The Spa-Francorchamps circuit was greatly affected by heavy showers, causing the cancellation of Friday’s single free practice session. These showers persisted and further disrupted the schedule, resulting in a 35-minute delay for the start of Saturday afternoon’s sprint.
After completing five formation laps to remove some of the standing water and minimize the spray that hindered visibility, the race finally began. This issue gained renewed attention following the tragic incident involving Formula Regional driver Dilano van ‘t Hoff during a Spa race held under comparable circumstances.
Drivers were appreciative of race control’s efforts to do everything it could to hold out for improved track conditions and clear water off the racing surface, while still getting a shortened 11-lap race in.
However, numerous individuals believed that although the track was prepared for racing, the issue of poor visibility due to spray remained as severe as it has always been.
“When Motorsport.com asked AlphaTauri’s Daniel Ricciardo about the severity of the problem, he described it as follows: while cruising down the straight in fourth gear without applying full throttle, I was unable to spot George Russell’s light ahead of me.”
I am relieved that we were able to complete the race in the end. I believe everyone is unharmed, although the lack of visibility is unfortunate.
“I have been engaged in this activity for quite some time, and my recollection differs from the current situation. Clearly, the recent years have been unfavorable. However, five to ten years ago, we used to compete under similar circumstances.”
“We desire to engage in a race as it provides an enjoyable experience even in wet conditions. However, truthfully, I believe the onboard footage accurately depicts what we fail to perceive. Once we surpass the fourth gear, it becomes a precarious situation.”
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19
Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images
Fellow veteran Hulkenberg felt the spray has only gotten worse since the move to ground-effect cars in 2022.
The Haas driver expressed that, in their opinion, the ground-effect cars have exacerbated the situation, stating that they have never witnessed it being so severe.
“It involves a significant amount of speculation and optimism, as you search for those noticeable signs. However, there comes a time when the situation becomes excessively complicated, making it difficult to perceive those signs. Consequently, the outcome is not favorable.”
Esteban Ocon from Alpine believed that the FIA made the correct decision in attempting to remove as much water as possible. However, he expressed that the spray was still excessively intense during the race, despite the track being suitable for intermediate tires.
Ocon expressed gratitude for the FIA’s efforts in attempting to clarify the situation as much as they could, despite it being quite bad.
However, after restarting, the situation improved slightly, although it remained highly intense.
“I believe that there should be a point of restarting at some stage, however, the decision to have a rolling start and the manner in which it caused the field to disperse was the correct choice. Therefore, I commend the FIA for their effective handling of the situation.”
The GPDA director, George Russell, expressed concern about the limited visibility being a more significant problem at Spa compared to other tracks. He suggested a potential solution to address this issue by attempting to remove excess water.
Given the circumstances, I believe they performed admirably. The conditions were highly demanding and posed significant risks. Imagine racing at a speed of 300 km/h on a straight path while having only a 50-meter visibility ahead.
The situation appears to be especially problematic within this circuit. I’m uncertain whether it’s due to the humidity, the presence of trees, or some other factor, but the spray doesn’t seem to spread out effectively. It feels as though you’re driving into a dense fog.
“I didn’t feel like those four laps behind the safety car provided us with much benefit. Perhaps a potential solution for the future could be allowing us to complete 2-3-4 laps at full racing speed before deploying the safety car to bring the pack together, and then resume racing, as things improved significantly after just two laps of actual racing.”
Adam Cooper also contributed to the reporting.