F1 drivers call on FIA to cancel Belgium Grand Prix due to weather safety concerns
Formula 1 drivers have discussed the cancellation of the Belgian Grand Prix if the rain causes poor visibility. Mercedes driver George Russell thinks the Belgian Grand Prix should be called off if heavy rain makes racing too dangerous.
It comes just weeks after heavy rain and poor visibility caused a crash on the track, which killed 18-year-old Dilano van ‘t Hoff. The weather forecast for the Belgian Grand Prix has said heavy rain is due at the Spa-Francorchamps, which could play a major role this weekend.
The circuit was covered in heavy rain on Thursday as the drivers arrived at the course, including a run on the track for the late F2 driver, Anthoine Hubert, who died during a race in 2019. Alpine driver Pierre Gasly, hosted a tribute event to Hubert and Hoff on Thursday despite the heavy downpours, which are set to continue over the weekend.
The weather is looking more optimistic for Sunday’s Grand Prix, but weather can be quickly changing in that specific part of eastern Belgium. The Grand Prix in 2021, was abandoned after two laps and no racing due to the heavy rain.
George Russell benefited from the race being abandoned, as he was classified as second and took his first Formula 1 podium. The British driver, 25, said he believes the call should be made again, this weekend if conditions are deemed too dangerous.
Safety is at the forefront of discussion by teams and drivers this weekend following the death of Dilano van ‘t Hoff in a wet FRECA race at the beginning of July. Hoff’s car was clipped from behind and spun before being hit by another driver who could not see the car, killing the Dutch teenager.
George Russell, who is the director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association referred to the abandoned 2021 Grand Prix, saying: “It was the correct decision to call off the race.” The driver has called on the FIA to be “bold” with its decision when it comes to the safety of the drivers.
Russell said: “"Obviously, to have a race cancelled is not perfect for anybody. But we don’t want to see a huge incident as we’ve just seen.
“This is another topic for the FIA to look closely, especially on a weekend like this where it seems we will have quite a lot of rain throughout the weekend, to not feel the pressure of starting a race just because we didn’t have any running.
"The conditions are safe and suitable enough to drive for one Formula One car. But when you have got 20 cars on track at once, anybody from third position backwards literally cannot see 20, 30, 40 metres ahead of them. We have no visibility whatsoever.
"To give it some perspective, it is like driving down the motorway in pouring rain, and turning your windscreen wipers off. That is how it feels in the cockpit. It was only a matter of time before the incident in the FRECA race happened. Drivers do not go flat out on the straight because they cannot see, someone gets rear-ended, and then there is a car in the middle of the track.
"I also fear a little bit for the junior categories. I truly think Formula 3 should not have 30 cars out there at one time at any point, even in dry conditions. I feel like it is a matter of time before a big incident happens there, too."
Lewis Hamilton has said he trusts the FIA to make the right call, saying: “We wouldn’t be here if they didn’t think it would be safe. They have done such incredible work over the past few decades and I trust them to make the right decisions moving forward.”