Max Verstappen says that races in wet conditions can’t take place in Formula 1 without the issue of visibility being a concern for the drivers.
This weekend’s forecast suggests that rain is likely to impact proceedings, creating uncertainty over whether a number of sessions will even take place.
The location of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in amongst the Ardennes Forest creates a heightened problem when extreme weather strikes the venue – most notably in 2021 when the race was abandoned after a handful of laps behind the Safety Car.
Concerns ahead of this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix have also been raised following the tragic passing of Dilano van t’Hoff following an incident in a wet race at Spa in the FRECA series just last month.
However, the reigning World Champion adds that it should be accepted that the only solution to avoiding visibility difficulties in the rain on Sunday is if the race is halted.
“We have spent quite a bit of time in briefings, and I think also from his [Wittich] side, he’s done quite a few races now,” Verstappen highlighted.
“I think he’d also listen to the Safety Car a bit, and I think he will know if it’s safe or not. But the visibility is going to be bad anyway; otherwise, we cannot have any rain races anymore.”
Verstappen is adamant that the issue of visibility in the wet has become even more problematic since the introduction of wider cars and bigger tyres from 2017 onwards.
“We went to the bigger tyres, which makes it worse because there’s more displacement,” he explained. ”Plus, just the shape of the car, it’s so big so you have more spray.
“It is worse than it was in 2016, but in 2016, it was also bad. I remember the race in Brazil where I was in the back after the pitstop, I didn’t even see Fernando [Alonso] spinning off the track.
“For the whole straight, I kept it flat, but I didn’t see anything and did so only by knowing where you’re going from all the other laps.
“You just keep it pinned, but if there would have been a car standing [still] I would have gone completely through it.”
Aside from concerns surrounding racing in the wet, there has also been huge scrutiny placed on the safety of the Spa circuit and its Eau Rouge/Raidillon sequence.
French driver Anthoine Hubert lost his life in 2019 after an accident in a Formula 2 race at the circuit, prompting continued question marks to this day over the suitability of the track layout in modern times.
However, Verstappen, who was born in Belgium, believes there are more dangerous circuits on the F1 calendar than Spa.
“There are always things that can be done better, but we are also racing in Monaco, which I think is way more dangerous than here,” the championship leader contended.
“We race there because it’s deemed safe enough. Accidents happen, unfortunately.
“And honestly, when you look back at the accident that happened, it is just extremely unfortunate the way it happens. I don’t think there’s a lot you can do or change for it to be a lot safer.
“Because there are also other tracks out there that if you have a crash, and you’re [flung] back onto the track, and there’s very low visibility, that can happen again.
“It’s just a bit, I guess, unlucky in a way as well that it happens at Spa, two times, but close to each other.”