F1 Trip to Circuit de Spa Francorchamps

    15 September

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    Following several successful trips to Silverstone over the past number of years, Technology & Design decided to run a trip to Belgium to watch what is arguably one of the best F1 GPs on the European circuit, at the epic Circuit de Spa Francorchamps.

    The trip departed on the 25th August 2017 from Belfast International Airport, flying to Gatwick airport where we met the tour operator. An executive coach met the group and took us to Dover and our 12.30pm ferry took us to Calais. The coach journey to Belgium took us just over three hours and we arrived at our hotel in Belgium at 6pm. To the delight of the pupils, the hotel had a swimming pool and great recreational facilities, so they enjoyed winding down and dining in the restaurant before catching an early night.

    The 6am start on Saturday, seen a few struggle but when the coach departed for Spa at 7.30am, there was an air of excitement as we looked forward to a great day at the circuit. Unfortunately, what was meant to be a 90-minute transfer, ended up a 3-hour transfer, as the poor infrastructure around Spa struggled to deal with the anticipated 300’000 visiting spectators.  We arrived into the circuit during free practice 3 and navigated our way through the crowds, around the famous Eau Rouge / Raidillon combination corners, where the track crosses the Eau Rouge stream, before being launched steeply uphill into a sweeping left-right-left collection of corners with a blind summit. The noise from the cars was deafening and the smell of petrol was enough to excite any ‘petrol head’. The pupils soon felt at home in their surroundings and indulged themselves at the merchandise stands with tops and memorabilia. We situated ourselves at les Combes for qualifying and to the delight of most of the boys, Lewis Hamilton landed himself on pole position. Following ‘Quali’, the group walked to Pouhon corner, where we watched a few more races, including the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup, the GP3 Series and the Formula 2 before departing.

    Race day had an earlier start than planned at 4.45am, as many of the group, thanks to the ICT skills of Tony Wise, met at 5am to watch the boxing extravaganza that was Money Mayweather vs Conor McGregor. The more sensible individuals, rolled out of bed at 5.30am and had breakfast before the bus departed at 7am. Traffic was once again hard to navigate, so 2 miles from the circuit Mr Campbell took a walking group on ahead to the circuit in order to get a good seat for the race. The walk took 25mins and we found a good location at Pouhon corner for the group to watch the race. Even at 9.30am the temperature was already 20oC, so the group enjoyed a morning of racing in the sun before the buzz started to build toward the much anticipated finale. The race itself was a real spectacle, with Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel fighting for the win from start to finish; in the end, Hamilton held his nerve to clinch an important win. Following the race, the pupils walked the track and enjoyed taking selfies at the podium. Mr Hall, Mr Young and Mr Campbell enjoyed walking Au Rouge, whilst a certain Mr Kyle Lemon and Mr Daniel Morrow convinced a race steward to give them a lift around the circuit in a track safety car. The group then enjoyed activities in the fan zone, including racing against other pit crews to change tyres and get their pictures taken with the pit girls on the podium.

    On return to the hotel, via a pit stop at McDonalds, there was a tired contentment amongst the group. All the hype had thankfully climaxed in a fine spectacle of F1 racing and the experience had surely been one to remember. The bus journey home and flight was a quiet affair as even the toughest individuals need more than 5 hours of sleep on 3 consecutive nights away!

    The Campbell College Technology Department continues to tap into F1 racing and experiences such as this, to help motivate pupils to see the exciting futures they can have by pursuing STEM subjects. Several OCs work in Formula 1 now and our A-Level pupils visit Williams F1 racing, in Oxford, annually for a factory tour led by Andrew Murdoch (OC), who is now the Senior Performance Engineer for William F1. Our goal at Campbell College is to encourage our pupils to think ‘big and exciting’ as they plan their future careers; experiences such as this will hopefully be building blocks in that process and will hopefully inspire our pupils to see the exciting potential they have to pursue their passions and their dreams, whenever they excel in STEM subjects.

    “Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will learn.

    Learn through doing, excel through trying”


    Mr PDA Campbell