Jarno Trulli, Renault, Spa-Francorchamps, 2002

Drivers prefer Spa’s old ‘Bus Stop’ chicane

2015 Belgian Grand Prix

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Jarno Trulli, Renault, Spa-Francorchamps, 2002The most recent change to the Spa-Francorchamps track layout is still struggling to find favour with drivers.

The slow chicane at the end of the lap has been criticised by previous drivers since its addition to the track in 2007. And when today’s drivers were asked what part of the track they like least it was brought up again.

“I think I would go back to how the last chicane was,” said Kimi Raikkonen. “Coming into the chicane, it was called the Bus Stop at that time, that was more nicer than what it is now.”

“It was just better, it was kind of more like it should. Now it’s kind of one part that’s a bit different than the others. The new one, it doesn’t feel like it’s fitting exactly there.”

“I think it was a nicer corner. There was a bit more speed and a bit all over the kerbs. I guess not much else has changed really, a little bit the first corner.”

The ‘Bus Stop’ chicane was used between 1983 and 2002. A different version of the chicane was used for two races in 2004 and 2005 before the current, tighter corner was added.

Lewis Hamilton agreed with his fellow Belgian Grand Prix-winner. “But I never drove that circuit,” he said, “I just watched and played it on the computer game.”

“But definitely it was more fun on the computer game so I imagine it would be better in real life.”

For this year’s race, asphalt has been laid on the inside of the approach to the corner. Last year GP3 driver Konstantin Tereschenko was launched into the air by one of the kerbs at the corner after losing control on the grass which was there at the time.

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Keith Collantine
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56 comments on “Drivers prefer Spa’s old ‘Bus Stop’ chicane”

  1. Hamilton also said Spa is not one of his favorite circuits.

    1. Completely random thought, but one thing I’ve noticed over the past few years, is that Hamilton does not take a particularly good line through Eau Rouge. Both Alonso and Massa blasted past him in 2011. Vettel overtook him at the start in 2013, and Rosberg carried way more momentum through Eau Rouge in 2014 (which is why he was attacking him into Les Combes on lap 2). It seems as if Lewis takes too much speed going into the corner, then he is compromised on exit of Raidillion and this affects his speed on the entire Kemmel straight.

      1. Hamilton does this more than any other driver at almost every corner in the world.
        In most cases it actually helps him, because todays cars are so stable you can go tight and the chassis and tyres hold on. But certain corners require a slow in fast out approach, and while other drivers (even those who have similar styles to him) recognise this and adapt for these corners he never seems to do so.
        Hamilton is blindingly fast but is one of the least adaptable drivers out there, and in the races especially it hurts him.

        2 things of note I remember with this:
        1. Hungary 2014 last corner, he kept trying to dive bomb Alonso and take an incredibly fast in approach, but it didn’t work at that corner leading on to a straight (even with drs and a slipstream the corner approach he chose (coupled with dirty air cost him).
        2. Silverstone 2010>2015 layout, the first section after the 2 flyers he flies in and drifts out wide just before the very slow left, by being out wide he costs him self so much time out of the very slow left and subsequently on to the straight.

        I feel in cars that are more mechanical and not so aerodynamically based, and with cars with less sophisticated suspension and chassis’ this style would cost him more than it does in F1, at certain corners on certain race tracks.

        1. Additional he’s ‘pre-Merc’ rarely had the best car in a straight.

          In 2011 yes McLaren had the Merc but they always geared it to short (see the season review bluray) and never had very good top end speed.
          In 2013 again Mercedes were often the slowest of the Mercedes engined cars in the straights, they seemed to go for Red Bull’s 2010>2013 policy of concentrating fully on corners. This didnt hurt Merc as much as Red Bull cos the Merce engine was better to help with that than a Renault ever was but still in 2013 they weren’t quick quick in a straight (although yes Rosberg was in the same car)

          You can see this in 2013 Alonso WITHOUT DRS held Hamilton WITH DRS and a slipstream in a straight line :P

          Not defending Ham’s speed through there, cos obviously in 2014 this excuse doesn’t apply, just points of note

    2. Guessing his favourites are Canada, Hungary..

      1. Suzuka should be there. He said he loved it quite a few times.

  2. Like Lewis, my experience of the old (well… and new) chicane is only through computer games but the old one had a lot of character and felt great to drive when you got it spot on. The new one is just a bit bland… Get it right and it still feels clunky and awkward.

    1. Get it right and it still feels clunky and awkward.

      This is probably the best description of it.

    2. Another thing to add as well, more speed could be carried through that chicane, increasing the top speed on the main straight to the tight first corner, thus increasing the braking zone for this corner, closing the cars up further and encouraging overtaking in turn 1, eau rouge and radillon.

