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Spa 2017 - My first race ever!


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#1 Trust

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 18:40

Okay, guys, I'm going with my brother to see my first live race ever at Spa. I've read some of the previous topics from the years before and really got a lot of useful information. But still I have some questions.

 

I've noticed that general opinion seems to be that the position at Pouhoun should be best for GA. Is it true or can you recommend maybe better spots? I'm also wondering is it possible to walk through track on Thursday or maybe after the race on Sunday with GA? Also interested when is the driver autograph session on Thursday?

 

Any advice about my trip is very much welcomed because I'm so inexperienced. Thanks!



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#2 Amin

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 19:53

Hi Trust, I attended the 2014, 2015 and 2016 Belgian GP's with a GA weekend ticket, so I think I can help with some of your questions.

 

Use Friday to explore the track and decide which spot you want to sit for Saturday and Sunday. For all 3 years I sat at Pouhon on the Saturday and Sunday because of it's great view and access to giant screen TV's. Kemmel is huge with constant banking along it with 2 giant TV's and is popular. The Bus Stop also has room for spectators with a giant TV but is very cramped. Last year there were also 2 small temporary grandstands between the exit of Pouhon and the entry to Fagnes that were free for GA spectators to use, at least on the Friday. Just make sure you've decided on a location before you turn up on the Saturday and particularly the Sunday so that you can head straight there and claim yourself a good spot.

 

On the Thursday you can only walk on the start-finish straight, a little bit of the exit of La Source and the pitlane. On the Sunday you can walk most of the track after the race. In 2014 and 2015 I accessed the track at Eau Rouge but you can clamber under the gates at the bottom of Pouhon if you don't mind getting your hands dirty!

 

In terms of autographs, the best thing that you can do is arrive as early as you can at the La Source gates and run as fast as you can when they open at approximately 4pm. In 2014 I got Kimi's and Fernando's autograph and in 2015 I got Kimi's autograph again. However, in 2016 they changed the process. In 2014 and 2015, the drivers came outside of their garages but in 2016 they had to go one by one to a "pen" at the exit of the pitlane. It meant that a small group of fans got every drivers signature whilst the vast majority could barely even get a view of the drivers. It was a really stupid way to organise it. Either way, my advice would be to go to the garages because at the very least you get 2 hours of watching pit stop practices and cars being slowly rolled to the scrutineers bay. You will also spot a lot of famous engineers and media personnel. 

 

To end on a sour note, the organisation of the Belgian GP is terrible and it got worse every year I've went. The massive influx of Verstappen fans have made the weekend overcrowded but this is only exacerbated by the incompetent police, security and stewards. Last year they had the genius idea of opening only one gate at the Les Combes entrance and having a handful of security staff checking each spectator's bags. This caused a dangerous bottleneck for the crowds entering the circuit and I am really surprised no one got hurt. Because of this I am not attending this year's GP. My advice to anyone going is to arrive early and be prepared for over 6 hours of queuing on Sunday afternoon. Unless you've got to get back home ASAP, stay in the track as long as you can, until you get kicked out.

 

Despite my last paragraph, I can guarantee that you are going to have a great time Trust. Not only are you going to see a sport that you've loved for years for the fist time but you are also visiting a circuit where every square cm of track contains history and memories. Enjoy it mate!  :up:

 

 



#3 Trust

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 21:35

Thanks so much mate! Very insightful from you. A little bit sad cause you are not attending this years race.  But, it's your choice and clearly you know what are you doing.  :smoking:

 

Were you using some hotel nearby to stay in and if so can you recommend one? What about parking, do you recommend it or should I use other ways of reaching the track? I've read somewhere in previous topics that a lot of hours are spent even in leaving out the parking lot after the race.

 

I'm so buzzing to see the track, action and have a great time. I hope you are right!  :yawnface:



#4 john winfield

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Posted 10 July 2017 - 10:25

I'm sure you'll have  a good trip Trust - you couldn't have picked a better circuit for your debut!

 

I'm sure Amin is right - walk the track on Friday to decide where suits you for raceday. I haven't been for a while but another good spot is on the bank above the unnamed left-hander between the Bruxelles hairpin and Pouhon. You hear them behind you racing down from Les Combes, see them out of the hairpin, through the left-hander below and on down to Pouhon. And in the distance you could just see them into the bus stop, but I guess that now depends on tree growth!

