It took us around an hour and a half to drive from Brussels airport to our hotel just outside the small town of Spa. The monotony of the first part of the journey encouraged me to remove the iPhone from my pocket and watch an episode of Band of Brothers. The harrowing story followed the men of Easy Company during the Battle of the Bulge, whilst they tried to hold the town of Bastogne. It wasn’t until the episode had finished, that the dramatic change of scenery presented itself – We were in the Ardennes, the very area that had been fought over so hard by the Allies and Germany, and that i’d just being watching on the tiny screen of my iPhone. The realisation was a bit of a shock, and put into perspective the task ahead of us over the following days.
Each circuit on the F1 calendar has its little quirks – its little points of interest. Corners that are unusual in some way, or a unique series of corners designed to challenge the very best of drivers or unique settings, such as Monaco. Spa is different. Spa has Eau Rouge.
Strictly speaking Eau Rouge is one corner, but the name now popularly describes three corners, the first of which is at the bottom of a hill, with the last being on the blind brow of a very steep hill. The thing that makes this so impressive is two things – how steep the hill is and how big the drivers balls must be to exit the last corner at around 300kph not being able to see the exit of the corner. There have been many big shunts.
The circuit is just over 7km long a weaves its way through the woods of the Ardennes – an impressive sight, with equally impressive weather: Rain clouds form here from no where, invariably dropping their contents on only part of the circuit. Tyre choices become extremely interesting when a slick tyre can have you off on one of the rain drenched corners, or the intermediates can perish in only a few laps due to large sections of dry circuit. Eau Rouge is just one of a number of seriously impressive corners. So far its been the only circuit that’s made me want to jump in a fast car drive it as fast as i can.