Max Verstappen is the first F1 driver to test the redesigned Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps prior to this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix.
The famous venue underwent extensive modifications worth £65 million during the off-season in order to raise safety standards and enable the return of motorcycle racing.
Following several serious accidents in the F2, W Series, and Spa 24 Hours in recent years, the world-famous Eau Rouge/Raidillon segment has received significant modifications, including increased run-off zones.
New gravel traps have been added at four corners, including the exit of the La Source hairpin, which constitutes the first corner, among other noteworthy changes. However, the 7 km track’s configuration is unaltered.
“This year, Spa has undergone some of the biggest changes we have seen since we started going there in the modern era of Formula 1,” Pirelli chief Mario Isola said ahead of the return of the Belgian Grand Prix at the renovated Spa Circuit.
“In addition to some new asphalt on five corners, there are some new gravel traps on four corners, which are much closer to the side of the track.”
“Drivers will need to pay more attention to track limits, and there’s also an increased chance of sharp gravel being dragged onto the surface.”
“The epic nature of Spa remains unchanged though, with all the traditional challenges that make the circuit so exciting still in place.”
Red Bull released a brand-new video on its social media accounts that gave viewers their first look at the modifications.
Verstappen, the current world champion, is seen getting a chance to check out the renovated arena in an RB7 exhibition car for filming that would have happened earlier this year and the Dutchman ran a few laps in the 2011-spec car.
The teams are allowed to run past F1 cars from before 2019 anywhere they choose, as long as they use display tyres provided by Pirelli and tell the FIA in advance. However, testing of current F1 cars is greatly limited.
Other than gaining a sneak peek at some of the track modifications, it seems unclear that the run helped Red Bull’s preparation for the weekend.
Verstappen leads Charles Leclerc by 80 points going into this weekend’s race, and Red Bull is nearly 100 points ahead of Ferrari in the constructors’ championship.