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Ultimate F1 Road Trip blog: Day 1
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Posted By: James Allen  |  31 Aug 2012   |  10:31 pm GMT  |  15 comments

This weekend four lucky winners of the Ultimate F1 Road Trip competition, which JA on F1 organised with Shell, are making their way down to Spa by road from London with their guests, ahead of a dream weekend at the heart of the F1 action.

We’ll be posting content with their experiences during the weekend and a video early next week, but here is the first instalment, from Rob Sinfield (aka Grand Prix Diary) written in the back of a Chrysler Voyager as they sped towards Spa.

Rob Sinfield writes: The day started for us lucky four prizewinners and guests, at the Holiday Inn, Greenwich. You might have heard that the Paralympics are in town and with Greenwich being in the thick of the action, the hotel was buzzing with excitement. I think it was the excitement that was buzzing, it may have been the air conditioning but you get the picture.

We however, were heading out of town. The eight of us and our two Shell hosts (and drivers), Winston and Fiona, in two Shell V Power liveried cars, were soon on the M2 heading for the Euro Tunnel.

Our destination, as you know, is Spa Francorchamps and the daddy of all F1 races, the Belgian Grand Prix. For a small country, Belgium has certainly given the world many great things. Hercule Poirot, Tintin, Plastic Bertrand, great beer and frites with mayonnaise but this race tops all of that, so we were all more than a bit keen to get going.

Travelling on Friday meant we’d miss two F1 practice sessions but judging by the stream of Tweets coming through, this turned out to be a good thing. When it rains at Spa it really rains and the deluge that hit it on Friday would have had Noah concerned. As far as I could tell from the comfort of my chauffeur driven car in sunny northern France, F1 action in Belgium was minimal to say the least.

Once into Belgium we stopped near Bruges (the scene of my all time favourite film ‘In Bruges’, if you haven’t seen it, watch it but not in the presence of the easily offended!) for a picnic. Shell had decided that we should have a lunch based on the sort of healthy meal an F1 driver might eat.
Despite that slightly worrying scenario it was rather fabulous, though it’s a shame Juan Pablo Montoya is no longer in F1, as I would have loved an F1 themed double cheeseburger and fries. I did lower the ‘health’ tone a bit by buying a six pack of Jupiler beer from the shop next door but hey, I’m on holiday.

Back on the road, we were soon at our base for the next two nights, the rather plush Derlon Hotel in Maastricht, Holland. This, as far as I am aware, is in the wrong country but I’m assured it is only a brief hop over the border to Spa.
So, bring on Saturday. A packed itinerary with a few surprise treats thrown in from Shell, plus F1 qualifying and GP2 racing. I can’t wait…

Tomorrow on the Ultimate F1 Road Trip: The winners come into the the circuit; they’ll be based in a hospitality suite at the foot of Eau Rouge, but many surprises lie in store..

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Looks like Rob can’t leave poor JPM in peace, even 6 years down the NASCAR road for the supersized Colombian. I seem to remember Rob was complaining about Juan’s bad behaviour and him/his entourage being non-British in every sense of the term/word. It’s a shame, we should accept people for what they are.


Lucky guys …


Ooh what fun!!

As silly as it sounds i’m fascinated by what was served as an F1 driver’s lunch…?…


Ah yes “In Bruges” a very funny film. Beware if your boss invites you to spend an all expenses paid weekend there.

Good stuff Rob, look forward to the rest.


What a delightful account! Sounds like everyone is having a grand time. Reminds me a bit of a Dickensian novel – coming out in installments. Can’t wait to read the next. And a big “job well done” by you James/Shell. Giving something back to the fans.


Jacques Belgian based in France

Nice piece Rob but, one thing you forgot to mention is that Belgium is currently +10 (gooood) football players to the Premier League, ok ok this might not be the right blog to post it.

Thanks James for allowing Rob to post his impressions, he’s quite a character.

For those not knowing Rob he can be followed on twitter under @GrandPrixDiary, worth the “connection”

Jacques Belgian based in France

Ooops, you should read “… Belgium is currently providing…” Sorry


Aah lucky Grand Prix Diary, you missed all the fun and games on Friday, nothing beats seating in the rain for 180 minutes with hardly any action.

Anyway wishing you a memorable holiday out there and I hope you didn’t forget to pack your airhorn, for there’s going to be pandemonium at Eau Rouge.


Belgium also blessed us with the talented Jean Claude Van Damme


GREAT story to be following! Thanks


Great story told by a talented raconteur. I look forward to the next ones.

Great idea, James.


Oh the memories!! have done 3 road trips to SPA. 2002/2004/2011. Kept a diary of the first trip to The Big House in Belgium lol, must dig it out.

Enjoy your trip, if it’s your first time in Spa it wont be your last!!

michael grievson

Someone is missing from the photo. Only 9 people. Shouldn’t there be 10? 4 winners, 4 guests and 2 Shell?


Someone has to take the photo I guess…..


Has this Party Caravan decided on who they are cheering for? Is there a dream podium they can all agree on?

I’d like to see some picks. Could Schumi and their magic DRS finally pay off next two races?


What a fantastic adventure, looking forward to more updates. I’d rather go on a trip to Spa that any of the far flung, ‘exotic’ tracks any day!

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