Friday. Practice Sessions.
Friday we set out early from our hotel in Amsterdam to head to the track, we had to get to the track 270 odd kilometers away in time for the ‘Chairmen’ in our group to collect their paddock passes from the F1 accreditation center. They would not be slumming it in the grandstands with the rest of us ‘plebs’. Heheheh.
We got to the track in the nick of time and parked in one of the private car parking fields that surround the track for 10 Euros all day! Beat that Silverstone! Then it was off to our respective grandstands (after some drone flying) to watch the F1 practice sessions.
I was in a grandstand in the ‘Bruxelles’ corners, this comes after the Kemmel straight and Les Combes and it took almost ONE FULL HOUR to walk there from the car park! I’ve been to this track several times but the challenging terrain still shocks, so steep is the gradient for walkers along Eau Rouge and along the Kemmel straight. High heels are an absolute no-no.
You see that itinerary on the first page? You can ignore that. We failed miserably to keep to that itinerary due to our collective ‘ahem’, ‘punctuality issues’. We had not left early enough on any of the days to explore the fantastic ‘twisty’ roads that surrounded the track at Spa.
We got to the track after narrowly avoiding being pulled by a Belgian motorcycle cop who had his knee down as he came off the slip road in readiness of the pursuit which he felt would come. I had spotted him though, and slowed my speed accordingly as he joined the motorway. He gave me a rueful shake of the head as he sped off. I’m sure he was thinking: “I’ll catch you next time”.
Chastised, we continued at a sedate paste to the circuit until about 10 kilometers from the circuit, when I noticed everybody jumping out of the fast lane as the daddy of all production cars, the Nurburgring lap record holder, the mighty Porsche 911 GT2 RS (690 bhp in case you were wondering) showed up…and he was not hanging about.Dutifully I fell in behind him and gamely tried to follow…..
We got to the circuit without further drama and parked up. This time we had to buy tickets as one of our party had no tickets so we headed to the ticket office where he managed to score Gold 2 grandstand tickets for a fraction of their face value! I immediately commandeered said tickets and that is how I ended up watch the qualifying session from the Gold 2 stand which is one of the best viewing points on this particular track.
The Gold 2 grandstand offered very close and unobstructed views of the cars exiting turn 1, La Source, before blasting past downhill before tackling the famous Eau Rouge corner. I watched the qualifying battle unfold from this wonderful position as Lewis Hamilton made a mockery of the opposition in inclement conditions to take his 78th career pole. The boy is seemingly unbeatable in the wet.
Then it was back to the hotel for dinner and a ‘hearty’ discussion at a nearby French restaurant.