver’s feeling. It makes a special impression every lap, because you also have a compression in your body as you go through the bottom of the corner.”

Fernando Alonso in the McLaren F1 MCL33 during the 2018 Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps. Photo: Shutterstock.

In relentless pursuit of great speed, Spa became notorious for fatal accidents. In the 1960 Grand Prix, after Stirling Moss had been severely injured in a crash during practice, two drivers died fifteen minutes apart from each other. By the time the 1960s drew to a close, there had been fifteen fatalities in twelve years. In 1969, Formula 1 drivers had had enough and decided to boycott the Belgian Grand Prix that year. Armco crash barriers were added in 1970.

With the barriers added, fatal accidents declined, but the track was still deemed extremely treacherous through the 1970s. The track is located in the Ardennes Forest, where microclimates can create strange weather conditions – it can be raining or moist in one part of the track while at the same time it’s bone-dry in another section. Logistically, securing the entire track was too massive a job and so the track was shortened in 1979 to seven miles.

Max Verstappen in the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB15 2019 F1 car during the 2019 Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. Photo: Shutterstock.

Not that the old nine-mile circuit was slow going – in its final year, top drivers could lap the track with an average speed of 150 mph!

Experience every mile of the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps – including the mythical Eau Rouge into Raidillon – in this thrilling film, GT RACER’s “The Six Hours of Spa.”