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F1 Belgian Grand Prix: Dissecting the fabled Eau Rouge

Benhur J
CONTRIBUTOR
Feature
214   //    Timeless

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The circuit of Spa-Francorchamps on a sunny day

Each sport has its own iconic venues. Lords, Eden Gardens or SCG. For sports fans, places like these are more than just another venue, they're hallowed, comes with a lot of emotions and fabled memories.

For the F1 community, three venues stand out – Silverstone, the principality of Monaco, and Monza popularly called “temple of speed”. Each of these venues has some interesting corners, but none surpass the famous Eau Rouge at Spa Francorchamps.

Most of us, when we think of Eau Rouge, the fast roller-coaster combo of turns 2 to 4 (left/right/left corners) come to our minds. But it’s not to be. Surprised? Read on.

Eau Rouge is spectacular; even for those who view at TV its exhilarating, and thrilling. Nothing showcases the drama of Eau Rouge than this trackside video (0:12-0:14) of Mark Webber elbowing out Fernando Alonso at about 300 kmph.

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Circuit Guide

Drivers like it. Today drivers take Eau Rouge flat out at over 300 kmph, which helps in making any overtaking attempts through Kemmel straight leading to Les Combes. Michael Schumacher once famously said, "flying downhill and seeing a big mountain in front of you"

But there is a misconception around Eau Rouge; when we think of Eau Rouge, the fast roller-coaster combo of turns 3 to 5 (left/right/left corners) come to our minds. But it’s not to be. Surprised? Read on.

Bottom of the hill between turns 3 and 5 is the brook Eau Rouge, at this point was the original left-hand corner that led to the old i'Ancienne Douane section. This corner is Eau Rouge.

How did Raidillon come into place? Raidillon in French means steep path, and in 1939, when the circuit promoter wanted to promote Spa Francorchamps as a faster circuit, they got rid of the i'Ancienne Douane section and constructed a steep path to join the Kemmel straight, and this fast left-hand corner is Raidillon.

Tried to illustrate the below old picture. So next time, do not get confused between Eau Rouge and Raidillon - they are different.

Eau Rouge on bottom & Raidillon on top
Eau Rouge on bottom & Raidillon on top

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Benhur J
CONTRIBUTOR
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