Friday qualifying for Saturday’s W Series race at Spa-Francorchamps was momentarily red-flagged after a serious crash at Raidillon, one of the fastest corners on the circuit. Six drivers — Fabienne Wohlwend, Beitske Visser, Sarah Moore, Abbie Eaton, Ayla Agren and Belen Garcia — lost control independently while negotiating the high-speed right-hander, and were collected near the wall inside the apex of the subsequent left. Another car, seemingly that of Academy driver Nerea Marti, could be seen spinning wide of the wreck toward the runoff area on the opposite side of the track.
Thankfully, all drivers are reportedly in good health, with most of them undergoing evaluation at the track, and two — Agren and Visser — transported to a hospital for further checks. Agren was discharged in the evening and Visser is still there, though a CT scan showed no injuries and she’s said to be in “good spirits,” per the official W Series Twitter.
That’s certainly a lucky break for all involved, as the video below illustrates. I warn you it’s still harrowing to watch, even though nobody has apparently been seriously hurt.
It began to rain right as the drivers approached Eau Rouge, which explains why they each slid off the track in repetitive fashion, totally independently and without contact. Still, this is the sort of chaos in unison one might expect from an oil spill. Visser’s car is the one sent above the tire wall, thrown up into the air by Garcia’s car. When Visser came back down again, Wohlwend’s car struck hers, overturning it.
The session was halted for about 30 minutes, and — in an ill-advised move — W Series chose to resume qualifying afterwards, before issuing any word on the drivers’ conditions. W Series posted a brief interview later in the afternoon with Eaton and Moore, where Moore explained how treacherous the conditions quickly became:
As I came out of the final corner onto the first push lap it just started to drizzle. I knew that, you know, if the rain was going to come down, this was the only dry lap I was going to get, so I had to kind of go all in. I got up toward Eau Rouge, turned in, and just — the rear just snapped and from then on I was a passenger, really. There was nothing I could do.
Today’s incident follows another stomach-churning crash that happened a month ago at the exact same part of the circuit during the Spa 24 Hours. In that instance, Jack Aitken’s Lamborghini struck the same inner wall after Raidillon, was spit back out in the middle of the road on the other side of a blind crest, and was hit at speed by several other cars. Aitken suffered collarbone and vertebra fractures and a contused lung.
After that crash — and with Anthoine Hubert’s fatal accident from 2019 fresh in mind — Alfa Romeo F1 reserve driver Callum Ilott called upon organizers to make changes at Eau Rouge and Raidillon. Formula 1 race director Michael Masi said in response to Ilott’s comments that Spa “is safe from an FIA perspective.” F1 is also at Spa this weekend; W Series is there supporting the Grand Prix. Given the recent history at those corners, perhaps it’s time the powers that be address the criticism with a bit more urgency.