Friday, 4 September 2015

Life in the Pit Lane!

Hello everyone!

Well, Thursday arrived, and with it our chance to revisit the pitlane at Spa-Francorchamps.  We had such a great time there last year.

We queued for nearly three hours, then a mad rush to get a position outside favourite team garages.  The boys raced off to Ferrari, which is always a madly crowded affair, but DD, me and DH headed for the Williams garage as DD is a great fan of Felipe Massa, and I was also quite interested to meet the rising Finnish star, Valteri Bottas.  I love the driving style of the Finnish F1 drivers, Mika Hakkinen, and of course Kimi Raikkonen.  And on the way to the track we found out that Ferrari have signed him to drive for them again in 2016 - such jubilation!!

And the bonus, the Williams garage was next door to Ferrari, so we had a clear view there too.

Fascinating watching the mechanics prepare the cars...






Taking the cars for scrutineering...

Ferrari...



Williams...

Force India...

Torro Rosso...


More final preparations...


And then, DD let out a squeak - Mr Felipe Massa emerged from his garage...


He graciously signed autographs, DD still hasn't descended from cloud 9, thanks Mr Massa for making her day!


Valteri Bottas, a rising F1 star...I was able to use my entire Finnish vocabulary when thanking him (i.e. Thank you very much!) I think he was quite surprised, but understood me and thanked me in English!




Such excitement! 
Then a huge cheer went up from the Ferrai fans - Mr Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 F1 World Champion, and our family favourite, had arrived!


DH shouted "KIMI!!" rather loudly so I got a great shot of the Iceman (his nickname) looking straight into my camera lense...


One of his mechanics shared a joke and we were treated to a rare smile, Kimi is known for his cool, calm demeanour and it is said, by some, that he doesn't smile often, but he did on this day...


Sons managed to get autographs but we were not near enough.  But it made our day watching him chatting with the fans and his mechanics and team mates.

Then the Ferrari Team Principal came out of the garage too and spoke to some of the Ferrari fans in front of their garage.  I had my Ferrari cap and cheekily called to him to come over to where we were... and being a very nice chap he did just that!


He kindly signed my Ferrari hat - I was very pleased! And of course I thanked him for signing Kimi again, he was very gracious and friendly.

Then - another world champion was spotted - Jacques Villeneuve , soon to be a Formula E driver next season, being interviewed by a TV crew...



What an afternoon!

After all the excitement with the drivers we allowed to walk onto the track itself...

The pit straight....

Exit of La Source...




All of this set us up very nicely for the race weekend!

Back soon hopefully with Friday practice!!

Helenxx


Thursday, 3 September 2015

Hello Sunshine!

Hello everyone, hope your week is going well. 

The weather, up until the Wednesday of our holiday, had been rather grey, with some rain here and there, which, fortunately did not spoil any of our plans.

But, Wednesday dawned and - hello sunshine!!  And the lovely weather was to stay until the day we sailed back to the UK.

DH and I had a lovely walk around the lake onto which our chalet opened, it was about a mile circuit with lovely views...






Our chalet in close up...



 Some intriguing graffiti, apparently there is a legend about witches in Vielsalm, and apparently they have something to do with blueberries...




After a quick lunch we set off again to see what was happening at the race track, as the following day the teams would arrive in earnest and, for those of us lucky enough to have weekend tickets, there would be a pitlane walk and a chance to meet the drivers!

Well, the circuit was a lot busier, with the podium being prepared - please note the Canadian flags, not sure what that was about...


The media circus had arrived...



More Ferrari lorries....


The safety car was being prepared...


We were, by this time, very excited indeed!  The next few days would be spent at the race circuit, so we nipped into Lidl in Malmedy (again, a town heavily affected in WW2 but now very pretty and peaceful) to stock up and then back to the chalet for an early night.

Back soon hopefully with news of our adventures in the pitlane!!

Helenxx

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Nurburgring and Nordschielfe

Hello again!

Early on the Tuesday morning of our holiday we packed the car and set off for Germany.  We were off to visit the mighty Nurburgring and Nordschliefe motor racing tracks.  On the way we passed through Luxembourg and made two interesting discoveries: 
a- diesel there has to probably by the cheapest in Northern Europe and
b- European petrol stations don't sell maps. 
We have a sat nav but it didn't show the race track so we had to pretty much guess our route based on nearby towns.  Thankfully as we got nearer the tracks were clearly signposted.  My usual chorus of "don't worry DH, you cant get lost far in...." seemed to not be well received i.e. "don't worry you cant possibly get far lost in mainland Europe" being judged as somewhat unreasonably optimistic!

When we arrived at the Nurburgring we were very impressed by the exterior, evidently this has been recently re-developed...





The car park was full of Ferraris, Maseratis, Lambourghinis, Lotuses. our people carrier felt right at home :)

The entrance area was huge...



and contained lots of interesting things, such as one of Michael Schumacher's winning cars...


A teddy's racing car...

 
And a car for even smaller drivers...


There was a huge exhibition of Nissan cars, including Nismo's - this caused a little hilarity as although I do indeed drive a Nissan, it isn't quite like this one...



Have to admit I was drooling quite a bit over this beauty...


So far, all of this was completely free, but for the princely sum of two euros (less than a cup of coffee) one was afforded the opportunity to go into the Pit Straight grandstand to view the mighty Nurburgring F1 track- oh my....



 
What a treat for us motorsport fanatics...
 








We even got to see cars on the track as it was a racing school training day...


Had to take this as son #2 is mad on the German group Kraftwerk....and yes we had been singing "bah bah bah on the Autobahn" as we sped down the highly efficient German motorway on our way to the track!


The AMG Mercedes logo, the sound of the engines of these road cars is legendary....sigh...


Considering 2 euros to have been very sensibly spent, we bid our farewell to the Nurburgring F1 track and went in search of it's highly revered, and has to be said feared, elder ancestor, the Nordschliefe...


 
This was the old track, around 12 miles long, nicknamed "the Green Hell" by Jackie Stewart.  It was also the place where Niki Lauda had his awful crash in 1976, depicted in the film "Rush".  Many drivers lost their lives on this twisting, hilly, high speed track, and so it was decided that only the shorter track could be used for high speed races.  But the Nordschliefe is still used for testing and for general uses to have a go! 
 
Here you can see the track running alongside the highway...
 



We spent a good couple of hours parked beside the track, watched the testing then the general public "having a go" - even a brave little Smart car went round!

Such an amazing day - for all F1 and motorsport fans, Spa-Franchorchamps and Nurburbring are legendary places - how lucky was I to visit both within the space of a week!!

Really enjoyed our brief visit to Germany, a beautiful and friendly place.  Here is the Nurburg castle on the hillside as we set course back to Belgium...


Back soon hopefully with further adventures in Europe!

Helenxx