Eau Rouge is a corner once more

2014 Belgian Grand Prix Friday practice analysis

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At one of the fastest and most dramatic circuits on the Formula One calendar, the new generation of F1 cars are for once close to the levels of performance seen last year.

Lewis Hamilton topped the second practice session with a best time of 1’49.189 – two-tenths of a second quicker than the top time seen on Friday last year.

The high power output of the new turbocharged engines and the diminished effect of reduced downforce levels at the track goes some way to explaining why the current cars look quicker here. But the most significant reason is likely to be that Pirelli have brought a softer range of tyres – the soft and medium, rather than the medium and hard seen last year.

Remember that in Bahrain, the only other track this year where the ‘option’ tyre was a softer compound than that which was used in 2013, the current cars were also much closer to last year’s pace.

Although the lap times may be similar, the way they are achieving it has changed. In particular the approach to one of the circuit’s most famous corners has changed. The plunge and crest through Eau Rouge and Raidillon is no longer the ‘easy flat in all conditions’ affair it had become during the V8 era.

“With our low-downforce set-up, it’s, er, interesting,” said Jenson Button, who was quickest of all through the first sector which includes the famous corner.

“You’ve got oversteer at more than 300kph, and I admit I let out a few screams inside my crash helmet through there on a couple of laps, especially on high fuel.”

McLaren had the fourth-quickest car on Friday, but were a second and a half off the flying Mercedes, most of which they are losing in the middle part of the lap. “In the first sector we’re quickest, in the third sector we’re a tenth or so off the pace, but in the middle sector we’re almost a second down,” said Button.

“So we’ll have to work on getting the balance a bit better, and hopefully we can improve in the areas we’re already strong in, too.”

“On the [soft] tyre, I’m very happy; on the [medium], Kevin is happier than I am, so we’ve got to work out the reasons for that this evening.,” he added.

Ferrari have often begun Fridays in 2014 close to Mercedes then dropped back as the weekend progresses. Despite ending Friday as ‘best of the rest’, Fernando Alonso still doubts it will be a successful race for them.

“At this track and at Monza, engine performance counts for a lot,” he said. “We know there is no magic solution but we will nevertheless try to optimise everything. The car behaved as we expected from our simulations and that is definitely something positive.”

Longest stint comparison – second practice

This chart shows all the drivers’ lap times (in seconds) during their longest unbroken stint:


Sebastian Vettel
Daniel Ricciardo114.511114.774115.247115.302115.686119.293115.334
Lewis Hamilton114.85116.011114.555116.169114.428114.795115.449114.528115.62115.761
Nico Rosberg114.592114.728114.262115.206114.474115.152117.7115.731124.693115.942116.242
Fernando Alonso116.377115.022115.945116.123115.399
Kimi Raikkonen112.234112.77113.702
Romain Grosjean120.831116.59117.244116.243116.119116.294117.497
Pastor Maldonado
Jenson Button115.99116.391116.952116.119116.458116.146116.166116.033
Kevin Magnussen116.234115.877116.657116.368116.945116.467118.056117.757117.941
Nico Hulkenberg117.376116.885117.13117.313116.825116.961117.37118.325117.717117.007116.913116.665
Sergio Perez115.778115.364116.853116.782117.716116.388116.192116.34116.922
Adrian Sutil118.463117.225117.341117.115116.856116.753117.333117.136117.784118.465
Esteban Gutierrez114.979119.384114.131121.743113.955
Jean-Eric Vergne115.932115.391115.618115.885116.556116.185119.038116.38115.894115.702116.193116.094116.632
Daniil Kvyat116.486117.62116.704117.152116.687116.55117.099117.222
Felipe Massa114.326115.289117.101114.889115.281115.166116.469117.191123.494116.831
Valtteri Bottas117.12116.607116.227116.014116.041115.994115.839116.513116.709116.75
Jules Bianchi112.776128.566112.811
Max Chilton114.04119.792
Marcus Ericsson117.956118.293118.539119.277118.555118.06118.507
Andre Lotterer120.195119.153118.69118.719118.857118.748119.38119.649

