Lewis Hamilton at 2022 Belgian GP: ‘The penalty is high’

The Belgian Grand Prix is under threat.

Sir Lewis Hamilton has spoken highly of the Spa Francorchamps Circuit as it faces a fight to keep its place on the calendar for 2023.

The iconic racetrack is the longest on the Formula 1 calendar, and features elevation changes of over 100 metres.

It sweeps up through the incredibly challenging, loaded and terrifying Eau Rouge complex, which forms part of the longest flat-out section of the year from La Source up to Les Combes at the end of the Kemmel Straight.

The downhill descent begins at Malmedy, and stops when the drivers get down to the Fagnes Chicane.

READ: Lewis Hamilton spurred on for Spa victory as Ferrari and Red Bull to be ‘pegged back’

A fast left-hander at Blanchimont follows at the end of the lap, before a big braking zone into the Bus Stop Chicane takes the drivers onto the home straight and across the line.

Hamilton has taken four wins in Spa, his first in 2010 arriving in wet conditions having previously crossed the line first in 2008.

The Briton beat Kimi Raikkonen to the win in treacherous weather, but overtook the Finn illegally towards the end, giving the win to Felipe Massa after Raikkonen crashed out.

The sudden inclement weather in both of those races was indicative of the sudden changes in conditions that can be experienced in the Ardennes Forest, and this is exaggerated by the fact that the track is so long.

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Therefore, the weather could be very different on one part of the circuit compared to the other, so the conditions and the nature of the circuit itself make it one of the most enticing on the calendar.

“Belgium is one of the circuits that you feel you’re really going somewhere,” said Hamilton.

READ: ‘We don’t have petrodollars’: Belgian GP organiser fires jibe as Spa faces axe

“Very long corners – high-speed corners. It’s exhilarating going around that track, Eau Rouge is always exciting, it’s hair-raising.

“The cost of getting it wrong through Eau Rouge, the penalty is high, this is an epic circuit.”

It is a wonder then, that there remains a possibility that Spa could be dropped from the 2023 calendar.

It runs out of contract this season along with Monaco, Austria and Mexico, and the threat is being posed by new circuits around the world, as well as returning ones.

There is continued speculation that Kyalami in South Africa could replace it, while three American races, as well as a touted return to Asia, threatens Spa’s place.

The Stavelot-based circuit is one of the oldest on the calendar having hosted 54 races, and it featured in the first-ever championship season in 1950.