Track changes at Speaker's Corner, Spa-Francorchamps, 2022

New-look Spa-Francorchamps for 2022 revealed after £20 million renovation

2022 Belgian Grand Prix

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The operators of the Spa-Francorchamps have completed the first phase of the track renovations ahead of the 2022 season.

The circuit operators have spent £20.7 million (€25m) on alterations to the venue which will host the Belgian Grand Prix in August. The changes are intended to retain the character of one of Formula 1’s most cherished and demanding circuits while improving safety standards for car and bike races.

Chairman of the board Melchior Wathelet said the construction work which took place over the winter have produced a track which “remains identical but with safety strengthened.”

“Our track has been subject to various adaptations in order to receive the double approval from the FIA for motorsport competitions and Grade C from the FIM for motorcycle competitions,” he added.

Significant earthworks have allowed more run-off space to be created at the famed Eau Rouge and Raidillon complex. The extremely fast sequence has been the scene of several serious incidents in recent years including Anthoine Hubert’s fatal crash in 2019.

A large new grandstand has been constructed at the corner. A grandstand has been removed on the approach to the bends, but the circuit operators intend to install a new one in time for the 2023 season.

The track has been resurfaced in places and new gravel traps installed at several corners. An alternative track configuration has been added at Speaker’s Corner, while the original layout has also been retained.

“These works represent, in figures, apart from our own teams, 250 people working over five months, over a hundred machines, more than thirty businesses,” said circuit CEO Amaury Bertholome. “This is important, with a large part of these local Walloon companies whose expertise and proficiency are to be emphasised.

“We’re speaking about a lot of work in a very short timeframe: renovation of all the run-offs, new gravel traps, re-surfacing of some parts of the track – after La Source, to the Raidillon and to Speaker’s Corner – and construction of a brand new grandstand at the top of the Raidillon: 4,600 places, reception areas and a breathtaking view.

“It will be accessible to the public for the World Endurance Championship at the beginning of May. In the Endurance area, in the descent from La Source towards the Raidillon, the stand and terraces will make their re-appearance in 2023.”

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Pictures: New Spa-Francorchamps

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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39 comments on “New-look Spa-Francorchamps for 2022 revealed after £20 million renovation”

  1. Maybe spend more money trying to refund all the unfortunate spectators from last year instead of ‘renovation’.

    1. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
      22nd March 2022, 16:40

      That is not the tracks problem… that would be F1 and the promoters!

      1. Correct, it is up to the promoters however see my comment below, they do not have the authority to cancel the event and since it was deemed a “race” in the end the promoter is of the hook.

        1. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
          22nd March 2022, 17:33

          Understood and agree. I was just redirecting his refund stance in that the refund would not be the tracks responsibility but rather the promotors/F1.

    2. This would be nice gesture had Masi not tried to make a farce of the event by calling the Safety Car parade a “race” — as it stands there was a race and the organizers are no obliged to offer a refund, not should they in this case given they cannot control the weather nor can they tell F1 or the FIA to cancel the race.

      1. Masi was not the man behind that.

    3. They’re literally trying to save lives and all you ‘fans’ are worried about is how much your wallets hurt? people have died at some of these corners

      /s

      1. Forcing a 1 lap farce being considered as a race has nothing to do with safety.

        1. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
          22nd March 2022, 19:21

          I think you missed SHR’s point…

          The current invested modifications are to improve safety around the track (among other additions) and they are commenting to the original posters point of view… suggesting they not invest that money into the track improvements but to give back money to the fans that never saw a race last year.

          Regardless, the $$ investment for track improvements here is from an entirely different bag of money (track owners). Separate to that of the race promotors in charge of ticket/event sales.

          1. Appreciate you clarifying and indeed you are correct about all your points. My remark was actually sarcastic because I try to hold a balanced ‘overall picture’ view around all of these ‘touchy’ issues. But i couldn’t help myself hwje I saw some of the comments on the article about drivers racing with covid

  2. The new grandstand looks great, certainly one of the top vantage points of the track.

  3. Thank God they put some gravel on the exit of La Source! Drivers have been deliberately running wide and braking far too late there at the starts, knowing there is a big tarmac run-off area and they could get away with literally anything.
    Nice to see that won’t be the case anymore.

    1. It will definitely make lap 1 very interesting, the inside line becomes far more advantageous.

    2. RandomMallard
      22nd March 2022, 17:06

      @srga91 Have you seen the pole lap from the 2020 Spa 24 Hours? The drivers were basically told beforehand that Track Limits would only be monitored at Eau Rouge/Radillon, so the drivers realised they could take liberties at other corners, and they really did take liberties:

      https://youtu.be/PKKqWvEP_RY

      1. Man, you gotta be kidding me! That’s insulting to the race track! As if Marciello extending his line way into the run-off at La Source didn’t already look bad enough, he had to run ridiculously wide at Blanchimont and the exit of Bus Stop as well?!
        What kind of an idiot of a race director would allow such track limits abuse?!
        That’s not even comical, it’s actually sad.

        1. The massive asphalt run-offs at what some people call the best circuit in the world were insulting to the track. Glad that’s being somewhat rectified

        2. @srga91 hardly new though – Brundle’s commented that, because the start-finish line for sportscar races used to be after La Source back in the Group C days, most drivers would deliberately go off at La Source at the end of their qualifying out lap so they could carry more speed across the line at the start of their qualifying laps.

