Callum Ilott, Nurburgring, 2020

Spa’s Raidillon corner must change says Ilott after huge GT crash

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In the round-up: Alfa Romeo reserve driver Callum Ilott has called for changes to Spa-Francorchamps after witnessing a second serious crash at Raidillon within two years.

In brief

Ilott says “enough is enough” of Raidillon crashes

Spa-Francorchamps circuit map
Track data: Spa-Francorchamps
Four drivers received medical attention following a crash at Raidillon in the early stages yesterday’s Spa 24 Hours. Kevin Estre and Franck Perera, were taken to the medical centre and released while two others, Jack Aitken and Davide Rigon were taken to hospital for further checks, though their injuries are said not to be life-threatening.

Ilott, Rigon’s Iron Lynx team mate, also participated in the 2019 Formula 2 race at the circuit in which Anthoine Hubert lost his life following a collision at the same corner. Following yesterday’s crash Ilott said he believes the Raidillon corner – turn four – should be changed for safety.

“There needs to be a change at this corner and I’m very surprised nothing has changed yet,” wrote Ilott on social media. “Enough is enough.”

He pointed out several of his friends have now suffered major crashes at the corner. “If I’m wrong for chasing for better safety after seeing four of my friends involved in massive accidents then I may as well not be human,” Ilott added.

“I’ve come back to Spa after 2019 and I will come back again after this. But that doesn’t mean if something isn’t good enough it shouldn’t be fixed.”

Ricciardo form not linked to mid-season chassis change

Chassis changes at McLaren have shed no light on the difficulties Daniel Ricciardo is experiencing in getting up to speed with the team’s car.

Ricciardo revealed the change after he failed to reach Q3 for the sixth time this year in qualifying yesterday. However McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl said this had been a “scheduled rotation of monocoques” and no link to Ricciardo’s problems had been discovered.

“On Daniel’s side, we already changed two times this year but there’s nothing on the monocoque side.”

Seidl said that McLaren knew the problems Ricciardo was having and that they came down to the unique way the MCL35M has to be driven – and the inevitable comparison between struggling Ricciardo and flying team mate Lando Norris.

“We clearly see what the issues are that Daniel is also describing,” said Saidl. “It has nothing to do with parts and so on, [it] has to do with the characteristics of our car.

“In the end, it’s a combination of Daniel still getting used to our car. But at the same time, he also has a team mate that is in an unbelievable form and that’s why we see this gap from time to time. And that’s it.”

Perez expected “good lap time” from lost final run

Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Hungaroring, 2021
Perez couldn’t start his final lap in Q3
Sergio Perez said he found it difficult to find a set-up which works to his liking at the Hungaroring. “It’s been a tricky weekend in terms of exploring the maximum out of the car, with the conditions changing that much,” said the Red Bull driver, who will start today’s race from fourth on the grid.

“Yesterday was pretty hot and we had some issues and other issues [on Saturday], so it has been very difficult to put the car in the right place. I certainly feel that I was making good progress through qualifying with the car, with the operating window that we have.”

Perez said being unable to start his final lap in qualifying cost him a useful chance to improve. “I felt that I was making good steps and that it was a real shame to lose that final lap because I felt like there was good lap time in it.”

Momentum key to W Series wins – Chadwick

Jamie Chadwick, who took the lead in the W Series title fight with her victory in Hungary yesterday, says building momentum over the weekend has been key to her two wins so far this year.

“I think it does seem to be a bit the nature of the series this year at the moment,” said Chadwick, who moved ahead of rival Alice Powell in the standings. “If you’ve got the momentum after practice and you’re comfortable with the car, that seems a bit easier to take it and carry that into qualifying and the race.

“It’s nice to have that pace advantage this weekend and be able to translate it into a win. So I’m obviously very happy, but still only halfway through the season so not to get too far ahead of ourselves.”

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Comment of the day

Formula 3’s new race weekend format is rewarding mediocrity, argues Jlb:

Mr Michel, if what you wanted was to allow the mediocre to win in order to keep their hopes up, so they continue to spend astronomical amounts of money on your championship; you have succeeded.

In other case, the new F2 and F3 format is an absolute failure.

