Trip Report – 2018 Belgian Grand Prix

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Talip Ates and Svenja Reber travelled from their homes in Germany to the 2018 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa Francorchamps. Here’s their report.

Additional photos supplied by Andrew Balfour /  F1Destinations.

We made plans to visit the Belgium GP a long time ago, so we were very happy when the journey finally started. After six hours of autobahn driving, we arrived on Tuesday evening in Monschau, a German town on the Belgian border. The house we rented there was a great base for the weekend; clean, calm and beautiful. On Wednesday, we did some shopping and explored our surroundings.

Disappointment at the Pit Lane Walk

We set off at 11:30 on Thursday to attend the autograph session. After 40 minutes of driving, we arrived in the Belgian town of Verviers, where we parked our car at the train station and waited for a bus to Spa-Francorchamps. On Thursday, we took a normal regional bus, but from Friday onwards, we were able to take a shuttle bus. Tickets were only €10 for the whole weekend, which saved a lot of money!

We arrived at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps about 13:30 and there was already lots of people there. We waited in the queue for 2.5 hours and finally entered the track at 16:00. The autograph session was held at the pit exit. Unfortunately, there was way too many people and we didn’t get any chance to get close to the drivers. It was the complete opposite of our experience at the Austrian GP last year, where we got to see all the drivers. Disappointed and tired, we headed home.

We had another surprise in store for us at the train station in Verviers. The ticket machine at the car park only took credit cards or Belgian bank cards, neither of which we had. The people at the train station couldn’t help us. So we had to contact the ticket operator. He was finally able to open the gates. Lesson learned; don’t park at the train station if you don’t own a credit card! For the rest of the weekend, we parked in a supermarket carpark near the train station. In the end, we saved some money as the supermarket parking was free.

Friday and Saturday

We took the shuttle bus from Verviers on Friday and Saturday. There was more traffic and some delays on Friday, but we arrived at our grandstand in time for the start of FP1. We sat in the Gold 8 grandstand at La Source, which had excellent views down the pitlane and start-finish straight. We visited the F1 Village after FP1. Some big names from the paddock appeared on the main stage there during the weekend, including Ross Brawn and Charlie Whiting.

There were no problems on Saturday. Everything went smoothly. I was able to practice my skills taking photos. I found a great spot between some trees, after La Source. For my first attempt using an SLR camera, I was happy with the results.

Race Day

For Sunday, we had already pre-booked a taxi from our accommodation to the track. The driver picked us up at 10:00 and we reached the circuit in one hour. We didn’t get stuck in traffic and didn’t have to wait anywhere. We were very surprised how smoothly it went. Getting to the track early is not always the best advice! We still had lots of time until the F1 Drivers’ Parade and the start of the race.

The race started with a big crash into the first corner involving Fernando Alonso, Nico Hülkenberg and Charles Leclerc. The crash was right in front us. Luckily no-one was injured. The race ended with a win for Sebastian Vettel. After the race, we joined the other fans on the track for a while before heading to our taxi pick-up point and a trouble-free journey home. The Belgian GP made for a nice F1 trip. It wasn’t 100% perfect, especially on Thursday, but that’s how some trips go and you live and learn.

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About the Author ()

My name is Talip, I'm 21 years old and from Germany. Since I was a little kid, I've been fascinated by all kinds of cars and racing. I start watching F1 in 2009 and have never missed a race since then. F1 is my passion and I want to give back to my fellow fans by writing about it. My inspirations are Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher, because of their fighting spirit. "Never surrender" is my creed.

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