Sector times and ultimate lap times – second practice

PosNo.DriverCarS1S2S3UltimateGapDeficit to best
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes31.171 (2)48.728 (1)29.290 (1)1’49.1890.000
26Nico RosbergMercedes31.206 (3)49.173 (4)29.414 (2)1’49.7930.6040.000
314Fernando AlonsoFerrari31.489 (7)48.845 (2)29.489 (4)1’49.8230.6340.107
419Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes31.220 (4)49.526 (6)29.581 (7)1’50.3271.1380.000
522Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes31.161 (1)49.828 (10)29.670 (8)1’50.6591.4700.000
677Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes31.599 (10)49.582 (7)29.496 (5)1’50.6771.4880.000
726Daniil KvyatToro Rosso-Renault31.879 (13)49.162 (3)29.684 (9)1’50.7251.5360.000
83Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-Renault31.561 (9)49.936 (12)29.432 (3)1’50.9291.7400.048
920Kevin MagnussenMcLaren-Mercedes31.499 (8)49.753 (9)29.722 (11)1’50.9741.7850.100
1027Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes31.287 (5)50.149 (14)29.577 (6)1’51.0131.8240.064
1125Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso-Renault31.858 (12)49.586 (8)29.939 (13)1’51.3832.1940.000
1299Adrian SutilSauber-Ferrari31.721 (11)50.011 (13)29.692 (10)1’51.4242.2350.026
1311Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes31.433 (6)50.267 (15)29.771 (12)1’51.4712.2820.102
147Kimi RaikkonenFerrari32.131 (18)49.500 (5)29.942 (14)1’51.5732.3840.661
158Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault31.898 (14)49.899 (11)30.207 (18)1’52.0042.8150.192
1617Jules BianchiMarussia-Ferrari31.952 (16)50.456 (16)30.020 (15)1’52.4283.2390.348
1721Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari31.949 (15)51.599 (18)30.137 (17)1’53.6854.4960.270
1845Andre LottererCaterham-Renault32.249 (21)51.670 (20)30.108 (16)1’54.0274.8380.066
194Max ChiltonMarussia-Ferrari32.230 (20)51.429 (17)30.381 (20)1’54.0404.8510.000
209Marcus EricssonCaterham-Renault32.083 (17)51.646 (19)30.321 (19)1’54.0504.8610.000
2113Pastor MaldonadoLotus-Renault32.211 (19)55.251 (21)30.980 (21)1’58.4429.253

Speed trap – second practice

#DriverCarEngineMax speed (kph)Gap
13Daniel RicciardoRed BullRenault309.7
222Jenson ButtonMcLarenMercedes3090.7
344Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes308.61.1
419Felipe MassaWilliamsMercedes308.51.2
577Valtteri BottasWilliamsMercedes306.92.8
66Nico RosbergMercedesMercedes306.63.1
78Romain GrosjeanLotusRenault306.43.3
820Kevin MagnussenMcLarenMercedes305.54.2
927Nico HulkenbergForce IndiaMercedes305.34.4
1014Fernando AlonsoFerrariFerrari302.77
1111Sergio PerezForce IndiaMercedes302.67.1
1226Daniil KvyatToro RossoRenault3018.7
1325Jean-Eric VergneToro RossoRenault300.79
1417Jules BianchiMarussiaFerrari299.89.9
1513Pastor MaldonadoLotusRenault298.810.9
1621Esteban GutierrezSauberFerrari298.511.2
174Max ChiltonMarussiaFerrari297.512.2
187Kimi RaikkonenFerrariFerrari297.112.6
1999Adrian SutilSauberFerrari294.415.3
209Marcus EricssonCaterhamRenault293.915.8
2145Andre LottererCaterhamRenault289.220.5

