First sight of Spa's Eau Rouge makes the same kind of impression as the top of Kitzbuhel's Hahnenkamm ski run. TV pictures are one thing, but the reality is altogether more dramatic.
It's the sheer gradient you're unprepared for. You park the car and there it is, that evocative strip of ribbon, like a giant launch pad dissecting the pines and spitting you straight into leaden-grey sky. It looks forbidding and, for years, it was. Today, though, with 2.4-litre V8 Formula One cars, they say it's 'easy flat', no challenge at all.
"What's still outstanding about Eau Rouge are the forces generated," Toyota's Pascal Vasselon says. "They're close to the limit thanks to the downforce, tyre grip and compression. When you design suspension you look to the top load case and most demanding circumstance, and that's Eau Rouge."
But the Eau Rouge of old was more about ball cases than load cases.
"I was here for F3000 in 1992 and I watched the F1 cars at Eau Rouge," Rubens Barrichello recalls. "In the McLarens, quite honestly, Gerhard Berger was flat and Ayrton Senna wasn't. Ayrton was quicker over the full lap by some margin, but if you talk purely about the balls to go through there flat, it was Gerhard..."
In those days of 3.5-litre V10s and V12s there was more power than they have today. And less downforce.
Back the next year in a Jordan F1 car, Rubens soon learned that there was more to Spa than taking Eau Rouge flat. "I had a lot of difficulties with the Jordan in '93 because the car was bottoming so much and you had lots of power and not enough downforce. It was damned difficult."
At that 1993 Spa race, in Saturday practice, Alessandro Zanardi's Lotus had one of the most violent accidents I have ever seen. I'll never forget it. The press room monitors showed the accident just once. Never a good sign.
Just enough time to think, 'oh my god, no'
Zanardi had gone in at the top of the hill on the left, at frightening speed, then rebounded across the road, the Lotus shedding wheels and body parts as it pirouetted. Zanardi was dispatched to hospital but, incredibly, suffered nothing life-threatening and no broken bones.
I caught up with him at Monza a fortnight later and the whites of both eyes were still totally red.
"Nothing strengthens the neck like driving an F1 car and I'm just grateful I didn't have that shunt at the beginning of the season, after the winter break," he admitted.
With it being the days of active ride, Lotus had fitted an orange warning light in the cockpit and if it came on it meant there had been a hydraulic failure.
"I had just committed to the right-hander at the bottom of the compression when I saw the light come on. I just had time to think, 'Oh my God, no,' when the car sat down on the plank, veered sharp left and I was a passenger. I don't remember much else, except coming round and being aware of seeing everything as if it was in black and white."
A man with experience of Eau Rouge in almost as many iterations of F1 car as Rubens is David Coulthard who, last weekend, was racing one at Spa for the last time.
"It was hairy back in the mid '90s," he says. "It took several years to get it flat and it used to be that it was only flat in qualifying and you couldn't do it flat with race fuel. In those days the cars were more sensitive to touching the ground and if you set the car up for Eau Rouge, which meant high, you'd lose downforce on the rest of the track. But if you set it up for the rest of the track you'd be in a difficult position in Eau Rouge, which is probably why Ayrton wasn't flat."
Who thinks Eau Rouge is boring?
Suggest to DC that it's easy now or even, heaven forbid, boring, and you get an amused response: "Who says? Drivers or people outside?"
Well, Kimi actually, and quite a few others.
"Oh. Okay. Well I think it's a corner that demands respect. You will never see someone going through the middle of Eau Rouge clicking a switch or something like that. And if it was easy we would be making adjustments. It's a serious corner, a fantastic corner and anyone who has never seen a racing car go quickly should go and watch there.
"It's flat in the dry today but there's the compression and we're doing more than 180mph. That suspension failure I had in Malaysia in the high-speed chicane on Friday - have that through Eau Rouge and you are on your way to a serious shunt. It still has your attention."
That's the point. Eau Rouge might not be quite what it was, but at F1 speeds, under F1 loads, you can never be complacent. Anyone who thinks the corner is boring is probably lacking a little imagination.