Video: F1′s best circuit ruined?

Fernando Alonso, Spa-Francorchamps, Renault, 2005 | LAT Photographic / Steven TeeF1 makes it’s highly anticipated return to the fabulous Spa-Francorchamps circuit next month. But has the great track been dumbed down too far?

At Eau Rouge the profile of the corner remains the same but re-surfacing, construction work and the installation of tarmac run-off have made the bend less of a challenge.

As this video shows, drivers now seem to be able to cut the final part of the corner with no penalty. It is not the only place on the circuit where this is a problem.

This amateur video shot at the FIA GT round at Spa-Francorchamps last month shows how easy it has become for drivers to cut the final part of Eau Rouge, making the corner shorter and easier:

Has this once great challenge now been neutered completely? At the start of the recent British Formula Three race Marko Asmer passed a string of cars on the first lap by missing out this part of Eau Rouge.

At the end of the lap the re-profiled chicane has ‘kerbs’ that are completely flat. The F3 cars were easily able to run onto the tarmac run off and used it as an extension of the track on every lap.

What is particularly unsatisfactory about the chicane configuration is that there is no obvious need for tarmac run-off on the exit of such a slow corner.

Has Spa been spoiled? Or are these changes essential in the name of safety?

Photo: LAT Photographic / Steven Tee

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10 comments on Video: F1′s best circuit ruined?

  1. Journeyer said on 15th August 2007, 8:30

    My guess is that it WILL make Eau Rouge easier. But cutting the last part of the corner would be similar to cutting a chicane. The stewards may deem that cutting the corner would result in a penalty for gaining an unfair advantage.

    As for Bus Stop… That’s a controversial decision, to say the least. I’m afraid to say Spa has been Tilkenized.

    But still, let’s see what happens.

  2. Scott Joslin said on 15th August 2007, 15:51

    I can remember at least 10 major accidents over the years where drivers are lucky to be alive after crashing at Eau Rouge, unless you are happy to see drivers killed (Stefan Bellof) I am happy to have the circuit back in any configuration. If that is what has to be done to the track to keep in line with modern standards then so be it. Would you rather it still be the same state as the 70′s/80′s but laying in a decrepit state of repair as most fast single seaters could not race there due to saftey?

  3. But surely you can make a circuit safe without making it easy for drivers to cut parts of the track? Some circuits that use these tarmac run-offs also have a strip of grass or some other low-friction surface between the run off and the circuit to prevent drivers from deliberately running wide.

    I think there is good cause to question the quality of the work they’ve done at Spa. They made a pig’s ear of the pit lane – by all accounts it’s less safe now than it used to be.

  4. SoLiD said on 15th August 2007, 17:45

    trust me, the circuit is still the natural spa circuit… only safer.
    And still you will see hard crashes here… but drivers can indeed take more risks there now.
    I like what they’ve done to the source hairpin, it’s beautifull now.
    The busstop is different, but I like the look of it :)
    And the circuit is still intact and a great challenge!
    And it will provide a great F1 race this year, as real racing is still possible there.
    Bernie is going to be impressed with the new pit complex, it’s great!

  5. Dave M said on 15th August 2007, 22:25

    That’s one of the most depressing motorsport clips I’ve seen :(

  6. Another symptom of the emasculating disease known as Hermann Tilke.

  7. Eric M. said on 16th August 2007, 7:12

    Wow. Some of those guys are literally driving more than a car width on the wrong side of the curb! I hope the stewards are a little more alert when F1 visits.

    I’m not even sure why the tarmac run-off extends all the way up to that particular apex. Tarmac run-off is all fine and good, but their really going overboard with it these days.

  8. Akiruo said on 16th August 2007, 8:07

    I have been to the testing days at Spa in July. I have always been a big fan of the original busstop chicane. The new one seems to be OK, but it is small for overtaking. As a lot of F1 drivers have already said, the entry for the pitlane is small. It is possible that cars entering the pitlane can block other cars, even not intentionally.
    As for cutting the track, I have not seen any of the F1 drivers do this. Not on the climb at Eau Rouge, nor on the pitlane straight exiting the last corner of the chicane. This was totally different during the FIA GT 24h of Spa. They all went wide. I see it as cheating, but if everyone does it.
    The F1 cars might be to low to gain any advantage cutting the track like that. When the hit the curb with all four wheels they might loose control. At Eau Rouge it is not the best place to do that. Only one exception maybe. Jacques Villeneuve, saying it was his best crash ever.

  9. verasaki said on 17th August 2007, 3:16

    the bellof incident happened over 20 years ago and thankfully safety is a work in perpetual progress or i think we might have seen 2 or 3 deaths or serious injuries in F1 alone this year. i’m just not sure that is a particularly well demonstrated point.

    i’ve never really thought of eau rouge from a purely spectator angle so much as i’ve imagined it, vicariously dreamed it in fact, from the driver’s angle. i think if i were a driver i’d want there to be at least that last little bit of rough, that pinpoint connection to front engined cars and leather helmets, that one little piece of “thar be dragons here” left to me.

    besides, i’m not convinced this is going to make it safer. we’ll see. but, from a girl who doesn’t want to see anything happen to these guys and hates crashes-yellow flags, safety cars-my god how tedious! i’m glad to see spa back on the calendar.

  10. Hamilton fan said on 25th September 2007, 16:45

    every time tilke touches a track it becomes a huge wide island of tarmac which doesnt help overtaking, its not the circuits that is the problem with overtaking its the cars, when all the overtaking used to happen 10-15 years ago theyr were on narrow circuits but the difference in the cars made overtaking possible.

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