As the Belgian Grand Prix approaches, the safety issue has been brought to the forefront due to the recent tragic incident involving young driver Dilano van ‘t Hoff, who passed away during a damp Formula Regional European Championship race at the same track.
Some are urging the FIA to exercise increased caution when deciding whether racing conditions are suitable.
“The visibility issue is significant and has persisted for a long time,” he said in reference to the current generation of F1 cars. “I don’t think there’s much we can do about it right now.”
Verstappen expressed confidence that Niels Wittich, the F1 race director, has the requisite expertise to make the appropriate decision.
“We’ve had extensive discussions, and he has overseen numerous races,” he said of Wittich.
“I believe he would also take the safety car’s advice into account. I’m confident he can judge whether conditions are safe. Nevertheless, visibility will always be challenging.
“If we don’t accept this, we will have to forego all wet races.”
Verstappen pointed out that the existing regulations have worsened visibility during wet conditions as the tyres and vehicles kick up more water.
Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / F1 Flow Images
“The switch to larger tyres has exacerbated the problem due to greater water displacement,” he said. “In addition, the larger car size results in more spray.
“It’s worse than in 2016, but it was still a problem then. I recall a race in Brazil where I couldn’t see Fernando [Alonso] spin off the track after a pit stop.
“Despite my limited visibility, I maintained speed along the straight based on my previous laps’ knowledge. However, if a stationary car had been present, I would have collided with it.”
Beyond the visibility problem, the overall safety of the Spa circuit, notably the Eau Rouge/Raidillon complex where Anthoine Hubert lost his life in 2019, has also been a subject of discussion.
But Verstappen doesn’t see an issue with the location, and maintains his stance that other circuits pose greater risks.
“There’s always room for improvement, but we also race in Monaco, which I think is significantly more dangerous,” he said.
“We race there because it’s considered safe enough. Accidents do happen, sadly. Looking back at the recent incident, it was terribly unfortunate.
“I don’t think there’s much that can be done to greatly enhance safety. There are other circuits where a crash could result in a car being tossed back onto the track, especially under poor visibility conditions, leading to a similar outcome.
“It’s unfortunate and somewhat unlucky that Spa has witnessed such incidents twice in close succession.”
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Formula 1 Race Visibility
What is Max Verstappen’s proposed solution to visibility problems in F1 races?
Max Verstappen suggests that the only solution to visibility problems during F1 races is to halt the races when it’s raining.
Why does Verstappen believe stopping wet races is necessary?
Verstappen believes stopping wet races is necessary because the visibility is naturally lower in rainy conditions, which can be dangerous for the drivers. He argues that striving for perfect conditions is an unattainable goal.
What does Verstappen say about the F1 race director, Niels Wittich?
Verstappen expresses confidence in Niels Wittich, the F1 race director, stating that he has the requisite expertise to judge whether conditions are safe for a race.
What has worsened visibility in wet races, according to Verstappen?
Verstappen points out that the switch to larger tyres and larger car size under current regulations have worsened visibility during wet conditions, as they result in more water and spray.
Does Verstappen see any specific problem with the Spa circuit?
No, Verstappen does not see a specific problem with the Spa circuit. He believes that other circuits, like Monaco, are significantly more dangerous. He also adds that accidents, while tragic, can unfortunately happen anywhere.