Opinion: We all love Spa-Francorchamps but today's F1 cars are ruining it

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The end of Formula 1's summer break is always welcome and none more so because of the race that follows it, the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa.

Few circuits have the mystique of Spa-Francorchamps and this hallowed stretch of tarmac has witnessed just about everything throughout the decades.

Even when the original was shortened to the 7km layout of today back in 1979, the atmosphere and reputation the track had built didn't change despite the loss of iconic corners such as the Masta Kink.

That is largely unheard of, certainly if you compare it to other great venues like Hockenheim and Nurburgring, which failed to keep their character after radical changes.

And part of the reason for that is many of the corners which made Spa, Spa remained.

 

La Source, perhaps only surpassed by Leows and the Karrussel as the most iconic hairpin in motorsport, Blanchimont and of course Eau Rouge, the most famous of them all.

Yet, while there is no doubt that Spa remains one of the greatest circuits in the world, for F1 that view is changing.

Blanchimont hasn't required much thought for years and even that iconic hill is now little more than a kink in the straight en route to Les Combes.

For the past few years, the corner that most have considered a challenge for an F1 car is Pouhon, a high-speed double left-hander which is nice but has never had the reputation of Eau Rouge.

Yet even this has been flat-out since 2017, in qualifying at least, and the gradual erosion of the thrill which Spa once produced is worrying.

Ask a driver to name the most challenging circuits in F1 and Belgium probably wouldn't be in the top five, instead only the likes of COTA, Silverstone and Suzuka really push today's cars to their performance limit.

This was something I hoped would be addressed for 2021, that the insane grip and downforce would be toned down just a little to ensure the cars don't out-grow the circuits.

Does that mean going so far back that Eau Rouge is no longer flat? No.

 

 

But it needs to be a corner that drivers have to think about again, like in 2016 when Kevin Magnussen lost the rear on the kerb at the top of Raidillon.

This isn't just a Spa problem either, the stupid level of grip has meant Monaco is no longer the challenge it used to be and many iconic corners like Copse and 130R are much, much easier.

Sure this weekend we'll watch and there will be fizz as the cars flash up the hill because the iconic sights of Spa will never get old.

But if F1 only continues to get faster and faster then there will be a day when circuits will face a dilemma of accommodating the excessive speeds by tweaking the design or risk becoming obsolete.

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