Two drivers were taken to hospital after a violent six-car accident in qualifying for the Spa round of the W Series in support of the Belgian Grand Prix.
The session followed Formula 1’s second practice session and while the track was dry there was light rain reported.
One set of flying laps had been completed before qualifying had to be red-flagged because of a six-car pile-up at the top of Eau Rouge.
Five cars were involved initially, with first Sarah Moore then Abbie Eaton spinning into the barriers on the left-hand side at Raidillon.
Beitske Visser, Ayla Agren and Marta Garcia also spun and ricocheted into them, with Eaton and Visser being launched into the air – a wheel on Eaton’s car landing on Moore’s halo, while Visser’s car touched the top of the tyre barrier before landing on the track.
Then a sixth car, driven by Fabienne Wohlwend, had run wide up Eau Rouge but not spun, which meant she arrived at the same part of the run-off with the car pointing forward and travelling at speed.
Wohlwend hit Visser’s sideways car towards the back, which took off Visser’s rear axle, in one final and particularly aggressive impact that ended with Wohlwend’s car upside down.
A seventh car had its own spin in the middle of the track but did not end up joining the accident itself.
A W Series statement said that Agren and Visser “have been transferred to hospital for further checks” and that the other drivers were “undergoing medical assessment”.
The series has indicated that there are no serious injuries involved, with its racing director Dave Ryan saying “thankfully it seems that everyone is OK”.
The championship later added – “Ayla Agren has been discharged from hospital. Beitske Visser is still in hospital – a CT scan has revealed no injuries. She is still awaiting the results of a leg X-ray but is in good spirits and is discussing the accident.”
Thank you all for your messages❤️ that was a very scary one but I think I had an angel on my shoulder, I’m very sore but luckily I have no fractures🙏 pic.twitter.com/j2AyJzav80
— Beitske Visser (@beitskevisser) August 27, 2021
Eaton, Garcia, Moore and Wohlwend were all shown back in the pitlane on the TV broadcast of the session after the accident, and Eaton has since confirmed on social media that she is unhurt.
The accident will likely place fresh scrutiny on the layout of Eau Rouge and Raidillon, which has been the scene of several dangerous accidents.
The crash came just a few weeks after a violent accident at the same place in the Spa 24 Hours left Williams F1 reserve Jack Aitken with a broken collarbone and vertebra.
Two years ago at Spa, Formula 2 driver Anthoine Hubert was killed after he crashed exiting Raidillon and his car was T-boned by Juan Manuel Correa’s as it rebounded into the middle of the track.
Ferrari F1 test driver Callum Ilott had been among those calling for safety changes to be considered after the crash in the 24-hour race, tweeting “there needs to be a change at this corner and I’m very surprised nothing has changed yet. Enough is enough”, with Aitken himself also intimating change was required in the wake of the W Series crash while appealing for sensible debate too.
Seeing a bit too much finger pointing and “I am/was right” on my feed atm, let’s just be bloody thankful that all the girls seem to have gotten away under their own steam. I’m pretty sure everyone has gotten the picture of what needs changing.
— Jack Aitken – 한세용 (@JaitkenRacer) August 27, 2021
Raidillon will soon have a gravel trap on its exit as part of a major revamp ahead of the circuit’s return to hosting bike racing but major earthworks would likely be required to properly address the issue of containment.
The W Series session was suspended for half an hour while the damaged cars were recovered, the drivers involved were attended to and the scene of the accident was cleared up.
After it resumed, with light rain falling again, Williams academy driver Jamie Chadwick took pole position ahead of Alice Powell and Nerea Marti.