After a brief interlude in the calendar, we return very much refreshed and recharged* and head to the legendary Spa-Francorchamps for round thirteen of 2018; the penultimate European race of the year.
The busy summer period took its toll on many inside the paddock, drivers and engineers alike. People were putting shoes on the wrong feet, neglecting essential race day items like phone chargers and sun cream as well as pouring way too much milk in the morning coffee.
But we’re back and we’re 100% ready to rock on down in Belgium: the home of beer, chocolate, waffles… and chips coated with mayonnaise.
Brewing in Belgium began as early as the 12th century and nowadays there are well over 20 different types of Belgian beer: from Flemish Red to amber ales. Before you swing by Spa, head to Brussels for the Beer Tasting Experience and have a taste of a true local product.
Once suitably hydrated and feeling in need of a snack, chocolate and waffles are the next best Belgian thing on our To Do list. Chocolate is an important part of the nation’s culture and economy and comes in various shapes, sizes and forms. You may find yourself a few kilograms heavier once you’ve indulged in supporting the said economy.
Moving on swiftly to our next topic, Spa is actually famed for its water. Both types, before you ask! Water which comes from the ground and, of course, water which drops on down from the sky.
Spa is home to a natural water spring discovered by the Romans a long, long time ago and today forms one of the town’s largest businesses: Spa Water. Pouhon, that famous, never-ending left-hander which drivers bang on about, actually means ‘water-well’; so that’s one to impress your mates with as you provide your own alternative commentary to the race.
Many Belgian Grands Prix in the past have been rain-affected; 15 if you want the exact number for the stats book. Usually at Spa there’s no real indication from the heavens that it will rain, it just starts and stops and then repeats to keep all involved on edge. Sticking an arm out from both the pit wall and the garage is a common theme in Spa, as strategists and engineers plot their next move, while the teams’ tweeting folks up and down the pitlane gear up for some epic slow-mo rain drop footage. Wet tyres are kept warm and ready to report for duty at a moment’s notice.
While the local area has plenty of quaint, quirky hotels and guesthouses to lodge at over the Grand Prix weekend, plenty of fans opt to camp it out in the forest. The proper way to experience a race. That’s what it’s all about. Telling a tale over the campfire in the evening over a Belgian amber ale and a cheeky sausage, before waking up to your alarm: the GP3 cars hurtling down the Kemmel Straight at silly o’clock to say ‘morning’ to the world. Nothing beats the smell of fuel to get the blood running!
By that point, you’re well awake and ready to explore the many, many vantage points Spa has to offer. At 7km, the longest on the Formula 1 calendar, it’s well worth having an explore to catch a glimpse of the action, and burn off those calories from all the Belgian food and drink we recommended. Don’t forget the umbrella and the sun cream as who knows what the weather might bring.
It’s a wonderful Grand Prix weekend, and we can’t wait to get back on track.
*the most overused phrase this weekend.