F1 Packages to Look Forward to in 2021

As the 2021 F1 calendar is due to be released in the (hopefully) coming weeks, we’d like to give you a flavour of what we have in store for our guests next year.

Dutch Grand Prix Package

The race that was supposed to come out of retirement this year is now happening next year. Local favourite, Max Verstappen, will be hoping to prove a point as he ramps-up for a title-winning campaign. Our package includes 3 nights accommodation in a range of hotels in Amsterdam, giving you a fantastic opportunity to explore this incredible city. Sign up for pre-release tickets: https://www.grandprixgrandtours.com/dutch-grand-prix-package/

Spanish Grand Prix Package

Barcelona is a city that has it all, history, architecture, nightlife, beaches, and an F1 circuit that hosts the opening round of the European F1 season. With Alonso and Sainz lining up on the grid, it’s going to be an incredible atmosphere to boot! Flights to Barcelona take around 2 hours, and once there you’ll be escorted to your hotel to relax and enjoy everything the city has to offer. The following days you’ll have the chance to watch all the action unfold. Sign up for pre-release tickets: https://www.grandprixgrandtours.com/spanish-grand-prix-package/

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Package

Brazil used to be the location of the F1 season Finale, but now it’s the stunning Yas Marina circuit. If you want glamour, then Abu Dhabi is the place to be. Hop on a night-flight from the UK and you’ll be in Abu Dhabi in time for coffee and cornfalkes (or caviar). Hotel options include the incredible 5* Corniche Hotel and Rosewood Hotels. All packages include 3 nights accommodation, plus transfers to the circuit for race & qualifying. Sign up for pre-release tickets: https://www.grandprixgrandtours.com/abu-dhabi-grand-prix-package/

Plus Many More….

We hope you like the selection of Grand Prix we’ve outlined above, but this is merely the tip of 2021 iceberg. We’ll also be arranging the following: Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Singapore, Monza, and many more. Take a look at our provisional list of 2021 events here: F1 Packages: https://www.grandprixgrandtours.com/f1-packages/

Monaco Grand Prix and Historic – to Fly or to Drive?

Picture the scene, a sunny spring Friday morning arrives. After your coffee and croissant (or tea and Weetabix), you grab your hand luggage and head for the airport. Within a couple of hours you’re on European soil and, depending on your package, you’re met by your chauffeur or your helicopter pilot and whisked to your hotel.


Over the next 3 days you’ll have had more coffee, croissants, and rose, than you can shake a stick at. You’ll also have seen modern or historic F1 cars qualifying and racing. For the F1 Grand Prix in May you’ll realise that, within the confines of small city streets, contemporary F1 machinery is still very loud. For the Historic Grand Prix in April, you’ll be reaching for your earplugs before you get to your Grandstand!

Once racing is over, you’ll head back to your hotel for an opportunity to explain to your husband/wife/friends, that “if I was driving Max Verstappens Red Bull, there’s no way I would have binned it at the exit of the tunnel”. And as the eyes roll, and the drinks flow, you’ll be sipping your Kronenbourg thinking about next years trip!

As Sunday evening means your Grand Prix weekend is almost over, for some other Grand Prix Grand Tourists, it’s barely begun…..

Picture the scene, slightly after dawn on a sunny spring Friday morning, you hop in your car and head for Folkestone. After some complimentary coffee and croissants you head for the Euro-tunnel and into France; your Grand Prix Driving Tour has begun! The miles done on Friday set you up for the rest of the trip, because the next day you attack the Route Napoleon in anger. 200 miles of twisting, mountainous roads, taking you directly to Nice that evening.

The next day you head to the Grand Prix for an opportunity to sit back and see how the proper drivers do it. After seeing Kimi Raikonnen trying to make a recalcitrant Alpha Romeo do things beyond its design capabilities, your experience of the Route Napoleon makes you realise “I cant do that” and you’ll have a newfound respect for these drivers (even the slow ones).

The following day you’re up early, for this is where the real driving begins. The next two days you will drive some of the roads that a previous generation of racing drivers actually raced. While you’re standing at the top of another high mountain pass you’ll think “How on earth did anyone race up here?”. You’ll get to drive The Furka Pass (as featured in Goldfinger), the Great ST Bernard Pass (The Italian Job), not to mention every great road you’ve seen on Top Gear (The Stelvio Pass, Colle del Nivolet, and many more). These roads are exciting and stunning in equal measure, and these are experiences you will not forget in a hurry.