  3. Would it be possible to reprofile the exit to Blanchimont to allow them to rebuild the old Bus Stop without compromising on room for the paddock facilities (the main reason that prompted the change)?

  4. Yep.

    Here’s proof that it was indeed better by KR himself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tH4YOoXnlck

    1. I don’t know if it is the cars or the improved cameras but … this is way more exciting than a modern hot-lap.

      I’m not a ‘rose-tinted-glasses’ kind of person normally but I have to admit that watching a single car on track just isn’t exciting at the moment.

      1. McLaren looks so ugly now anyway.

      2. @paeschli, I gotta agree there. That looked amazingly quick and exciting.

      3. @paeschli I’m not sure I agree on this generalization you’ve made. Yes the cars looked better then but the main thing and it’s related to the cameras is the tracks. No matter where you place the cameras an F1 car cannot look as good on a bland Tilkedrome with huge asphalt runoffs and endless hairpins and boring corners as it looks on a proper track like Spa. IMO the cars looked as good as ever in last year’s Spa race. They also look great for example at Singapore because it’s a street track and they’re going on the edge between walls.

        Back then there were more of the proper tracks than now(one example is Imola-a car on a full on qualy lap looked amazing there because it’s narrow and flowing) so the general perception is that they looked better. Blame the FIA and Tilke for that not the camera men. No matter what tricks you employ, however you polish a turd it will still be a turd

      4. It’s more exciting because it is, they have more speed built before the start finish and its curved, giving you the illusion of so much more speed, that is what kimi meant when he said its much faster = “I think it was a nicer corner. There was a bit more speed and a bit all over the kerbs.”

        It was exhilarating for me even on the PS2.

  5. I’m a bit mixed on this – the old one did look cool on TV but it was quite tricky to overtake into because it had a right hand kink/curve immediately before it and it was a relatively ‘quick’ chicane, a bit like the Champions Wall one at Montreal. That’s why it was tightened it up in 2004 but that was atrocious as it made the preceding kink even tighter and really didn’t help with overtaking (save for Montoya’s incredible move on Schumacher). I think the version now is great for overtaking as it’s a nice big stop for the cars at the end of the lap, but the second part of it (the left) is just very clunky, inelegant and slow which ruins the flow of the track. On balance, I shall take off the rose tinted spectacles and say I prefer the current version.

    1. Yes, maybe they should open out the left part, so the exit arrives a bit quicker and drivers are back on the power a bit earlier. It is better for overtaking than the Bus Stop as it’s straighter, and (sadly) there has to be something there as they can’t be going flat-out round the kink and into La Source any more…

      They should do the same at Monza, that first chicane’s just as horrible and I don’t know why cars can’t use the more flowing route the bikes take.

  6. Why did nobody press Lewis when he said this wasn’t one of his favourite tracks?

    Is it just because he has made a whole catalog of errors here over the years? Rosberg could well beat Lewis this weekend.

    1. Because he can choose which track he likes more. And if a fan favorite is not his favorite it’s not his problem. If not for the FIA he would two wins there. And catalog of error? The only big one was 2011. He slide off on a wet track in 2010 but won the same way.

      1. 2007 – went way off at the left hander down hill (gravel he would of been well out of the race).
        2008 – mistake let Kimi through, and both he and Kimi drove attrociously at the end (albeit on drys)
        2009 – was slow all weekend. crash wasn’t his fault but almost driving into people at la source and eau rouge was.
        2010 – the aforementioned gravel
        2011 – failing to see KK
        2012 – race wasn’t his fault, but his qually tantrum and general poor form even when in practice he ran Button’s setup was.
        2013 – was just slow
        2014 – well I’m not starting anything but had at least a small percentage of being why he got a puncture (similar to how Ros got one at Hun 2015)

        A catalog :P, yes many not huge. But they are a catalog of errors nonetheless.

        1. 2013 – was just slow

          Lol, yeah, right.
          If things like this counts then everybody there is making a lot more mistakes than we think.

          Please, do this with Kimi now.

    2. I’m sure he will win anyway. He’s driving a Mercedes, and his teammate is Nico Rosberg. He could win all the races left this year.

  7. I agree, the new corner has always felt a bit slow and clunky. Also the pit entrance is a bit awkward, as demonstrated by the Maldonado-Di Resta collision in 2013.

    1. But that doesn’t count, it was Maldonator

    2. @andae23 I’ve always thought the pit entrance should be changed to bypass the chicane, and break off about 200 metres before it to the right.

