From the stands: Carol Treurnicht watches the Belgian GP at Spa

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The Belgian Grand Prix discussion page on F1 Fanatic was teeming with over 800 messages between F1 Fanatics planning their trip to last weekend’s race.

Carol Treurnicht was among those at Spa last weekend and met up with loads of other F1 fans. They got soaked, blagged some paddock passes and one of them got hit by lightning! Read about their adventures below.

We arrived on Wednesday around 5pm and luckily had enough of a break between downpours to get our base camp set up. Luckily some of the guys from last year were already there so with all the help we got done pretty quickly. After a quick bite we all set off for the pub, which was supposed to be open for us, but wasn’t, so back to base where we all chatted and watched others arrive.

Thursday was equally dreadful weather-wise as it poured all day. The site was pretty full by Thursday lunchtime already and poor Michael was getting a bit stressed as to how to fit everyone in.

Paddock passes

Luckily the rain cleared up for a few hours as we headed off for our paddock visit courtesy of Renault. We were collected at the entrance in one of those flashy press busses, which made us feel pretty important, and then off through the labyrinth of tunnels to the holy place known as the paddock.

We were given an hour to wander around and were to meet up at 3pm for a trip to the garage. We felt a bit lost at first so we wandered and peeked into the motorhomes. They are amazing. Some are like palaces and others like double decker buses. The difference were immense and helped us to understand the different characters of the teams – from ice cold modernity to the homely like Renault with the nice yellow flowers on the tables.

We spent quite a bit of time being amazed at the hive of activity at the Bridgestone ??factory?? – it was like a branch of Kwik Fit. We all thought the tyres come ready just to hand out to the teams – not so. They were fitting wets and dries onto mountings, balancing them, putting on the barcodes and then one by one the teams turned up to collect their allocation.

We wondered if those people – many of whom were ladies – might lose their jobs at the end of the season when the tyres come from Pirelli next year. It would be a shame if they did.

Then we slowly wandered back peeking into more motorhomes. At HRT we met Bruno Senna – a really nice guy who gladly signed our book, photos and whatever else we wanted him to.

We also saw Vitaly Petrov who wa in a rush but he also grinningly signed our book too. Sadly Rubens Barrichello was just too fast for a 300-year-old.

Then off to meet Renault again for the trip to the garage. At first we were told they had just turned on the engines and we might want to wait a bit. Of course we weren’t having any of that – we wanted noise and lots of it. So we stood there, mesmerised for half an hour while Renault answered all our questions and watched the boys at work on these amazing pieces of machinery. What an experience.

After that we had another half hour to wander so we got more adventurous. We managed to wake Jarno Trulli up to sign our book, also Sebastien Buemiand Kamui Kobayashi who was with Peter Sauber. We wished Button Snr senior well for Jenson and then had to go.

On the way out we bumped into Fernando Alonso and Stefano Domenicali – and got the signatures of a double world champion and his Ferrari team boss in our book too.

Exhausted, blistered and soaked we made it back to camp and off to the pub – with a warm welcome from Mr Bertrand – and it was like being back home.

A shock on Friday

Friday began with a bang as a thunderstorm hit the track – and one of our friends. He was struck by lightning while charging his mobile ‘phone on his motorbike. We saw the strike hit the power line – he said he was in spasm throughout his body and the phone exploded. Fortunatley he was otherwise OK.

But we did not care about being soaked while we watched all the action on the track. And no, it wasn’t us who climbed on the fence and got the session stopped.

In the evening we met up with other F1 Fanatics – the place was packed and I’m not sure we managed to speak to everyone there. We had a great evening predicting qualifying and chatting about F1.

A whole bunch of us got there early to get a good seat for a great day action with a healthy sprinkling of rain to keep the drivers guessing.

In the evening we met more new folks as our crowd just kept growing. Today it was the turn to meet a super couple from Perth in Australia. They were travelling for a few months and won paddock club tickets for race day.

Off to bed not too late as we needed to be at the track on Sunday at 7am.

Giving up gold seats

We meet FOFA base camp at 6:30 and oh dear, what a soggy lot we were. But we made it and bagged the best spots right at the top of the Kemmel straight directly in front of a video screen.

