Formula 2 resumed at Spa-Francorchamps after a much-needed summer break. And it hosted two races that were full of action and tyre strategy. This much we know already… but here are five more unusual facts about the epic Belgian track that might surprise you.
The circuit used to feature a real bus stop
Even many of the drivers think that the ‘bus stop’ chicane at Spa is so-called because the cars negotiate it after heavy braking, at the speed of a bus. But the bus stop chicane used to be a real bus stop, although it’s undergone several changes. Even though the most recent Spa layout has been in use since 1983, large parts of the circuit were still public roads right up until 2000.
The Belgian Grand Prix isn’t the oldest race held at Spa
The Belgian Grand Prix predates both the British and Monaco Grands Prix (although it’s not as old as Monza). The first grand prix in Belgium was held at Spa in 1925, while the circuit was still in its infancy, after being designed in 1920. But the 1925 grand prix isn’t the circuit’s oldest race, as the 24 Hours of Spa was first run in 1924.
Spa is Pirelli’s biggest event of the year
But that’s not for the Formula 1 race. Instead, it’s the Spa 24 Hours again, which is exclusively supplied by Pirelli. This year, Pirelli supplied 12,000 tyres, 24 trucks, 5000 espresso coffees and more than 110 personnel for the 65 cars taking part. The rubber laid down by the Spa 24 Hours, just over three weeks ago, actually helped to increase the grip available this year.
Eau Rouge was once a state border
One of the most iconic corners in the motorsport universe didn’t actually feature on the original circuit. Before becoming synonymous with Spa-Francorchamps, Eau Rouge was a humble 15-kilometre river in the Belgian province of Liège. Earning its name thanks to red oxide deposits found in the river, it was also prominent outside of motorsport history too, acting as a state border between Prussia and the Netherlands in the 1800s.
The oldest casino in the world is found at Spa
The oldest casino in the world can be found in Spa. The Belgians may not be renowned as a particularly hedonistic people, but they cottoned onto institutionalised gambling quicker than anyone else, having built the casino at Spa in 1763. And it’s still there now… open until 4am.