Formula 1 is headed for a wet sprint weekend in Spa-Francorchamps, with rain possible on all three days just two years after the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix was washed out due to heavy rain.
Usually F1 fans would be ecstatic about the news of a fully wet weekend, but coming just four weeks after the tragic death of Dilano van ‘t Hoff at Spa, there’s more concern than ever over the safety of the circuit in the rain.
With Eau Rouge one of the most challenging corners on the F1 calender and Radillion following it unsighted over the crest of a hill, it’s easy to make a mistake but the crash barriers can bounce a car back onto the track.
That’s bad enough in normal conditions but when spray reduces visibility to a few metres, it’s a recipe for high-speed, potentially fatal, collisions.
In 2021, the track never dried out enough to have any competitive, but the stewards still ran the cars for a few ‘racing’ laps behind the safety car in order to register it as a race in one of the most farcical F1 scenes in recent years.
And a repeat of that could be on the cards if the most pessimistic weather forecasts are to be believed.
However, if the rain isn’t as bad as predicted, with just a few light showers and drivers needing to make the decision on intermediate or dry tyres then it could be a very exciting but safe weekend.
Friday, Free Practice and Qualifying
Belgium‘s national weather service estimates up to a centimetre of rain falling on Friday and it looks like a 75% chance of rain, meaning teams can at least use practice to prepare for the deluge that’ll await them in the competitive sessions.
There’s thunderstorms expected ahead of qualifying and though it looks like they might’ve dried up by the time cars are scheduled to head onto track, but it’s set to continue raining steadily into the evening.
Even with the sprint weekend there’s still scope for qualifying to move to Sunday morning when the rain is expected to be less torrential, but if it’s dry enough to have qualifying sfely on Friday then it should be a sight to behold.
Saturday, Sprint Qualifying and Sprint Race
Wet, but not quite as wet as Friday. There’s a 50% chance of rain for the dramatically named sprint shootout, but that dips to about one in three by the time the sprint itself rolls around.
Or does it? Other forecasts have the chance of rain above 80% all day, and to add to the confusion, Belgium‘s national meteorology service haven’t even published detailed forecasts that far into the future. It really is a free-for-all.
In other news, the temperature is set to be about 20 degrees Celsius on all three days so it could be worse, but it’s definitely a step down from the scorching temperatures at the Hungarian GP.
There’s much more consensus around raceday though. It looks to be about a 50% chance of rain for lights out at 15:00 local time, and the downpour should be much lighter than on Saturday and certainly Friday.
How much of the weekend we’ll have seen by then remains up in the air, but the best chance of action looks like it is the race itself, where Max Verstappen aims to move himself one away from Sebastian Vettel‘s record of nine successive F1 victories.
One other thing to note is the wind – it’s 7-9 mph for most of the weekend but on Sunday it’s as strong as 13 mph so that’ll be another for the drivers to wrestle with.