 

Sounds as if you have a car with you?  If you have a chance, have a look at the old GP circuit that swings off left from Les Combes down into the valley. A few roads may have changed now but you should still be able to experience some of the magic of Burnenville, Malmedy, Masta Kink, old Stavelot where the track swung back up to Carrieres and on to new Stavelot and Blanchimont.



#5 Amin

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Posted 10 July 2017 - 18:43

Thanks so much mate! Very insightful from you. A little bit sad cause you are not attending this years race.  But, it's your choice and clearly you know what are you doing.  :smoking:

 

Were you using some hotel nearby to stay in and if so can you recommend one? What about parking, do you recommend it or should I use other ways of reaching the track? I've read somewhere in previous topics that a lot of hours are spent even in leaving out the parking lot after the race.

 

I'm so buzzing to see the track, action and have a great time. I hope you are right!  :yawnface:

Your welcome. I'm sad too, I love the Belgian GP and I know I'm going to feel depressed when I watch it on TV rather than at the track side! Next year I'm thinking of going to the German GP followed by the Spa 24 hours the weekend after, so I'll hopefully get my F1 fix and Spa fix in the same holiday. 

 

In 2014 I camped at Camping L'Eau Rouge, which is just off the old circuit. In 2015 and 2016 I stayed at an apartment and bungalow complex in a small town called Vielsalm, which is about 30 minutes south of the circuit by car. It's called Les Doyards, it's set next a small lake and is a really beautiful location. It depends a lot on your budget and how long you plan to stay of course. My advice is to look on google maps and identify any towns that fall within a sensible distance to the circuit and search them for hotels on the various hotel websites available.

 

In terms of parking vs non parking, non parking is only a viable option if you are either staying within a couple of miles of the track or if there is a shuttle bus available between the track and your chosen location. Otherwise you'll need to drive there from further out. I always booked my parking in advance but I have heard that it is cheaper to buy on the gate. However, with the increase in attendance in recent years, I wouldn't want to risk it. In 2014 I parked at the red car park and in 2015 and 2016 I parked at the green car park. I would recommend the red car park and entrance based on my experiences. It seemed less crowded and I think it will probably be quicker leaving from there, although I can't say that for sure.

 

If the attendance is as high as last year and the organisation is as bad as it always has been, then expect to waste a lot of hours getting out of the track on Sunday and even Saturday. Just to give you a reference, on Saturday evening last year, it took us 2 hours to make a normally 30 minute journey and on the Sunday it took us 6 hours ( :eek:) to make the same journey. Are you from the UK? If so I would book your ferry back for Monday if you can stay that long. 



#6 stewie

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 14:10

I went in 2014 and 16, most of what I could say has been covered. But...

 

I camped both times at Elephant, a 20mins walk from the Eau Rouge entrance. Relatively flat walk so not knackering on way back (way in is downhill). Good pop up camp site, clean showers/toilets and has a campsite shop with coffee, tea, pasteries etc.

 

Excellent cafe bar in village next door with bottles of beer for €1.50 and basic food.

 

I loved to watch Qualy from the Bus Stop, you can sit under the trees which is good in both wet and dry conditions!

Race I watched from Kemmel, if you get there early then you get a good spot with TV in front of you. Or you can do what 2 guys did, walk up the fence of the track and watch by climbing a tree for free  :yawnface:

 

Watching from Kemmel is good if you camp at Elephant and want to leave straight away, quick walk back to the car and straight onto the motorway. Both times I got a Eurotunnel back at about 9-10pm CET time.



#7 Amin

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 14:26

I went in 2014 and 16, most of what I could say has been covered. But...

 

I camped both times at Elephant, a 20mins walk from the Eau Rouge entrance. Relatively flat walk so not knackering on way back (way in is downhill). Good pop up camp site, clean showers/toilets and has a campsite shop with coffee, tea, pasteries etc.

 

Excellent cafe bar in village next door with bottles of beer for €1.50 and basic food.

 

I loved to watch Qualy from the Bus Stop, you can sit under the trees which is good in both wet and dry conditions!

