Charles Leclerc highlights ‘really big’ safety issues that F1 and FIA must address

Henry Valantine
Charles Leclerc holds an umbrella. Spa July 2023.

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc protects himself from the rain in the paddock at Spa. Belgium July 2023.

Charles Leclerc has pointed out several key areas in which Spa-Francorchamps is still one of Formula 1’s most dangerous circuits, and has called for changes to be made to make the track safer in future.

The death of Formula 2 driver Anthoine Hubert in 2019 at the circuit was tragically followed by another fatality, teenage FRECA racer Dilano van ‘t Hoff, in wet conditions several weeks ago, prompting further questions surrounding the safety of the track.

While significant changes have been made to run-off areas and barriers in the name of safety, Leclerc pointed out that more can be done to help the drivers this weekend – particularly with wet weather forecast.

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

Charles Leclerc points out Kemmel Straight walls and visibility as key issues at Spa

The Ferrari driver was one of several on the grid to point out that visibility is at a premium at the best of times in wet conditions, but rarely more so than at high speed at Spa-Francorchamps.

The Eau Rouge/Raidillon section is followed by the high speeds of the Kemmel Straight, which is hemmed in by barriers either side, and was the location of Van ‘t Hoff’s tragic accident at the beginning of July.

While Leclerc does not think a change to the overall circuit layout is necessary, he would like to see more space between the circuit and the walls by that straight.

And when it comes to wet weather visibility – the reason the Belgian Grand Prix was cut short after just two laps behind the Safety Car in 2021 – the Ferrari driver emphasised that the FIA must continue to put driver safety first, with rain forecast for most of the weekend.

“I think there are some changes that could make a difference,” Leclerc told media including when asked about what could be done to aid the drivers at Spa.

“First of all, it’s the walls in the straights, after Eau Rouge, I think we should have a bit more space on the left and right, where if you lose control of the car, I think the way it is done at the moment, you’re bouncing on the walls, and you have very high chances of finding yourself in the way.

“I think this is probably a change that we should consider in the future, [rather] than to change the layout of Eau Rouge, by example.

“I think we find ourselves in the season, in those particular conditions being fast in a straight, that’s basically everywhere, and I think that’s going to be difficult to do anything else other than that.

“You can always change the layout, but I don’t think it’s fair to say that this is what should be done.

“Then, the two biggest problems after that is visibility. It’s really difficult to put into words what we are seeing, apart from saying that we are seeing nothing – but we are not exaggerating when we say we don’t see anything, we really don’t see anything when it’s raining, and this is a really big problem for Formula 1, for motorsport in general, any single seaters. recommends

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“Now, we have quite a bit of downforce, there’s quite a lot of spray, and then this causes quite a lot of incidents just because we cannot react to what there is in front.

“Easy to say that, much more difficult to find a solution for that, but I know that the FIA is on it, and is obviously trying to do the best on that.

“And then the last thing is when is it safe to start a race [in wet conditions]? This is another topic for the FIA to look at closely, especially on a weekend like this, where it seems we will have quite a lot of rain throughout the whole weekend.

“To not feel the pressure of starting a race just because we didn’t have any running, which we could be in that situation this weekend.

“But at the end, obvious to say but safety comes first, and this needs to be the priority, and people.

“First of all, as drivers, we shouldn’t complain if we don’t have any laps, because it is not safe to do so with everything that has happened.”