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On this day in motorsport

  • 45 years ago today James Hunt won Formula 1’s last grand prix on the Nurburgring Nordschleife after a fiery crash left Niki Lauda badly burned and fighting for his life

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Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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30 comments on “Spa’s Raidillon corner must change says Ilott after huge GT crash”

  1. What can they do at Raidillon?

    The Hubert crash was blamed by many on the paved runoff that encourages cars to dive off the track in avoidance, and maybe a gravel runoff would have changed the outcome of that, but it would also create five times as many severe crashes where cars are heading into a cloud of dust without knowing where any cars are.

    What about increasing runoff? This will always involve expensive earthworks given the topography. If you were going to do it, the first place would be the inside of Raidillon — this is the place where there’s the least runoff for cars going off on the right-hander, and it’s also a place where hitting the wall can spit you out into the middle of the track, just past the crest of Raidillon itself — like Zonta’s 99 crash, or this Spa 24 crash. I think that’s your best “bang for your buck” in terms of earthworks.

    The smaller improvement to runoff I’d like to see is down the straight, where the wall comes back to the track — I’d like to see that straightened to minimise angles. Not such a big deal but a lot easier.

    What about realigning the track? Maybe you could do some subtle changes to the geometry of the corners — maybe slightly tighten the left-right of Eau Rouge so that crashes are moved away from the Raidillon crest? Maybe the left at Raidillon could be eased by making the right-hander a little longer so that you have more space for Raidillon? It’s all very squeezed, but there might be some capacity. Of course you can always just return to the 1994 chicane but I doubt anyone wants that.

    1. There’s enough room on the left before Eau Rouge to stick a complex/chicane that slows the cars down a lot. That’s the kind of drastic measure you need to make the corner ‘safe’ (relative term). The problem is the speed and the blind crest. Cars are too good nowadays so are carrying so much speed there.

      I know it’s similar to the 1994 solution, but I can’t see any other solution. Barrier changes might work, but then energy the cars are carrying it’s hard to predict where they’ll end up even with the best design practise.

      Cars can always end up parked in the confines of the circuit. While you can carry that much speed over the crest, drivers will always struggle to reduce speed and take avoiding action.

      If the drivers themselves are saying they don’t think this is an acceptable risk to take as it is designed, then change will be inevitable.

      1. @Alan

        How about sticking a chicane or a corner AFTER Eau Rouge/Raidillon. It would make the cars brake before the crest and reduce the pressure on cars carrying speed through as the effect of a corner/chicane would minimize losses on the straight afterwards. Right now the pressure is on to stay flat as any lift means you will be overtaken on the straight.

        Maybe a chicane on the crest.

        I wish they would test this out by using the simulators.

    2. Well, The actual creek/river ‘Eau Rouge’ runs under the track at the first left kink of the complex, so moving that apex would be costly, and potentially have environmental impacts.

      Given the vast run-off there to the left, and the up-hill nature of the topography, I would like to think the most effective solution would be to move the right-hander a little more to the left, making the corner a little tighter to slow the cars and change the angles of attack at Radillion. It wouldn’t need to be much of a change, maybe a meter or two, but that can make all the difference I think.

      The up-hill nature would mean fewer meters of alterations to the spectator/forest area up the hill for run off (combined with lower speeds at the apex), and make the corner more challenging for the faster cars.

      Straightening the corner would change the geography completely as the earth to the left goes down towards the creek, and changes in that direction will also have some environmental effects.

      Tightening the corner, and having to edit the run off area a little to the left further up the hill will (in my humble opinion) have the smallest impact on the environment, spectacle and the hip pocket.

    3. I’ve always thought a large TV screen at the eau rouge showing what’s going on at the crest would help drivers. I’ve never seen it used in motorsports before, but it would enable drivers to at least see what’s going on at the crest and slow or take avoiding action if there is a stationary car(s). It would also maintain the corner as it is, I really wouldn’t want to see a 94 style chicane through the best corner in motorsport. Must be a way to do something.

      1. The problem is the nature of the corner. You can’t just lift or brake heavily going through Eau Rouge and Raddillon because you risk losing the car and having a massive accident yourself. The car right up until you’re over the crest is fully loaded. Also, these accidents happen in a matter of seconds so a TV screen won’t offer much valuable information to a driver, and arguably would act as a distraction. What happens if there’s feed is delayed and driver acts on the information on the screen only to find themselves in exactly the wrong place on the track for. So while I commend you for thinking of an idea, it’s not feasible, and arguably more dangerous.

        The danger is the corner is extremely fast and ends with a blind crest. The only fool proof way to make the corner safer would, in my view, but a big chicane where the rallycross track is. That way the corner doesn’t have to be re profiled and can remain for series that wish to use it.

