Continued from Part 1. Apologies for the long gap between posts in this series, I was moving house. I know not everyone likes the format of “we did this, then we did this” so I’ll try and shake it up a bit, but ultimately I think it is unavoidable.
This wasn’t as impressive a viewing position as I’d hoped. The cars were too slow but this may have been due to them being Formula BMWs in the wet, but mainly you are so far away from the action it dilutes any sense of speed. Perhaps F1 cars in the dry are different. Perhaps I’d had enough of the incessant rain by now.
Formula BMWs at Les Combes, and the view back down the straight through the fence;
With a lull in track action I continued around the track to Rivage corner – you exit a gate at Les Combes then enter another just yards away having to scan your ticket twice, it all seemed a bit unnecessary to me, can’t they put in a path? Anyway this is where all the drunks hang out, it seemed like people had been drinking since morning and weren’t planning to stop yet – I ordered a coffee and was greeted with sarcastic jibes from the others at the counter and the servers too! Charming. Unlike some I actually wanted to remember the day and the experience of F1 cars on a live track, at these ticket prices not all of us can go every year.
No rain for a while now, the sun was even trying to break through although the track was very much still wet. It was turning into a really pleasant afternoon. I’m turning into such an old man. Looking towards Pouhon with yet more stunning views in the backdrop, the pits surrounded by the forest with the mist hanging in the air. Not a bad way to get back to nature.
Here are a few pictures from this location because it is a great place to be close to F1 cars, although I wouldn’t watch the race from here. Just the one big block of pictures in this post, don’t run away!
Great views at the top; Looking back up to the drunken happy fans; Mark Webber;
I also got a few videos at Rivage because it is a great spot to be up close to the cars, here is one of them:
A couple of lesser quality videos from the same spot are here and here until they surely get removed by copyright claim one day.
My main camera died at this point [cue cheers from the readers], I think the water got into it or the batteries died – I wasn’t impressed and had to switch to my phone so the photo quality is awful.
During the session I wandered down to Pouhon to meet Gavin and Guille who’d come over earlier in the day. They’d found shelter from the rain showers under a concrete toilet block of all things, there was a section under it which was a bit like castle ramparts, you could stand sheltered from the wind and most of the rain and still have a high up view of the track. And no before you ask, it wasn’t disgusting, the building was fully plumbed!
Pouhon corner itself was a tad underwhelming I thought, again like Les Combes this could have been down to the wet/damp track slowing the cars. Not much in the way of overtaking or of the out-and-out spectacle of speed. What you do get is a great appreciation of the way these cars take a corner so quickly particularly when Yamamoto is coming through with the back of his car constantly moving from side to side like it is about to throw him off the track – his was the only car that did this. The Red Bulls and McLarens were very much ‘planted’ through here but to be honest most of the cars were. Even the Lotus and Virgin cars didn’t look slow.
Again I was struck by how gorgeous this setting is. Look at all the trees and just the general ambience of the place. I love it. I started to get a little envious of the guys standing near me on General Admission tickets – we found unlike many Grands Prix it isn’t necessary to get a grandstand seat here.
GP2 qualifying was up next so we stuck around to watch it – cue yet another massive downpour! It had been dry for much of F1 Fp2 and even a dry line started to appear on the circuit, unfortunately for the GP2 guys the heavens opened practically as the green flag flew.
Here’s a bit of video of the very wet GP2 qualifying session.
And that was it, track sessions over apart from some GP3 and Porsche Supercup but we elected to skip those practice sessions to get home, get warm, and get dry. It isn’t possible to overstate just how wet I got that day and I think every single one of the others was just as soaked through.
Returning from Pouhon to meet up with the others we passed under Eau Rouge as the clouds closed in;
We were all agreed that despite the conditions we all loved Spa-Franchorchamps and our first day at the circuit ‘proper’, whether we walked around or stayed in the stands it was excellent. There was a lot of grumbling about the weather and the cold from practically everyone (myself very much included) and it wasn’t comfortable in the slightest, yet writing this a few months later all that truly remains in the memory is an enjoyable day trackside at one of the greatest racing venues in the world.
Even so, the chance to dry off in the warm cabin with lots of takeaway pizzas was very welcome indeed. Indeed the clothes I wore on this day were still damp on Monday when we came to pack up and leave.
Come back soon for my recap of Saturday at the Belgian GP!