La Source, also called the hairpin Source corner, is the first difficulty to be broached following the start. Designed in a U shape, it is the slowest corner on the circuit. It draws its name from the various water sources in the region, particularly in the Spa area.
L’Eau Rouge is a stream running under the little bridge at the foot of the Raidillon. Anglophones allude to Eau Rouge and include the Raidillon without always naming it. The Eau Rouge is a tributary of the Amblève river which served as the border between the Roman and German empires and later between Belgium and Germany.
Built in 1939, the Raidillon (literally the small steep road) has a drop of approximately 40 metres, from the start of the curve to the exit from the bend. It features a very impressive ramp which follows the descent of the cars after the hairpin of La Source. The sequence of movement, considered by numerous drivers as the most beautiful triple difficulty in the world, requires great mastery, not just to stay on the road, but also to approach the straight line leading to Combes at the highest possible speed. Drivers find themselves faced with a wall and a succession of left, right, left corners without being able to glimpse the summit. The Raidillon replaced the former tight bend of the old customs post with a shorter and faster design. Over the course of its very long history, the Circuit has adapted to the development of motorsport to respond to standards and safety requirements from the associations responsible (currently the FIA), without losing its soul as a very select Circuit, both for drivers and mechanics. The centrifugal force exerted by it requires great adroitness and superb knowledge of the area.
Le Kemmel. The Kemmel ascent leads from the Raidillon to the Combes corner via a long ribbon of tarmac characterised by a slope and curve which is easily taken to the max. The highest speed of the circuit at any given time is located at the end of the Kemmel climb.
Les Combes. The chicane of Combes (definition: small incised valley or gorge) is a very technical part of the circuit. A quick right-left pif-paf opens onto the bend to the right which determines speed at the moment of approaching the descent toward Bruxelles.
Bruxelles is a bend curving to the right which appears to be never ending. This bend has also been called Rivage, from the name of the village nearby. Just after this challenge, a curve to the left, seemingly insignificant, has often taken drivers by surprise. This little left is also called Speakers Corner because the only place this curve can be glimpsed is from the former speakers' booth.
The double gauche du Pouhon is a major challenge on the circuit. After a straight line of descent, Pouhon is negotiated at dizzying speeds. On the etymological level, Pouhon is a ferruginous mineral spring which has given Spa its renown. The word means the place where the water springs from.
Fagnes. The double bend of Fagnes is approached at very high speeds as it follows a small right line after a very fast double-left. The name used refers to the Fagnes (fens) region as the village of Francorchamps is located there.
Campus. The Campus corner is a fast corner curving to the right and its name comes from Campus Automobile adjacent to the track. This is a centre of competence, specialised in technological training, aimed mostly at engineers and technicians. The training centre is active in subjects such as the automobile industry occupations, motorsports and in technological research.
La Courbe Paul Frère. The Paul Frère corner is located at the junction between the 7004-metre track and the former portion of the circuit climbing from Stavelot towards Blanchimont. Paul Frère was the greatest racing driver and journalist of all time. Creator of numerous victories in Sport-Prototype, he finished 2nd in the Belgian Formula 1 Grand Prix in 1956. Invited by Enzo Ferrari, he took part in his 11th and last Grand Prix with an unprecedented performance.
Blanchimont, which holds onto its eponymous village name, is a double bend that is particularly difficult to negotiate given the speeds attained. The tarmacing of all external clearances has made passage considerably safer.
La Chicane. The last challenge to approach is a slow corner in an S which bears the slightly unoriginal name of … Chicane. In the old days, it was alluded to as the "Bus Stop" as there used to be a bus stop there when the track was open to traffic at certain times. The right-left is particularly tight and negotiating it with good timing is essential, not only to end a fast lap in optimal conditions but also to start the next one well. After the chicane, the straight line leads the racing cars to La Source and we're off again!