  8. The new version is much better for overtaking, but the old version (pre 2003) was more spectacular to watch the cars go through (especially the onboards). But the news of putting more tarmac down on the inside of the entry instead of grass makes my heart bleed. It was the large kerb that launched the gp3 driver into the air, not the grass!!!!! That whole section is going to look like a carpark now with white lines painted! I hate tarmac runoff so much it makes my blood boil!!! Its the same at Pouhon, yes have ‘some’ tarmac, but not acres of it! There should be gravel too, to make the drivers think twice, and maybe, just maybe get them to use a little more skill with their driving.
    On a side note, look how simple and clean the Renaults wings are in the picture above!!

    1. I agree with every single point there! Took the words right out of my mouth. I shall form the Association Against the Implementation of Tesco Car Parks in F1 Circuits.
      AAITCF1C for short. Sochi is currently number 1 of the circuits that most needs the AAITCF1C’s attention but there are many that desperately need help.

      1. Where do I pledge?

    2. The grass was apparently very uneven & was a step below the kurb so they went with tarmac rather than grass because they can get it level with the kurbs whihc will completely avoid cars getting even slightly off the ground.

      image from the fia f3 race a month or so ago.
      http://i60.tinypic.com/1220ntk.jpg

      the unevenness is a problem with grass runoff & at places like spa where it rains a lot grass tends to become very uneven over time & there has been occasions where grass has launched cars or damaged cars to the point where they lose brakes/steering which results in a crash with other cars into a corner.

      1. After viewing the above image the AAITCF1C has expressed dismay at the encroachment of tarmac into an area previously occupied by grass. Talk of uneven ground has conveniently gone straight over the President of the AAITCF1C’s head.

  9. Even watching it on the telly, or on games, I always thought the new chicane was too slow, and it disrupts the rhythm of the track. It’s 2 very slow corners, that are more than 90 degrees, so it loops backwards twice.

    Never liked it

  10. I brought this up last week as part of why I feel the obsession with overtaking & the show has resulted in more harm than good been done in terms of alterations to circuits ruining corners (As is the case with the bus stop).

    The new bus stop was designed for overtaking rather than been designed to make it a good corner & yes its a better corner from a racing point of view but its nowhere near as good or as challenging a corner as the pre-2002 configuration was.

    1. Also in some ways the 2nd part of the pre-2002 bus stop was trickier than the 1st because there was a dip in the road & it was quite bumpy which unsettled the car & it was also easy to pick up wheelspin over the kurbs & thus not that uncommon to see a fair bit of opposite lock required through the exit.

      https://youtu.be/ZIIbxv7P-g4?t=3m50s
      https://youtu.be/_u-esvf7FNI?t=1m45s
      https://youtu.be/16h_pFP0KBU?t=1m47s

      They sadly ruined the 2nd part of the bus stop for 2002-
      https://youtu.be/FcKWKW_QqFQ?t=1m41s

      And ruined the whole corner for 2004-
      https://youtu.be/t1H6RCXB_bw?t=36s

      1. To be honest I think the 2002 had a nice flow to it. It was absolutely garbage for overtaking I guess, but it ‘feels fast’.

  11. I’m also not convinced by the chicane at the end of the lap. I always looked upon the bus stop as having great heritage as well as being a very quick, close corner which made Spa the complete package. I’m sure they had their reasons for changing it but when I never liked the look of it on TV or in games either. That said when I sat there in 2012 and saw Vettel pass Webber and Massa I was very impressed. Sometimes in F1, and I know this has been the case since its inception, we harp beck to the glory days too often and forget how great today is. I’m hyper critical of almost everything about F1 atm but believe me there were plenty of F1 fans at the chicane that day that were happy and it has improved the pit complex. I didn’t like the 2004 changes either and before them there were a couple of major scares with the pit entry in 1997 and Fisi in 1998 so maybe its a necessary evil.

  12. i mostly agree with Kimi and the majority opinion here, the old bus stop was challenging in terms how to get it right. But with the generation of cars at the time where the modification is made (2006-07), the second part of the old bus stop will be pointless because cars won’t wobbling anymore and drivers won’t be lifting the throttle so basically it’s just a simple straight with kinks on it.. I can see where the designer of the new bus stop going because the only relevant part of the bus stop is only the first part of it so with increasing the braking distance in mind the new one is a challenge in it’s own right.

  13. I can see why the drivers would want the old one back, but I don’t mind the current chicane. It’s a hard one to get right all the time. Especially in a car with more power than traction. Easy to outbrake yourself from the very high speeds achieved down the back ‘straight’ (and the epic Blanchimont), especially if you’re in someones draft.

