Day 5 — Sunday — Race day
It was the big day, and with bigger crowds it took some time longer to get into the circuit. On the way in, people were giving away special Lewis Hamilton-branded cans of Monster energy drink. It was quite funny watching people begging for a free can, only to discard it with disgust when they realised it was a Hamilton special!
Because people were being body searched, there were separate queues for men and women to get into the circuit. This delighted Alex, who got in much quicker than me and Gordon, and told the world via Instagram.
We caught the start of the second GP3 race as we caught sight of La Source. This ended up being quite an exciting race.
The GP3 cars were quite spectacular in their own way. Because they still use normally aspirated engines, they are loud. Alex wasn’t very impressed with the digital DRS counter on the side of them though!
Then it was time for the Formula 2 sprint race. The F2 cars are also fun to watch.
They distinctively bottom out on Eau Rouge, creating a blue haze.
Thereafter followed the Porsche Supercup race.
Then it was a long break before the F1 race. So it was time to get some beers.
We bumped into a Porsche mascot. In fact, the mascot literally bumped into me, almost as if he couldn’t see properly or something. I quickly forgave him and we posed for a cheesy photo.
For the drivers parade, the F1 drivers sat in some vintage cars and waved at the crowd. That’s Fernando Alonso in the distance there, following our fashion trend.
The grand prix itself
At long last, after all the anticipation, it was race time. Truth be told, the grand prix was a bit of a damp squib.
Nico Hülkenberg’s careless start effectively wiped out five cars from contention at the first corner. Because we couldn’t see La Source from our seats, we didn’t even see Hülkenberg or Alonso race at all — after our investment in Alonso’s headgear as well! We saw the remains of Charles Leclerc’s car park up at the side — thankful he was OK after Alonso’s car dramatically hit his halo.
Kimi Räikkönen and Daniel Ricciardo were also both affected during the same accident. Räikkönen trundled on with a wounded car for 8 laps before giving up. To ensure he could continue, Ricciardo changed his rear wing — a very rare sight in F1 these days. But he was two laps down, and finally retired on lap 28 when it became clear he wasn’t in with a chance of salvaging anything from the day.
To be blunt, these are all our favourite drivers. So it was pretty frustrating to see them all struggle, and not to see Alonso at all.
We did witness Valtteri Bottas overtaking Brendon Hartley going through Eau Rouge, which was really exciting to watch.
The rest of the race was fairly action free. Almost immediately, the cars all spread out to be around 2 seconds apart from each other. We hear a lot about how the aerodynamics of F1 cars make it difficult for them to follow each other. It was stark to see exactly what that means in real life.
The race was won by Sebastian Vettel, and it was never really in doubt.
We made our way onto the circuit for the podium ceremony. I picked up a bit of rubber to add to my little collection from Le Mans, and ran my way up the hill, round La Source and along the pit straight (no gold ticket required!) to reach the podium.
After the ceremony was complete, an epic sax guy appeared on the roof and the party started.
One guy decided that his souvenir was going to be one of the giant polystyrene trackside Rolex adverts.
Then we headed back to Eau Rouge, where the crowds were making their pilgrimage.
We purchased waffles and Heineken (F1’s official
piss being the only one on offer all weekend), then sat on Eau Rouge to soak it in.
Some people tried to surf down the F2 pit lane exit on advertising hoardings.
As with Le Mans, walking on the track after the race was one of the highlights of my weekend.
We walked back to La Source to make our way back to the campsite. But not before we witnessed some of the advertising already being painted over. What’s the rush?!
Day 6 — Monday — Spa-Francorchamps Circuit Museum
After leaving the campsite the next morning, we drove round part of the old circuit, then made our way to the Spa-Francorchamps Circuit Museum in Stavelot. It plays host to a variety of cars and bikes that have raced around the historic circuit.
Our mission for the day was to take Gordon to Brussels, where he’d booked an Airbnb so that he could go home the next day. But not before we did a few other things in the Spa area. Alex and I continued our Belgium holiday for a few days longer. That will be the subject of an upcoming post.