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Formula 1

F1 drivers told Eau Rouge changes will address safety fears

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
3 min read

Formula 1 drivers have been assured by the FIA that upcoming changes being made to the Eau Rouge-Raidillon sequence at Spa will address safety concerns that have been raised.

The famous uphill esses were already in the spotlight following big accidents in the recent Spa 24 Hours and in W Series qualifying this weekend, two years on from Formula 2 racer Anthoine Hubert losing his life in a crash there.

Lando Norris then crashed heavily in F1 qualifying on Saturday in the rain, and fortunately was able to walk away from his wrecked McLaren.

Lando Norris McLaren F1 Belgian GP

The main point of concern about the corners relates to the lack of run off on the left-hand side at the top of the hill.

But changes that were already planned to facilitate the return of motorcycle racing at Spa will tackle that.

Run off changes are being made at several corners, with more gravel traps being installed, and another change being made at Raidillon involves a new grandstand on the outside, which should allow for more run-off to be added.

Speaking shortly after Norris’s crash, Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz said the reassurance from the FIA made drivers “more calm” about the situation.

“It’s very obvious that this corner has a fundamental issue that means that when you crash, first of all you crash very heavy, and second you crash back into the circuit,” he said.

“In this kind of conditions, with the spray, if someone crashes in P2 and the guy coming in P17 doesn’t know, it’s an extremely dangerous situation.

“We as drivers, we have asked for changes, we have asked for reviewing this corner and we’ve been told that the FIA’s already on it, so we are more calm about it, but this year is going to be another tricky one.”

Sainz’s team-mate Charles Leclerc said “the right change” is going to be made at that corner.

Speaking about Norris’s crash, Leclerc said it was “very scary” to see another big accident “at the same place where I’ve lost a friend two years ago”.

“So it was incredibly good to see Lando walking out alone of the car,” he added.

“In terms of the track they know there is something there that needs to change and the changes are planned for next year I think which is good to know, and then for this season I just pray for nothing to happen.”

Hungarian Grand Prix victor Esteban Ocon revealed he was the first driver to ask in the drivers meeting on Friday about making some changes.

“I was not aware of any changes yet, and we’ve seen too many crashes,” he said when asked by The Race if he was aware of the changes.

“We’ve seen Anthoine in 2019, but we’ve seen Jack this year, we’ve seen W Series I mean it just keeps going. So, we need to do something to make that corner safer.

“I think all the drivers respect this corner anyway knowing how dangerous it is, but yes the runoffs at these speeds are too close and basically the danger is for the car to bounce and go back on the track like it did today, across the track again.

“Things are gonna be taking in place, moving the mountains on the left, going maximum further on the right. I’m looking forward to seeing how the construction is going to go. But if it is, it’s gonna help.”

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