Raidillon barrier, Spa-Francorchamps, 2020

Tyre barrier changed at scene of Hubert’s fatal crash

2020 Belgian Grand Prix

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A tyre barrier which was struck by Anthoine Hubert during his fatal crash in last year’s Formula 2 feature race at Spa-Francorchamps has been altered ahead of this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix.

Hubert struck a barrier at the exit of the Raidillon corner on the second lap of the race. The impact knocked him into the path of Juan Manuel Correa, whose car collided with Hubert’s.

Hubert sustained fatal injuries in that impact. Correa’s legs were badly damaged and he remains in recovery following extensive reconstructive surgery.

F2 will return to the circuit for the first time since the crash this weekend as part of the support package for Formula 1’s Belgian Grand Prix.

The first section of barrier Hubert struck has been altered ahead of the race weekend. Previously the barrier at the exit of Raidillon, turn four, contained four rows of tyres for much of its length, then became two rows deep at the point where the secondary pit lane exit joins the track. For this year’s race, this section is now also four rows deep.

The FIA’s report on Hubert’s crash determined he collided with the barrier after damaging his front wing on Ralph Boschung’s car. The pair took evasive action in response to Giuliano Alesi ahead of them, who had crashed following a loss of tyre pressure.

Raidillon barrier, Spa-Francorchamps, 2020
The four-row tyre barrier has been extended
Hubert lost control of his car due to his front wing damage and hit the barrier at 216kph (134mph), registering an impact of 33.7G, at an angle of around 40 degrees. “Following the impact and energy absorption by the barrier, the car was ejected and continued to travel in the racing direction while rotating, such that the left-hand side of the chassis was facing oncoming cars in the run-off area of turn four,” said the FIA’s report.

Correa also lost control of his car prior to the collision with Hubert after striking debris. The collision between the two impact sent Hubert’s car into a barrier a second time, following which it came to a rest. The race was red-flagged and not restarted, and the following day’s sprint race was also cancelled.

Today’s new edition of the RacingLines column on RaceFans looks at the safety changes motorsport is making in response to Hubert’s death and other serious crashes which happened in 2019.

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    37 comments on “Tyre barrier changed at scene of Hubert’s fatal crash”

    1. It’s tyre barriers appropriate in this modern world or tech?

      Should we not have something like techpro/safer or other modern barriers in use?

      1. @Kris Lord Techpro is already widely used and has been for a while, although maybe it could be the only one in use.

      2. The real answer is called gravel. Look at how the track looked back when Villeneuve crashed there. None of this would have happened with a gravel trap.

        1. kuvemar, except you forget to mention that Zonta also crashed at Eau Rouge during that same race weekend, and how that accident played out very differently to the way that Jacques’s accident did.

          When Zonta crashed, the gravel was useless at slowing him down because, as he spun, the front wheel briefly dug into the gravel trap. That caused his car to immediately begin tumbling through the air, which meant his car continued at nearly full speed into the barriers – that then sent his car spinning back across the track, with large chunks of debris scattered across the track as his car spun round violently.

          In the case of Zonta, there is a good argument that his crash was actually made much worse by the presence of gravel at Eau Rouge given that it caused his car to go tumbling through the air and strike the barriers far further up – indeed, he was somewhat lucky that he even hit the barriers, rather than being sent tumbling over the top of the barriers.

        2. This Villeneuve crash, along with the one by Schumacher in Silverstone led to gravel pits being removed after the 1999 season.

          Anyone who watches the Villeneuve crash will plainly see that the gravel trap does nothing, because Villeneuve just skips over it. It’s been over 20 years, since the FIA has been removing gravel traps for safety reasons and people still do not understand this.

          1. The gravel pat the radillion was removed when the buit the new pit exit (for endurance) no way to bring that back unless they change thta pit exit again

            1. From the Formula One website:
              “The beginning of the decade saw the gravel trap on the outside of the corner replaced with asphalt as the push for improved safety continued”

              https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/features/2016/8/the-best-corner-in-f1-racing—-a-pictorial-history-of-eau-rouge.html

              This was 2002, which also saw the gravel pit in Blanchimont being replaced by asphalt.

          2. Tarmac run-offs are not that much safer, not because of their better stopping power compared to gravel, but because it’s made the drivers more dangerous as they take more liberties with braking zones, track limits, and overtaking manoeuvres. They know the penalty for getting it wrong is just a few seconds lost compared to getting themselves beached, so they take more risks, often unnecessarily.

        3. They replaced the gravel as it was found to be ineffective at that part of the track as cars tended to simply skip over the top of it as they were already a bit light at they came over the top of the hill.

          It was also found to have made certain accidents worse. Zonta for instance flipped after hitting the gravel on the other side of the track at Eau Rouge & Luciano Burti’s accident at Blanchimont in 2001 was made worse by the gravel as it immediately broke the suspension which took away his steering & braking ability.

