What F1 Fanatics say about… Spa

2011 Belgian Grand Prix

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Rubens Barrichello, Lucas di Grassi, Spa-Francorchamps, 2010

The Belgian Grand Prix is a favourite among drivers, teams and fans alike.

The F1 Fanatic discussion pages have been bursting with hundreds of comments from fans making the trip to Spa.

In the first part of a new series, guest writer Ben Needham picks out the most interesting tips and comments from F1 Fanatics who’ve been to Spa.

Those who’ve been to the seven kilometre circuit to watch Formula 1 in the past speak of great racing, great atmosphere, bad weather and brilliant atmosphere.

First up, who better than a native of Belgium to tell us where to sit:

As I Belgian F1 fan, I have visited the Spa Grand Prix five times already, seated once at Silver 2 (straight leading to Eau Rouge), Gold 1 (opposite pit), Gold 8 (La Source) and Gold 3 (Eau Rouge).

In my view, Gold 8 and Gold 3 were the best, as you see the cars approaching directly to you and there’s minimal chance of standing persons blocking your view.

Both Gold 8 and Gold 3 views are fantastic with respect to the speed of the cars. This year, I have a seat in the Gold 4 stand, to see what the view is when they go up the hill to Raidillon.

But where’s best to watch if you’ve got a general admission ticket? Here’s Gary’s tip:

The best general admission viewing, is probably opposite Silver 3, where Lewis Hamilton came off last year and brushed the tyre wall.

Spa expert Carol has answered dozens of questions from readers heading to Spa, if not more:

I have been to Spa every year but one since 2005 and I guarantee it will rain there at some point over the weekend; it is more likely to rain than be warm and sunny.

Parking at Elephant is ?����?�10 per day and is only 15-minute walk to the Eau Rouge entrance. It is also conveniently located for getting out and back onto the motorway in the evenings/after the race so you won’t get so stuck in after race jams.

The Thursday pit walk is surely worth the hassle of an extra day at the circuit. Go armed with a camera, a pen and paper and a lot of patience and see what happens:

Spa is only open for a short time on the Thursday, not all day. Anyone with a three-day ticket can attend the pit walk which normally takes place late afternoon (4pm-ish).

Access to this is from the main Francorchamps track entrance. Otherwise there is no access to the track on Thursday.

Camping is an essential part of the Spa experience. But make sure you go prepared:

My advice: take earplugs.

Not just for the cars, but for the constant Euro house music that doesn’t stop until 4am (especially as you’ll probably want to get up at 6/7am to get to the track nice and early).

Camping is great though, nice and close to the track. Getting ready in the morning when you can hear the lower formula practice sessions starting is a real buzz. I’d also advise buying beers etc… before you get to the circuit, they’ll come in handy when you want one after a day spent walking the track.

Make sure to take some fold out seats and get a cheap gazebo thing – if it rains like it did last year, you’ll thank me for that advice!

And Claire and Rob Neal suggest an alternative to the circuit’s toilet facilities at the track:

Can I suggest that you also think about getting a Shewee as the queue for the toilets is sometimes horrendous! I was caught out once or twice and was able to nip into the forest when I was caught short due to my trusted Shewee.
Claire and Rob Neal

Thanks to everyone who has given their time to help other Belgian Grand Prix spectators, you will all surely have a great time.

With not long to go now, David B sums up the excitement and anticipation for this year’s Grand Prix:

Soon I’ll be on board the Eurotunnel speeding my way to Calais. A quick pit stop in the hypermarkets for supplies, then head on down to one of the most famous race tracks in the world.
David B

If you’re going to Spa this weekend, join in the discussion here:

And read Carol’s experience of going to the race last year:

2011 Belgian Grand Prix

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    Image © Williams/LAT

    39 comments on “What F1 Fanatics say about… Spa”

    1. I hope I will manage to get to Spa before it gets worked out of the calender by Bernie. Its just so exiting a race and a great venue.

      1. It’ll be a sad day if/when, Spa is dropped from the calendar.

        It is easily my most favourite racetrack.

        Even with all the modern safety features it has now, it still has some of the most spectacular corners of any track that will bite if you get them wrong. Its fantastic. :D

        1. I live in Belgium I went to the German GP this year. 2 reasons, 1 main my mate couldn’t go to Spa and 2nd Spa is more expensive than the german GP.

          Spa is a great track, but the F1 interest in Belgium is just not as big like in England/Germany where they have the teams, drivers,…
          This year there is a Belgian driver but he drivers in one of the “slowest” cars. And doesn’t get much media attention here.

          It would be better if the tickets were a little less expensive like in Turkey where there also isn’t much interest from the locals.

          After going to the German GP I was actually somewhat disappointed. Didn’t see a lot of action, not easy to follow the race with the screen not so close. I watched the race again when I came home.
          But at least the sound was worth it. Maybe I will go to a race again someday. But for now I will stick to following the races from my couch.

          1. The sheer size of F1 as a sport makes it often better to follow the action from your couch (with football it’s just the opposite, by the way).

            Add the price and you’ll know that it’s an experience you won’t have very often (unless you’re a bit richer then most of us).

            Which is part of the enjoyment.

      2. There were slight concerns about Spa when FOTA Fans took place at MTC.

        Martin Whitmarsh made it clear that FOTA would do every thing it can, including taking substantial cuts to let circuits like Spa.