Complete practice times

PosDriverCarFP1FP2Total laps
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’51.6741’49.18950
2Nico RosbergMercedes1’51.5771’49.79353
3Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’51.8051’49.93035
4Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes1’53.9681’50.32744
5Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1’52.4041’50.65952
6Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes1’53.1721’50.67746
7Daniil KvyatToro Rosso-Renault1’53.5941’50.72546
8Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-Renault1’52.9721’50.97735
9Kevin MagnussenMcLaren-Mercedes1’52.9221’51.07454
10Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’52.9371’51.07748
11Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso-Renault1’54.1891’51.38346
12Adrian SutilSauber-Ferrari1’53.7031’51.45043
13Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1’52.9031’51.57352
14Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault1’53.5971’52.19645
15Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’52.8181’52.23435
16Jules BianchiMarussia-Ferrari1’55.7821’52.77642
17Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’53.36911
18Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari1’53.9557
19Max ChiltonMarussia-Ferrari1’54.04018
20Marcus EricssonCaterham-Renault1’57.9771’54.05054
21Andre LottererCaterham-Renault1’57.8861’54.09348
22Giedo van der GardeSauber-Ferrari1’54.33516
23Pastor MaldonadoLotus-Renault1’55.33623
24Alexander RossiMarussia-Ferrari1’57.23220

2014 Belgian Grand Prix

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Image © Daimler/Hoch Zwei

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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37 comments on “Eau Rouge is a corner once more”

  1. Why is the speed trap on the top of Eau Rouge? I thought it was supposed to find the maximum achievable speed, which would be at the end of the Kemmel straight, so it’s not too representative. And I would have been very interested in the top speeds, from what we’ve seen on TV the top speed today was around 335 km/h, maybe in race condition and slipstream 350 km/h is achievable?

    1. @hunocsi Not always. That isn’t what the definition of a speed trap is, we have seen it placed on the pit straight (not always the longest) or generally after tricky corners before.

    2. Normally they measure the speed at the end of each sector. With that happening at the end of longest straight, they have to place extra speed trap somewhere else.

      1. @bleu Fair enough, but where can I see the speed trap for S1? Because I can’t find anything about it neither on fia.com or formula1.com, and with the dumbed down interface of the Live Timing on formula1.com it’s not on this year, and I can’t use the mobile app as I use Windows Phone.

        1. I think the only way to see them is through the app.

          1. Could someone share a few date from there then? You might have not noticed but I’m really interested.

    3. I never in my wildest dreams expected to see a RBR top the list for the speed trap at any race this year let alone Spa, I expect a little more wing will be added for the race.

      1. The speed trap is just after the exit of Eau Rouge or Raidillion, whatever its name is, so not that surprising that the RB leads on corner exit speed.

  2. They take Eau Rouge flat out every year in every kind of weather.

    Hint: Eau Rouge is the lefthand kink at the bottom (where HAM is in the picture), the uphill part is called Raidillion. 3 3 3 guesses what Raidillion means ;)

    1. I’m not getting into a boring, pedantic row about semantics. Most people refer to the sequence as Eau Rouge, so for the purposes of the headline that will serve adequately well.

      1. But most people get it wrong.

        If u know why they call the first part “Eau Rouge” and why they call the next part “Raidillon”, then u can never ever get it wrong again because the meaning makes sense

        1. Why don’t you enlighten us with reason behind those names?

          1. Eau Rouge refers to the river of Eau Rouge that the track crosses at the first part of the sequence, the light left. The rest is actually Raidillon. But nobody really cares about that except for some pedantic tweebs like KimiFTW here.

          2. Eau Rouge is the lefthand kink at the bottom where the river Eau Rouge flows underneath. U can still see it if u go left towards the old borderpost (long gone) and the hairpin.

            Raidillon means steep slope. It’s like a wall when u go downhill towards it.
            That meas, lefthand turn is the name of the river, righthand turn is the steep slope. Easy peasy:)

          3. After seeing this image, you won’t forget where the name comes from :P

            To put it simply, it’s named Raidillion from the moment the track starts to go uphill, thus the name steep slope or Raidillon :)

        2. Fikri Harish (@)
          22nd August 2014, 19:22

          Eau Rouge literally means red water but I have no idea why the corner is named that.
          Raidillon is French for steep slope, which is pretty straightforward.

          You don’t have to be a jerk just because you happen to speak French you know.

          1. its “red water” because thats literally the colour of the stream. guessing there’s a lot of iron oxide in the silt.

      2. KimiFTW was only commenting, that is what you what you want don’t you? There was no need to give such a sharp reaction.

    2. I think it’s good to share this video :) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fX5dnFbI4tA

    3. I have to add that almost every map refers the left hander at the top of the hill as being Raidillon, meaning the right hander is actually nameless.

