The Belgian Grand Prix is part of the Formula One World Championship. It is held at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps race course; a track which has changed immensely over the many years it has hosted the Grand Prix. We’re just over half way through and the competition is definitely heating up.

The Belgian Grand Prix has been selected six times between 1925 – 1973 as the racecourse for the European Grand Prix; an honorary title which was given to just one racecourse throughout Europe.

This year, the Belgian Grand Prix will be held on 23rd – 25th August, when 22 drivers will compete for the title.

The four drivers topping the table so far during this year’s Grand Prix are Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Räikkönen, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton. They’re all battling for the top spot, although it seems like Vettel will win the title this season.

Race Car Drivers

Sebastian Vettel is from Germany and is currently in the lead during this year’s Grand Prix. The first and last time Vettel won the Belgian Grand Prix was in 2011. He’s won the F1 Grand Prix the last three years running and is looking to do the same this year.

Kimi Räikkönen is a Finnish racing driver who has won the Belgian Grand Prix four times between 2004 and 2009. He first won the Formula One Grand Prix in 2007 and this year he is hoping to repeat the result, although he may finish second as he did last year.

Fernando Alonso is from Asturias, Spain and has never won the Belgian Grand Prix, although he is a strong contender this year. He won the Formula One Grand Prix in 2005 and 2006, and has come very close in recent years.

Lewis Hamilton is a British race car driver who has taken part in the F1 Grand Prix since 2007. He won the Belgian Grand Prix in 2010 but hasn’t been very lucky in the overall results. Since 2008 he has only managed to finish in the top five.

Sponsors

The main sponsor of the Belgian Grand Prix is Shell, the multinational oil and gas company. Some of the usual sponsors you’ll see throughout the F1 Grand Prix are Rolex, UPS, Vodafone, Fly Emirates and Marlboro.

What to Watch

Last year, there was a serious crash which happened at the very start of the Belgian Grand Prix. The accident was caused by Romain Grosjean, a French race car driver who first crashed into Lewis Hamilton and then took off and flew into Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari, whilst also taking out Sergio Perez, a mexican race car driver.

Although no one was seriously injured, the crash was devastating and knocked all four drivers out of the race.

It’ll be interesting to see what will happen this year, who will win the race, and if there will be any more serious accidents.

History

The first race for the Belgian Grand Prix was held in 1925 at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps race course. The winner of the race was Antonio Ascari, who unfortunately was killed in his next race at the French Grand Prix. The Grand Prix was put on hold and returned in 1930. When World War II broke out, the Grand Prix was put on hold again and did not return until 1946.

When the Grand Prix came back in 1946, the Spa course had been modified to make it faster, shortening it from 9 miles to 8.7 miles. All of the slow corners were taken out, making every corner, with the exception of La Source, ultra-high speed. Unfortunately, this meant that the track became a circuit that could result in a huge high-speed accident if the slightest error was made.

During 1950, we saw the introduction of the Formula One World Championship. The race was dominated by Juan Manuel Fangio from Argentina and Nino Farina from Italy, although it was won by Fangio. In 1958, the track was once again upgraded. New facilities were built, the track was resurfaced and the pit straight was made wider.

In 1959, the Belgian race was not run but returned again the following year for one of the darkest weekends of Formula One. By this time, a new car had been designed and developed. It was a rear mid engined car, making it lighter and faster than front engined cars. These new types of cars had not been driven at Spa before and many people were worried about the high-speed bends.

The practise day arrived, and it was a catastrophe. Stirling Moss, the English race car driver, was thrown out of his car and left unconscious in the middle of the track. He broke both legs, three vertebrae, several ribs and was covered in many cuts and abrasions. He survived, but didn’t race again for a year.

Mike Taylor, also from England, had problems with his steering and crashed into trees next to the track. He was trapped in the car for some time and had serious head and neck injuries. The accidents didn’t end there though, with many more drivers losing controls of their cars and some drivers even getting killed.

The following years saw few accidents and many successful wins for a number of drivers, until 1967 when many drivers ended up in serious accidents.

The next season saw the Grand Prix racing fraternity disagreeing with the course, explaining that most drivers feared it. It was the fastest course in Europe, and with the developments of the F1 cars becoming faster, the track become more dangerous.

In 1969, Jackie Stewart, the British Formula One racing driver from Scotland, visited the track on behalf of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association and demanded many improvements needed to be made. After the track owners refused, the English, French and Italian teams withdrew. The last race was held there in 1970 after the track was not up to mandatory FIA-mandated safety specs in 1971.

The Belgian Grand Prix moved to Nivelles in 1972 and was then hosted by Zolder race course the following year. It returned to Nivelles in 1974, but the track proved unpopular with drivers and was moved back to Zolder until 1985 when it returned to Spa-Francorchamps. The track had been redesigned with a new series of corners and shortened to 4.3 miles. The Belgian Grand Prix is still held there to this day and is far safer than it used to be, with far fewer accidents – although the weather hasn’t changed much.

With an exciting course and experience, competitive drivers, this years Belgium Grand Prix is sure to be great.

Will you be watching the Grand Prix this year?

This post was written by Grace Nolan on behalf of Central Contracts, the UK’s largest car leasing company.