        I think he said something along the lines of “If we lose circuits like Spa, we lose a major history of F1”

        1. They should keep the “original” circuits (Monaco, Monza, Spa, Nurburgring, Silverstone) and let them all pay the same price as Monaco does :)

          1. What you suggest something that will prevent Bernie Ecclestone from charinging tracks near extortionate amounts in order to host a race?
            In Bernie’s world, that would amount to nothing but sheer herasy

        2. He also Sid it was imperative that f1 remained free to air in the uk. Find it hard to trust what he says now.

    2. We also camped at the Elephant campsite. Was great, there was a little local pub (like something out of a stella artios advert) which provided food, and obviously all the different types of beers. There was a shuttle bus to the circuit(although we walked as it only took 15mins) The circuit was fantastic, even with just a a general admission ticket the views of the track are second to none. Loved every minute of the 4 days and would recommend it to anyone. Its pretty easy to get to from the UK too. Easyjet flight to Cologne (about £40) and then a rental car back across the border with a drive of under 2 hours.

    3. CAN’T WAIT!! :)

      I’ll be packing up my stuff tomorrow to catch the 4am ferry from Folkestone. Still not set on a campsite yet, but if we can’t find anything suitable close to La Source then we’ll hopfully be able to get a pitch at The Elephant.

      We’ve borrowed a big old canvas tent (with wooden pegs!) from a Scout group so hopefully it will stand up to all the rain :)

      Bring it on…!

      1. Have a blast! I hope it rains on you! :P

    4. Daniel Bigham
      23rd August 2011, 15:22

      Just on the boat across to Hoek van Holland now with my brother, short stop in Amsterdam tonight, a few laps round Nurburgring tomorrow then off to Spa for the weekend! It’s my first GP, really excited. Are there any plans for an F1Fanatics meet up?

      1. That’s the right way to do it! Have fun tomorrow.

        1. you guys should do some kind of meet up. Put a sign up on the big dent DuncF1!

      2. I will be there! Haven’t heard any meetup plans but I’d be keen. If you spot a blonde chick on her own with a somewhat battered Finnish flag reading “KOVALAINEN” please come say hi!

        1. ha thats the spirit. Have fun the lot of you!

    5. Good article, hopefully i’ll be there next year

    6. People actually use shewee’s? XD

    7. I have a question that I hope someone knows the answer to. There is a stand on pouhon between bronze areas but it is not listed as a number even though it appears on the map as a silver stand. From last year I think I remember this being an open stand for general admission (first come first served) but I just want to confirm if this is or is not the case?

      1. I dont think its there anymore but is still left on some track maps in error

      2. Last year there was no stand there, just a flat raised area – watched part of quali from there.

        1. I could have sworn I walked past it last year, it was in front of a big screen. Perhaps I was hallucinating after a waffle…..

        2. In fact I clearly remember walking behind it and thinking that I did not see it as a ticket option….

    8. It’s almost guaranteed to be rainy, here I Belgium the weather’s been VERY fickle the past fewweeks – yes I know that’s what you’d expect from Spa but this year it’s really something different. We had a huge storm killing a few people at a music festival last week, this morning it was pouring down again, thunder, lightning, huge chunks of hail damned near destroyed my car, roads were inundated, now a few hours later it’s hot and sunny.
      Prepare for an Epic Spa but bring your wellies, I swear I’ve never seen this strange weather round here ;)

      1. O.o

        That’s some pretty funny weather.

        What are the local weather men saying about the weekend?

    9. Can’t wait to get there! Leaving tomorrow and will get there Thursday morning. This will be my third visit, so excited! Hope to see some F1 Fanatics there too.

    10. I’m a bit disappointed. A friend of mine wanted to sell me a general admission ticket for 100euros (normal price is 160), but I wouldn’t be able to go there friday and saturday (and I don’t have enough money anyway).

      Could have been my first F1 race live…
      Next year maybe…

    11. I’m not going but I do know the circuit inside out. With a lil help of the redbullsimulator, I was able to give a FULL detailed trackguid through the circuit. I’ve posted it into the forum, so too bad you didn’t saw it yet…

    12. Look, this place is on the other side of the Earth and to travel that far isn’t in the cards for me, so I will HD DVR it on my cable so I can watch it as it happens and when it happens. Based on 30 years of viewing Formula One events there simply is no other venue that can touch this one. Yes I have many other favorites also, but this is the one that when I speak of what Grand Prix racing is about I refer to Spa and all of its glory.

      I plan to introduce my brother to F1 this weekend as he knows a little bit about what F1 is but simply has not seen a race ever. Whether he becomes as passionate as most of us are is yet to be seen, I think his exposure to what Formula One is at its best will dangle the carrot of interest and that he will take a bite.

      1. that’s the point of not going to a race. I know the whole show and the people are good and so on, but you get every 2 minutes passed by cars that are reaching 300 km/h. If you have no screen at all, how can you possibly follow the race?

        1. Fanvision! I have mine booked for this weekend.

      2. The two best races are Spa and Silverstone. Spa is just a special track and silverstone is by far the best atmosphere. The strange weather at both is also part of the charm and character… Although after last year I will not be using the spa courtesy buses again, it took 2 hours to get us 500m! We got off and walked to the car park in the end and it took us 20mins! Fantastic place though.

    13. streetfightingman
      23rd August 2011, 20:15

      Spa, Suzuka and Silverstone. The greatest tracks and that could never be replaced on the schedule! And all of the starts with s… hmmmm

      1. 1. Spa
        2. Nurburgring
        3. Interlagos

    14. I was almost gonna go to Spa so do feel like i’m SLIGHTLY missing out this weekend. However, i’m Monza bound instead!

      Great article. We’ve been having similar discussions over on the Monza thread and we should be organising a little meet-up between us all. Much of the information there has been very useful and I think I even booked my hostel on someone’s recommendation!

      Long story short, this site is invaluable as an F1 fan.

    15. Spa is the best race of the season every year. Mixed weather an absolutely fantastic track. F1 doesn’t get any better than this.

    16. Spa
      These tracks shud always be on the calendar

    17. arrived at the elephant yesterday, all set up for the pitwalk today, got cold beers,could life get any better ?

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