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Stroll in Spa safety plea


Lance Stroll has called on motorsport bosses to make changes at the Spa Francorchamps circuit following the death of young racer Dilano van 't Hoff.

The 18-year-old was killed in an accident on the Kemmel straight similar to that in which Anthoine Hubert perished in 2019.

Following the Sprint, in which Stroll finished fourth after holding off his Aston Martin teammate, Fernando Alonso, a visibly shaken Stroll didn't want to discuss the race but rather the death of his racing colleague.

"The story of the day is not the race," he said. "We lost a young driver in Spa today, and my thoughts are with him and his family.

"It's not fair what happened, that corner needs to be changed," he continued, "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.

"It's horrible what happened today, we lost a member of the racing family. We seriously need to think about what to do that that corner, because it's never fun going through there. Every time we go through there, we put our lives on the line. And today we saw something bad happen, and it's not right.

"We're all shocked and extremely sad with what's happened," added Pierre Gasly, a close friend of Hubert. "It reminds us of some obviously very sad times with what happened with Anthoine a couple of years ago.

"It just seems wrong," he added. "We should never be in such a position of losing young talents, so it clearly needs a review of what's happened exactly and making sure these scenarios never happen in the future. It's enough losing some talent in such a fashion, and it's obviously extremely sad.

"I really hope all the people involved in safety and looking after the safety of all the drivers are going to take some action because it's not the first time, and it should have never taken place. We should have never have been in such a situation a few years back. It definitely needs a review because it doesn't feel right to lose some guys like that."

Much like the Hubert crash, Van 't Hoff lost control of his car in atrocious conditions as he exited the infamous Eau Rouge complex, and after hitting the barriers bounced back on to the track where he was hit by another car whose driver was unable to see in the terrible conditions.

"I don't know, really, if it's the track or it's just the speed, and the visibility," said Alonso. "I think the biggest thing is the visibility.

"It's not that we are not able to drive in wet conditions," he explained, "when we see all these red flags, delays the fans they get frustrated at home and things like that.

"This is the way single-seaters now work, the visibility is so poor that we cannot drive on certain circuits at certain speeds. So I don't know if it's a problem of Spa itself.

"I guess Monza, if you find a car in the middle of the straight, you will not see it. So it's just that poor visibility. And that's something that we cannot afford again what happened today. It has to be the last time that happens."

Asked if he would accept the complete overhaul of the Eau Rouge complex he said: "Of course. No one wants to see any accident that is problematic or dangerous.

"As I said, I think there are street circuits, if you crash in Baku, you will be always on the track. It will put you back on track, but you are at 120kph and the visibility is okay. When you are at 300, you cannot see anything."

"We have to look into these kinds of situations," said Max Verstappen, a countryman of Van 't Hoff. "It's easy to blame the track, but also looking at how wet it was and these kinds of things.

"Definitely there are things that we have to look at for the future, what we can do better to protect drivers, because today it was unnecessary, clearly."

Asked if the matter has been discussed by the Grand Prix Drivers' Association, Stroll said: "We discussed it, but then it blows over.

"It needs to be changed," he insisted. "They need to do something. We'll be playing with fire in a couple of weeks' time. 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 kilometres an hour, you're toast."

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1. Posted by elsiebc, 04/07/2023 15:50

"We are so far from the origins of motorsports and men who had something to prove, men who had difficulty walking, what does it matter. Next there will be speed limits on the salt flats."

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2. Posted by kenji, 03/07/2023 23:28

"@ Defiant Good post there. My suggestion of race cancellation due to weather conditions has precedents and driver safety must always be the singular most prime consideration. There is no shame on drivers who choose not to race if they consider that it could well be fatal...if taken to the extreme. One of F1's bravest and most courageous drivers refused to drive under certain wet conditions at the 1976 Japanese GP. That driver was Niki Lauda. The IOM TT also has had a few cancellations and postponements due to weather as well, however that group of competitors are well known for their 'madness' by simply competing!! That is really heart in mouth racing. How they do it is beyond me. No, keep the juniors safe and cancel when it gets to be simply a lottery. Life is simply too precious."

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3. Posted by Defiant, 03/07/2023 10:27

"Sad news indeed, but changing the track at a completely different location isn't going to prevent what happened to Vant Hoff. Motorsport of most diciplines are dangerous and risky, it's why people are fascinated by it, and most importantly, why people follow a career in them.
I think kenji makes an interesting point that may be worth discussing, however I'm not sure that conditions at Spa which are notoriously difficult or not easily predicted will do anything but put a nail in its own coffin if events were cancelled due to weather here.

The Isle of Mann TT has tragedy throughout its history and thankfully it seems to hold off its constant onslaught of cancel or change it receives. I hope Spa manages to do the same.
RIP Dilano."

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4. Posted by kenji, 03/07/2023 10:09

"Having searched for and found some actual footage it appears that some reports are wide of the mark, regarding the actual location. It actually occurred approx one third to halfway along the Kemmel straight and not Eau Rouge/Raidillon as reported on some sites. It would appear to me that it's not the track that's the major problem it's more to do with the drivers and the conditions under which they were competing. It's a lethal cocktail, talented teenage drivers, very fast cars and torrential rain, racing in blanket white fog of suspended water droplets obscuring anything in front of them...driving virtually blind!! Is it any wonder that there are some tragic outcomes. To lose anyone is mortifying but someone so young just makes it worse. How the parents and family cope is impossible to understand let alone comprehend.

My suggestion is that all racing under those conditions be scrapped, especially for junior series that feature very young teenage drivers. Older,wiser drivers even balk at racing under those conditions! The show must not go on without drastic changes to both the mindset of the promoters and the series team principals and team owners."

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5. Posted by Spindoctor, 02/07/2023 10:14

"I agree with Max who is quoted as saying this tragedy was "sad & unnecessary". Motor Racing safety in all its formats & formulae has come a long way in the 60 odd years I have been a fan. Many tracks have been heavily modified to improve safety and today's F1 cars are unbelievably strong compared to those driven in 1960's.

Motor Sport is intrinsically "dangerous", but those dangers can be minimised without ruining the spectacle. It's a multi-billion-dollar business and can easily afford to make whatever changes are required to make sure the possibility of such disasters is minimised in future."

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