The F1 road show was back with a bang in Belgium at the Spa Francorchamps circuit, after the summer break and the last race in Hockenhiem. Lewis Hamilton started to extend his lead over the chasing Nico Rosberg at the German's home race, with Mercedes leading the constructors and Red Bull team overtaking the Ferrari team.
Following the Eurostar mid-morning from St Pancras Station to Brussels Midi, we transferred to the train to Liege. Our clients had a choice of staying in Brussels or Liege. Arriving into Liege Guillemins station is a very impressive sight to see. Friday evening gave the chance for clients to come for a drinks reception, to ask any questions they wanted and to talk about the weekend ahead with their fellow F1 tourists.
Early Saturday morning saw the coaches leave for a very warm Spa Francorchamps - looked like the rain might stay away this year! The traffic was a challenge getting to the circuit as so many supporters were trying to make their way to the penultimate European race of the season. As qualifying started, temperatures started to hit the low thirties degree celsius and Q1 was the normal story but without Lewis Hamilton, as he decided to take a hit with a 55 grid drop to start on the back row of the grid alongside his old team mate Fernando Alonso. Q2 saw no massive drama with all of the big teams getting both their cars safely into the top 10. Q3 saw Max Verstappen pushing Nico Rosberg to the very end of Q3 but the German held out to take pole position. Max Verstappen - already the youngest ever driver in F1 history and the youngest ever winner in F1 - is now also the youngest front row sitter in F1. The two Ferrari’s followed in 3rd and 4th - was this going to be a stronger showing from them in the race?
There were two coaches back to Liege, an early coach for those people who had enough of the heat or wanted to head back to experience the lovely city of Liege, whereas the later bus gave people time to watch the support races from the GP2, GP3 and Porsche super cup series. After we all arrived back into Liege, we took a lovely walk into the city centre for a lovely meal. As we were sitting outside there was massive thunderstorm which really helped clear the hot air of the day.
Everyone was keen and eager to board the coach on Sunday morning to get to the circuit to get their spot. The main questions for the race: 1) how far could Lewis Hamilton get through the field and how many points could he get? 2) What could Max Verstappen do from second? 3) Could the Ferraris get their season back on track with a strong start?
As we started to walk down the hill towards La Source, you could see the sea of Orange in support of Dutch driver Max Verstappen. As the clock counted down to 2pm and the lights went out, the Ferraris got a great start. Then the drama started to unfold, with Verstappen slow off the line then trying to get back at Raikkonen. There was contact between them which pushed Raikkonen into his teammate Vettel, spinning him around. There was damage to the three of them, which resulted in a trip to the pits to change the front wings. Lewis Hamilton stayed away from all the first corner drama and started to move his way through the field, with Rosberg out in front followed by Ricciardo. There was a massive crash at the top of Raidillon involving the Kevin Magnussen which resulted in a safety car, bunching up the field. Hamilton would then get his chance to get the overtaking done and finishing a very surprising 3rd especially after all the penalties he had this weekend. The winner this weekend though was Nico Rosberg, and following was the Australian Daniel Ricciardo.
The coach journey back to Liege was long but everyone was happy they saw a dramatic race start to finish. We arrived back into a surprisingly cooler Liege for the final evening of our stay.
The following day just after lunch, everyone had a chance for a quick last minute walk round the city. The coaches were in place as the rain started to pour down for the transfers back to the station to Brussels, to then get the Eurostar back to London.
The Belgian Grand Prix is one you just have to do with the circuit in the valleys around Spa. The atmosphere is amazing and the racing makes it a great weekend to be had.