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Spa circuit from another era in F1

Formula One is back, at the magnificent Spa Francorchamps circuit in Belgium. The whole track is redolent of another era in motor racing as it switchbacks through the Ardennes mountains.

india Updated: Oct 14, 2011 14:36 IST

Formula One is back, at the magnificent Spa Francorchamps circuit in Belgium. The whole track is redolent of another era in motor racing as it switchbacks through the Ardennes mountains.

The track is named after the two small towns of Spa and Francorchamps and the roads between the towns used to form the track itself. Even today a major part of the track is the last Grand Prix circuit in the world where cars race on closed country roads.

For much of the year, the section between Stavelot corner and the pit straight is the public highway between the villages of Stavelot and Francorchamps, while the section including the spectacular Eau Rouge corner forms the highway to the town of Malmédy.

This is a track that every driver savours. Sebastian Vettel's eyes light up just at the prospect of the challenge: "The Spa circuit has everything that a driver dreams of - unbelievably fast corners and slow chicanes, and it can be full of surprises due to the weather. Eau Rouge and Blanchimont are real highlights - in dry conditions they can be driven without any problems but in the wet it's a different story and you have to have dig deep.”

Over 80% of the lap distance is spent at full throttle, including a solid 23.5 seconds from the La Source hairpin, through Eau Rouge to Les Combes.

This Saturday evening Michael Schumacher is hosting a party in the Spa paddock to celebrate the 20th anniversary since his 1991 Formula One debut.

Could Schumacher celebrate his 20th anniversary in style? Schumacher could score a podium and scotch the rumours of any impending retirement.

Steve Slater is an F1 expert with ESPN Star Sports