Above all, Spa is a racing circuit - one that really encourages exciting wheel-to-wheel action. That said, F1 has changed over the years and whereas Eau Rouge and Blanchimont were once the stand-out sections, now it’s probably the Pouhon downhill left-hander at Turns 10 and 11. That’s seriously, seriously fast – and probably a good place to watch the race from for anyone prepared for a bit of a hike through the Ardennes. Of course, given the Belgium Grand Prix draws in all the petrolheads, everyone’s perfectly happy to slog through the woods to find the best view. You bump into people who’ve been going to the race for five decades. And if you ever go into a pub or restaurant in one of the villages around the circuit, chances are you’ll see pictures on the wall of great drivers from back in the day, standing where you are and doing what you’re doing. It’s great stuff.
The race in Spa started our series of nine victories last year, which I always like to remember. The Belgian circuit offers all possible turns and manoeuvres: ultra-fast, medium-speed, heavy braking and fast straights. The height difference is so great that you always have the feeling of riding a roller coaster - especially in Eau Rouge. The weather can also be very unpredictable and a challenge for drivers and teams, it should never be underestimated: within minutes it can change from heavy rain to sunshine. As well as that, the safety car often comes out at Spa. The track is one of my favourites of the year because it feels like it has grown out of the nature that is all around it - it blends with the natural setting perfectly.
View from the crew
What one place should people visit in your home town in Belgium?
I come from a small village called “Watervliet” and there is not an awful lot to see there apart from a lovely cycling region and it is close to the beach which is great.
When you were growing up there what was your favourite place to hang out?
There were a few to be honest, but my favourite place to chill out was at a lake called “Boerenkreek”. A nice lake where we used to go sailing as kids.
Who’s your favourite Belgian racing driver?
That would be Thierry Boutsen. I watched him a lot when I was growing up.
What’s the best Belgian pop song ever?
Definitely “Ooh la la la” by TC Matic.
What was your favourite TV show growing up in Belgium?
That’s a hard one, because we didn’t really have a national one. I would say the “A-Team”, probably. That was the only thing I watched to be honest.
Belgium is reputed to have over 700 breweries. What’s your favourite Belgian beer?
I would choose “Jupiler”. It’s the regional lager in Belgium.
Favourite Belgian Grand Prix (which was your best)?
2010, but more for personal reasons. That one was special. I wasn’t working but went there with my future wife, which always brings back great memories.
Belgium is famous for frites with mayonnaise but what’s your favourite Belgian meal?
“Frites met Stoofvlees”. It is a meal of Belgian fries with steak meat and beer sauce, topped with mayonnaise. Definitely strong festival food.