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Is it Time to Reprofile Eau Rouge?

Is it Time to Reprofile Eau Rouge?


 

I am not qualified to comment specifically on the recent accident at Spa involving Anthoine Hubert and Juan Manuel Correa and it would be inappropriate to do so. But one thing is clear, the fatal collision occurred not on the race track itself but in the run-off area at what is a very fast section with a blind approach.

Again, not making reference to this particular incident but where there are tarmac run-off areas drivers are inclined not to back-off, but to keep their foot flat down to maintain speed whilst rejoining the circuit proper.

There is no leeway to modify the Spa circuit at this particular spot at the exit of Raidillon and the start of the Kemmel Straight, it is flanked by steep spectator banking on one side and a drop-off into the trees on the other. The only option would be to change the run-off area in a way that forces a car to slow such as gravel, but this brings problems of its own. Cars losing momentum so rapidly may flip whilst beached cars may cause the session to be red flagged every couple of laps.

The alternative would be to make the approach to this section of track slower and the only realistic way of achieving this would be to reprofile Eau Rouge at the bottom of the hill. This is the only area with sufficient space to permit a new layout, something more permanent and aesthetic than the temporary chicane imposed in 1994.

It may well be seen as sacrilege by many to change this famous bend. The whole section from Eau Rouge up through Raidillon is blindingly quick and spectacular to watch but for the driver it is not the challenge it once was. Brave and committed though they may have to be, it is now basically a flat-out section.

A well-designed chicane or an ‘S-bend’ could be introduced offering a greater challenge to the drivers but with the prime purpose of slowing the cars down before the approach to the following blind brow.

Other corners such as Tamburello at Imola, the entry to the swimming pool at Monaco and Woodcote at Silverstone have all been successfully reprofiled over the years to reduce speeds.