Without a doubt the best race I’ve been to was the 2004 Belgian Grand Prix.
Two years earlier, the former F1 driver Tomas Enge checked into out B&B in Monmouthshire with some of his Czech mates, when he came over to see the Wales Rally GB. I dug out a tape of his crash in the Prost F1 car at Suzuka 2001 and showed it to him, which was met with a wry grin. My Dad and I mentioned that we wanted to go to Spa one year and he happily gave us his number and told us to give him a ring when we were there.
With no race in 2003, we made the trip a year later and Tomas – racing in F3000 – turned up at midday on the Saturday with a couple of paddock passes. He gave us a tour of his garage in the old Spa pit lane and at one point my Dad walked up a metal staircase only to find himself standing on the podium, to cheers of the crowd in the grandstand opposite! Standing on the pit wall as the F1 cars came screaming past down towards Eau Rouge in qualifying, kicking up huge amounts of spray, was breathtaking.
The race itself was a thriller. It was the 14th of the year and Michael Schumacher had failed to win only one of the previous 13.
Kimi Raikkonen took a storming win from 10th on the grid in the Mclaren, making a race-winning pass on Michael into Eau Rouge.
There was overtaking galore, three safety cars, loads of crashes and just about every car in Michelin tyres got a puncture.
Schumacher claimed his 7th title but on the day he was beaten fair and square by a brilliant Kimi – and boy did he look miserable; you could tell he hated losing.
At the end of 2006 – when he announced his retirement – I thought I’d always be able to say: “I was there when Schuey won his last title.”
When the German made is comeback in 2010, I wondered whether that would always be the case. But with Lewis Hamilton having now replaced him at Mercedes, it looks as though he has, finally, called it a day having failed to discover his Ferrari form.
What an honour it was, though, to have witnessed Michael Schumacher break his own record and become the first man to attain seven world titles.
But with Sebastian Vettel having now racked up three in a row, Schumacher’s fellow countryman has every chance to go one better.