Then breakfast and a call from our friendly Australians who gave me the grandstand tickets they no longer needed for Eau Rouge. So off we went to collect them and say goodbye to our new best friends.

The drivers’ parade came by in classic cars rather than the Bernie truck. We clambered up to Gold 3. What a crush. The seats are built for midgets and we found ourselves so squashed we soon ran back to our old places. Were we mad? Probably.

The race was a treat with all the rain and action. Then the highlight – off to Eau Rouge for our goodbye beer but this – like those on the podium – we had champagne too. Our pal Kimi had carried a bottle with him all day for us to spray about and drink the last drops – we had a ball on the hill there in the pouring rain till they threw us out.

There are no shuttle buses after the race due to traffic controls so we trekked back to base, got changed and off to the cafe for a bite to eat and a great evening comparing notes and exchanging email addresses. Mr Bertrand (Gaston to us now, we see him every year) gave us a special champagne glass engraved with Francorchamps.

Next year we hope to do the double – Silverstone and Spa. We can’t wait!

Pictures from Spa

Here’s a collection of pictures from Spa, mostly taken by Quentin and a few from another person at the race who left them in the F1 Fanatic

From the stands

Browse all From The Stands articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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17 comments on “From the stands: Carol Treurnicht watches the Belgian GP at Spa”

  1. Well, it sounds like you had a brilliant time.
    Some superb photos and a great read.

  2. I sense a mistake here. Why was the whole article displayed on the home page?

    1. That was a mistake!

  3. My wife, son and i had a great time, the seats in Gold 3 were a bit tight (although they could be shuffled about;)!), but what a view, absolutely breathtaking.

  4. I found it the same, General Admission beats seats at Spa. After getting a taste of Eau Rouge from a stand we decided just to stick it out at Pouhon :D How did you get your passes Carol?

  5. Yep, next year will be general admission tickets for us, seems like there are loads of places to get excellent views of the track, just had to do Eau Rouge once.

  6. ‘Twas a fantastic weekend – Carol managed to sum up the atmosphere in The Cafe Bertrand (had a great time – was the statue on the church REALLY Alonso? “Senna Boy!”)

    As this was my first live race, it was cool to meet so many people who made me feel so welcome – not least the F1Fanatic crew and of course Michael!

    @Daykind – thanks for the comment about the photos!


  7. Sounds like you had an awesome time. I was planning on getting me some general admission tickets next year and this article has confirmed my presumptions. Good intel for an F1 circuit newbie!

  8. We had a really good weekend too – sorry we didn’t manage to spend much time with other guys at the Elephant though. The long days meant we were pretty knackered so after a few drinks and a bit of food in Francorchamps we were usually ready for sleep. I’m sure we’ll be back in the future, although we’re looking to tick Monza off the list next year (it’s got a lot to live up to though).

    I’ve got my photos from the weekend up on flickr:


    1. Wow – great photos. Makes most of my photos from the weekend look rubbish.

  9. Nice to hear that you people had a nice time & also that guy who was hit by lighting is OK too. Hope you all made it to Silverstone & Spa next year as well.

  10. a great big thank you to Carol & Rolf for AGAIN being fantastic hosts; supplying some much needed beer, food, music & general atmosphere! couldn’t ask for a better bunch to spend an F1 weekend with! Also, Carol so unselfishly took my dad into the paddock with her…what a treat for him!

  11. Sounds like an amazing weekend. Glad to hear all of you suvived the thrill! Spa is great, i suppose the soaked campsite just makes it even more special.

    Thanks for sharing your experience here.

  12. A great account of your trip!

    How did you manage to organise the Renault paddock pass?

    1. Ed
      due to our work with FOFA- Renault kindly supported us with paddock access for 6 races this year- and I was the lucky one for Spa.
      You peeps should also look us up and support what we are trying to do…

  13. The photo of

    Nico Hülkenberg, Williams, Spa-Francorchamps, 2010
    Liuzzi were very good

    (mainly Liuzzi because i support Force India but its also a nice shot my favorit is the Hulkenberg one tho

  14. PS- my pics are here if you want a look:
    also some pics from Hockenheim where my man Rolf was our paddock man!
    Anyone who is interested in Spa then follow the thread on this site as its where loads of us met up over the last two years!

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