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Spa Eau Rouge Comparison Essay


Belgium's Spa-Francorchamps race course is no stranger to crashes and its tight turns and chicanes have borne witness to countless collisions over the years.

Few were quite as dramatic as that seen at the Radical Euromasters series this weekend , as you can see for yourself in this shocking video.

Marcello Marateotto will have seen his life flash before his eyes after he suffered a tyre blowout while passing through the imposing Eau Rouge corner at top speed.

The force of the impact sent his vehicle careering into the tyre wall - but rather than stopping it, they instead caused the car to fly into the air and it appeared to narrowly miss several spectators as they watched on in horror.

But despite the extent of the damage caused to the vehicle, which broke up as it careered into the air, the Swiss driver emerged relatively unscathed and has already checked out of the hospital.

As a result of the incident, the 600km race was shortened to just six laps with Tristan Viidas, who led at the time of the crash, declared the winner.

In it's official report, Radical said: "On lap five, Car 29 driven by Marcello Marateotto left the track at Eau Rouge and impacted with the tyre barriers.

"The race was red-flagged and did not restart as the tyre barrier required repairs.

"The car performed as it was designed to do, protecting the driver who was taken to Verviers hospital as a precaution and released the next day."

This latest incident at the world-famous track comes shortly after Lewis Hamilton accused Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg of deliberately driving into the back of his car at last month's Belgian Grand Prix, causing a puncture and ultimately forcing him to retire.

Rosberg currently leads Hamilton in the standings, but was pipped to the chequered flag by the 2008 champion at teh Italian Grand Prix this weekend - leading to claims that Mercedes rigged it as payback for Spa .

See all the pictures of the incident at the Spa-Francorchamps meeting

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Every sport has its iconic battlegrounds. Fenway. Lambeau. Wembley. For fans, such places are more than a location, they're a legend, one packed with memories and emotions.

Formula One is no exception. The sport is renowned for storied tracks. Monaco. Silverstone. Monza. Each has an iconic corner, but none so famed as Eau Rouge at Spa Francorchamps, a fast old-school track with little room for error. Strictly speaking, Eau Rouge is Turn 2, but when most people use the term they're referring to the roller coaster combo of turns 2, 3, and 4.

For drivers, Eau Rouge is tricky, perhaps a little terrifying, and thrilling. Watching cars take the left-right-left combo flat-out is downright exhilarating. It's not unusual to see the best drivers roar through at 180 mph or more, another reminder that you will never, ever, drive like these guys.

"Down the hill, flat out, Eau Rouge is always the most exciting part of the circuit," defending champion Lewis Hamilton said earlier this week. "When you attack it flat out, when you get to the bottom of it, your insides drop. And then when you get to the top they come back up and it feels like everything will come out of of your mouth—which is quite exciting when you are going 200mph."

The corner has changed over the years, with new dimensions, barriers, and runoff areas to keep errant drivers out of the wall. A new kerb designed to keep drivers from cutting corners add to the challenge this year. But the same basic layout has remained the same for 65 years or so. Rising more than 100 feet, from the bottom drivers can't see the top, never mind the long Kemmel Straight that follows.

"The elevation change from the bottom of Eau Rouge to the top of the Kemmel Straight is huge," says Darren Turner, who drives for Aston Martin Racing in the World Endurance Championship. "When you're there, especially the first time, it's the first place you have to look. You poke your head over the old pit wall and you're drawn to it."

The corner is named after a stream that runs beneath it, dyed red by iron oxide deposits. The "red water" has been a boundary marker since the days of the Roman Empire.

Drivers come out of Turn 1, a sharp right called La Source, and head into what is properly known as Eau Rouge, a quick left just beyond pit wall. Then comes the sweeping uphill right-hander Radillon and a quick left over the crest onto the Kemmel Straight. What's difficult to see in pictures or on television is just how steep it is. Seven-time champion Michael Schumacher once said approaching Eau Rouge from La Source is like “flying downhill and seeing a big mountain in front of you”.

It is a circuit with a soul.

Romain Grosjean

In Formula One, lap times are measured in thousandths of a second. Missing an apex—the geometric center of a turn, and the spot at which drivers aim to maintain the most speed—can cost huge amounts of time. Any speed lost in the turn can be difficult to regain on Kemmel Straight, a popular overtaking spot.

“For lap time it is important to be flat [out] there, because after it is a long straight after which is uphill,” Sauber driver Marcus Ericcson said Friday.

Get it right and you're a hero. Get it wrong and you may well lose the race. "It's a personal challenge," says Turner. "Because of the commitment that it requires to get through there at speed, you're holding your breath for sure."

Turner's been through Eau Rouge perhaps 1,000 times but says, "it still gets your attention. That's what makes it one of the best corners in the world."

Indeed. The corner has been the scene of some amazing moves, few so remarkable as McLaren teammates Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso going through Eau Rouge wheel-to-wheel at 190 mph on the first lap. Two of the best drivers of their day, refusing to yield until Hamilton, pushed to the outside, lifted.

Such excitement is what makes Spa-Francorchamps one of the most storied circuits on the calendar. "It is like a dream," Lotus driver Romain Grosjean told BBC. "It is a circuit with a soul."

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