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Last Updated: Monday, 23 August, 2004, 16:03 GMT 17:03 UK
Alonso happy with Spa test
Ralf Schumacher blasts through Eau Rouge at the 2002 Belgian Grand Prix
Eau Rouge is back on the calendar after a year's absence
Renault driver Fernando Alonso says the daunting Eau Rouge corner at the Belgian Grand Prix remains a challenge.

Some drivers complain that because the 180mph left-right-left corner can now be taken flat out in nearly all cars, it is not as difficult as it was.

But Spaniard Alonso said: "I hope people don't think it is easy.

"You cannot see the exit and as you come over the crest you don't know where you will land. It makes a special impression every lap."

Eau Rouge used to be renowed as the most challenging corner on any circuit anywhere in the world - trying to take it without lifting off the accelerator tested a driver's skill and courage to the limit.

But the advent of driver-aids like traction control and modern grippier tyres meant that by 2002, the last time the Belgian Grand Prix was held, most cars could make it though flat out.

It is a circuit that really shows a driver's true potential
Jarno Trulli
But Alonso said the contours of the Spa-Francorchamps track meant it remained a unique challenge.

"You come into the corner downhill, have a sudden change [of direction] at the bottom and then go very steep uphill.

"It is a crucial corner for the timed lap, and also in the race, because you have a long uphill straight afterwards where you can lose a lot of time if you make a mistake.

"But it is also an important corner for the driver's feeling, because you also have a compression in your body as you go through the bottom of the corner.

"It is very strange, but good fun as well."

Alonso's team-mate Jarno Trulli said Spa, which was not on the F1 calendar last year because of a row over tobacco advertising, was still a great challenge for a driver.

"Through the lap, you need to be able to deal with every type of technical corner, and you can make up time in lots of places," Trulli said.

"As a driver, it really demands total concentration - but you also must find the rhythm of the circuit and plug into it.

"You need to be right on the limit over the entire lap, but you are talking about one minute 40 seconds here rather than one minute fifteen.

"And at Spa, that limit is just a little bit harder to find than at more normal tracks. I think it is a circuit that really shows a driver's true potential."

Coulthard criticises Spa
22 Aug 04  |  Formula One

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