Friday, December 9, 2022

Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix: How to watch, preview, stream, channel, start time

Formula 1 returns from its summer break to a new Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. Renovations that had been planned at the circuit since 2020 were completed earlier this year. 

After the death of Formula 2 driver Anthoine Hubert in 2019, safety became a big focus at Spa, with extra run-off areas being added to Eau Rouge/Radillion, and gravel traps being added to La Source, Radillion, Blanchimont, Les Combes, Stavelot and Pouhon.

It’s not the first time that Spa has been criticized for being unsafe — drivers and teams famously boycotted the race in 1969 after safety measures asked for were not implemented — but hopefully with these changes it will be a good long while before they need to address anything again.

The track has also been resurfaced, so it will be interesting to see how the teams adapt to the change in grip and the other renovations. 

How to watch the Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix

  • Date: Sunday, Aug. 28
  • Location: 4.352 mile (7.004 km) Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Stavelot, Belgium
  • Time: 9 a.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN
  • Stream: fuboTV (try for free)

What to expect

Elevation changes, blind turns that drop off, long straights, sweeping curves, complex sections … over the course of 44 laps and 191.388 miles (308.052 km), Spa has everything that anyone can ask of a track. It is a high-downforce circuit that can be extremely tricky in the wet, and so large that one section of the track can be dry while the other soaking wet or covered in fog/clouds.

As for a signature corner, it would have to be the Eau Rouge/Raidillon complex, where drivers will snap their wrists left, then right ever so quickly and smoothly through Eau Rouge before powering up the steepest climb in Formula 1 to Raidillon. Seriously, though, many consider the entire circuit to simply be one signature corner after another.

There will be only two DRS zones for the event, the first starting just ahead of Turn 2 and the second zone just before the entrance of Turn 18. 

As for tire strategy, Spa has proven to be a one-stopper the past few years, with teams starting on medium compounds and moving to the hard compound. But that’s if the race is dry. If it’s not, then all strategies are out the window.

On the back foot

Alpine and McLaren: We lump these two together because of the driver line-up issues both are having. What we know for sure at Alpine is that Fernando Alonso is gone after this season concludes. Likewise with Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren, as the news recently broke that he will not be returning to McLaren and may even take a year sabbatical. The interesting thing as the season continues will be who is going to fill those seats. Oscar Piastri has backed out of the Alpine ride, and who knows if Alex Palou over at IndyCar will find a way to extricate himself from his contract at Chip Ganassi Racing and land at McLaren.

Running in place

Ferrari: The break came at the right time for the Scuderia, as they looked about to come apart at the seams. Belgium is a tricky track to strategize for, however. As stated earlier, when things are dry it’s a fairly straightforward affair. But when it gets wet, look out. One thing is for certain: They have the speed and they have drivers with the ability. If they can stop the internal bleeding, it will all work out.

Best foot forward

Mercedes and Red Bull: Sir Lewis Hamilton and George Russell are both very confident that they can get Mercedes into the the conversation about who can win races. They have certainly shown drastic improvement from the early part of the season and went into the summer break on a roll, so one could say the hiatus came at the worst time for Mercedes. At Red Bull Racing, the chance to take a step back and catch one’s breath was likely appreciated. Now it’s about closing out the season in the right way, knowing that Ferrari is nearly as fast if not faster, depending on the track, and that Mercedes is much improved and will figure in the the fight.

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