The FIA Formula 2 Championship returned from its summer break for Round 11 at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, located in the southeast of Belgium in the Ardennes Forest.
A high-speed track with legendary corners like Eau Rouge, Pouhon, and Blanchimont, Spa is the longest circuit on the Formula 2 calendar at 7.004 kilometres. That’s more than twice the length of the Circuit de Monaco, on which drivers raced in May.
InsideF2 asked the top three drivers in Qualifying about what they made of Spa’s length.
“The longer laps are a lot of fun, especially Spa. I love it. It’s a really fun track, and I also enjoy the short tracks like Monaco. I think each have their own pros and cons,” third-placed Enzo Fittipaldi said.
“I don’t know what’s more difficult. They’re really equal. I really like both types of tracks – short and big. And medium!” he added with a laugh.
Though Spa’s distance reduces the potential for the crowding characteristic of shorter circuits like the Red Bull Ring, it brings with it additional risks and potential for time loss.
Qualifying runs at Spa can take several minutes longer than those at other circuits, particularly given the slower speed of warm-up laps and cool-down laps. Red flag periods and other interruptions then become more disruptive in Practice and Qualifying as drivers have fewer opportunities to complete laps, as third-placed Logan Sargeant explained.
“The most challenging thing about Spa is just the lack of laps you get. Obviously, [if] a red flag comes out, you lose a lot of time. It’s just really a case of being able to be on it extremely quick, not leave yourself too much to do with that final opportunity, so it’s definitely a challenging, challenging track [with] just a small amount of laps to get to the limit.”
In the races, Safety Car periods can run longer as the pit entry is crossed less frequently, a factor that can also affect pit strategy for the Feature Race. As at any other circuit, six laps must still be completed before a driver pits even though Spa is longer in lap distance and tougher on tyres, lending extra importance to tyre management.
Drugovich, who set pole with a lap time of 1:58.232 and an average speed of 213.262 kilometres per hour, relished the overall challenge of the longer track.
“I actually enjoy the longer laps,” Drugovich said. “It’s very tricky to put a lap together, so I think sometimes, it’s even more enjoyable.”
Drivers will get an altogether different challenge at the Circuit Zandvoort next weekend, which, at 4.259 kilometres, is the second-shortest track on the calendar.
Image: Daniel Coyle