Spa Track Guide: 3 Driving Tips For Sim Racers
Spa is one of the world’s most famous racetracks. It is located in the Belgian Ardennes and is considered a historic venue for Formula 1. Besides Formula 1, the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps also hosts several different GT racing events, as well as endurance races. The 7-kilometer Spa track is known to be a challenge as the 19 turns on the track vary a lot in difficulty.
I have many years of experience with sim racing, spanning most of the prominent simulators on the market. Recently I have raced a lot in iRacing, racing competitively for the past 3 years, most recently for the Visceral Racing Team.
Whilst the tips in this blog post are universal and portray techniques which are applicable in all racing simulators, the basis of these tips stem from iRacing and using the hydraulic Invicta™ pedals for braking.
Spa Track Racing Tip 1: Eau Rouge and Raidillon
The first section to focus on when racing around the Spa track, is the Eau Rouge and Raidillon complex. This is considered one of the harder sections. This is because having the wrong line through the apex of the corner can cause loss of speed on the following straight and may even cause you to crash. This means you need to have as straight a line going up Eau Rouge as you can, and turning as little as possible when cresting Raidillon.
To do this, you need to make the entry to the complex as wide as possible, running over as much curb as possible (without getting a 1x in iRacing) in the left-hand kink just before climbing Eau Rouge.
Next you should focus on staying as close to the curbing on the inside when you go up the hill. If you widened the corner, this should be a fairly straight line.
This opens up the left turn, cresting the hill at Raidillon. This not only keeps the car stable but also allows you to carry more speed onto the following straight, Kemmel. Because Spa is a track where a lot of downforce is not generally used, going over the hill at Raidillon may be deceptively tricky. Therefore, it is important to have only small inputs, until you have crested the hill.
Spa Track Racing Tip 2: Bruxelles
Another vital section of the track in which to improve lap time, is the corner of Bruxelles, formerly known as Rivage. This corner is deceivingly difficult. For starters, the approach to the corner is downhill, extending the braking distance. On top of this, Bruxelles is what you call a double apex corner, meaning you have two points along the corner where you hug the curbing.
Because of this, there is no better corner to show the importance of trail braking. Coming to the corner, you brake HARD to bring down the speed of the car. It is important that the steering wheel is kept straight during this, to avoid overloading the front tires.
Trail off the brake and start gently turning in towards the curb. You should carry a speed that forces you to slightly miss the curbing, as you need to prepare for the corner exit.
Instead of following it around, you go in deep and come away from the curbing. Then, as you feel the car starting to regain grip on the front tires, turn back to the curb, as you have now achieved a wider corner exit. This means you can carry more momentum down to the following corner, resulting in faster lap times.
In this instance, trail braking is important, as this keeps the front-end of your race car loaded up, and provides grip to the front tires. However, applying too much force will cause understeer and excessive front tire wear.
Spa Track Racing Tip 3: Chicane
The final tip for improving lap time is through the final complex known as Chicane – the final two turns of the track. This complex is all about sacrificing corner entry to gain an advantage at corner exit.
You arrive at the corner after racing down the back stretch, going through Blanchimont before braking hard into a tight hairpin right-hand corner.
While your natural instinct might be to find the shortest route to the following left-hand corner, you must sacrifice the corner exit of the right-hand corner to set up a wider left-hand corner.
This sacrifices momentum through the initial part of the Chicane complex, but will provide much more time coming off the final corner of the lap.
Spa Track Guide for Sim Racers: Final Summary
With these three tactics in mind, hopefully you will see an increase in your overall pace. All three sections will teach you about getting faster when sim racing:
1: It is all about the smallest possible inputs, going as straight as possible at all times.
2: Trail braking is essential. It helps with cornering, but also the ability to carry momentum into corners, and allowing for better corner exits, resulting in faster lap times.
3: The shortest route is not always the quickest, especially in complexes of corners. Always remember to set up the subsequent corners for improved pace.
All in all, we hope that this blog post will help you to set faster lap times around Spa, as well as getting better at tackling this challenging track and finding the best racing lines. When you combine these tactics with the right sim racing hardware, you’ll undoubtedly perform better when racing at Spa in your simulator at home.
The Formula One lap record for Spa is 1:46.286, set by Valtteri Bottas in 2018. How close can you get?