You’ll guess quite quickly that by Spa weekend I don’t mean a jacuzzi and a back massage but actually that the second stage of our trip was to Spa Francochamps in Belgium for the Fomula One Grand Prix. I apologise up front for the fact that I’m as excited by this as waking up Christmas morning to see if Santa has been. 😃🎉🏎
We’ve met up again with our friends Sue and Keith and their van Betsie, and set up our camp at the L’Eau Rouge campsite. We are tucked in together, along with half of the Netherlands who support Max Verstappen, who are obviously professional Spa attendees with their mini villages, one of which includes cinema size TV screen, full bar and disco plus a pizza oven! You had to see it to believe it. So we just poured a wine (although Dubber managed to spill most of the red!) and joined in, listening to the boom boom of the bass being played around the campsite. But true to their considerate nature they all turned the music down at 11pm and off at midnight. Time for bed.
We had seasoned Spa attendees next to us who gave us good advice about how to get the best out of the weekend. Dad and son of this Dutch family were going to the circuit whilst daughter and mum were just going to enjoy the sunshine on the campsite with their very big dog. They proved a Godsend though as before hubby could go to the circuit each day he got sent to the local shop for supplies not only for them but also for Keith and Sue who needed supplies.
On Friday after eating fresh croissants fetched from the bread lady who arrived early each day, we went up the hill to get the shuttle bus to the circuit 2km away. We queued for a brief time through security but you could already sense the party atmosphere was building and then it started……that beautiful sound of racing cars – Practice 1 was underway. I can’t tell you how excited I was. I had butterflies in my stomach, was wide eyed and grinning like a Cheshire Cat. So by the time we got into the circuit and can see the track I was almost hyperventilating.
It was incredibly hot about 32 degrees and rising which is unusual for the Spa weekend which is often wet. But today there was not a cloud in the sky. We managed to find ourselves a great spot near corner 10 Pouchon where we could sit on the hill or get cover in the forest. This became our spot over the whole weekend again amongst mostly Dutch fans who were so jovial and friendly. But must bring chairs tomorrow. Along with GP2 and 3 and Porsche qualifying it was a great first day. All we needed was to get back, chill with a glass of wine with a promise of a BBQ from Sue and Keith which included sausages…..but then didn’t because Sue didn’t buy any. The chicken was good though, Sue.
Up early Saturday we repeated the exercise of fresh croissants, shuttle bus and queue and got a spot with our chairs at the top of the bank to corner 10 as well as having blankets in the forest. We claimed our land! Third practice and qualifying was undertaken in 36 degrees and we resorted to sharing an umbrella, although Sue made a nifty hat out of a box. Didn’t catch on though. Must remember binoculars tomorrow. We will get it sorted by Sunday.
So Sunday Sue got up at 5.30 to fetch bread. We thought we were all doing really well getting up to get the first shuttle bus at 7.30 but in fact the other half of Holland had arrived on 50 coaches so we queued for a greater amount of time and when we got to our spot we found there was hardly any room at the inn. Perched a third of the way up the bank we then sat like lemmings on the edge of a cliff for the rest of the day. Actually it wasn’t so bad. Again we had great people around us mostly British in amongst the sea of orange which included a stag party from Derby, and it was okay as long as you didn’t move. Numb bums all round.
The race itself was AMAZING! Usually at home in the two hours of the race you have time to put the kettle on and perhaps have a Sunday afternoon nap without really missing anything because you can always rewind. I tell you this race was over and done with in a flash. It was so exciting, powerful, dynamic, sensational, noisy, enthralling, energising and just brilliant that you hardly had time to take it all in as the cars sped by. So many exciting things to keep track of on the big screen of what was happening elsewhere on the circuit and then watching them come down the straight to corner 10. We loved every minute of it.
And then at the end we had the joy of being able to walk on the track so we headed for Eau Rouge and arrived at the Mercedes garage just as Nico Rosberg who won the race appeared in front of us with the cup through the pit wall fencing. What a special moment when he looked straight at my camera. We continued along the track picking up bits of tyre which was melting onto the track and headed back to the campsite for the final evening.