One of my followers on Twitter – Steve Mason’s recent birthday present was a trip to the Spa Grand Prix and he agreed to share his experience with fellow F1 fans. Here is a blog about his trip.
Was this your first GP or first trip to Spa?
This was my first trip to Spa but I have been to Silverstone many times including this year & also Monza in 2010. My other-half @MissGemmaClare booked [the trip] as a surprise, however, budget was not just about GP; it included a mini break too. We based ourselves in Brussels for 4 nights at The Atlanta, a great hotel.
We booked in April so the GP tickets could have been cheaper. Whole thing, excluding airport transfers, were organised by Grandstand Motorsports www.grandstandmotorsports.co.uk. Our first time using them, I would definitely use them again.
Getting from track to hotel: Ease and Cost
In terms of ease, this is where I would say basing yourself in Brussels doesn’t work, look for an alternative. This however, is the dichotomy of Spa. 2 hour transfer times meant early starts & late finishes for us, whilst missing some of the support races. However, I’m not a ‘camper’ & there are limited hotels nearby but if you book now maybe there is a chance; La Source Hotel already fully booked for 2013! If you are in a Group renting a house seemed popular with other fans. Parking seemed easy with plenty of sites with fixed prices all weekend at €10 per day.
On another note I don’t know why Silverstone gets such a hard time for traffic, Spa is way way worse, Bernie needs to have a word 😉
How was the weather?
The local temp was nice & warm too on the Thursday, Saturday & Sunday. As for Friday practice that was cold and very wet. Sunday was a hot day but in the covered grandstand but it was about 5 degrees cooler. We saw a lot of people who’d have done well to have packed some sun tan lotion!
Did you watch Qualifying and the race?
Hell yeah! Also went for Friday practice, my £2.99 poncho a massively valuable investment before leaving the UK. Our view from La Source Gold 8 was excellent as you could see a great deal of the track with the added bonus of some of the pit lane & pit exit plus a Giant Screen. (So good was his view, he got this great photo of the first-lap carnage which resulted in Grosjean’s 1-race ban)
Spa Carnage (c) Steve Mason
How was the atmosphere/mood around you?
A real mix of nationalities from English, Dutch, Belgium, French, Italian and American fans. Atmosphere was great, some good banter and very knowledgable crowd.
We were sat opposite the big screen at La Source but also tried Fanvision for the first time – mightily impressed. At the circuit it was €45 per day, online delivered to our house €65 for the entire weekend! Top tip, I got an earphone splitter so my partner and I could share a set; worked a treat. Having BBC5Live or SkyF1 commentary meant you always knew what was going on throughout the weekend & Will Buxton for GP2/3 races was excellent. FanVision bridges the gap of watching at a circuit & wholly knowing what’s going on. I found it particularly useful for Quali so you knew who was in the drop zone etc
Could you “pour”/get onto the track after the race?
Yes, it was great, access was easy. After a few minutes of fans being on the track, you’d never have known there had been a crash – the crowd devoured and collected carbon fibre souvenirs……spotless!
We went onto the track, listened to the new post race podium interviews (big fan of that) but had to leave to get our coach transfer. We flew from Manchester with Brussels Airways so plenty of options but we had didn’t fly home until Monday tea time, giving us the day Brussels.
Did you encounter any marshalls and were they helpful?
In terms of track marshalls no contact, however, stand stewards were all very helpful. However, English was not widely understood but a bit of schoolboy French was enough to get by.
Marshalls, Fernando, Lewis and Romain (c) Steve Mason
Food/availability and variety?
Brussels is a foodies heaven but at the track the range was very basic with only burgers or sausages plus obviously frites & mayonnaise. Prices remained same all 3 days, burgers €6, frites €5 + €1 for mayo or sauce, coke can €3.50 & Cafe €3.
We picnicked each day & there was no restriction on what you could take in to the track.
No free water but no restrictions on food or drink into the circuit.
Would you recommend this event to others?
The trip to Spa is part of my ambition to visit all the REAL F1 circuits on the Calendar. Would I recommend it, in a word……YES! Truly immense experience, fantastic & I have no doubt at some point soon I will return. Where next is now my only quandary.
Thanks to Steve for giving us an insight to his first trip to Spa. Follow his on Twitter @theSteveMason