Last weekend saw the Formula One circus move to Spa Francorchamps for the 2015 Belgium Grand Prix, in the forests and hills of the Belgium countryside. Spa has a reputation as one of the best circuits on the F1 calendar, and first time visitors normally comment that no matter how steep you expect the hills to be, they are even more so. There was a constant stream of visitors all weekend who took photos standing by the Eau Rouge corner through Raidillon to the Kemmel straight. Walking the circuit soon shows that the hill continues through Radillon and down the straight, with television coverage just no doing justice to the circuit.
We watched Free Practice One from La Source, at the end of the main straight, which provides a great view of the cars coming at speed by the start / finish line before the tight corner at the end of the straight.
Near the end of the session, Sauber’s Felipe Nasr locked his tyres causing a cloud of tyre smoke to rise up, and we watched as the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton came through the smoke and on to his next lap.
Here are some more photos from FP1.
Friday afternoon saw FP2, and as normal, we were spending Friday on a tour of the circuit, and watched the cars in the section between Les Combes and Bruxelles.
Again, we saw some tyre smoke as cars took the tight corner.
The session was more dramatic than FP1, with a major tyre failure for Nico Rosberg requiring all his skill to guide his car to a safe stop, and then an incident with the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson causing a second flag, and a stationary Lotus at the end of the session needing to be recovered.
Here are a few more photos from FP2.
We were back at the circuit and back to La Source for FP3 on Saturday morning. Felipe Nasr showed some more tyre smoke at the same place as Friday, and this time, Lewis Hamilton also generated a lock up at the end of the straight.
The pit lane was busy through the session, as the teams took the opportunity to review their set up ahead of the next session.
Up next was the first properly competitive Formula One session of the weekend, with the qualifying session. There was disappointment from the McLaren fans – and there were many of them – as the hoped improvements to the performance of the car did not materialise, and the team languished near the bottom of the times.
As the session continued, cars dropped out at the end of the first two qualifying sessions leaving the top ten cars to compete for pole position.
The Mercedes looked quick, and it seemed that it was a battle between Rosberg and Hamilton for pole, but could someone else – Red Bull Ferrari, or Williams perhaps – spoil the party?
In the end, it was a Mercedes one-two with Hamilton in the top spot, although the surprise package of the session was Force India, with a great performance by Sergio Perez.
Here are some more photos from qualifying.
As usual, the excitement was building on Sunday for the race. The weather had been unusually kind through the weekend, with sunshine being the order of the day for Friday and Saturday. Whilst the sun was shining on Sunday, it was also windy, with a tree being blown down in the wind at La Source. The drivers were soon out on their parade, and the grid started to form.
Soon, we were ready to race. Although not as ready as we thought, as a problem for Nico Hulkenberg saw an aborted start and a second green flag lap. We watched as Nico’s car returned to the pits, and the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz Jr joined it before the start of the race.
Soon, there were five red lights, and when the lights went out, the race started.
Hamilton was off to a good start ahead of his team mate, and continued with a strong performance through the race. It was good to see the Manor team getting the laps in, albeit at the back of the pack, but still running well.
The pit stops were soon under way, and we watched as the cars took their turn changing tyres.
It is still odd watching teams like McLaren try to catch up with teams that are more traditionally further down the grid, but I’m sure that McLaren will soon be back at the front, racing for podium positions rather than race finishes.
There was drama at the end of the race with tyre failure for Sebastian Vettel – the second of the weekend after Rosberg’s FP2 incident – which caused an angry outburst from Seb after the race. It was reminiscent of the tyre problems at the 2013 British Grand Prix.
Here are some more photos of the race:
Lewis Hamilton retained his lead over his team mate for the race, and took the chequered flag, with Nico Rosberg in second place. Vettel’s tyre drama promoted Romain Grosjean to his and Lotus’s first podium since 2013, which was a popular result among the crowd.
We watched the drivers receive their trophies on the podium, and then the usual champagne fight.
The drivers actually drank the champagne as well as spraying it…
David Coulthard, former driver and now television pundit, conducted the post race interviews.
Meanwhile, Romain Grosjean looked understandably emotional.
I spotted Daniel Ricciardio’s Red Bull on its way back to the pits on the back of a truck after the race.
Soon, the paddock and pit lane were being packed away ready for the next race, and the various media and the teams were ready for the journey back to the airport.
Packing up the pit lane after the Belgium Grand Prix. A photo posted by Mark Haggan (@markhaggan) on
We headed back to the house that we had rented for one last night, and the next morning our new friend, the dog we had named Harvey, came to say goodbye to us. But that’s a whole other story…
We’ve made a friend. This chap was waiting to say goodbye when we got up this morning. A photo posted by Mark Haggan (@markhaggan) on