iRacing's Spa-Francorchamps Finally Needs an Update

iRacing Spa-Francorchamps Endurance Pit Straight 2.jpg
As one of the iconic racing circuits in the world, it is no surprise the the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps is frequently used in iRacing, as it will be in the upcoming 24 Hours of Spa special event from July 21st to 23rd. Although the layout of the 7,004-kilometer circuit has not changed since 2007, the iRacing version finally deserves to be updated.

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The combination of GT3 cars and Monza or Spa has become a bit of a meme in sim racing in recent years, but as sarcastically as it may sometimes be used, there is no denying that the rollercoaster in the Ardennes is among the most popular racing circuits anywhere, both in the real and virtual worlds. Most modern simulations feature the track, and it is easy to see why: It is challenging, fast in most places and oozing history everywhere.

And yet, heading to the track in iRacing feels somewhat different compared to other platforms, which is not due to the quality being worse - there is no doubt that iRacing's Spa is a well-made circuit, just like the rest of the service's track roster. It is showing its age, however.

Shades of 2010​

Having been available for more than ten years, the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps as it is portrayed in iRacing replicates the track as it used to be at the start of the 2010s, an obvious giveaway being the color of the kerbs: Instead of the yellow-and-red paint they sport today, they are red and white instead, which was changed after the 2010 season. This goes hand in hand with trackside buildings, the old grandstands across from the old pit lane being one example.

iRacing Spa-Francorchamps Eau Rouge Raidillon.jpg

Eau Rouge and Raidillon look a bit different these days, with the run-off having been altered and a new grandstand placed roughly where this screenshot was taken from. Image credit: iRacing

Of course, Spa has only just changed, with the reworks of the run-off at Raidillon, the addition of the motorcycle layout of Speaker's Corner, and the construction of new grandstands at the old pit lane having been carried out since late 2021. This gives the circuit a considerably different appearance in several places.

These changes could be ignored, as they would largely mean cosmetical changes to the virtual circuit, except for the slightly altered run-off at Raidillon potentially changing the path of crashed vehicles, making them less likely to get thrown back onto the racing line. There is more to it, however: As motorcycle racing made its return to Spa as part of the FIM Endurance World Championship, several gravel traps have been introduced where tarmac used to be.

Compare the onboards of Moritz Löhner in a Porsche 992 Cup car and Dirk Schouten's POV from the 2023 season opener of the Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux below to spot the many differences between iRacing's version and the current-day circuit.

Gravel Changes Drivers' Approach​

Despite the run-off areas just being next to the track, they do change how drivers can approach certain corners: Instead of taking an off-track warning at the exit of La Source but carrying on as usual, racers would risk spinning out or crashing into a barrier if they run wide and hit the gravel in the same spot. Similarly, extending the racing line past the kerb at Stavelot is not an alternative anymore if drivers like their car planted to the surface.

With the work for the remodeling project of Spa being now complete, the time is right for iRacing to bring its version of the circuit up to date. And while they are at it, they could also schedule a slight detour to Zandvoort, which is less than four hours away - the home of the Dutch Grand Prix had even more significant changes made in recent years that have not yet found their way to the sim.

Your Thoughts​

What do you think about a modernized Spa in iRacing? Are the real-life changes enough to warrant a rework or are you still fine with the sim's version as it is? Let us know in the comments below!
About author
Yannik Haustein
Lifelong motorsport enthusiast and sim racing aficionado, walking racing history encyclopedia.

Sim racing editor, streamer and one half of the SimRacing Buddies podcast (warning, German!).

Heel & Toe Gang 4 life :D


Before this turns into an "iRent" flame war from the very opinionated non-members...

Mosport is one that has really fallen behind as well. I mean... great that it doesnt have the boring runoffs, but at the same time, a lot of peoples race wouldnt be ruined if cars were able to use the paved areas to recover
The iRacing version of Zolder is pretty drab and could do with a lick of paint tbh. I learnt the track on ACC then tried the iRacing version and was instantly depressed. Given how much the tracks cost, it would be nice to see them updated. But not expecting much as it won't make them any money.
i mean if they charge premium for the track I’d expect them to keep it at premium level of quality

But to be fair I think only one simulator in the market have the updated spa layout (ams 2 spa)
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This is the problem with iracings ever expanding library of tracks. The latest tracks are awesome and look fantastic in my eyes. (Take Willow Springs and Sebring). However the older tracks have a vastly inferior quality. It is something i think iracing urgently need to address. Tracks that are say 6 years old or older should be discounted. It is definetly not fair to charge the same price for tracks like Barber, Mosport, Spa, Zandvoort etc. This is a problem that is only going to get worse from them. They are releasing tracks at an increased rate than they used to however they don't seem to be intrested in updating what they have!
If they are going to charge top prices they should ensure what they are selling is top quality! At the moment in some cases, (Spa, Zandvoort, Zolder) this is not the case. There are better versions in other sims.
I believe Spa is still out of date even in F1 23 so a few games could do with updates
I think part of the problem into the F1 games recently has been that Spa is only getting 1 year contract extensions at the minute. I don't want to excuse EA/Codies too much, because it should have been updated long ago, especially when Spa's future was secured for a few more years, but at the minute, they've only got so many resources so they probably want to devote those to something that has a more secure future, rather than what (through years of neglect) would need to be a pretty huge upgrade to bring it up to good standards, just for it to fall off the calendar again.

F1 should sign Spa down to a better contract, and one would hope that would give Codies more reason to update their pretty atrocious model of Spa.
wait,, i fixed it for you..
Amazing what many millions of subscription dollars can bring in some sims: outdated tracks, graphics, sound.
Meanwhile, a modder working for free: I gotchu fam, here's updated Spa, new sound packs. Heck, throw in a graphics update in there too.

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Yannik Haustein
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