A Grand Prix Driving Tour also has a generous helping of luxury. Whether you’re on the Monaco Historic or the Monaco Grand Prix Tour, you’ll get to spend your evenings in stunning lakeside hotels in Maggiore and Lugano, as well as the historic spa town of Baden-Baden. On a Grand Prix Driving Tour the stories you tell won’t be of what you saw other drivers do that day, but what you experienced, how you felt, and what you saw.

Helping Our Partners Run Their Tours

When we’re not running tours, booking F1 packages, we also have a number of partners that we work with. This week we’re helping out the hugely successful Queens Square Bristol Drivers Club run their European Tour. Being a fully regulated tour operator means we can arrange tours for large groups that car clubs or individuals might find administratively painful. Being ATOL and TTA regulated means that all our bonding, travel insurance, and health & safety requirements are taken care of, without our partners having to lift a finger. Here’s the fantastic package that we’ve organised for the gang from Bristol:

The QSDC European Tour: 2nd – 5th October

As we (hopefully) approach the end of Lockdown, QSDC begins to turn its attention to what we can offer our members to celebrate all things automotive. We are planning a weekend taking in everything that Europe has to offer. We’ll be staying at a Chateau in Luxembourg, driving the old pit-straight at Reims-Gueux, visiting the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, and taking in the fantastic alpine roads of the Black Forest.

There will also be some great nights out and wonderful group dinners, including the incredible Grand Casino in Baden-Baden. The cost? Only £1,420 for 2 people. Read below for more details and let us know if you’d like to come. Spaces are limited.

 

Day 1: Calais – Reims Gueux – Luxembourg

  • Stop off at the old French Grand Prix Pit Straight for the obligatory photo opportunity.

  • Lunch in the capital of Champagne region, Epernay.
  • Head to Clervaux, north of Luxembourg.
  • Stay at Chateau d’Urspelt, a stunning 18th Century castle.
  • Dinner at the Chateau.

Day 2: Luxembourg – Stuttgart – Baden-Baden

  • Visit to the Porsche museum in Stuttgart.

  • Head to the beautiful spa town of Baden-Baden.
  • Stay at the Badischer hof Hotel.
  • Casual dinner of Schnitzel and Pilsner in the centre of Baden-Baden. Or, for those looking for some fine dining, head to the Michelin starred Brenners Park restaurant.
  • If you’re keen on a glamorous night out, spend the rest of the evening at the Baden-Baden Casino (Jacket & tie required).

Day 3: Baden-Baden – Black Forest – Feldberg Pass – Trois Epis Hillclimb – Strasbourg

  • Day 3 is driving day! First stop is the incredible Black Forest Road. An hour of flowing curves to really stretch your cars legs.

  • South of the Black Forest Road is the Feldberg Pass; a high mountain pass that sits 4,000 feet above sea level. Twisting and technical, with views to match.
  • Thereafter on to the Routes des Trois-Epis, location of the famous hill-climb of the same name.

  • Head to Strasbourg, and the Sofitel Strasbourg Grand lle, for an opportunity to unwind and freshen up for the nights fun.
  • Group dinner and awards ceremony for the club members that excelled themselves on the road (and off it).

Day 4: Strasbourg – Calais

  • A final lunch stop in Epernay.
  • On to Calais for duty-free, and our chariot to the UK.

 

What’s included:
  • Eurotunnel returns
  • All hotels on a B&B basis
  • Parking at all hotels
  • Motorway Vignettes (not French tolls)
  • Group Dinner & Drinks on final night (3 course meal and wine)
What’s not included:
  • Lunches
  • Dinners (except final night)
  • Fuel
  • Speeding fines

The Post-Lockdown Grand Tour (12th – 16th September)

With the 2020 F1 season a complete wash-out for spectators, the team at GPGT Towers have been scratching our heads to think of something to do instead. After literally several minutes of head scratching, we have come up with (drum-roll please): The Post Lockdown Grand Tour!

If the idea of waiting until 2021 to get on the road fills you with dread, then put your fear to one side and read on. Because what the Post Lockdown Grand Tour lacks in F1 action, it absolutely makes up for with fantastic roads, cols, mountain passes, and fun!

Day 1 – UK to Lyon

Starting bright and early on a Saturday, we’ll get most of the boring mileage under our belts on the way to Lyon. So set the cruise control to 130 (KPH, not MPH) and get trucking. There’ll be a stop in capital of champagne country, Epernay, for lunch and then on to Lyon.