          They didn’t simply start removing gravel traps for the sake of it, A lot of research was done & a lot of thought put into the pros/cons of different types of runoff with the end result been the use of whatever it was felt was best based on that research/data.

          Should be noted that drivers also had some input into it via the GPDA which is consulted on things related to safety.

          1. Oskari Kantonen
            27th August 2020, 8:45

            Burti’s accident was caused by the front wing being lodged under the car right after impact, not because of the gravel trap

            1. It’s true that the accident wasn’t caused by the gravel trap but the gravel trap did make it worse as the front suspension broke as he hit the gravel trap & caused him to loose both steering & brakes.

              It was felt at the time that had that part of the runoff been tarmac while he’d have still gone off he likely would have retained some level of braking & still been able to steer to some degree so likely would have hit the wall at a slower speed & better angle.

              That is why the gravel trap at Blanchimont was replaced with tarmac for the following year, Both the FIA & GPDA felt it was a much safer option after the investigation into the Burti accident.

      3. Came here to ask the same thing. Why are they not using SAFER (or equivalent) barriers at F1 tracks in these modern times? Seems like a no-brainer

        1. SAFER barriers are used where there is no room for tire or tech-pro barriers. It should be obvious that a SAFER barrier will absorb much less energy than four rows of tires.

      4. I agree: those tyres arranged like that don’t look like they are the best option, or even a good cheap option. Are there safer ways to arrange the tyres? A concrete motorway barrier right behind the tyres? I guess this has the FIA’s seal of approval, and I’m not the person in charge of the circuit who guarantees this tyre wall is far far safer than last year’s one. I’d happily accept being proven wrong at the next car crash, but it just doesn’t look like the sort of improvement I would have thought necessary.

        1. @drycrust just a few feet behind that concrete barrier is a steep hill full of trees, so it is needed to allow Marshall’s to get safe access further along the circuit and to reduce the risk of vehicles ending up wrecked amongst the trees with reduces access due to the geography of the location.

          I think tyre barriers do a reasonable efficient job, they do slow the cars and reduce the impact forces . Techpro barriers may work reasonably well, but, we have seen F1 cars go straight underneath (Kvyat is the first to spring to mind),

          Unfortunately Hubert Tragic accident was due to the front wing the lodged under the Front wheels of Correa’s car, preventing him from being unable to steer away. Perhaps some kind of emergency trick brake that can be deployed, but, even then it comes at the cost of weight and bulk…

          1. @maddme Thanks for telling me about the trees and the steep bank, I hadn’t paid attention to them. It just looked to me as though placing the tyres against the concrete barrier meant there was less “give” in the tyre wall than if a space had been left.
            In regards to the idea of an emergency brake, I don’t know if such a thing is practical or even how effective it would have been. As you said, if Correa could have steered his car then that could have changed things.

        2. I don’t understand, what’s the potential problem with the current arrangement?

      5. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
        27th August 2020, 16:19

        Regardless of the barriers used or the nature of the run off surface, the fact remains there is too little run-off at this part of the track. I understand a it would be a significant piece of work to move the barriers back, perhaps necessitating a tunnel behind. How much would it cost? How much money is there in formula One? How much a mans life?

      6. It works… just a matter of implementing it the right way if you can get them to fit in the space.

    2. I’m all for safety, but at the end of the day, you’re driving a rocket car at insane speeds around blind turns. It is invariably dangerous no matter how careful everyone is.

      1. I think if we were really concerned over safety at that corner combination a small change after Eau Rouge, reshaping the race line so that the cars must sweep long to the left and you have a 100 kph reduction going thru Radillion. The current place for the left curb would become the right side

        1. Didn’t they put a chicane in the middle of it in 1994? As with turn 9 in Spain I think

          1. Or maybe we can stop doing motorsport altogether ! There, fixed, no danger anymore.

    3. I don’t understand it either. If the problem was that the car bounced back and stood sideways to the oncoming traffic, how will even more tyres help? Wouldn’t Techpro or something similar be better in this regard as pointed out?

      Or is the plan that the bounce will happen nearer the track and be more pronounced so the car bounces to the other side of the track? Surely that’s even worse as that’s where the traffic is?

      1. If the tyres absorb more of the impact, he’ll have less energy for bouncing back, no?

        I never saw good footage of the Hubert crash so quite difficult to have an honest opinion.

      2. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
        27th August 2020, 16:22

        Completely agree. More tyres means more bounce off the tyres.

    4. Something for some comments above.

      They have stuck with tires as it’s felt they are the best option for that section of track & they have increased the rows from 2 to 4 as it’s felt that 4 rows will not only do a better job at absorbing some of the energy but also grab the car a bit better to prevent it bouncing back towards the track.

      Tecpro isn’t suitable at that part of the track as the chances are that a car going into tecpro at that point would either simply submarine underneath it or grab into them & pull the tecpro barriers out which may result in them ending up on the track.

