Nick Deville from the UK went to the 2012 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa, here’s his trip report.
Photos courtesy @NickDevilleF1
The winter seemed to take longer than ever and as I waited for those five red lights to go out and it was clear I had caught the F1 bug. My Dad and I were in constant contact about which races we were going to attend. I clearly remember the day at college when my phone buzzed and it was my Dad with the news “Silverstone and Spa booked!!!!” Overall, it was a 5-day trip. I travelled with my Mum and Dad on the ferry from Hull to Rotterdam. The ferry took 10 hours and the drive from Rotterdam to the circuit a further 2.5 hours. With the amount of McLaren flags and Button stickers on cars it was clear the F1 circus was on its way to Western Europe. We stayed at the Elephant #97 campsite run by a hilarious Belgian man called Michel.
The pit walk was amazing, My Dad and I walked roughly two miles along the roads twisting through the Ardennes forest from our campsite to reach the circuit. We joined thousands of fans and checked out the garages. We have done this both years and it just gets better and better. Michael Schumacher even drove past me on his moped, one of the more surreal moments of my life.
When you say Spa-Francorchamps to people, many immediately think Eau Rouge. Nothing could really prepare me for what i saw upon the horizon, the most feared and adrenaline pumping corner in F1 and maybe in the whole of motorsport. Shivers went down my spine, I was finally here at the world famous Spa and this day is a memory which will stay with me for the rest of my life.
First up was Free Practice One and in typical Spa fashion it was wet, very wet. So wet in fact my parents decided to stay in the pub all day while I went to the circuit to take in the atmosphere. The running was poor and the rain made it treacherous for the drivers, making it pointless for them to use up a set of tires for no reason.
After the First practice session I went to find my parents at the pub in the village of Ster, just down the road from the campsite. This pub has to be one of the best places I’ve been to in a long time, the people who work there are lovely and the place is filled with motorsport memorabilia. The atmosphere in the pub is was amazing, the beers are cheap and the food is good. They have a basic but tasty menu consisting of various sandwiches, omelets and a very dish called Fricassee, which is 2 fried eggs and meat served in a clay pot.
Everyone turned out for what was a beautiful sunny day, the complete opposite of Friday. The hills of Kemmel and Pouhon were packed for ‘qualy’. We also watched GP2. The cars may not have been as fast as the F1s, but the action on-track was just as good, if not better. After the on-track action finished for the day, we all headed back to the campsite. There was a little store available where you could buy basics such as bread, beans etc. We decided to stay in on Saturday after having a few too many at the pub the night before.
Race day was by far the busiest day of the weekend, and I would recommend shelling out an extra €30 each for a shuttle to and from the circuit, otherwise you have to get up ridiculously early just so you can get a half decent spot to watch the race. Trackside, you can really feel the buzz as the excitement levels begin to rise ahead of the race. Even with the lower formulae, the racing seems to be better on the Sunday. Just before the race was the driver’s track parade, which is a brilliant opportunity to snap the drivers as they pose on the back of a lorry waving to the fans. The race at Spa is always brilliant and I wasn’t disappointed. The only bad part is leaving at the end of the weekend.
The overall cost of the trip was approximately £815:
- Ferry = £109 per person each way
- General Admission weekend tickets (Friday-Sunday) = £106 per person
- Camping for 5 days = £300
- Spending money = £300
To sum up, Spa has to be one of the best race weekends I’ve ever been to. The scenery and the atmosphere are completely unique to this race weekend. At first I was a bit skeptical about buying general admission tickets due to the weather, but I enjoyed every minute of it, rain or shine, and when you are in the forest watching a screaming F1 car drive past, you don’t care about the weather, it’ all about the experience.