        1. Very good point about the dangers of relying on a feed. Perhaps a spotter Marshall could press a button and a warning could be displayed on the dash for approaching cars instead. I kind of disagree that you cannot lift through eau rouge and then the climb (my non-expert analysis of many pile-ups in Assetto Corsa speaking here though granted).

          The problem with the chicane is that although no re-profiling is required, it just completely changes the challenge of the corner. Many series other than F1 do have to lift slightly though there. Of course your solution would make it much safer, but so would not reaching at all. Maybe that is the compromise we need however, you may be right.

          1. Not driving at all.

          2. The issue is that when you have an accident you have a second or two before the marshal can throw a yellow. By that time, if you have a close field you have multiple car heading into eau rouge flat out. It’s not a complex where drivers can easily scrub enough speed safely that negates the danger of a blind crest. It took 2.5 seconds from the car hitting the barriers to being hit by another car. It was around 4-5 seconds from initial impact with the wall that the car is hit again. So the drivers have maybe 1 second of lifting in a best case scenario. That’s not enough time to scrub speed to negate the danger.

            In normal racing conditions a drivers line of sight means they can manage de-acceleration in a safe predictable manner. A blind crest means the drivers by and large have to maintain one line until they are over the crest, You can’t avoid what you can’t see. This means you have to consider how you de-accelerate. Smashing on the anchors with a car right behind you could cause a gigantic pile up at those speeds.

            Assetto Corsa doesn’t really do the track justice and shouldn’t used as a safety metric.

    4. Airbags!

      Maybe not airbags, but more advanced barriers might help.

      Losing one of the best corners in F1 would be a pity.

    5. “where cars are heading into a cloud of dust without knowing where any cars are”
      Just ban permanently from racing those who do it. If they see clouds and double yellow they should break, not try to overtake the crash as fast as possible.

  2. on a purely factual standpoint, it’s hard to blame the guy

  3. I’m not sure Raidillon should change if the majority of appointed incidents usually start at Eau-Rouge. If there is change to be made, seems easy: reactivating Virage de L’Ancienne douanne would suffice.

    But I’m sure mutilating the track seems tastier.

    1. Jonathan Parkin
      1st August 2021, 5:00

      We’ve been mutilating Spa for years though. Ever since we started mucking about with the Bus Stop (that is no longer a Bus Stop)

      1. Spa has been changed multiple times since its inception in the 1920s. The track used to be 15 km long, was made into 14 km. And eventually changed into the modern track during the safety crusade of Jackie Stewart.

        The busstop isn’t even an original corner. And Spa-Francorchamps is considered a low speed track in comparison to the original.

      2. We’ll Bus stop is the only place that’s really changed which thankfully has made a much safer pit entry.

  4. What I found fascinating is that after 1994 Imola changed the circuit to make it much slower. Still after the years the last chicane has been removed and also Monza is thinking about making the circuit faster.
    We have now unfortunately seen a few incidents in Radillion/Eau Rouge but if they are going to make that corner a bit slower there are still many other corners at Spa and all over the globe that can cause fatal accidents. As techonolgy goes forward the cars won’t slow down. Maybe we need a totally different kind of circuits where the safety aspect is priority. They could make it as safety as possible but they can’t slow the cars down and speed is the main factor that causes incidents and speed isn’t going to disappear.

    1. I get what you mean, but the last chicane at Imola was already there pre-1994 and arguably was part of Barrichello’s accident the same weekend. It also didn’t help with the pit entrance. Much better now.

      There’s plenty of corners that are arguably not safe enough, but its a case of how far do / can you go?
      People complain that 130R is sanitised these days, but al it takes is one unfortunate incident there and we’ll be back to “its not safe enough”.

      Part of the problem at Radillion is that the crest makes it blind, so you can’t see that someone has already crashed. Its not the first impact that is the problem, as all the car’s deforming structures have done there job. Its the secondary contact from the unsighted car that does the damage and causes the most risk. And that could be almost anywhere, its just that the probability is higher on a blind bend or crest.

      I haven’t got the answers! I don’t think any of us here truly do.

