In Belgium, Formula 1 is as prominent as ever! Circuit Spa-Francorchamps is of course fantastic to drive on. It is also the favourite circuit of Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen. Learn the history and how to bet on the Belgian Grand Prix!
Betting on Belgian Grand Prix | History of the Belgian Grand Prix
It is almost impossible to imagine, but the Belgian Grand Prix is almost 100 years old. The first Grand Prix was held back in 1925, when there was a lot of racing in Europe. Even back then, the drivers raced on the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, which was then over 14 kilometres long. The first winner was Italian Antonio Ascari. It was his fourth victory, but a month later he would fatally crash at the French Grand Prix.
It was not until 1930 that Spa would again be used for a Grand Prix. Until World War II, there would be seven races at Spa-Francorchamps. The last race, in 1939, would be blacked out. British driver Richard Seaman was leading when he spun out on the wet track and drove into a tree. His car caught fire and Seaman died of his burn injuries. His German teammate Hermann Lang won the race. Incidentally, no driver managed to win the Belgian Grand Prix more than once.
Spa-Francorchamps after WWII: faster and more dangerous
Despite the deadly 1939 accident, surprising developments at Spa came after World War II. The slow corners were removed from the circuit, with everything but La Source going at enormous speed. As a result, Spa became one of the most extreme and feared circuits of the era.
In 1950, the first Formula One world championship was run. Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio and his Italian teammate Nino Farina dominated in their Alfa Romeo. Fangio won the race in 1950, but Farina became world champion. In 1951, it was the exact opposite. Fangio, incidentally, would become Formula 1 world champion a total of five times.
There would be a notable winner in 1952 and 1953. Alberto Ascari won the Belgian Grand Prix in those years in his Ferrari. The first to win the race more than once Ascari? Yes, the son of the first winner Antonio Ascari.
He also became Formula One world champion in both years. Like his father however, he would die at the age of 36. He crashed at Monza while driving a Ferrari 750 Monza. In 1954 and 1955, Fangio won the Belgian Grand Prix again, at the expense of the also legendary Stirling Moss.
Two killed in Grand Prix Belgium 1960
However, the races in the first 15 years after WWII were overshadowed by the many fatal accidents at Spa-Francorchamps. From 1949 to 1958, for example, there were nine fatal accidents already in other categories. In 1960, Formula 1 would ‘take its turn’.
In qualifying, Stirling Moss and Mike Taylor had already been seriously injured. In the race, two of their British compatriots would be killed. Chris Bristow went off his line at Malmedy, hit a wall and was ejected from his car.
He landed on barbed wire where he was decapitated. Five laps later, Alan Stacey was hit in the face by a bird. His car overturned and caught fire, with Stacey still in the car. He did not survive this either. Until Imola 1994 (Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger), this was the deadliest Formula 1 race ever.
Jim Clark dominates 60s at Spa
Back to positive news. After wins at Spa and in the World Championship for American Phil Hill in 1961, it was time for Briton Jim Clark. In his Lotus-Climax, he won the Belgian GP four times in a row from 1962 to 1965. He was also world champion in 1963 and 1965.
Moving to Nivelles and Zolder
Between 1964 and and 1969, Spa-Francorchamps claimed another eight lives in various racing classes. In 1969, Jackie Stewart came along on behalf of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association. He demanded various safety measures from the circuit, but they did not materialise.
The British, French and Italian teams withdrew from the race. As a result, the entire Grand Prix was eventually cancelled. Formula 1 returned once more in 1970 because of a minor modification, but in 1971 the race failed again.
Thereupon, Belgium decided to alternate the Grand Prix every year between the Nivelles and Zolder circuits. Emerson Fittipaldi won at Nivelles in 1972 and 1974, Jackie Stewart at Zolder in 1973. However, Formula 1 did not like the Nivelles circuit, so it would remain at those two races. Zolder would remain the venue for the Belgian Grand Prix from 1975 to 1982. Niki Lauda won in 1975 and 1976, after which six different winners would follow.
