The three single-seater categories present at Spa this weekend have all recorded violent accidents at the Eau Rouge. The most dangerous was undoubtedly what happened on Friday in the Formula W championship (a violent carom that involved several cars) while yesterday it was Lando Norris who violently impacted against the barriers, followed a few hours later by another multiple carom in the second race. of Formula 3. The memory of Anthoine Hubert’s fatal impact, which also took place at that point in 2019, is still very much alive, as is the most recent accident involving Davide Rigon in the 24 hours.
But what happens to the Eau Rouge? What is considered by enthusiasts and professionals to be one of the most famous curves in the world (if not the most famous of all) over the years has undergone changes to the outside of the roadway, necessary works to adapt the escape routes to the standards of FIA safety that has evolved season after season. Accidents, however, not only continue, but also seem to increase in number and danger. On closer inspection, what makes accidents in that section dangerous is a specific factor: the cars, after hitting the barriers, bounce on the track, becoming obstacles that those who arrive only notice at the last moment. This triggers very violent and dangerous impacts, since it is mostly a launched car that hits a stop.
In the case of Norris, this scenario was fortunately avoided, as there were no single-seaters behind McLaren within walking distance, and those who arrived could see the double yellow flags and slow down in time. Lando had a very violent accident, but got away with minor damage and will be regularly at the start of the race today. Its impact is to be cataloged as an accident that could happen in many other corners of the World Championship, and the curve itself bears no responsibility.
Yet, on the emotional wave that often follows accidents, there are those who have asked the question whether it is not the case to evaluate radical changes to the Eau Rouge, or to modify the layout of a curve that represents an absolute icon of motorsport. , but fortunately for now it is a few insiders. However, there is a problem, the Formula 1 drivers themselves discussed it in Spa during the usual briefing with the FIA staff, and in the comparison it emerged that the managers of the circuit have a project in their drawer that provides for the possibility of expanding the escape routes. on both sides, with the introduction of state-of-the-art barriers that allow the cars to be retained avoiding the extremely dangerous bounce that brings the cars back to the track.
“This corner has a fundamental problem – explained Carlos Sainz – which is not linked to the impact against the barriers, usually violent due to the speed wing. The biggest criticality is that you risk bouncing back on track, and if the driver who goes off the road is in the first positions, whoever comes behind him sees him at the last moment, and especially if you run in the rain, with the water clouds that greatly limit visibility. We as drivers asked about the and we were told that the FIA is already dealing with this problem, so in the future we are more relaxed ”.
“It would be a real shame if we lost this corner – reiterated Daniel Ricciardo – but with the amount and violence of accidents we have seen in recent seasons, I think we need an intervention. If we work on barriers and escape routes, I don’t think the curve will lose its charm ”. “L’Eau Rouge has been a place of tragic accidents on several occasions – explained Toto Wolff – it is one of the most demanding of the entire season, if not the most demanding of all. I understand that if you put yourself in the shoes of someone who has suffered serious accidents at that point, everything may seem inadequate, but it is also true that motor racing has always been like this and it will always remain a dangerous sport ”.