      1. Exactly, the most dangerous part about it isn’t just the speed, there’s plenty of other fast corners that aren’t as dangerous. The most dangerous aspect is that it is a blind corner. They can slow it down by adding a chicane near the rally stage, but that won’t do anything as cars get faster and it does nothing to stop the blind crest. The only possible way I can think of is if they make the pitlane exit the same as F1’s and rebuild the current entrance to not be as steep. The problem being that this would remove both Eau Rouge and Raidillon, but it would remove the blind crest and thus make it safer even if this section becomes faster. I can’t see anyone being for this unless it’s just a solution for junior categories as that is where all the crashes seem to occur, not so much in senior categories. Perhaps in WEC if LMH/LMDh and in F1 they take Eau Rouge whereas all other categories take the new route and rejoin in a later and safer position. Other than that, I can’t think of anything else to make it safer and that solution just ruins Raidillon.

  5. @keithcollantine, I like your Twitter comment, spot on!

  6. It seems like most of the incidents are coming from lower categories. Would be interesting if they can make the corner slower by moving the right apex of raidillion farther to the left. Then change it back for f1 only. Basically reprofile it with removable kerbing. A few meters would be plenty.

    1. @ppzzus I’d strongly recommend that. There’s no reason why other categories are more likely to crash – if anything, the higher speeds mean an F1 fatality is more likely. Let’s not tempt fate.

    2. If F1 raced there as much as other series there would most likely be similar accidents happening. F1 races there 90 minutes a year. This accident happened at the annual Spa 24 Hours race. (1440 minutes)

    3. RandomMallard (@)
      1st August 2021, 9:30

      @ppzzus I doubt that would work. One of the 2 incidents highlighted was in an F2 race that took place I think less than an hour after F1 Qualifying. You couldn’t add the kerbing and get the track checked by safety personnel again (which I expect would be necessary) in that time frame. And I don’t think it would even make a difference tbh. F1 has had a big incident there in recent years as well (Magnussen in 2016), but he was lucky enough that the field was spread out enough that no-one collected him in the run-off (like with Hubert) or that he bounced back onto the track (like what happened yesterday).

  7. Whenever I attend a live motorsports event I always take a moment to thank one of the guys or girls in orange on my way to the exit. Sometimes gets me nothing more than a funny look, but events like yesterday’s at Brands Hatch show why it’s important to keep doing it.

  8. Maybe gravel trap to keep the crashed cars outside of the track. (to have a better chance of it) Also the tyre wall should be put many meters away from the track. I guess it would have been done before if it was that easy. But the gravel trap is easy. Tecpro could also be installed, tecpro keeps the cars there and there is a lower chance of cars bouncing back to the track.

    It would be a shame to lose this corner.

    1. RandomMallard (@)
      1st August 2021, 9:35

      @f1mre I believe they are set to add a gravel trap on the outside of Radillon this coming winter, so Spa can start to host bike races again (this may have prevented such a serious outcome of the Hubert crash, although I’m not sure what it means for the Endirance pit exit). I don’t really think tecpro barriers would be able to absorb enough energy at the speeds at Radillon. Yes tyre barriers can bounce people back, but that shows how much energy they’re actually absorbing.

      With regards to the tyre barrier, I’m not sure about the inside, but on the outside there is a very steep bank immediately behind the tyre barrier, so moving it further back is impossible.

  9. Re Raidillon: That crash was terrible, but I don’t know if something will ever be done to that corner.
    Re various tweets: Well said tweets there.
    Re BARC statement: Rest in Peace to the marshal. My thoughts are with him.
    Re COTD: I strongly agree.

  10. As others have pointed out, there are quite a few factors in what makes Raidillon a dangerous place: the approaching speed (long straight + downhill, even the slowest cars reach quite a high speed), the change in direction in the corner combination, the crest of the hill, making cars both light and creating visibility problems, the lack of run-off, and the lack of extra space for more run-off. I’d argue that even the tarmac run-off areas create problems, as drivers know they can get away with a very slight mistake here.

    If the modern cars in most categories are “too fast”, I wouldn’t necessarily be against changing the layout of the track. Make the first left-hander slightly tighter and earlier, and the right-hander slightly longer with a larger radius, and perhaps move Raidillon itself a few metres towards the pit exit, thus creating an esses (like Silverstone or Suzuka) instead of just straight-ish line we have now.

    Or just change the run-off areas.

  11. I’m pretty sure they are actually due to change Raidillon later this year.

    I believe the plan is to extend the runoff by 10m, Re-work the GT pit exit & add a bit of gravel at the request of one of the bike categories than hope to race there in future.

    I think it was work that was supposed to be done by now but which ended up been pushed back a year due to the pandemic.

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