Race I watched from Kemmel, if you get there early then you get a good spot with TV in front of you. Or you can do what 2 guys did, walk up the fence of the track and watch by climbing a tree for free  :yawnface:

 

Watching from Kemmel is good if you camp at Elephant and want to leave straight away, quick walk back to the car and straight onto the motorway. Both times I got a Eurotunnel back at about 9-10pm CET time.

I always wondered if people did this. I walked a footpath that runs parallel to the circuit between Paul Frere and La Source in 2015 and realised that if you really wanted to, you could watch the race for free. Not to mention the big open field over looking Stavelot.



#8 stewie

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 15:10

I always wondered if people did this. I walked a footpath that runs parallel to the circuit between Paul Frere and La Source in 2015 and realised that if you really wanted to, you could watch the race for free. Not to mention the big open field over looking Stavelot.

I have seen people on quad bikes (police?) patrol the fence line, but if it's public land and you're not doing anything wrong then hard to see what they could do about it.

 

(I don't know if the land on the other side of the fence at Kemmel is public though)



#9 Trust

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Posted 15 July 2017 - 23:32

I didn't have access to internet for a couple of days. Thanks to everyone, this was big help.



#10 jonpollak

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Posted 19 July 2017 - 03:30

Do THIS..

jpspa97.jpg

Jp



#11 Marc Sproule

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Posted 19 July 2017 - 05:44

Do THIS..

jpspa97.jpg

Jp

are my eyes deceiving me, or is that a white sox hat?



#12 KWSN - DSM

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Posted 19 July 2017 - 10:31

Try the pommes frites.

 

:cool:



#13 chdphd

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Posted 19 July 2017 - 17:22

Genuine Spa F1 pommes frites avec mayonnaise  :clap:

 

3875038061_aa139f8cee_z.jpg

 



#14 E1pix

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Posted 19 July 2017 - 21:49

are my eyes deceiving me, or is that a white sox hat?

I was thinking it a dangerous viewing location come Lap 1 (yes on Sox hat).

Wow, Spa, Good Call! Been wanting to go there since about 1970... Have a Ball!

#15 jonpollak

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Posted 20 July 2017 - 19:34

My Rothmans hat was soaked by the rain so Anne Bradshaw gave me her spare... I said " Baseball Anne?"... She said "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth"

#16 ericok

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Posted 17 August 2017 - 13:46

I posted this link in the Monza thread, but it covers Spa too. My experiences in attending both races back-to-back:

 

http://myphotoformul...d-spa-when.html



#17 Obster

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 22:03

Trust-Spa was my first European F1 race ever. Enjoy the view from the top of the track as you look down on the pits below and watch a helicopter flying below you. See if you can follow the old circuit. Stand at the bottom of Pouhon as the cars come down the hill right at you,then veer off to the right at high speed. Grab a hot coffee during a rain shower. Buy some team shirts you'll keep for decades.I could go on and on...Excellent choice for your first race.



#18 Lights

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Posted 26 August 2017 - 08:28

I was at Spa yesterday with a Bronze ticket. It made me seriously think about what kind of F1 fan I am, because I didn't really enjoy it. I've been to previous events that were so-so but this took the cake.

 

It felt way overcrowded, and that for a Friday. It really had a festival atmosphere (surprise: I'm indeed not a fan of those either) in the negative sense.

 

Hours of traffic, then still walking km's, limited good spots that you can actually have a useful view from, overpriced bad quality food, watching people piss, passive smoking, ridiculous queues for the toilet, people leaving trash everywhere (didn't help that there were too few trash bins), and more queues and traffic leaving the circuit from a muddy field.

 

All that was not worth it for me to see F1 cars drive by for a few hours. It didn't really do much for me.

 

The weather was fantastic for most of the day though.

 

But I wouldn't want to be there on Sunday even if it was for free.

 

Sorry for the negative vibes but just sharing my opinion.


Edited by Lights, 26 August 2017 - 08:28.


#19 Amin

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Posted 26 August 2017 - 21:30

I was at Spa yesterday with a Bronze ticket. It made me seriously think about what kind of F1 fan I am, because I didn't really enjoy it. I've been to previous events that were so-so but this took the cake.

