Formula 1 news: It’s the F1 off-season and with it, the timing’s perfect to make some changes to the tracks. Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps is one such track that has gone renovation to make racing safer.
Now, changes are being made to the historic circuit to homologate the track for motorbikes. The work began on November 15 and will cost around 80 million euros. That said, the officials are doing so to ensure the F1 future, as well as a potential MotoGP deal, stays intact.
From 2022, Spa wishes to hold several races, including the Belgian Grand Prix, the Spa 24 Hours, a round of the WEC, and a 24-hour motorbike race as part of the FIM Endurance World Championship. For that latter event, the track needed to be upgraded to earn an FIM license, and that has meant an overhaul of several run-off areas.
Asphalt run-off areas have been increased, gravel traps have been added, several new grandstands are also being built as we speak. All in all, a major overhaul of the circuit is well and truly in place.
What are the specific changes?
La Source – on the outside of the hairpin, part of the asphalt run-off has been replaced by a gravel trap. Opposite the old pits, the ’24-hour grandstand’ and the outdoor seating areas have been demolished. Instead, new grandstands, as well as VIP areas, will be constructed there.
At the top of the circuit, the outside of Bruxelles is also being reworked. Here, just like at La Source, part of the asphalt run-off area will make way for a gravel trap.
On the outside of the super-fast left-hand kink, Blanchimont, the crash barrier is being moved back to increase the run-off area. Here too the asphalt strip will largely be replaced by a gravel trap, while a service road will be built behind the tyre wall.
Why the changes?
Well, ever since the horrific 2019 F2 accident that claimed the life of Anthoine Hubert, the circuit has been under tremendous pressure to make racing safer yet exciting. At this year’s rain-soaked race, the situation got even worse when all the drivers barring Max Verstappen, complained of lack of visibility.
Late and former CEO of Spa-Francorchamps, Nathalie Maillet, said last year that the changes planned are for the betterment of everybody: “With these investments in the next 10 years we are showing that dreams can become reality. With the arrival of this prestigious endurance event, we are achieving the first goal of our ‘Project Moto‘.”
On a related note, the 80 million euros is financed by 21 million euros of the circuit’s funds, a 29.5 million bank loan, and a 29.5 million investment by Sogepa, the Walloon government’s investment company which also helps fund the Belgian Formula 1 Grand Prix.