      And something like a safer barrier is also inappropriate for that section as while that type of barrier is great on an oval where the barriers are right next to the track, When you have additional runoff a safer wall is less effective as cars can hit with more momentum at angles that are actually far more likely to throw a car back towards the track. This is why you don’t see a safer walls used on road/street circuits in places that already have a good amount of runoff.

    5. @gt-racer Thanks for the Tecpro and Safer Barrier info, excellent point’s I’d never considered.

    6. Coventry Climax
      26th August 2020, 22:43

      I have no knowledge about how ‘tecpro’ or ‘safer’ barriers actually work, and I’m sure there’s a lot of investigation going on on the subject by people a lot more expert than I am, but here’s my two cents nonetheless: If the problem is cars bouncing back onto the track, then that’s what should be prevented, obviously. So, it should be a material that absorbs te energy, but not release it again, like tires, which in essence behave like a rubber band. So shouldn’t we be looking at something with characteristics similar to memory foam?

      1. Magel Ninsell
        27th August 2020, 0:13

        A side impact can also happen even if the car hasn’t bounced back on to the track (or like in Hubert’s case, on to the runoff area). It only requires a driver to crash at the same place where another driver has just crashed a second ago.

        Also T-bone impacts can easily happen if a driver goes wide and spins back to the track. Or the driver stalls in the grid, or suddenly loses power on the straight. It can happen in Spa, or Monza, or Bahrain. It can happen in F1, F2, or F3. It can happen in Friday practice session or in a qualifying. Unfortunately, it’s not a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’.

      2. A single tyre will behave like a rubber band. A tyre wall, however behaves differently, depending on the type of impact. With high impacts on deep tyre walls, the tyres move apart and absorb the impact with less rebound than you would think. With low impacts, you will get a bigger element of rebound and that’s actually desirable as it reduces the G-load spike by distributing the deceleration over a longer time.

        Memory foam is probably the last thing you’d want to use outside. Full of water, it would be like a brick.

        1. Thanks for adding another bit of useful knowledge to the page @gardenfella72, well explained.

        2. Coventry Climax
          27th August 2020, 17:39

          Still not quite convinced, really.
          I think we can agree on the rebound issue as the factor to eliminate. Energy absorption is also a no-brainer.
          I know tire barriers do quite a decent job, but not for the full 100%. Your explanation sounds very plausible, but the tires are bound together and indeed you do still see cars bounce back onto the track many times, even at different speeds and angles of impact. Have thin metal drum inserts ever been considered? Say, in every x-th tire? That would take the elasticity away. We should be looking at a solution much like the crumple zones in cars, to my opinion.
          Had you really read my last sentence, you wouldn’t have acused me of wanting to use memory foam. I said something like looking at materials “with characteristics similar(!) to memory-foam”. You’ve just earned yourself a comment deletion penalty for that shortcut ;-)
          Seriously, I’m only brainstorming, so I’m interested in what other drawbacks you attribute to a memory foam like material. I’m sure the water absorption issue is easily solved. (Ever been on a wild water slide with your kids? Thats rubber foam they use, and it does certainly not absorb water.) I’m trying to look at solutions, instead of cutting out options before they’ve truly been investigated.

        3. Coventry Climax
          27th August 2020, 17:53

          Looking at your comment again, your “With low impacts, you will get a bigger element of rebound and that’s actually desirable as it reduces the G-load spike by distributing the deceleration over a longer time” sounds nice but is actually plain nonsense.
          1: The desired deceleration phase is when the barrier (whichever material used) is compressed, not when it rebounds. Any rebound generates another G-load, namely in the opposite direction. Barriers are there to try and stop the crashing car, not accelerate it back in the opposite direction.
          2: This does not depend on impact magnitude. If the impact is already low, as you say, why reduce the -then non-threatening- G-load spike?
          3: So cars bouncing back onto the track at lower speeds is less dangerous? Get real!

    7. What is this change supposed to achieve? To stop cars from bouncing back on track?

      Also, again, the article is really poorly written. Haphazardly switching between the incident and repeating that the barrier got changed. Maybe something useful got mentioned somewhere, but I’m too busy skipping through unneeded chunks of text. Quantity over quality.

      1. Deeper tyre barriers have less rebound and are more likely to ‘grab’ cars in heavy impacts.

    8. Barriers are only as good as the bad angle of incident and relative speed. A hundred rows of tires might not help if the science of the accident isn’t understood. The safer barriers used in the American Stock Car Series have proven themselves effective. Aesthetically they look better than a thousand colored tires and by accounts are very good at grabbing energy off the racecars. The triangle of energy at speed and forces from angle of incident combined with the environment at the track all become nothing but wishful thinking as to why crashes happen.
      Any barrier is better than no barrier but only if it catches the out of control racing machine and dissipates that cars energy

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