Formula One, also known as Formula 1 or F1 and referred to officially as the FIA Formula One World Championship, is the most restrictive class of single seaterauto racing sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA). The "formula" in the name refers to a set of rules with which all participants' cars must comply. The F1 season consists of a series of races, known as Grands Prix (translated to English as "Big Prizes"), held on purpose-built circuits and public roads. The results of each race are combined to determine two annual World Championships, one for the drivers and one for the constructors, with racing drivers, constructor teams, track officials, organizers, and circuits required to be holders of valid Super Licences, the most restrictive class of racing licence issued by the FIA.
Formula One cars race at high speeds – up to 360 km/h (220 mph) – with engines the performance of which is limited to a maximum of 18,000 revolutions per minute (RPM). The cars are capable of lateral acceleration in excess of 5 g in corners. The formula has had much evolution and change through the history of the sport. Europe, where all the Formula One racing teams are based, is the sport's traditional base and where about half of each year's races occur. However, the sport's scope has expanded significantly during recent years and an increasing number of Grands Prix are held on other continents.
The 2008 Belgian Grand Prix (formally the LXIV ING Belgian Grand Prix) was a Formula One motor race held on September 7, 2008, at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps near the town of Spa, Belgium. It was the 13th race of the 2008 Formula One season. The race, contested over 44 laps, was won by Felipe Massa for the Ferrari team, after the initial winner, McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton, was penalised for cutting a chicane and gaining an advantage over Ferrari's Kimi Räikkönen. Hamilton started from pole position alongside title rival Massa. Hamilton's McLaren team-mate Heikki Kovalainen started from third next to the 2007 winner Kimi Räikkönen. Following a spin by Hamilton on the second lap, Räikkönen led the race, until rain fell on lap 41 and Hamilton performed the penalised pass. Räikkönen crashed on the following lap as the rain became heavier. Massa finished second on the road after Hamilton, followed by Nick Heidfeld of BMW Sauber. Hamilton received a drive-through penalty, which demoted him to third place and advanced Massa and Heidfeld to first and second positions. McLaren appealed the decision at the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) International Court of Appeal. Their case, however, was declared inadmissible. The penalty prompted global press discussion, primarily from the United Kingdom and Italy, with several former drivers questioning the decision.