The entire section of track around the main straight has been bulldozed and rebuilt, including the surrounding infrastructure such as pit garages and grandstands. In order to accommodate these changes the La Source hairpin and Bus Stop chicanes have been reprofiled which means the main straight has almost doubled in length. The purpose of these modifications was to give the teams more room, but it has also improved trackside viewing and driver safety.
This year, with some help from landfill, the main straight has been extended in both directions towards the Bus Stop chicane and also the La Source hairpin. Removing the kink has enabled the circuit to build state of the art garages for the teams, but the bonus is that driver safety off the startling has also improved. Trackside fans are also better off because the longer straight can now accommodate a large main grandstand.
Modifications to the La Source hairpin have not been overly drastic. The escape road at La Source heads up past a few houses and towards the town of Francorchamps. The racing circuit now uses an extra hundred metres of this road, so the corner is just a little bit further away from the start line than it used to be. There has always been an old white house overlooking the first hairpin, but now the circuit continues past this house before turning back on itself. The radius and profile of the corner have been maintained, and there is still a slight dip in the road at the apex giving the drivers some camber to play with under acceleration.
All of the trees around La Source have been removed and the run off areas have been extended a little. The barriers cannot be pushed any further back now because they are up against the front yard of a home on that road to Francorchamps. That house must be a fantastic place to watch the race.
The Bus Stop chicane has been changed a few times in the past and this year the corner has been altered once again. Drivers now turn right before turning left. The reason behind doing this is so drivers exit the Bus Stop chicane directly onto the main straight, and no longer have to negotiate a kink to make it to the starting line.
To make this possible circuit officials have had to build up the area with landfill, and have also used the opportunity to lay extensive areas of tarmac runoff.
The corner is still tight and still represents the best overtaking opportunity on the circuit. The approach from the previous corner, Blanchimont, is now much straighter so the drivers will be able to race each other a little more before they start braking.
The Bus Stop changes have s resulted in a slight change of location for the pitlane entrance and it now begins at the exit of the Bus Stop chicane. As drivers turn right into the pits they will feed into a very narrow section of track and some have voiced concerns that it is so tight that poses a safety risk. Drivers have noted it would be very easy for someone to make a mistake there and accidentally block the pitlane. However, there shouldn’t be any serious dramas because the marshals will be prepared for the worst case scenario of drivers breaking down or crashing there.