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George Russell urges FIA to be bold if weather makes Belgian Grand Prix unsafe

George Russell urges FIA to ‘be bold’ if weather makes Belgian Grand Prix unsafe

The race at Spa-Francorchamps in 2021 was called off after 3 laps due to heavy rain in the Ardennes forest

George Russell has raised the prospect of this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix being cancelled amid poor weather.

Heavy rain fell over the Spa-Francorchamps Circuit on Thursday, with the grizzly weather expected to continue throughout the weekend.

Although the forecast is better for Sunday’s Grand Prix, the weather is notoriously difficult to predict in the Ardennes and there is a fear in the paddock that the weekend’s running – which features a sprint race on Saturday – could be heavily disrupted.

Indeed, it is understood Formula One are already looking into potential changes to the timetable.

The FIA’s decision to run in the wet conditions will be heightened following the death of 18-year-old Dilano Van ‘t Hoff at Spa-Francorchamps earlier this month.

The Dutch teenager was killed after a crash in a rain-hit Formula Regional European Championship (FRECA) race on July 1.

“Obviously to have a race cancelled is not perfect for anybody, but we don’t want to see another huge incident that we have just seen,” said Russell, 25, director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association.

“The conditions are safe and suitable enough to drive for one Formula One car. But when you have got 20 cars on track at once, anybody from third position backwards literally cannot see 20, 30, 40 metres ahead of them.

“We have no visibility whatsoever. To give it some perspective, it is like driving down the motorway in pouring rain, and turning your windscreen wipers off. That is how it feels in the cockpit.

“It was only a matter of time before the incident in the FRECA race happened. Drivers do not go flat out on the straight because they cannot see, someone gets rear-ended, and then there is a car in the middle of the track.

“I also fear a little bit for the junior categories. I truly think Formula Three should not have 30 cars out there at one time at any point, even in dry conditions. I feel like it is a matter of time before a big incident happens there, too.”

In 2021, the race here was abandoned after just two laps behind the safety car because of torrential rain, and Mercedes’ Russell continued: “It was the correct decision to call off the race.

“The FIA has to be bold with its decisions when it comes to safety and when it comes to visibility.

“We want to race, everybody wants to race, but when you go down that straight at over 200mph and you can’t see in front of you, there will be huge incidents, so they have got a big responsibility.”

Van ‘t Hoff died following a multiple car pile-up on the exit of the notorious Eau Rouge corner and leading into the Kemmel Straight.

In the spray, Van ‘t Hoff was tagged from behind, rebounding off the wall, and into the middle of the circuit where he was hit at high speed by another driver.

Frenchman Anthoine Hubert was killed four years ago in an F2 race following a similar incident, albeit in the dry, at a circuit which has now claimed 49 lives.

Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton said: “It is not something I ever think of. As a driver, you can’t let it enter your mind, but you have to trust in what the FIA do.

“We wouldn’t be here if they didn’t think it would be safe. They have done such incredible work over the past few decades and I trust them to make the right decisions moving forwards.”

Published: by Radio NewsHub

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