Day 2 – Lyon to Monaco

To the initiated, you’ll know that starting in Lyon means only one thing – The Route Napoleon. Covering fractionally more than 200 miles, the Route Napoleon takes in some of the most scenic driving roads that you will ever get to drive. Don’t believe me, take a look at the below:

No Grand Tour would be complete without a bit of luxury. So once the driving is out of the way we head straight to Monaco and the Fairmont Hotel. For those that are unfamiliar with Monaco, The Fairmont is the iconic hotel that sits directly on the hairpin of the Grand Prix circuit. Monaco is always good fun, even on a Sunday in mid-September when the carnival has left town. There are numerous casinos, Nikki Beach at The Fairmont, and enough bars and restaurants to keep even the most dedicated hedonist happy. Here’s a picture of the Fairmont (and what it looks like when Sebastian Vettel is pootling past):

Day 3 – Monaco to Chamonix

Mornings after a night out in Monaco can often be a little painful. Fortunately the first few hours along the SS1 coast road, towards Genoa, are relaxing and scenic in equal measure. Carved and bored out of miles of solid rock, the SS1 is an engineering marvel that justifies the tolls. Turn left before Genoa, and head into Italy and the excitement begins. Depending on your energy levels, or what time you woke up, you have the option of driving any of the following: the Col de la Lombardi, the Maddalena Pass, Col Agnel, Col d’Izoard, Mont Cenis, the Colle del Nivolet, and Little St Bernard Pass! You can try all of them, but we recommend just picking a few and then heading to the bar (this is a holiday after all):

Day 4 – Chamonix to Baden Baden

Final day of ‘proper’ driving, and what a day it is! Every great road that you have ever seen on a James Bond film will appear today. Fancy fast winding curves of the Black Forest? You can drive it. Big fan of the chase scene in Goldfinger? You’ll be driving it (the Furka Pass). Fancy driving the most beautiful mountain pass that god put on this planet? The Routes des Cretes is there too!

Once the driving is out of the way, then get your dinner jackets and ball-gowns ready! Not really, jeans and a shirt will suffice. The final night of any Grand Tour is Awards Night. Awards will be decided by the GPGT Team, and are based on the exceptional antics of the Grand Tourists. Categories from previous years have included: Grand Tourist to Have Caused a Diplomatic Incident, Grand Tourist to Have Broken Down Prior to Leaving the UK, and Grand Tourist With The Most Inappropriate Car.  What is guaranteed is that the final night is great fun. And after dinner is finished, and Awards are unceremoniously cast-aside, we can all head to the stunning Baden-Baden Casino:

Day 5 – Baden Baden to UK

Final day of any Grand Tour is usually a trip back to blighty. But while this is usually a sad day, Baden-Baden is also perfectly located for a trip to the Nurburgring. While we cannot guarantee it’ll be open to drive, there is almost always something going on. And for those of you who are fans of Sabine Schmidtz, we strongly recommend lunch at her parents restaurant, The Pistenklaus.

To book your spot, or to see a more detailed itinerary, take a look here: https://www.grandprixgrandtours.com/post-lockdown-driving-tour/

2020 – What a year so far!

With COVID19 affecting everyone, in some way or form, we’ve all been affected. With a very heavy heart we have had to postpone all European Grand Prix driving tours.

Due to the way we secure all booking monies in trust, we have been able to offer everyone an immediate refund on their holiday. Fortunately, the vast majority of GPGT guests decided they would prefer to simply postpone their trip for next year instead. So 2021 is looking like a fantastic year.

Where there is disruption, there is opportunity, and during lockdown we have been busier than ever planning for 2021. Here’s what we have in store for our guests for next year:

NEW – F1 Packages

We have recently launched Grand Prix Travel Packages. For F1 fans that fancy flying rather than driving, we have you covered, with fully-inclusive Grand Prix Packages.

If you like the sound of that, take a look at our F1 Packages. Packages are divided into Bronze, Silver and Gold packages, with a prices to suit all budgets. All packages include return flights, 3 nights hotel accommodation, airport transfers, circuit transfers and grandstand tickets for 2 people. There are literally no hidden extras!

We also offer bespoke upgrades such as additional nights stay, upgraded tickets, even helicopter transfers and exclusive night-club access. Simply send us an enquiry and ask our agents for some options.

Monaco VIP Package

If you want a truly VIP experience, take a look at our Monaco Grand Prix VIP Package. With 4 nights at the Fairmount Hotel, direct hairpin views during the race, and Casino Square Grandstand tickets, this is how James Bond would do a Grand Prix weekend. Did we mention Helicopter transfers direct into Monaco? We can arrange that too!

More Driving Tours…..

