Leclerc's stance on Spa safety: Rain cancellations justified


Charles Leclerc says "no one should complain" if track conditions at Spa-Francorchamps this weekend lead to session cancellations amid rainy forecasts.

Formula 1 heads into a challenging race weekend at the Belgian track, where safety will be at the forefront of everyone's concerns given the soggy weather that is predicted to hover above the Ardennes over the next few days.

Furthermore, round 12 of the 2023 world championship takes place just weeks after the tragic death of young hopeful Dilano van 't Hoff who was killed at Spa in a FRECA event help in treacherous conditions.

A lack of visibility due to the massive amount of spray generated by the cars on the Kemmel straight that follows Raidillon was a major factor in the young Dutchman's accident.

But the memory of the fatal crash of Anthoine Hubert at Spa in 2019, near the same spot but in dry conditions, also continues to linger.

While no one hopes that this year's Belgian Grand Prix will suffer a similar fate to the 2021 edition, when the race was canceled after a handful of laps behind the safety Car due to heavy rain, Leclerc has warned that such an eventuality cannot be excluded.

"Visibility is really difficult to put into words what we are saying, apart from saying we are seeing nothing," explained the Ferrari driver.

"We are not exaggerating when we say we don’t see anything, we really don’t see anything when it’s raining.

"This is a really big problem for Formula 1, for motorsport in general. Any single seaters, we have quite a bit of downforce and there is quite a lot of spray and then this causes quite a lot of incidents because we cannot react to what is in front.

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

In the wake of van 't Hoff's unfortunate crash earlier this month at Spa, many questioned why the junior series race was restarted for a single lap in such restrictive conditions.

Leclerc also addressed the issue of when proceedings in F1 should be started in the event of adverse weather.

"Then the last thing is when is it safe to start a race? This is another topic for the FIA to look closely, especially on a weekend like this where it seems we will have quite a lot of rain throughout the weekend, to not feel the pressure of starting a race just because we didn’t have any running.

"We could be in that situation this weekend. It’s obvious to say, but safety should come first and this needs to be the priority.

"People, and first of all us drivers, shouldn’t complain if we don’t have any laps because it is not safe to do so, with everything that has happened."

Spa has undertaken extensive work to improve the safety of its Eau Rouge/Raidillon complex. Asked if more should be done, Leclerc was unsure.

"I think there are some changes that could make a difference," he said. "First of all, the walls on the straight after Eau Rouge, we should have a bit more space on the left and right.

"If you lose control of the car, the way it is done at the moment you are bouncing on the walls and you have a very high chance of finding yourself in the way.

"Again, and I think this is probably a change we should consider in the future.

"Then to change the layout of Eau Rouge, for example, we find ourselves in the season in those particular conditions, being fast in a straight, we have that everywhere and that is going to be difficult to do anything else other than that," he added.

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

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