 

It felt way overcrowded, and that for a Friday. It really had a festival atmosphere (surprise: I'm indeed not a fan of those either) in the negative sense.

 

Hours of traffic, then still walking km's, limited good spots that you can actually have a useful view from, overpriced bad quality food, watching people piss, passive smoking, ridiculous queues for the toilet, people leaving trash everywhere (didn't help that there were too few trash bins), and more queues and traffic leaving the circuit from a muddy field.

 

All that was not worth it for me to see F1 cars drive by for a few hours. It didn't really do much for me.

 

The weather was fantastic for most of the day though.

 

But I wouldn't want to be there on Sunday even if it was for free.

 

Sorry for the negative vibes but just sharing my opinion.

I couldn't believe how packed Pouhon looked on the TV yesterday. I'll be interested to hear the stories from people at the track tomorrow, I think we're going to see record crowds.

 

I hope your having a great time Trust, hopefully tomorrow's race is a classic.



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#20 jonpollak

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Posted 29 August 2017 - 14:46

So then.... How was it Trust?

 

Jp



#21 Trust

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Posted 01 September 2017 - 10:11

Sorry guys, I was travelling through Europe and was away from my computer. And again, I'm writing this from my phone. The experience was incredible, I'm still under big impressions, we all are. Literally I can't wait to go next time, probably as soon as next year as it will probably be Kimi's final year in F1. Even his bad performance didn't affect the feeling.

A lot of stuff was written here and it helped a lot to organise ourselves, it was big learning experience also for the next time. I must say they improved a lot of things. The only downside of the whole trip was how crowded it was on race day on the hill. We arrived at 8:00 on the spot and barely managed to find a good spot on Pouhoun. A lot of Verstappen fans, so you are right that it was different situation before him.

On the other hand, there wasn't any problem with entrances at Les Combes, they were letting people through in all three gates unlike in previous years. Also going out of the circuit after the race we lost only about 40min. Though we lost additional two hours because there were some works on the roads, but that doesn't have anything to do with circuit. Police officers were regulating traffic. So in that sense, organisation was massively improved I would say. I expected to lose much more time.

All in all, I will never forget this. It looks so much different when you watch it on TV. Also, it's shame I've missed those V8's and V10's. These engines are a lot of quiter. All series on Sunday have produced larger noises.
And jp, I've done the picture above. ;-)

#22 Trust

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Posted 01 September 2017 - 10:14

I don't agree too much with Lights above, but I agree with festival atmosphere. I don't like it. There were a lot of people camping who didn't even watch any F1 session. The most important thing for them was barbecue and drinking and swimming pools.

#23 CrashPad

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Posted 05 January 2018 - 18:50

I am going to attend my first GP next year Spa as I just bought tickets to the 17-27 Grandstand for me and my girlfriend  :)

The biggest question for me is where to stay and what kind of transportation is available to the track. Quick look at the situation with the hotels leads me to believe that it is going to be hard to find reasonably priced accommodation within 20km's of the track, so:

1) Are there for example any buses going to the track from any of the cities/smaller villages nearby?

2) Is renting a car a smart choice, or is the traffic usually really bad? What Trust wrote above does not sound too bad at least :)

 

Any and all tips are appreciated  :kiss:

 

EDIT: To answer my own guestion to some extent, it would seem that finding a hotel in Liege and taking a combination of a train and a bus to the circuit seems like the optimal move. Thoughts?


Edited by CrashPad, 06 January 2018 - 12:16.


#24 E1pix

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Posted 06 January 2018 - 14:56

There were a lot of people camping who didn't even watch any F1 session. The most important thing for them was barbecue and drinking and swimming pools.


This has been an immortal racing truth since team garages used caves. All fans are good for the sport.

#25 Exb

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Posted 13 January 2018 - 14:22

I am going to attend my first GP next year Spa as I just bought tickets to the 17-27 Grandstand for me and my girlfriend  :)

The biggest question for me is where to stay and what kind of transportation is available to the track. Quick look at the situation with the hotels leads me to believe that it is going to be hard to find reasonably priced accommodation within 20km's of the track, so:

1) Are there for example any buses going to the track from any of the cities/smaller villages nearby?

