Walk: Circuit F1
A surprising 8 km walk on the grounds of the Circuit F 1. The route runs partly along the circuit, partly through the woods and includes quite a few climbs and descents.
Access is free between half March and half November, except for paying activities on the track.
The route may be challenging for prams or wheelchairs, but despite some steep inclines the route deserves the classification 'doable'.
Possibility to eat at the "Pit-brasserie" (open every day from 08.30 to 22.00)
You drive through the centre of Francorchamps to the main entrance of the circuit at the roundabout near the "Hôtel de la Source". Here you choose the direction of Malmedy and follow this road that winds along the circuit.
This road was built when the circuit was closed for traditional travel. Indeed, until 2000, the roads used by F1 were accessible to the public and it was perfectly possible to drive around the circuit in your own car. The concept behind Francorchamps was to create the fastest circuit in the world. The first car race took place in 1922 on a course of about 13 km. Between 1950 and 1970, 18 F1 races were held there. Due to increasing safety concerns, the circuit had to go through a period of reduced activity. In 1979 the new, shorter, closed and safer circuit was put in place, but the F1 drivers did not return until 1983.
You pass a second roundabout and continue to the top where a beautiful panorama unfolds before you. Here you have to take a small road to the right, which leads you at an acute angle in the opposite direction towards "Combes - Gates C". Park the car at the top near the gate. You are now on a part of the former circuit. Drivers used to pass through here to do their laps, passing through the territories of Malmédy and Stavelot.
As a pedestrian you usually pass through the turnstile without any problems. There are few weekends when there are paid activities, but if there are, it is impossible to use this entrance.
The racing season is between March and November and during this period there is almost daily movement on the circuit: Renault days, Porsche days, Beetle days (also known as "Fun Cup"), the 24 hours and of course Formula 1. And then there are the 'Track Days' during which the circuit is rented out to motoring clubs who offer their members the opportunity to make a few rounds on the circuit with their own cars or with cars rented for the occasion. So there is a good chance that during your drive you will see cars or motorbikes going by at high speed.
As soon as you enter the circuit, you will see a few bends ahead of you: N° 5 and 6 (the chicane "Les Combes") and N° 7 ("le Malmédy"). Go to the right and climb for a while until you arrive, following a slight curve, near the circuit. You go a long way downhill next to a straight section in the circuit, known as "Kemmel". Nowadays, very high speeds are reached on this straight section, but until 1979, this section consisted of tight left and right turns, which followed each other in a very dangerous way.
Continue straight ahead until you reach an old road which you will cross and then cross again a little later. This is the remains of the "Eau Rouge" hairpin bend (named after the river that runs through the track) from earlier years, which was straightened in 1939, to make the track even faster. This led to a confusion of names because people still talk about "Eau Rouge" when they want to refer to the very fast slope, especially the "Raidillon". Whether this change means added value is an open question.
So you come to a door that you will pass through. Usually it is open, but if by some misfortune it is not, you have no alternative but to decide to go back.
Once the door is behind you, you will go through the tunnel on your left. Immediately afterwards you go left again to cross the Eau Rouge by the bridge. Walk a little to the right along the small tarmac road, ignore the access to the car park and a little further on you will cross the Eau Rouge again to reach the Paddock by taking the small path beside the car park.
Here you can take a break at the Pit-Brasserie, with a nice view of the start, the sharp turn in the opposite direction N° 1 ("La Source"), turns 2 and 3 and 4 and the steep climb ("Eau Rouge" - "Raidillon", see above).
At first glance the Pit-Brasserie does not appear to be open to the public but it is. The Brasserie operates on a self-service system: you pay for your plate and then fill it with whatever you want. For drinks the same procedure applies.
After the break you go through the "Passage Jacques Swaters" tunnel. Swaters (1926-2010) was a racing driver and founder of the Belgian racing team "Ecurie Francorchamps" (1950-1982).
Then you go up to the left in the direction of Blanchimont. You are now walking outside the circuit but you notice on the circuit on your left the turns N° 18 and 19 (the chicane with the name "Bus Stop"). The name "Bus Stop" dates back to the time when the circuit was still open to public traffic and refers to a typical Belgian incident. When the circuit manager was refused subsidies for the construction of a chicane, especially under pressure from Flemish politicians (who wanted to favour the Flemish circuit in Zolder), he changed his mind and asked for subsidies for a bus stop and a salt store. The project with a regional label became of national interest and this budget was used for the chicane ("Bus Stop").
You pass turns 16 and 17 ("Blanchimont"). The path underneath the circuit automatically leads you back into the circuit. The karting area is on your right. A little further on you pass a small bridge over the Eau Rouge and you arrive at a wide road which you take in the direction of the left. You are now walking in the "second arm" of the circuit but as you are in a mature wood - Francorchamps is not for nothing "the most beautiful circuit in the world" - you hardly notice it. From time to time you can only see a few small parts of the circuit. Here the drivers have just covered the first arm of the circuit and enter the second arm at high speed through turns 10 and 11 ("Double Gauches" or "Pouhon") to be confronted with the right/left turns 12 and 13 ("Pif Paf" or "Fagnes"). The end of this arm is made up of turns 14 and 15 ("Stavelot", now renamed after Paul Frère, former driver, among others for Ferrari, and at the same time triple Belgian champion in canoeing). But you'll need a bit of imagination, as you'll hear a lot more than you'll see.
The path leads to the paddock, but before that there is a small concrete road on your right that goes up very quickly and leads you to the right into the woods. At the fork in the road you go straight on and avoid taking the forest path on the left which is even harder to climb.
Further on you come to a concrete path which offers a view of the "second arm" of the circuit near the "Double gauche" and you take a left. Now it's a matter of taking a deep breath to attack a very hard climb consisting of two parts. At the very top you can see in the distance on the right the extreme point of the "first arm" of the circuit, the sharp turn in the opposite direction N° 8 ("Bruxelles"), followed by N° 9 ("Rivage"). Here again there is a small tunnel to take you to the outside of the circuit.
Go left and pass between the caravans of the circuit marshals to reach the turnstile and then your car.