Given the appalling summer endured by northern Europe this year, it was inevitable that rain would blight at least part of the Belgian Grand Prix weekend. And so it came to pass.
The Ardennes region is notorious for its changeable microclimate and it served up lashings of rain on Friday. Wet weather tyres were the order of the day during both practice sessions and many of the drivers were spotted in waterproofs when they weren’t inside their cars.
The South Americans seemed to struggle most with the weather conditions. Bruno Senna was dressed for the Antarctic all day, while Felipe Massa stressed that he would only go outside with his helmet on. Pastor Maldonado, meanwhile, kept himself warm with copious amounts of camomile tea in the Williams F1 motorhome.
Being used to wrapping up warm at home, the Finns were less at odds with the weather than anyone else. Williams F1 third driver Valtteri Bottas was able to keep up spirits by regaling people with stories about a triathlon he won in Finland during the summer break.
It was a sprint triathlon: 250m swim, 10km cycle ride and 3.5km run. But before any of the contestants could cross the finish line, they had to drink a litre of beer! “It’s very difficult to drink beer quickly when you are out of breath,” says Valtteri. “I felt a bit drunk afterwards, I must say!” Still, he managed okay and completed all four tasks of the triathlon in 34 minutes.
Today’s bad weather meant Michael Schumacher’s 300th grand prix weekend got off to a slow star but it didn’t stop him reminiscing about his career and speaking of the affection he has for Spa-Francorchamps. “A lot of good things have happened to me here,” he said. “My first race in Formula One, my first victory, many good races and I clinched my seventh world title here too. The sun always seems to shine on me here, whatever the weather!”
With better weather forecast for the remainder of the weekend, the drivers will be able to do their talking on the track. And we’ll report tomorrow on a novel race that is taking place around the track on Saturday evening...