Home Featured How the F2 and F3 paddock feel about racing at a wet Spa this weekend

How the F2 and F3 paddock feel about racing at a wet Spa this weekend

by Ida Wood

Photo: Red Bull Content Pool

After Dilano van’t Hoff’s fatal crash at a wet Spa-Francorchamps earlier this month, there has been a lot of scrutiny of the circuit’s safety and the treacherous conditions which series choose to race in 

On a sodden Formula 1 media day at Spa-Francorchamps, one of the questions asked to almost everyone was how they felt about competing on a track that had claimed the life of a young driver – Formula Regional European Championship racer Dilano van’t Hoff – just a few weeks prior in similar weather conditions, and if the circuit required changes to make it safer.

These questions were also directed to the competitors in Formula 2 and Formula 3, whose track sessions were more likely to overlap with wet periods over the Belgian Grand Prix weekend. Several F2 drivers said that the famous Eau Rouge corner didn’t need further adjustments, having already been modified to decrease the chances of crashes like the one that claimed F2 racer Anthoine Hubert’s life in 2019.

Both drivers and team bosses addressed the matter during media sessions, and here is a summary of the paddock’s reaction:


Zak O’Sullivan (Prema), FIA F3 driver: “We already changed the layout a bit last year with more run-off at the top of Raidillon, which for sure is an improvement. We’ve got a lot more space now to the left. In regards to recent events, I think it’s more spray-related. It’s a wet weekend this weekend. I think as long as it’s managed well with conditions and visibility, there shouldn’t be any issues.”

Pepe Marti (Campos Racing), FIA F3 driver: “A bit likewise. For me it was quite tragic with the news that we got [while] in Austria. Dilano was one of my biggest friends in the motorsport family. But I think the track itself is not that dangerous. I think there’s so many areas in motorsport where you can hit a wall and bounce back on track, it’s just maybe that Spa has been unlucky in these last few years and it’s happened twice.

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“But we were racing under the same conditions in Austria the weekend that it happened here in Spa with similar conditions, and nothing happened to us. So I think it’s a matter of how conditions are managed, how we have put on a race.

“Obviously we’re always going to go flat-out. I mean I like the track, I love Eau Rouge, I love the way all of it is shaped.”

Gabriel Bortoleto (Trident), FIA F3 driver: “Honestly, I think they both said quite a lot of what I think as well. The track overall is not the most dangerous one. I think it’s more about some unlucky moments that people had in very difficult weather conditions.

“I think what we need to be careful is, for sure I love to race in the rain, it’s one of my favourite conditions, but at the same time we all want to race, but in safety. And having in mind that we can finish the race with enough parts of the car. I don’t want to race in a condition that I cannot see two metres in front of me.

“So I don’t think it’s about a corner, I think it’s more about the decision of making the race or not happen.”

Sebastien Philippe (ART Grand Prix), F2 & F3 team principal: “It’s a tricky one. We all know that on these conditions it can be tricky. What can I say? Luckily, we have a race director, it’s his job to make the decision. And I think he’s very professional and he knows what to do. Let’s wait and see how the weekend goes, and I’m an optimistic guy, so I can still believe that the weather can change.”

Rene Rosin (Prema), F2 & F3 team principal: “So first of all, I have to say the weather is still uncertain. Of course, behind us, working with us, we have from promoter and federation, the top notch guys working for it, and for sure safety will be on top on the items. Looking also to the past.

“I’m relying pretty much on what the FIA and the promoter will decide. But we’ll for sure race. If we race and if everything will go on, it will be in a proper safety conditions. So I don’t have doubt on it.”

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Wet weather hit F2 and F3’s practice sessions in the morning, and Formula Scout spoke to drivers afterwards about how they had found the spray while on track. The matter was also addressed in the press conferences after qualifying, which had featured some rain for both series.

Luke Browning (Hitech GP), FIA F3 driver: “Super wet, it has to be said. But it was super fun. Being a British guy, I’ve done a lot in the rain, so I think naturally when the conditions change and it’s super wet, we’re going to be up there.

“I think it’s difficult to say [if the spray is too much for racing here]. And to be honest, that’s for the FIA to decide and the people that run the championship. They’re a lot more qualified than me to talk about these sorts of points. It’s difficult to say in the conditions, but they weren’t so bad today, it wasn’t torrential. But the spray for sure wasn’t so bad. I think it was okay for today, but maybe if it got much more I guess maybe the stewards will look into it.

“[I’m fine with the track layout], as long as the conditions are under control. This sort of accident, it can happen anywhere. And looking at it, you hit a car at standstill at over 100mph, the result is always going to be the same. Obviously we all hang our heads and pay respect to the guys that put their lives on the line. Unfortunately it’s the risk that all of us take in the car. It’s horrible when you see it [go wrong].”

Ollie Bearman (Prema), F2 driver: “Safety is the priority in general. There’s already been a few wet races where the visibility isn’t the best. Of course this weekend is one where we are super cautious. It’s just a case of managing the risk and not taking unnecessary ones.

“In terms of the spray, there was no one running in the wet in qualifying, but in free practice it was already quite difficult. So let’s see how it goes tomorrow.”

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Frederik Vesti (Prema), F2 driver: “For me, it’s really the responsibility of both the FIA and the drivers to work together, and then the teams as well to try to understand when is safe to go. And I think we as drivers have a good view on that in the car. So it’s good to have that communication, and to go when it’s safe conditions.”

Victor Martins (ART GP), F2 driver: “I think the communication will be the key for a good and safe weekend for everyone. But in the end we will see. Maybe we will have a bit of dry at some point, so we can have an opportunity and just pray.

“There wasn’t actually enough water, or we were not actually driving anymore on the track [in qualifying], so it wasn’t a problem. In practice, it wasn’t the case also, because we are kind of all alone on the track with a two or three seconds gap. But of course in the rain in the race, if we are all behind each other, it will be a problem. But that will be the responsibility, as Fred said, to us and the FIA to discuss.”

Gabriele Mini (Hitech GP), FIA F3 driver: “If tomorrow’s race is going to be wet, I’m pretty sure, I have confidence in the race director; they will do the best choice as possible for us. Today, we didn’t have any problems with the spray. I think we are racing in completely safe conditions. Visibility was still very good, so I don’t see problems with that.

Leonardo Fornaroli (Trident), FIA F3 driver: “The weather forecast says that [tomorrow] there will be less rain than today. The stewards will take the best decision as possible, and let us race in the safest conditions. Today they did a great job. We were doing our practice and qualifying in the safest conditions as possible. The visibility was still good, so I don’t think there will be many issues with that this weekend.”

Marti: I agree with what Gabriele and Leo said. First of all, safety is first and foremost, and I think that the FIA this weekend are doing a really solid job with that. Actually before qualifying, Claro [Ziegahn], the race director, came over to me and asked me about how the conditions were in free practice and if in the case that they were similar in the quali, what did I think.

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“I feel like that’s something that race directors don’t do very often, at least not in junior categories, because obviously we’re young, we don’t have maybe that much experience. And obviously I understand it, but in the end we are the guys on track, and from inside the visor and inside the car the view is always very different from the cameras. So I felt like that was a really, really good moment and a really good act by him to come over and ask.

“I don’t know if he went and asked other drivers, but the fact that he came over and asked me, and also gave me that responsibility for saying how I felt the track was, I took a lot of pride in that. I felt like that’s something that he did really, really well, and I think that’s managing the conditions really well this weekend.”