Our 2020 Grand Prix Driving Tours may have been postponed, but that just means more excitement in 2021.The 2021 Monaco Grand Prix and Monaco Historic Grand Prix have both been confirmed, and spaces are filling up fast. If you fancy the trip to the south of France, via the best roads out there, then there is no better driving tour out there.

Find out more here: www.grandprixgrandtours.com/driving-holidays/

Want to go sooner? – We are planning a 2020 Post Lockdown Driving Tour. There is no F1 but simply thrilling roads.

grand tour driver - abbie eaton

The Grand Tour Driver – Who is The Stig?

Who is the Stig?

It’s been a slow news week so we thought we’d write a piece on the current Grand Tour Driver. We know who the Stig is, or was. First it was one time F1 racer, Perry McCarthy. Then it was (allegedly) actual F1 racer (and champion) Damon Hill. Rumour has it that it had also been Mark Webber. But probably the most well know Grand Tour Driver was the relative unknown Ben Collins. Ben had had a relatively successful junior career, going as far as competing in GP2, scrubbing up well at the Macau Grand Prix, and actually testing some F1 machinery in anger. Since then he’s been off doubling as James Bond when the driving gets fruity.

Who is the Grand Tour Driver?

But less has been written about the actual Grand Tour Driver. “OK, Let’s see what you’ve got” Abbie Eaton! Abbie is a proper northerner, just like yours truly and his co-director. While her karting career may not have reached the heady highs of International Rotax Max, she competed at Super One level where there is no lack of natural talent (even for those at the back). Graduating to bumper cars, I mean SaxMax, is also worth a mention. Run by the 750 Motor Club, SaxMax may be the cheapest way to get into motor sport, and that makes it seriously competitive at the sharp end. Once season and 4th overall is serious progress. Deciding to move to a single-make series (which are always competitive) Abbie then moved to the Mazda MX-5 Supercup, winning the title in her first full campaign. From then on things start to get very fast. Fourth overall in the British GT Championship the following year, followed by an outing in a factory Ferrari in Blancpain the year after, Abbie would not look out of place in the W Series….or any other prototype racing for that matter!

Fancy joining us on an Grand Tour?

C’était un rendez-vous avec Charles Leclerc

Those of us of a certain age may remember a certain urban myth, usually from friends with older brothers, of a lunatic driver doing 150mph through Paris in a Ferrari. Such tales were almost always embellished to such a degree that 150mph became 200mph, and the driver became an actual F1 driver – Jacky Ickx or Jacques Laffite, according to legend. Corrr! Such thoughts disappeared until my university housemate, closely related to an actual (Gentleman) Le Mans driver, casually asked me whether I’d seen C’était un rendez-vous? I hadn’t, and I needed to!

Like all the best films (i.e. Withnail & I) there is no plot. All we get is a flat-out drive through an empty 1970’s Paris to rendezvous with an unfeasibly pretty girl. With the sun rising over the Arc du Triomphe, and the howling Ferrari 275 GTB providing the soundtrack, this is surely one of the greatest driving films created. And at a mere 8 minutes long, you won’t get told off for tying up the telly all evening.

Alas the truth is a little further from the myth. While a Ferrari 275GTB did provide the soundtrack, the car used was a Mercedes 450SEL. And the driver was neither Mssrs Ickx or Laffite, but filmmaker Claude Lelouch. Fortunately, the reality does not detract from what is an iconic piece of automotive cinema.  Pigeons become lunch, red-lights are ignored, and one-way streets are driven two-way. So we’re clear, we do not recommend such behaviour. But nor do we suggest you shouldn’t enjoy the film, you should! If you haven’t seen it, see it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJYOMFayruw

So why are we discussing this now? Well, with many city streets being more sparsely populated than normal, a number of others have been inspired to recreate the original. Simon Kidston has just filmed a 5 minute blast through Rome, C’était une urgence. The film is visually stunning, with the Colosseum lit against the day/night dusk sky, and the obviously improved camera quality making full-screen viewing a must. The thing that stands out most is the speed difference compared to the original. We aren’t told what car is used, but compared to a 1970’s Merc things have moved on a lot. Watch the film here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vhPQ_NRNLY

So what does this have to do with Charles Leclerc? Well, he and Claude Lelouch are about to do the same through Monaco on Sunday. Watch this space!

The Future of F1….Could be Very Bright Indeed

Cast your minds back to the 2010 F1 season. OK, you may need some reminding that it was the year that Sebastian Vettel won his first world drivers crown at the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi. Now that we’ve reminded you, you may also remember that Fernando Alonso spent the bulk of the race stuck behind Vitaly Petrov’s Renault, as Ferrari shot themselves in the foot (again) with a strategy error that pitted Alonso to cover Webber, and promptly forgot about Vettel. But the other peculiarity about that season was that the top 4 drivers were separated by only 26 points. Or a race win (plus fastest lap) in todays money. So what happened?

