Persistent heavy rain caused significant disruptions at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, with the start of Saturday’s sprint being delayed by 35 minutes. The weather complications hampered Friday’s free practice session, leading to a sombre reflection on safety since the fatal accident of Formula Regional driver Dilano van ‘t Hoff in similarly wet conditions.
The race eventually kicked off after five formation laps to offset some of the existing standing water and reduce the visibility-hindering spray. The driving community was understanding of race control’s attempts to create safer track conditions while allowing for an abbreviated 11-lap race to take place.
Multiple drivers voiced their concerns that despite the track’s preparedness for racing, the visibility issues due to spray remained a serious concern. “I was in fourth gear down the straight, and I couldn’t even see George [Russell]’s light in front of me,” AlphaTauri‘s Daniel Ricciardo told F1 Initiative, revealing the extent of the problem.
Ricciardo expressed relief that the race was completed without incident, but maintained that visibility during wet conditions has degraded over the years. He acknowledged the excitement of racing in wet conditions but admitted that the on-boards accurately capture the degree of impaired visibility.
Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg concurred, blaming the shift to ground-effect cars in 2022 for exacerbating visibility issues in such conditions. Hulkenberg asserted that the blurring curtain of spray compelled drivers to guess their way forward, often hoping merely to spot the flashing lights of the car in front.
Alpine‘s Esteban Ocon praised the FIA‘s efforts to clear as much water as possible before resuming the race, but acknowledged that conditions remained challenging once the competition kicked off even with intermediates. Director George Russell echoed such sentiments saying that visibility issues are more prevalent at Spa, suggesting that future races allow for several full-speed racing laps before neutralising the pack with the safety car, as conditions improved significantly after two laps of racing.