Russell cautions against track overcrowding in Formula 3

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Former GP3 and Formula 2 champion George Russell has warned against junior categories running too many cars on track at any given time, citing safety concerns from recent fatal incidents at Spa-Francorchamps.

Russell's particular concern was with Formula 3, the championship created in 2019 from the merger of the European F3 Championship and the GP3 Series.

There are 12 teams competing in F3, each fielding three cars, and there have been problems with too many cars on track during qualifying at high-speed circuits such as Monza and the Red Bull Ring.

But it was the death of Dilano van’t Hoff in a fatal accident in the Formula Regional European Championship at Spa that has raised worries about safety when it comes to overcrowding.

Weeks before the Belgian Grand Prix, van’t Hoff’s car was struck at high speed in poor visibility wet conditions running at high speed down the Kemmel Straight.

It evoked painful memories of the death of Formula 2 driver Anthoine Hubert at Spa in 2019 when he he was unsighted and ran into a crashed car at Radillon and was then struck in turn by Juan Manuel Correa.

While the FIA is taking steps to tackle the problem of water spray, Russell doesn't think any solutions will be quick in coming and that measures have to be taken in the meantime.

Hugh Barter (AUS) Campos Racing. 29.07.2023. Formula 3 Championship, Rd 9, Sprint Race, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday. -, EMail: Copyright: XPB Images

"We all want decisions and answers, but the fact is we are probably not going to find the solution for better visibility for years to come," Russell said in Spa last week. "It’s challenging, it’s really not easy.

"I fear a little bit for the junior categories now," he warned. "I truly think F3 should not be allowed 30 cars on track at one time at any point, even in dry conditions.

"I think it’s just a matter of time before we have a big accident there [in F3] too," the Mercedes F1 driver said.

Russell felt that the FIA would heed driver concerns, and spoke favourably of the governing body's director of single seater affairs Nikolas Tombazis and new sporting director Steve Nielsen overseeing race management.

George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 on the grid. 30.07.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Spa Francorchamps, Belgium, Race Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Coates / XPB Images

"The way the FIA goes about things now is better than it has been in the recent past,” he said. “It all seems a bit more organised with Nikolas at the helm there and Steve Nielsen has been a really great addition to the FIA,

Russell also praised the positive impact of new F1 race director Niels Wittich. "It’s just having that open dialogue between us and communications are better than ever been," he said.

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