Technical regulations in F1 typically last around 3-4 years, before a major reset. So when new rules are introduced the F1 field (in terms of qualifying times) tend to have a greater spread, which tightens as the years go by and everyone converges on the ‘best’ aero package. 2010 was one of those years. At qualifying of the final race, a mere 1.5s was the difference between 1st and 18th place in Q1. In summary, the field was tight and it was a classic season.

F1 prides itself on the technology that it produces and it very much at the forefront of aerodynamic and mechanical design. Stand next to a contemporary F1 car and most of us would happily have it screwed to our living room wall. They truly are works of art. But from the grandstands, can you see that? Search for “2010 GP2 Car” and (colour scheme apart) I defy all but F1s biggest geeks to distinguish that from an F1 car of the same era. The point is that they don’t need to be works of art, the racing just needs to be good.

Here’s an interesting stat for you – in F1, 80% of a teams budget is spent on R&D, meaning the car. And as we pointed out, the best seasons are when the bulk of the R&D has been done and you cant really go any further. What about other series, such as indycar? Well, a typically indycar team spends around 10% of their budget, the rest is logistics. And the racing is generally fantastic. Sure, the cars are not works of art, but neither are the V8 stock cars racing at the Bathurst 1000, and I know which I would spend an afternoon watching (I can barely name more than a couple of Supercars drivers).

So what’s our point? Well, if F1 wants to get past this difficult period, perhaps a move towards being more of a spec series would be no bad thing. Costs would fall by a massive margin and the smaller teams would survive. The racing would improve dramatically, which would please the drivers and the fans. And while it may be against the ‘ethos’ of Formula One you’d make the same criticism of front-engined F1 cars. But have you seen how beautiful the Ferrari 246 is?!

Reminiscences of the Monaco Grand Prix

Is there anything more frustrating than sitting at Grand Tours Towers, staring out of the window, and dreaming of a swift blast down the Route Napoleon on our way to Monaco? Yes, dreaming of blasting down to Monaco knowing that we’re not allowed to! But the world faces bigger problems at the moment, so we’ve been trying to find things to take our mind off things.

One thing that’s been occupying me recently is old school YouTube videos of the Monaco Grand Prix. Head to Monaco towards the end of May on most years and you will not be able to move. The grandstands are huge, the crowds are vast, and the teams roll up with several hundred people each. Watching highlights from the 1980 Monaco Grand Prix and you realise that things were very different when I was a young boy. The first thing that strikes you is how slow the cars are, but cast your gaze elsewhere and things are even stranger. People are milling around, not just from the grandstand to the loo, but actually walking around the circuit DURING THE RACE! The grandstands are also teeny-tiny. The grandstands that now line the harbour, from the exit of the tunnel all the way to Rascasse, seat thousands and thousands of people. Back in 1980 the swimming pool had a single grandstand, and most people were simply stood at the barriers.

Whether it’s an official film, or not, we cant say. But for as long as it remains on youtube, its compelling viewing all the same: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUglLyxZ5sM

2021 F1 Cars Ross Brawn

Austria To Be First Grand Prix of 2020

Another day, another Grand Prix cancellation. This time, it’s the French Grand Prix has been kicked into the long-grass. When start dates for the Formula One season were being bounced around, it was seen as key that F1 begin in a ‘traditional’ venue. This meant that anywhere outside Europe was a ‘no’. As France was the venue of the venue of the first ever Grand Prix (though not part of the F1 World Championship) this comes as a major blow. The most obvious reason this is so disappointing as because we were planning a fantastic driving holiday there, but also because the Paul Ricard circuit is owned non-other than Bernie Ecclestone.

So what next? Well it also looks like our Austrian Grand Prix Driving Holiday is off that is due to be run behind closed doors. But the good news is that Austria should be held.

So what does this mean for other races on the calendar? Well, we need 8 races to have an actual championship, which now seems a foregone conclusion. But what about the fans? Well, Austria and Great Britain will almost certainly be behind closed doors. That leaves Belgium and Italy for the European season. But what about the fans? Chase Carey, boss of Formula One, commented “We expect the early races to be without fans but hope fans will be part will be part of our events as we move further into the schedule”.

What does this mean for us? It means we’re keeping our fingers and toes crossed for the Belgian and Italian Grands Prix!