2) Is renting a car a smart choice, or is the traffic usually really bad? What Trust wrote above does not sound too bad at least :)

 

Any and all tips are appreciated  :kiss:

 

EDIT: To answer my own guestion to some extent, it would seem that finding a hotel in Liege and taking a combination of a train and a bus to the circuit seems like the optimal move. Thoughts?

I went in 2017 for the 1st time - I stayed in Aachen opposite the train station. I found the accommodation to be much cheaper in Aachen than Liege. It was very easy to get a train into Verviers (took about 30 mins) and then there were public buses from Verviers to the track on Thursday and shuttle buses Friday, Saturday and Sunday which left from right outside the station. However as someone who likes to get to the track early and stay late public transport is a nightmare :( however if you are not bothered about the support categories then it works for the F1. If you don't mind a bit of a walk then I would advise abandoning the buses as soon as they get stuck in the traffic jams on the Saturday and Sunday as it is much quicker to walk the last few KMs on foot. (On the Sunday I walked the last 4Kms and was at the gates by 10.30, the couple I was sat with on the bus & stayed on it didn't get to the circuit until 12.30. :eek:  Getting away from the circuit was OK - it is a bit of a walk to the bus stop as the ones closest to the circuit are closed after Thursday and the last bus leaves too early for my liking but traffic was OK until the Sunday when the buses leave from the car park by the fan zone and main entrance and it took an hour just to leave the car park but as long as you are not in a rush to get anywhere it is fine. 

 

I had grandstand tickets but used Friday to walk around the circuit, it was very busy for a Friday but it was possible to move around (slowly) and still get good views, I loved Bruxelles for photos as you are very close to the cars and Pouhon is breathtaking - probably the best place I have ever seen an F1 car do it's thing  :p and the final chicane is worth checking out too. Managed to watch the F2 cars from the top of eau rouge but it was too crowded to see the F1 cars from there which was a shame, but one of the problems of public transport not getting there early enough. I did watch part of FP3 from the bottom of it though (there are views from the fan zone) but I was very glad I had a seat for quali and the race as I wouldn't have fancied trying to battle the crowds.

Overall it is an amazing circuit and I had a fantastic time and am very happy I went, however it is not a Grand Prix I would go back to if I have to rely on public transport. Oh & take your own food/drinks with you   ;)  


Edited by Exb, 13 January 2018 - 14:25.


#26 king_crud

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Posted 02 February 2018 - 12:47

I am going to attend my first GP next year Spa as I just bought tickets to the 17-27 Grandstand for me and my girlfriend  :)
The biggest question for me is where to stay and what kind of transportation is available to the track. Quick look at the situation with the hotels leads me to believe that it is going to be hard to find reasonably priced accommodation within 20km's of the track, so:
1) Are there for example any buses going to the track from any of the cities/smaller villages nearby?
2) Is renting a car a smart choice, or is the traffic usually really bad? What Trust wrote above does not sound too bad at least :)
 
Any and all tips are appreciated  :kiss:
 
EDIT: To answer my own guestion to some extent, it would seem that finding a hotel in Liege and taking a combination of a train and a bus to the circuit seems like the optimal move. Thoughts?


Here's my quote from a few years ago on my accommodation experience, if you don't mind camping then I'd recommend

I camped here two years ago:

http://en.eaurouge.nl/

It would be fine for a family. There was a bar area where there was some noise but it wasn't late and it wasn't loud. The campsite was very pleasant otherwise, shuttle buses to the circuit, very convenient. Stories I heard from people who camped at the circuit is of all night euro disco music being pumped from huge speakers everywhere and no sleep being had.

Here's a post I wrote about the Belgian GP:

http://forums.autosp...a...t&p=5492709



#27 Beri

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Posted 03 July 2018 - 11:55

Well Crashpad, Ive been to the Grand Prix at Spa about 12 times now. It is by far my favourite track. All times I went on a GA ticket and it is just a matter of getting up early to be on the track early as well. Seems so simple, but that is really key to have a great time at Spa.

To start off, never ever ever ever drive towards Spa from the North. No matter how appealing Liege sounds. With all the Orange Army driving in from the North nowadays, it is best to avoid it. Large traffic jams and long hours of waiting are guaranteed if you drive in from the North. Ive made this mistake twice back in the day where daddy Jos was still driving. Never making the same mistake again. Even tho Im Dutch, South is the way to go.

