Those hallowed miles
Eau Rouge and Raidillon, Pouhon and Blanchimont – the corners need no introduction. Spa-Francorchamps is a place that embodies the passion and history of Formula One: true, the track may no longer snake for more than 14 kilometres in the Ardennes and names like Masta Kink and Burnenville have gone from our race weekend vocabulary, but there’s still something that links the current drivers with the heroes that braved those streets in days of yore.
Spa is magic. Still the longest track on the calendar, it’s one circuit where the driver can make the difference. It’s the track where Michael debuted and shone. It’s where Mika passed him by going three-wide with a backmarker on the Kemmel straight, it’s where Ayrton mastered the rain. It’s where Kimi triumphed four times.
Like many other historical motorsport venues, and especially so for such a fearsome track, Spa is also steeped in tragedy. It’s the place that stole Stefan Bellof from a brilliant future in Formula One; it’s where Chris Bristow and Alan Stacey passed away minutes – and a few hundred metres – from each other. It’s where Anthoine Hubert’s young rising star was cruelly taken from us last year.
Spa helped write glorious and tragic pages of our sport but, as always, the pages we are most looking forward to are the ones yet to be written. Every time we get in the car here, we honour the many who did this before – those who came back with laurels and those who never returned. There will be hard days, there will be good days, but just to be racing on this hallowed ground is reason enough to smile.