This post is part of my recap of the Belgian Grand Prix weekend and is about the Thursday before the race. Please see Tues/Weds here and Thursday Pt.1 here. Once again, I apologise for the lengthy delay.
This was all good fun but we were now missing the pitwalk, it was about 5.15pm so it was already halfway through and we had drivers and cars to try and see. We moved our cars out of the way and walked as quickly as possible past the various vendors, in through the La Source gate – and on to the track itself.
Wow! This came as a minor shock, I suppose I expected to be diverted over a bridge or under a tunnel to get to the infield but no, we were walking across La Source corner itself and into the pitlane exit! The place was bustling, La Source was packed with people and you could see hundreds on the main straight and yet more in the pitlane.
At this stage it was everyone for themselves, we instintively split up because we each knew we were running out of time and it was important to see as much as you could manage, plus we all had different interests. Some went rushing down pitlane, some checked out the new teams nearer our entrance. I hung around La Source for a little bit, looked at the steeper-than-expected run down the hill past the support paddock, and then walked into the pitlane where I found Lukeh and Lou had spotted David Croft and Anthony Davidson of BBC Radio 5 Live, in their trackies ready for their run (at every GP they run a lap of the track). I missed the conversation but was relayed it later, it seems Crofty remembered the pair having met at Goodwood earlier in the year! Lou had made a banner especially for them.
Here are a selection of photos from the pitwalk:
I also got a small amount of video:
Alternative link at Picasa in case the YouTube version is pulled (I can’t embed Picasa videos).
Somehow, and I still have no idea how they did it among all these people, Kathi and Emma appeared in front of us and started talking to us, and knew who we were. It took me a few moments to register that it was them! I think they must have found Lou or one of the others a few moments before? They been there since the pitlane opened and told us they’d managed to meet Bruno Senna and Rubens Barrichello, who’d come out of the pits to give signatures and meet the fans. Pretty cool! It was nearing 6pm and at the far end of pitlane security were getting a bit pushy, so Kathi and Emma were heading out. Since we’d only been there a short time we weren’t having that! I for one wasn’t planning to leave until I physically couldn’t stay any more.
That’s pretty much what happened. The guards worked their way down from pit in, and then split pitlane in half so those of us who hadn’t got that far were out of luck. Those with the ‘big teams’ were led out on to the main straight, the rest of us were trapped and had to return from whence we came, to pit exit. We took some more pics as we made our way slowly out.
There are a few more photos in my Spa Thursday album.
We soaked up the great atmosphere at La Source for a short while before making our way up the steep hill towards Franchorchamps village and our cars.
Next on the agenda was to book into the luxury mobile homes at the campsite, and unload all our bags. After working around the lanes with a short detour down a steep gravel track, we did just that! We were pleasantly surprised to find the homes were quite spacious, the bedrooms were a bit tight but we only needed them as somewhere to crash overnight and store clothes. The main living space was nice and open with a comfy seating area. A good choice and very well found by Kathi!
We were still one member short. Guille (pronounced sort of like ‘Geeche’) from Argentina was making his way to us from Paris via a train which had been delayed. The group split up, I and a couple of others went to pick up a bit of shopping and collect Guille, Bassano took Emma and Kathi to collect their bags from another town and a few stayed back at the site. We would rendezvous for steaks at the campsite restaurant.
Guille’s train seemed even more delayed than even he’d expected, the 3 of us meeting him were sat in the dark and wet station near some dodgy-looking taxi drivers! Eventually he arrived, I think quite tired after the journey from home including long flights, buses and trains, I think he appreciated that we’d put in orders for steak!
It really was a very good steak, I ate mine quickly enough that most of it was gone by the time I’d got a photo. I had to get a photo. For some reason they served it with melon and orange, really weird. The frites were disappointing, we’d been promised much but they were bog standard thin chips really. Beer was had. Steak and a glass of Hoegaarden is a nice combo.
We wanted to stay and make a night of it, but after the travelling and pitlane excitement were all so tired we had to retire to the homes for a chat in quieter surroundings – the site restaurant/pub got very loud and we wanted to be sociable especially with Guille, Emma and Kathi who we’d barely met. We all went back to one of the homes, talked, and tried to get the wifi to work so that we could comment at Sidepodcast, send tweets and perhaps put up some little blog posts. This didn’t really work, it was a real shame the wifi was unreliable in the girls’ home and was barely functional in the boys’ home. My plans for little blog updates over the weekend went out of the window there and then, and it was a struggle to get connected long enough for even the most basic message. Some people fared better than others, some could get on reasonably well all weekend whereas I had terrible trouble with it. Not to worry, blogs and social media could wait, we were being social in real life with fellow F1 and racing fans, and for us that was even more important.
All embedded photos and videos were taken by me (Patrick Wotton), I haven’t set up anything officially but you can consider them available for use under Creative Commons. Some of the linked media may be copyright, check details on the relevant pages.
Read on with the first part of Friday’s fun!