My recipe is the same since ages now; we travel on Wednesday towards St Vith. This is a quiet but nice town right around the border with Luxembourg. It will grant you cheap hotels, since the circuit is not near, and will give you the oppurtunity of cheap fuel in Luxembourg. On thursday we drive up via the highway E42 North towards Malmedy. There we get off the highway and follow the detour towards our parking. Usually I buy a ticket for the Red parking zone. It is the closest parking to the Stavelot corner and the detours will guide you there easily and will make sure you can get out via the town of Stavelot and Vielsalm quite fast. Also it is possible to park for free there on the old track. You will just have to be early so you will only have to walk 2kms at most to get to the current track. We go on and scout the track to see where the big screens are placed, we do a complete tour of the track and we make an attempt to complete the pitwalk.

Fridays we aim to be at Malmedy around 10am. Never had traffic jams on fridays.

Saturdays we aim to be at the track at 10am as well. Hardly ever have had problems with traffic on Saturday as well. We walk around the track completely and make sure to scout possible places for the race to sit. Since the attendance is now higher, you will get a better idea what to expect during the race. You will find out that Spa has a lot of space to sit. You only need a big screen.

Sunday it is go time. If you want your favourite spot that you have scouted. Make sure you are at the track at 7am. If you do not, you will find your spot to be taken. The Bus Stop, Pouhon, Bruxelles, the Kemmel Straight, all will be full with the Orange Army if you dont get to the track early. So sundays, be sure to be on time. And if you drive in from the South, there will be no trouble in ways of traffic jams as well.

Getting out after the race, well that could prove to be tricky. But then again, stay on the track for another 2/3 hours. Walk on the track via Eau Rouge. Take some selfies. Have some drinks and time flies. We always drive back to our hotel and then back home on Mondays.

Tips:
- There are many Camp sites and Hotels in the Ardennes. Just find one that suits you South of the circuit. Vielsalm is a nice town. So is St Vith.
- If you can travel by (motor)bike, that would be the ideal way of transportation. If not, then going by car is not bad if you follow up my advice.
- Always bring your duffelbag full with food, drinks and a book. Circuit prices are alarmingly high. 5 euros for a can of beer or soda isnt unheard of.
- As said; a book can help you kill the time when nothing is going on on track.
- Always bring a poncho and a vest. The poncho for the obvious reasons. And a vest since the early mornings in the Ardennes can be very cold, but during race time it could be scorching. You gotta love the Ardennes.

#28 ionutf1fan

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Posted 01 August 2018 - 12:52

I plan to attend this year race, the plan is to fly to Brussels on Saturday and get an early train to Spa on Sunday and attend with a GA ticket. Also back to Brussels by train after the race.

Right now I'm purchasing all the tickets after a bit of research, hope I will manage to plan everything without problems.

 

Can you walk the track on Sunday?



#29 Trust

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Posted 02 August 2018 - 11:07

I plan to attend this year race, the plan is to fly to Brussels on Saturday and get an early train to Spa on Sunday and attend with a GA ticket. Also back to Brussels by train after the race.
Right now I'm purchasing all the tickets after a bit of research, hope I will manage to plan everything without problems.
 
Can you walk the track on Sunday?

Yes you can walk. I made the whole lap by foot. Enjoy it mate!

#30 CrashPad

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Posted 03 August 2018 - 10:50

Well Crashpad, Ive been to the Grand Prix at Spa about 12 times now....

 

Thanks for the tips! Didn't notice your message until now.

 

Thing is, we ended up booking a place for us in Liege already a while ago, so we are stuck with that  :lol:

The plan is to take the train to Verviers and use the shuttle buses to the track from there. I take it that a lot of time and patience is going to be needed? 

As for scouting the seats, that is not a problem for us since we have the tickets to the 17-27 Grandstands.  :) 

We probably won't visit the circuit on Friday since we have quite a tight schedule, so Saturday is the first day we will visit the track. I guess the smart thing to do is to take the earliest possible train and bus to the track to make sure we won't miss any important action?

 

What kinds of restrictions are there concerning own drinks and food btw, or are there any? I can bring a bag full of beer if I feel like it?  :cat: