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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Published: 02/07/2023
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