        3. For me it’s comical!

        4. RandomMallard
          23rd March 2022, 21:15

          @srga91

          What kind of an idiot of a race director would allow such track limits abuse?!

          My understanding of it was, with it being in the middle of the pandemic, they were still waiting on a lot of the Race Control staff to clear covid isolation/testing (or something like that), and thus didn’t have enough staff to police track limits effectively at every corner. As a result, they decided to police only Eau Rouge/Radillon, and for everywhere else they decided the most consistent way to police track limits for all drivers was to not police them at all.

          A mixture of backlash after qualifying and more Race Control staff being available by the start led to revised track limits by the start of the race, which was a lot less farcical.

      2. @RandomMallard @srga91 Ha, that was a great argument for natural track limits. I was glad race control took that approach, partly just because it illustrates just how little the drivers are actually pushing the limits when they actually stay within the lines.

        Honestly, if the pavement is there and the cars can do it safely, I prefer that approach from race control — let the drivers use it, get up on the kerbs, get close to the barriers, and exploit all of the track that they can. Like IndyCar at COTA’s T19 (well, and everywhere else that IndyCar goes). I enjoy watching the drivers exploit and outsmart the track designers’ intentions. If it makes the track look silly, maybe the track needs some revisions.

    3. Absolutely agree.

  4. Interesting changes, although the last chicane exit seemingly doesn’t have gravel besides curbing even though the left turn is slower than La Source or the newly-named Speaker’s.

    1. I don’t think gravel is really needed there. If you overshoot the entry to the Bus Stop chicane, you need to come all the way back to it, because you can’t cut the chicane anymore as they extended the tyre barriers there to make it impossible.

    2. Coventry Climax
      23rd March 2022, 15:10

      I’m not sure I like the alternative Speaker’s Corner, as I feel it might mess up the fault-tolerance for Rivage. When you exit out of that now, there’s more time to line up for Speaker’s Corner, and it is not that tight anymore.
      Did we have serious (driver) trouble there in the past? I can’t remember, but if not, I hope they use the old layout in F1.

      1. F1 will continue to use the original version of Speakers. The new layout is intended for motorbikes.

  5. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
    22nd March 2022, 18:02

    So which layout is F1 going to run? The original one?

    1. @flyingferrarim – Correct. The alternative layout is intended for motorbikes.

  6. They should have taken the opportunity to bring back the bus stop chicane, I liked it way better than the current chicane that replaced it.

    1. @Adam Tate
      Agreed, but now it’s more similar to a supermarket car park 😑

  7. The changes look very good. Gravel traps will be more punishing than in recent decades, and the safety impact should be noticeable as well. Did they go ahead with the tightening of Eau Rouge/Raidillon?

    1. It doesn’t appear so. The patch of grass on the inside looks the same as it was before when comparing pictures so I think they decided to leave it as it was. I guess making it a bit more of a challenge for F1 wasn’t worth making the corner less exciting for everything else.

  8. Obviously any changes for safety are great but the one that makes me happiest is, as others have said, the addition of gravel at La Source. Instead of them all cheating at the start, they now have to actually drive properly and can’t get away with shoving each other off the track. Big improvement.

    1. someone or something
      23rd March 2022, 14:07

      Instead of them all cheating at the start, they now have to actually drive properly and can’t get away with shoving each other off the track.

      I see what you mean, but the result may be quite the opposite: Shoving others off the track is now something you can get away with a lot better than before.
      I wasn’t a fan of the massive asphalt run-off, but apart from the start, I never felt there was excessive use of the run-off as a safety net for “lazy” driving or lap time gains. However, the new run-off might incentivise “lazy” driving by the drivers using the inside line. The driver on the outside will now have to be extremely wary of the other driver’s behaviour, as a trip through the gravel is never fun, even less so with one of F1’s longest flat-out sections coming up.

  9. It can be well argued that tarmac run-offs are safer in some cases. But how exit of La Source was previously had really nothing to do with safety. Now it is looking good.

  10. Alexander Foster-Firth
    22nd March 2022, 21:13

    Thanks for providing link, Marciello literally went out of track limits wherever it was possible. It’s a bit of a joke how any of those breaches were permitted.

  11. I wish they’d revert to a classic red-and-white colour scheme for their curbs and tyre barriers.

  12. So ‘the corner without a name’ did have a name all along? ‘Speakers’? Or have I got it wrong? If I haven’t, I kind of preferred ‘the corner without a name’ to be honest. Spa is such a thing of beauty, the Eau Rouge/ Raidillon complex does look safer, and it seems the track has still kept its character.

    1. someone or something
      23rd March 2022, 14:13

      Yeah, never heard of it before, and it doesn’t really fit with the other corner names. I much prefer it being nameless (an endearing little quirk that only a historic track can get away with), or call it “Liège”, as has been the case whenever a name was absolutely necessary.

      1. The corner with no name wasn’t nameless. Its name was “the corner with no name”, I think originally coined by Martin Brundle. Maybe he can now resist this new name by renaming it “the corner formerly named the corner with no name.” :)

        I’m a bit wary of the gravel on the exit of La Source. There’s no safety justification for it, and I fear a first lap crash may take out a lot of the field, ruining a good race. However, one would hope that the drivers will adjust their aggression to allow for this effectively tighter exit. Normally there wouldn’t be much hope of that, but this year’s easier overtaking reduces the incentive for going crazy on lap 1.

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