  3. You’ve got oversteer at more than 300kph, and I admit I let out a few screams inside my crash helmet through there on a couple of laps, especially on high fuel.

    Imagine if we could hear this stuff! Drivers screaming, cursing, humming, Kimi wondering aloud what flavour ice cream he’s going to eat…

    1. “Kimi wondering aloud what bottle of hard liquor he’s going to polish off…”


  4. I also noticed that on the exit of Paul Frère (Used to be called Stavelot 2) when the power started to kick in there was a lot of drivers getting sideways with wheelspin.

    That used to be an easy acceleration zone with the V8s so the extra torque & everything else from the new V6 Turbo power units has made that an area where drivers are really having to be careful with the throttle.

  5. Bottas’ long run consistency… Wow. Mercedes looking stronger than ever! Big well done to all the staff at Brackley. Lewis looks strong but he did also at Montreal, Austria and Hungary… So nothing is predictable

  6. OmarR-Pepper (@)
    22nd August 2014, 19:11

    So Button screams today for the oversteer, and yesterday most drivers (Button included) said cars now are easier to drive?
    Help me find the truth please

    1. @omarr-pepper
      The new cars are easier to drive from the physical point of view, the decrease of the cornering speed which is due to the loss of downforce and the restrictions on the engine power (fuel flow) reduces the G forces. The thing is due to the loss of downforce an old style fast corner like Eau Rouge that distinguishes men from boys is no more taken flat, and unfortunately we don’t have many corners like that on the calendar, that’s why driving the 2014 cars is easier than the previous cars in general

    2. I think they were talking about the physicality of driving an F1 car, in terms of the G forces and sheer strength needed to drive the cars.

      “difficulty” in terms of managing power or oversteer is different – more mental (reflexes and bravery I imagine) as well as more refined throttle/steering input.

  7. You’ve got oversteer at more than 300kph

    Not bad for a Ferrari fan, Alonso last year had a moment of oversteer out of Eau Rouge at 289 kph and managed to correct it without lifting the throttle and Raikkonen is oversteering by default

    1. Nice save! I hope we’ll see the old Kimi this weekend.

    2. That is an amazing save by Alonso. While watching the video, try repeatedly clicking the pause button to stop/restart the video and see how quick Alsonso’s hands move from turning left to countersteering to straight again. I can barely click the little pause button faster than he did that full maneuver of the steering wheel, and I’m sitting in the comfort of my chair going 0kph and he’s basically in a car that is sliding towards a wall at 300kph.

  8. Kimi on high downforce? I suppose it’s not the smartest set up around here. He’d be sitting duck on Kemmel straight…

    Or is it just he can’t do proper lap in low fuel because of another problems?

    1. Technical problems for Kimi in both practice sessions. Also, in FP1 (according to MTV3) Kimi was testing new front wing that might be used in Monza, so he was on a very low DF setup in that session for some time.

  9. @stefmeister Are you going to have onboards with telemetry for this race?
    In free practice I noticed only a Lotus and a FI trough Eau Rouge had the telemetry on, the Lotus was flat at around 290 kph but the FI had to lift as it was going some 10kph faster, it would be very interesting to compare all cars to see which ones can go flat out.

    1. @mantresx Yeah, I always have the FOM OnBoard-Mix on a 2nd screen for all sessions & that has the telemetry on it.

      I was paying extra attention to the throttle trace today when cars went through Eau Rouge because because of how interested people were about if it was going to be flat or not.
      Although to be honest its something i’ve watched a little closer this year anyway to see how the new power units & all that extra torque people were talking about pre-season was affecting how drivers put the power down.

      1. I’ve put a few OnBoards from FP1 online, I’ll add more from FP2/3 & Qualifying tomorrow:

        Not all are from the OnBoard-Mix so they don’t all have the telemetry graphics but with no commentary you can at least hear the engine sound more clearly.

      2. @stefmeister Thanks! really appreciate it, btw good to see you keep them at 50fps ;)

  10. There were some great slow motion drifts caught by the cameras in FP2 today going through Eau Rouge, or was it Raidillon, or Parabolica, or Rascasse. Now I’m totally confused so I’ll just make it easy and say Eau Rouge. But it was cool to see the cars drift through there. Great stuff

Comments are closed.