Two days after the fatal accident of Anthoine Hubert in Spa, yet more crash videos appear online slowly revealing what really happened: race fans never really saw how exactly the fatal accident came to pass.
Certainly, TJ13 has never been shy to say it’s piece after tragic accidents, the last significant moment being the 2014 Jules Bianchi crash in Japan. Perhaps out of misplaced respect, many professional news outlets haven’t embedded the many minutes of footage doing the rounds on social media from Saturdays’ terrible crash. I will say this at the beginning of my piece that we will embed clips detailing how the accident happened toward the end of this page, so if you are offended by this, I implore you to close the browser now.
I believe that racing fans should know how the crash involving Hubert and Cerrea occurred, the official TV feed only catching a fleeting glimpse of the collision that ended the 22-year-old’s life in the most tragic of circumstances. A terrible loss, and one that must not be in vain.
On a more positive note, the other driver involved, Juan Manuel Correa appears to be stable with significant breaks to his legs and small fractures to his spine, but it is expected that he should recover, physically at least. Small mercies.
The FIA has also started its accident analysis, TJ13 hopes and prays that it will be more involved and less bias that the debacle that surrounded the Bianchi incident where Whiting and co were clearly culpable.
Saturday was sickening disbelief, Sunday could perhaps be part of the mourning process for fans of racing, but today should be the day that the search for answers begins. Answers to the question of just how such a deadly collision between Anthoine Hubert and Juan Manuel Correa happened.
Hubert’s Dallara was hit on the left midship by Correa. While Hubert’s Dallara practically came to a standstill after the first impact into the tyre stack, Correa was, according to first estimates, doing around 250 and 270 km/h when he hit his competitor.
What isn’t clear on the TV pictures was that another car, this time Giuliano Alesi, gets into trouble in Eau Rouge because of a puncture triggering a chain reaction.
“We don’t know what caused the puncture. It’s possible that debris was the fault of someone else,” claims former F1 drive and father of Giuliano, Jean Alesi. Apparently, there was some contact between Mick Schumacher and Nicholas Latifi in the La Source hairpin, with Latifi driving the whole lap back to the pits with the flat tyre, according to Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport.
After the puncture on the left side, Alesi crests the hill above Eau Rouge, spins and spills pieces of carbon fibre across the track. We then see the rear wing of Alesi’s car fly across the road. Ralph Boschung is the first driver to reach the scene of the accident (the creator of the youtube video is aware that they mistook Ralph for Dorian Boccolacci). The Swiss driver moves to the right into the tamac run-off, taking his foot off the pedal to slow down.
Meanwhile Hubert has yet to reach the top of the crest and is completely unaware of the incident in time, eventually seeing the slower Boschung, and pulls to the right but still makes minor contact on the front wing, completely unloading the front axle. Hubert hits tyre wall hard and rebounds into the racing line exit of the crest. At that moment, Correa appears on this line at full throttle, noticing too late to do anything apart from hit the pink chassis of Hubert.
Correa impact into Hubert is at the exact height of the seat tearing open on the left side, surely the point of which must have killed the young Frenchman, his car pushed a further 50 metres downrange, again hitting a tyre wall. This second impact separates the rear part of Hubert’s car, throwing it into the middle of the track. Correa slides upside down another 30 meters. The entire front section is torn off, alarmingly his legs protrude from the safety cell.
One has to wonder if the continued reprofiling of the Eau Rouge / Raidillion complex over the years has been a big mistake as now, the cars more or less straight line the complex without lifting at all. Certainly, Sky Sports TV European pundit Marc Surer agrees:
“You’re coming over the crest at full throttle and you’re much too late to recognise the danger. Spa has to decide. Either they want a straight line. Then you don’t need the top. It would be better to tighten the first turn. Then Eau Rouge would be a proper curve again, and the cars would arrive slower at the crest.”
According to Auto Motor und Sport, ex Champion Jacques Villeneuve and Jean Alesi also criticise the supposedly ‘safer’ asphalt run-off zones as opposed to the original grass and gravel traps of yesteryear. The FIA has been mandating full tarmac run-off over the years across all the ‘classic circuits’ as it is believed that should a car come off the circuit, it’s more likely to keep control and less likely to roll over.
Many older drivers disagree with this policy claiming that if you have that safe run-off and merely only dodge an incident by moving into the tarmac run-off zone, you are almost always going to keep your foot flat to the floor, which is exactly what Hubert and Correa did.
“The drivers lose the feeling for risk. Asphalt in the crash areas, tyre stacks, Tecpro, Halo. The perfect safety net.” says Alesi
“They do the lap 30 times in the simulator and return to the track without damage. They feel invulnerable.”
Maybe a rethink into how circuits have been altered should be considered? TJ13 welcomes your thoughts in the comments below.