‘Scary’ Spa history weighing on drivers’ minds as heavy rain batters circuit

Thomas Maher
Williams' Logan Sargeant at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Budapest, July 2023. Spa

Williams' Logan Sargeant at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Budapest, July 2023.

The prospect of racing in heavy rain this weekend at Spa-Francorchamps isn’t one the drivers are savouring…

Formula 1’s last race before the summer break looks set to take place in torrentially wet conditions, with heavy, unrelenting rain battering the circuit throughout Thursday’s media day at Spa-Francorchamps.

It’s an unwelcome scenario, given the recent fatal accident involving FRECA driver Dilano van ‘t Hoff along the Kemmel Straight earlier this month, while this weekend also marks four years since F2 racer Anthoine Hubert was killed in a side impact collision at the 2019 event.

Logan Sargeant: The history of Spa makes this scary

Aside from the recent accidents, there have been numerous other fatalities at the fearsome Spa-Francorchamps and, even though various works and alterations have been made to improve circuit facility, the lack of visibility caused by the rain hanging between the trees means racing at Spa is always daunting for the drivers.

Logan Sargeant, racing as a rookie in F1 this season, said his experience of driving in similarly wet conditions back in 2021 while in F3 opened his eyes as to how scary Spa can be.

“I was here in 2021 racing in F3,” he told media, including PlanetF1.com.

“That was the year F1 got cancelled, and we were driving in some, pretty honestly, questionable conditions.

“In a situation like that, it definitely wasn’t nice. You can’t see the edge of the track, you can’t see your front wing. You can’t see the brake markers, you can’t see the car in front of you, you’re just driving flat out into a wall of white mist.

“So honestly, in that situation, I think it’s getting to the point where it’s a bit too much.

“I think this track, in particular… I guess the history makes it a bit more scary.”


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Logan Sargeant: Rain at Spa the ‘one condition’ I can feel the scare

Asked whether racing at Spa in such treacherous conditions is the most scared he’s ever felt in a racing car, Sargeant was pensive.

“I mean, you’re driving flat up through Eau Rouge, but you don’t feel like you should be going flat out, that’s for sure,” he said.

“You don’t know what’s on the other side and that’s never nice.

“I’d say it’s the one condition in racing that I feel that I can actually feel the scare of it to be honest. It’s not ideal.”

But, despite his reservations, Sargeant said he has no intentions of letting it hamper his on-track running, assuming all track action goes ahead as planned.

“At the end of the day, if we go to race, we go to race,” he said.

“I’m never gonna not be flat out. It just is what it is, you just have to live with it and go for it.

“I trust that they’ll make the right decision. I think a lot of it will come down to what we’re saying on the radio back to the teams.”

Earlier on Thursday, Charles Leclerc also voiced his concerns coming into the weekend – especially in the context of it being a Sprint weekend with already curtailed practice time.

“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,” he said.

“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 in 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.”

Read More: Drivers react as heavy rain threatens FP1 cancellation at Belgian GP