(GMM) Formula 1 is under pressure to react after an 18-year-old Dutch driver died in a horror T-bone crash at the fabled Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium.
F1 will race at Spa in less than a month’s time, at the scene of Formula 2 driver Anthoine Hubert’s fatal crash in 2019.
And what happened to 18-year-old Formula Regional European driver Dilano van’t Hoff at Spa this weekend was a nearly-identical T-bone crash at the very same Eau Rouge-Raidillon section.
Unlike the Hubert crash, however, it occurred in treacherous weather conditions.
“I really don’t know if it’s the track or just the speed and visibility,” said F1 legend Fernando Alonso when asked to comment in Austria.
Many are suggesting that the offending section of the Spa layout needs to be urgently changed – while others even wonder if F1 should simply ban wet weather racing altogether.
“It’s not that we can’t drive in wet conditions, when we see all these red flags, delays and fans getting frustrated at home and things like that,” Alonso said.
“It’s just how the cars work now, and visibility is so bad that we can’t drive on certain circuits at certain speeds.
“I don’t know if it’s a problem with Spa itself, but it’s something we can’t allow to happen again. It has to be the last one,” he insisted.
“And yes, I would change this dangerous section,” said Alonso.
His Aston Martin teammate, Lance Stroll, was furious about motor racing’s latest tragedy.
“It’s not fair what happened,” he said. “That corner needs to be looked at and changed because we’ve lost two young talents in like five years.
“It needs to be changed, just that corner. We’re going to go there in a few weeks. Every time we go through there, we put our lives on the line.”
Stroll said F1 will be under pressure to react to the situation with urgency.
“We’ll be playing with fire in a couple of weeks’ time,” he said. “Again. And not just us, the F2 kids, F3 kids, everyone that goes through that corner every week.
“Even if it’s dry, and someone loses their car, it’s a blind corner, you hit the wall and come back into the middle of the track. A car comes at you at 300 plus kilometers an hour – you’re toast.
“We’ll talk about it among the drivers in the meetings, but sometimes it doesn’t go further.”
Dilano van’t Hoff’s Dutch countryman Nyck de Vries says it’s correct that this latest fatality has put a dark cloud over the otherwise loved Spa circuit.
“I think that’s fair,” he told De Telegraaf. “Hopefully changes can be made to prevent situations like this in the future. That’s the first priority.”
And it’s not just the drivers who are upset about what happened at Spa this weekend.
“I’m sure the FIA will study all the circumstances and decide what needs to be improved,” said Mercedes boss Toto Wolff.
“We all love Spa because of its uniqueness, but we need to understand if there is something else to pay attention to. The lives of young drivers must be protected.”
1996 world champion Damon Hill told RTBF: “The FIA will have to look into the survival cell so that it can resist when a car hits it so violently.
“Visibility is another problem,” he said. “I drove in the rain at Spa very often, but should you be driving when you can’t see anything?
“The drivers like the challenge of racing in these wet conditions, so should we remove the risks of keep the thrill despite the danger? So there are those two contradictory elements.”
Something many people forget. When Watkins Glen had a chicane going up the esses to slow the cars after Francois Cevert was killed in the 1970s. A similar chicane can be added going up the Eau Rouge esses.