Monday, September 2, 2019 | Written by Karsten

This past weekend was the weekend I’ve been looking forward to since I first decided to study abroad. I knew that in any given semester at Georgia Tech Lorraine, there would be a Formula 1 race in continental Europe, but because I chose the fall semester, Formula 1 would be just returning from their summer break, and the first race back is always at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps just so happens to also be my favorite racetrack in the world, so I knew I had to go, so my mom and I started to plan it. I wasn’t sure who I’d be going with, whether someone from here, my cousin, who I’m really close to and also enjoys cars, or my dad, who I got my passion for cars and racing from. My dad ended up making the trip across the pond because my mom had a bunch of miles that he could use. This ended up being the best option, as neither I nor my cousin nor anyone here is old enough to rent a car, but my dad is. This cut three hours off of the travel time.

Skipping over some details about the trip over and the practice sessions, we arrived at the track on Saturday to watch F3, F2, and Porsche Supercup qualifyings, as well as the final practice session, qualifying for Formula 1, and the first F3 and F2 races. On any given Formula 1 weekend, all of these take place. Formula 1 cars are the fastest. F2 cars, or Formula 2, are next, followed by F3 and finally Porsche Supercup. Call me a fake fan if you like, but I don’t know much about the F2, F3, or Porsche Supercup drivers or teams, but my dad and I do keep up with Formula 1 pretty religiously. It was still very cool to see the qualifyings of these series as that was the first truly competitive driving of the weekend, since it sets the order of the grid for the races. Formula 1 qualifying happened next, and as had happened so far during the weekend, our favorite team, Ferrari, qualified first and second. The joy that followed was soon transformed into gloom, as during the final event of the day, a massive accident occurred which resulted in broken bones of one driver and the passing of Anthoine Hubert.

As you might be able to expect, the mood of spectators and drivers alike on Sunday was rather dampened. However, all races except the final F2 race (the crash the day before happened in F2) still took place. The Formula 1 race is always the most anticipated event of any race weekend, and therefore happens last. Both Ferrari drivers escaped the first corner accident that so often happens, and they stayed first and second for the first stint of the race. On lap 19, the number of Anthoine Hubert, there was a touching moment where everybody watching the race stood and clapped for the entirety of the lap. Fast forward to the end of the race, Charles Leclerc, a Ferrari driver won his first Formula 1 race, and Sebastian Vettel, the other Ferrari driver brought home fourth. After the race, on the way back to our shuttle, my dad and I noticed that there were lots of people on track, and we managed to find out how to get on the track, so we took pictures on the start-finish line. That was definitely one of the highlights of my weekend.

Even though a tragedy occurred during the weekend, I’m so glad to have been able to go to my first Formula 1 race in nearly fifteen years, and that I was able to experience it with my dad.