Read about Gemma's first time on Tour at the Belgium Grand Prix!
With the summer break coming to a close, F1 fans were buzzing for the action to start again for the second half of the World Championships series. We headed to the Ardennes forest to witness what would be a memorable weekend at the Belgium Grand Prix. Famed for its fast and challenging circuit, Spa-Francorchamps is always a favourite with both the drivers and the fans.
The weekend started with us meeting at London St Pancras station on Friday morning to catch the Eurostar across to Belgium’s capital, Brussels. Many of our clients enjoyed a relaxed breakfast on the train and a few started the weekend off with a pop of the cork! The Eurostar is certainly a stress-free way to get you to where the real fun begins.
We had several different options for accommodation available, with 3* to 5* hotels in the beautifully built city of Brussels and a little closer to the circuit 4* to 5* hotels in the breath-taking city of Liege. All of our hotels carefully chosen to provide clients with the most comfortable stay.
After checking into the hotels, it was either time to have a rest after the morning of travelling or to head out to explore the city. Before going out to find the delicious cuisine Belgium has to offer, clients met up with Gullivers Staff Members for a couple of drinks to discuss the exciting weekend ahead. This was also an opportunity to learn about the best places to eat and drink in the city, our favourite being the Mozart restaurant offering all you can eat ribs, outstanding if I do say so myself!
On Saturday, those of our clients that chose to attend qualifying were lucky enough to have a phenomenal day of sunshine. They took our tremendous transfer to the circuit, with the coaches providing refreshments and entertainment to make the journey feel a breeze. Saturday’s events included: F3 first race, F1 third practice session, Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup Qualifying, F1 qualifying session and F2 first race.
Unfortunately Frenchman Anthoine Hubert was involved in an accident on the second lap of the F2 feature race, he was taken to the circuit medical centre following the accident, where he later succumbed to his injuries. Hubert in his first season of F2 was one of the rising stars of the sport, after having won two races in 2019, Monaco and his home race at Paul Ricard. This followed 2018, in which he was crowned GP3 champion. In 2005 when competing in his first kart championship, he competed against Leclerc, Ocon and Gasly, cementing friendships that continued until this day. His passing is a sad loss for the sport, a driver who would have surely made it to F1.
On Sunday our clients hopped back onto the coaches ready for the next day of racing. Before the F1 race commenced the drivers did their ritual lap around the circuit in traditional race cars, this year making a special tribute to the devastating loss of Anthoine Hubert. This was followed by the flying man himself, Franky Zapata, showing off his jet pack by doing a lap of the circuit to get all the F1 fans raring and ready for the race.
Ferrari got off to a good start with a front row lock out in qualifying, Leclerc followed by Vettel. With the Mercedes pair behind, Hamilton and Bottas. Hamilton was lucky to make qualifying, after a crash in FP3. Off the line Leclerc held the lead and Hamilton took second place from Vettel. However, on the long run down the Kemmel Straight Vettel successfully seized second place back from Hamilton. First to stop from the lead pack was Vettel, with the others stopping a few laps later. Vettel used the undercut to take the lead, but a few laps later his degrading tyres caused Ferrari to made the decision to allow Leclerc to take the lead from a slower Vettel. Towards the end of the race Hamilton, who's car was equipped with fresh tryes closed up to the Ferrari, but was unable to get close enough to attempt a pass. Leclerc taking his maiden F1 victory, on a difficult day for the Monagasque driver and the sport after the death of his close friend Anthoine Hubert in the F2 race the previous day.
After the race had come to a close myself and many clients were lucky enough to walk on the track itself. Whether it was watching the awards ceremony, or experiencing the famous Eau Rouge, it was something I know will be cherished in my memory for a long time. Many clients even collected the remains of the car tyres on the track as a little souvenir! All tired after an exhilarating couple of days we made our way back to the hotels for a late dinner and some well deserved drinks in a couple of bars in the gorgeous Grand Place (definitely worth a visit if you like your architecture!)
Transfers back to the UK weren’t until the afternoon, leaving the opportunity to spend the morning doing some more exploring and last minute shopping for that famous Belgium Chocolate. Our clients then made their way back to the Eurostar station in Brussels for a short 2 hour train journey back to London, reflecting on the amazing couple of days at the Belgium Grand Prix.