    No, I like it because it’s tough, it promotes situations and there’s plenty rest of the track left to enjoy for what it always was, the best race track in F1.

    Actually, La Source is not too nice either…

  14. They have also added a high strip behind the flatter kurb at Eau Rouge-
    https://scontent-fra3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xft1/v/t1.0-9/11873395_1632747950301487_2233597854270946378_n.jpg?oh=57f4d32b50c1cb01baaaa19358e2be7f&oe=566FA4BF

    I’m not sure about that as if you hit that at 300kph when the car is already light over the top of the hill I can see you going straght into the wall. I can also see it been an issue if you go over it, lose your steering & drive into another car as a result.

    1. now this is interesting….

      but i think it won’t be as dramatic as you predicted. the strip won’t be high enough to make the cars flown, lose control and straight onto the opposite wall at the end of the endurance pit exit, but it will be enough to deter cars from cutting that part of the eau rouge like IIRC Alonso do in the early stages of 2013 race there…

    2. A change for the better? Is this F1?

    3. @gt-racer This could end badly.. but if it slows some drivers down entering the straight, it might open up more overtaking into Les Combes. I can remember Raikkonen being a monster over that kerb, heh.

    4. They have also added a high strip behind the flatter kurb at Eau Rouge-

      No, they haven’t. This is done at the Raidillon ;);)

  15. no surprise, really,

    the new chicane is dreadful.

    really loved the pre 2002 version, with cars bumping all over the place

  16. I’m not a fan of it either. It is equally as bad as the ridiculous chicane they had at Indianapolis back in the day when F1 used to go there. Extremely clunky and awkward. And the pit lane entrance is rubbish too.

  17. Speaking of computer games, I’m so happy Spa is in the Forza 6. I skipped 5 because it looked rushed, but 6 should be outstanding. My first drive will totally be Spa :-)

  18. Kimi said all of that at one time?
    Maybe they got him drunk, or he was talking in his sleep.
    So pleased to see him back at Ferrari next year.
    No one else says things like:

    “He hit me in the corner. That wasn’t very nice”. (or some such)
    “Shut up. I know what I’m doing”.

    Small wonder he’s so popular.

    Keep ’em coming, Kimi.

  19. I’ve only seen it on old computer games but I think it was better than what is there now. And I don’t like the current chicane at Monza either.

  20. Wasn’t one of the main reasons for switching the bus stop around due to the old pit lane and dangerous closing speeds?

    The new chicane is awful, but some way to remodel it so that it is closer to the old one seems much more sensible than dreaming of the old one with the very dangerous pit lane.

    1. Actually, i think they modified the pitlane entrance in 2003, so it was in the middle of the two bus stop chicanes instead of straight on.

  21. Totally agree. Call me a romantic, but every time they mutilate these great circuits and put a Tilkeresque piece of grief in its place, my F1 hart dies a little – what he did to Hokenheinm warrants jail time in my book.
    Spa is a special place. I remember “driving” the old circuit in Grand Prix Legends …. The track was all 13km on common roads – the same La Scource, a much tighter Eau Rouge. At Les Combes you’d actually turn left instead of righ towards Pouhon. A bit further ahead you’d come to the Alsa-Masta – an awesome left and right sequence in almost full throtle at the end of a kilometer long straight. Got that wrong and you ended up on someone’s leaving room (the houses were, and still are, located about 5 meters from the road). And after a while you’d arrive at the Bus Stop chicane…. a real Bus Stop!…how pitoresc is that? The demise of the old Spa is the reason why I can’t stomach Jack Stweart – even though I consider him one of the greatest drivers ever.
    When I came to live in Europe some 20 years ago, one of the 1st things I did was to pay a visit. At that time, a big part of the current circuit was still run on open roads. You’d enter the circuit at La Source and could drive up to Les Combes (amazing how steep the Eau Rouge climb is from inside a car). Although you had to leave the circuit at that point, I soon realized, to my delight, that from there I could continue in the old circuit layout, joining the new layout again in the running to Blanchimon….absolute fantastic (it is still there, although sadly, a part of it is rapidly falling into disrepair)! And so I drove into the Bus stop, a link connecting the era in which F1 was run in these magnificent roads to the over-controlled environment in which the sport runs nowadays – the European brick yard, if you will. My wife took a photo of me standing there – happy as a child.
    When they eventually closed the complete circuit, building a mile of scape area of asphalt and astroturf around every corner, I was happy to see that the old Bus Stop, that anacronistic piece of history was still there….that is, till Tilke transformed it into a non-descript, off-the-mill, pasteurized piece of tarmac.
    Please Bernie, listen to the drivers and bring the old Bus Stop back!

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