Pouhon Spa. Two words that any worthwhile motorsport fan knows mean one of the fastest, most daring and most daunting corners in the world.
F1 drivers will pull over 5.5 G around this corner and apex at close to 300kph. When the conditions are right it’s completely flat out, but that’s a pretty rare event.
This article takes an in-depth look at the incredible Pouhon corner at Spa Francorchamps.
Where is Pouhon corner?
Pouhon corner is actually made up of two left-handers. These are Turns 10 and 11 on the Spa Francorchamps Grand Prix circuit.
Pouhon is directly after Speed Corner (also known as ‘No Name’) and before the right and left handers of Les Fagnes.
Why is it called Pouhon?
This corner actually has two names. One is Pouhon, the other is Double-Gauche.
Translated from French Double-Gauche simply means Double Left. No surprises for guessing why it’s called this, given the corner is made up of two left handers.
The name Pouhon takes a little more working out, and there are a couple of theories. One, proposed by the Redditor AnouckJ, is to do with the shape of the river Ambleve which runs close to the circuit.
AnouckJ suggests that this part of the river, which had an old place named Pouhon right next to it, resembles the shape of the corner very closely. As the track was built long after the river existed it’s plausible the circuit designers took inspiration from the river’s meander to name this part of it.
If we take the outline of this section of the river and overlay it on to Pouhon corner, you can see it’s a pretty close match. So definitely a possibility!
However, on the official Spa Francorchamps website it states that the name Pouhon is derived from the French word used to describe the spring where iron-oxide filled river water emanates from. This water has a red tint to it due to the iron-oxide, which in turn gives its name to the river Eau Rouge (red water).
Evolution of Pouhon Spa corner
Before 1979 Pouhon corner didn’t exist. It was only when the pre-1979 Spa Francorchamps circuit became too fast and too dangerous that the circuit was redesigned and Pouhon was born.
The shape of the corner has always been the same, but the run-off has changed. In the early 1980s there was just a grassy run-off area with a small gravel trap in it to the right hand side of the corner.
Between the two left handers the cars naturally run to the outside (right-hand side of the track). The kerb at this point in the 1980s was pretty minimal, so there wasn’t a lot of room for error if the cars entered the first left hander a little too fast.
By the 1990s the gravel trap on the outside of the corner had grown, and so had the kerb. This meant drivers could be braver and braver.
The biggest change in the history of Pouhon Spa came in 2005. The gravel trap on the outside of the corner was removed and completely tarmacked over. This was deemed to be safer as it meant drivers could get away with small mistakes and get back on track.
This is how the corner stayed until 2022 and it’s given drivers the confidence to push harder and harder. As downforce has increased on F1 cars over the years, so has the speed.
At the end of 2022 the circuit underwent a number of majour upgrades to make it safer for motorbike racing. One of these was to re-introduce a gravel trap around the outside of Pouhon.
F1 speed around Pouhon
The fastest an F1 car has apexed Pouhon corner is 291kph / 181mph. This was achieved by Lewis Hamilton driving the incredible Mercedes W11 during qualifying for the 2022 Belgian Grand Prix.
This was the minimum speed reached throughout the corner. Lewis entered the turn at 306kph and kept the throttle flat to the floor the whole way round. He lost 15kph due to the downforce and cornering forces on the car.
In qualifying for the 2022 Belgian Grand Prix Carlos Sainz managed a minimum speed of 288kph / 179mph, just a little slower than Lewis a couple of years earlier. In this instance Sainz didn’t quite manage to do it fully flat-out. He didn’t brake, but had a couple of small lifts off the throttle.
To do it flat-out the weather needs to be right, the car needs to be at its lightest and the tyres need to be at their best. We didn’t see anyone manage it at last years’ Grand Prix, will we this year?
G-Force around Pouhon
Those kind of speeds around a corner like Pouhon result in seriously high G-Forces. As the video above shows, at a cornering speed of 281kph the drivers experience 5.7G.
There’s no data available for the amount of G Force Lewis Hamilton would have experienced when he cornered 10kph faster, but it’s likely to have been over 6 Gs. That’s almost as much G force as F1 cars pull around Maggots and Becketts at Silverstone.
Where to spectate?
Spectating at Pouhon gives you a great feel for just how fast the F1 cars can go around corners at high speed when their downforce is sucking them to the tarmac.
If you want to watch from the comfort of a grandstand seat at Pouhon you have a couple of options.
The first is the Silver 3 grandstand on the outside of the circuit between the first and second left handers of Pouhon. This gives you the best view of the whole corner. Read our guide to the Silver 3 grandstand for more information.
The second option is the Max Verstappen grandstand on the exit of Pouhon, along the straight before Les Fagnes. This is likely to be filled with crazy partying Dutch Max Verstappen fans and if you go for a seat here you’re in for one heck of a time. Read our Max Verstappen Spa grandstand guide for more info.
One of the most popular Bronze General Admission viewing areas at the whole of Spa Francorchamps is the banking on the outside of the track on the entry to Pouhon. This is normally absolutely packed on raceday, as it was when I took the picture below at the 2023 Belgium GP.
See our guide to the Spa General Admission viewing areas for more information.