'Absolute joke': Formula One world rages over crash 'disgrace'

·5-min read
Race marshalls and technicians, pictured here clearing Lando Norris' car off the track.
Race marshalls and technicians clear Lando Norris' car off the track. (Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty Images)

Sebastian Vettel was among those to condemn F1 officials on Saturday after Lando Norris was involved in a huge crash at a rain-soaked Spa-Francorchamps track in qualifying.

The 21-year-old slammed into the barriers during the final pole-position shootout phase of the hour-long session after McLaren snapped out of control through the uphill sweep of the fast Eau Rouge corner.

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He was taken to the medical centre for precautionary checks before being given the all-clear and will be fit to race in Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix.

However the crash caused outrage in the F1 world, with officials under fire for letting the qualifying session go ahead in treacherous conditions.

Four-time champion Vettel, also out on track in his Aston Martin, had radioed his team calling for the session to be halted.

"Well what the f*** did I say? What did I say!? Red flag! Unnecessary," an agitated Vettel, who pulled up alongside Norris' stricken McLaren to check if he was okay, said on the team radio.

Vettel said he spoke to FIA race director Michael Masi after the session to air his complaints.

"I think Michael is not proud of what happened either," Vettel told Sky Sports.

"It's always easy to play Captain Hindsight. I think we need to find a way that we listen more to the information that we have.

"Inside the garage, it's very limited, it's like looking out of a window. Three kilometres that way, I have no clue.

"When I went down to Eau Rouge and up the hill, it was a lot of water and was calling for a red flag. The truth is, the session should not have started at all.

"So I think the people that were standing on the Kemmel Striaght, they were in the rain and maybe we should have listened to those."

Norris, who was classified 10th but could be hit with penalties or even start from the pitlane because of the extent of the repairs, also complained about the conditions.

He was the first driver to attempt a flying lap during the pole position shootout, which got underway just as the rain began to fall harder.

"Everything is good and he is cleared," team boss Andreas Seidl said. "He will be back racing tomorrow."

Calls for safety upgrades at notorious corner

The incident intensified scrutiny surrounding the Raidillon-Eau Rouge sequence of corners after six drivers from the all-female W Series escaped injury in a six-car pile up on Friday at the same part of the track.

Frenchman Anthoine Hubert lost his life after a high-speed Formula Two crash at the same corner two years ago, while Williams F1 reserve Jack Aitken suffered a broken collarbone in a crash at the same place in the Spa 24 Hours race in July.

Safety improvements to the corner are planned with the drivers shown illustrations of the plans on Friday.

"Racing is never going to be fully safe," said Red Bull's Max Verstappen, who claimed pole for the Belgian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Daniel Ricciardo, pictured here in action during qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix.
Daniel Ricciardo in action during qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

"But of course there are a few things around that corner which can be helped and they are doing that, so I think it's going to be a lot better."

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton on Friday said the corner had been ruined by a bump at its entry.

"That was all that needed fixing," he added on Saturday.

"They've just got to get rid of the bump and then leave Eau Rouge as it is. But they'll do what they do."

Meanwhile, Australia's Daniel Ricciardo was fourth fastest in his McLaren.

Verstappen mastered the treacherous conditions to seize pole position from surprise star George Russell.

Russell briefly looked like he would seize a shock pole in his Williams, with even Hamilton unable to beat him.

But Verstappen lapped the seven kilometre track in one minute, 59.765 seconds to grab top spot.

with agencies

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