Spa in Belgium is world renowned for two things: its springs and hydrotherapy, and the Belgian Grand Prix. Often regarded as the most challenging race on the Formula 1 championship calendar, the Belgian Grand Prix is one of the earliest races in motor sport, and definitely one of the most established. Belgian Grand Prix tickets, even for the vast general admission sections, are highly prized as the Belgian GP has a reputation for the most exciting races in the F1.
The Belgian Grand Prix was initially held in the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, on and off in the 1930s and through the war, then more regularly from the 1950s onward. Because the Spa circuit became notorious as a fatal course, not only for drivers, but marshals and mechanics as well, the Belgian Grand Prix was relocated to Nivelles in 1972, where it was planned to alternate between the very unpopular circuit and the Circuit de Zolder. Nivelles was, in fact, so unpopular that Zolder would be the only host circuit of Belgian Grand Prix from 1975 until the Circuit de Spa-Francochamps was reopened in 1983. Zolder is unfortunately best remembered as the venue of Gilles Villeneuve’s death in 1982.
The Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps is easily the longest track in the Formula 1, even after it was shortened to a final length of 7.004 km. The first modifications to the circuit were in fact to increase the speeds on some of the slow areas of the track, as the Belgians were proud that their track was very fast and very challenging. But due to several fatal accidents, many modifications were made to circuit through the years. In 1966, Jackie Stewart would crash at Spa, which would begin his crusade to make racing circuits safer for drivers. Stewart won the Belgian GP in 1973 at Zolder.
Even with modifications to the track, the most popular of Spa’s 21 turns, the Eau Rouge-Raidillon, is as glorious as ever before, even if less cars have spun off from the famous corner due to the improved skills of the drivers and the developed downforce of the cars. Currently, 44 laps complete a total racing distance of 308.17 km.
The first winner at the Belgian Grand Prix in 1925 was Antonio Ascari. Later his son, Alberto, would continue to bring glory to his family name when the younger Ascari won the Belgian Grand Prix in 1952 and 1953. Michael Schumacher again holds the most trophies at the Belgian Grand Prix, but Spa is doubly special for Schumacher as his first race in an F1 championship was at this circuit in 1991, and where he won his very first GP a year later. In 2001, Schumacher broke Ayrton Senna’s record of the most GP wins with the 2001 Belgian Grand Prix marking his 52nd win. At Spa, Schumacher won 6 times, as well as finishing first in 1994 but was disqualified and had to relinquish the win to Damon Hill, who has won the Belgian Grand Prix two other times.
Jim Clark won at Spa four times in the 1960s, while Senna won five times at the same circuit in the late 80s. After Schumacher, Kimi Räikkönen would dominate the Belgian Grand Prix, winning in 2004, 2005 and again when the track reopened in 2007. Räikkönen also holds the fastest lap record, at 1:45.
Many racing fans either stay in the hotels within Spa, or in the less expensive inns and guest houses around the neighboring towns. Whilst camping has been a fun prospect at several town-based circuits, it is not so much the case in Spa because September is often a rainy month in Belgium.
To arrive at Spa, take the plane to Brussels, which is a two-hour drive to the circuit. You could also take the train to Liege, where many buses headed for the circuit await.
Belgian Grand Prix tickets for the general admission area are great because there is a lot of the track to see, being 7 km long. As the area is naturally hilly, the views can definitely be fantastic, even with the cheapest tickets. Grandstand tickets are then more valuable, especially those right in front of the Eau Rouge and other challenging corners, such as La Source and Pouhon. As with other GPs, Belgian Grand Prix tickets are sectioned in gold, silver and bronze.