Betting on Belgian Grand Prix |Back to Spa-Francorchamps
After a further seven fatal accidents in the 1970s, Spa-Francorchamps finally made major adjustments to the circuit. The length went down to 7 kilometres, the long stretches through the countryside were taken out and obstacles were replaced by bends. In 1983, Formula 1 dared to do it again, and Alain Prost won at Spa. In 1984, they returned to Zolder one more time, but after that it was only Spa.
Betting on Belgian Grand Prix | Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher dominate
The definitive return to Spa-Francorchamps heralded the Ayrton Senna era. The Brazilian won his second ever Formula 1 race in Belgium in 1985. From 1988, he won in Belgium four times in a row, becoming world champion three times. In 1994, Senna crashed at the Imola circuit along with Roland Ratzenberger.
Two years earlier, a young Michael Schumacher had already scored his first ever Grand Prix victory at Spa. In 1993 and 1994, he still had to leave victory to Damon Hill. The German would then continue his dominance however. In 1995, 1996, 1997, 2001 and 2002, he would be the best at Spa. The last four victories came in his Ferrari.
The past 20 years began with four wins in five editions for Kimi Räikkönen. Twice in his McLaren-Mercedes and twice in a Ferrari. Lewis Hamilton eventually put himself alongside the Finn with four wins. Germany could cheer three more times for Sebastian Vettel and once for Nico Rosberg. Lastly, in 2021, we saw Max Verstappen win at his favourite circuit.
Betting on Belgian Grand Prix | Top three historic races Grand Prix Belgium
As mentioned earlier, 1985 was a harbinger of Ayrton Senna’s future dominance. That year, the Brazilian world champion of 1988, 1990 and 1991 won his second Grand Prix ever. He started second in the rain behind Alain Prost, who started from pole position.
Senna defended his position against Nelson Piquet (Max Verstappen’s father-in-law). Senna was then able to battle with Prost for the win. The Brazilian won, ahead of Nigel Mansell and Prost. The Frenchman would go on to become world champion that year as he did in 1986, 1989 and 1993. Each time in fantastic battles with Senna.
The 2000 Formula 1 world championship was tremendously exciting. Mika Häkkinen was the 1998 and 1999 world champion. Michael Schumacher was already looking for his first world title with Ferrari for the fifth year. Prior to the Belgian Grand Prix, Häkkinen was two points ahead of Schumacher with five races to go.
The Finn started his McLaren from pole position, but fell back due to a spin. He fought his way back to the front and eventually got on Schumacher’s tail. After 41 laps, they joined a straggler, Ricardo Zonta. Schumacher overtook Zonta via the outside, heading towards the ideal line. But Häkkinen brilliantly passed Zonta on the inside at the same time and then outbraked Schumacher.
Häkkinen won the race after one of the most fantastic overtakes ever. Schumi, however, went on to win the last four races and his first World Championship with Ferrari.
Mercedes dominated the 2014 Formula 1 season, eventually winning 16 of the 19 races that year. Lewis Hamilton took 11 victories, his teammate Nico Rosberg five. The other three came in the name of Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo.
At Spa-Francorchamps, he took advantage of an early collision between noted Hamilton and Rosberg. Hamilton shouted over the radio:
“Oh my god, I can’t believe it, Nico hit me, guys.”Lewis Hamilton
The German would still finish second, Valtteri Bottas in his Williams third.
The Belgian Grand Prix is a prestigious Formula 1 race held at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.
The Belgian Grand Prix made its Formula 1 debut in 1950, becoming a staple on the calendar.
Michael Schumacher holds the record with a total of 6 wins at the Belgian Grand Prix.
The track’s high-speed layout and unpredictable weather create a unique challenge for drivers and teams.
Bets on race winner, podium finishers, fastest lap, and head-to-head driver matchups are popular options.