F1 drivers pay tribute to Dilano van ‘t Hoff, call for changes to be made to the Spa circuit

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Saturday’s afternoon Sprint started on a heavy note following the passing of the 18-year-old Dutch Formula Regional Driver Dilano van ‘t Hoff in an accident at a wet Spa-Francochamps.

Photo credit: MP Motorsport

The incident, which entailed a high-speed collision, was comparable to the 2019 tragedy around location on the circuit that claimed the life of F2 driver Anthoine Hubert.

The F1 community paid their respects after hearing about the accident. But many drivers, who will return to Spa for the Belgian Grand Prix at the end of this month, made it clear that something needs to change.

Photo credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team

“Every time we go there, there’s an accident waiting to happen”

Following the session, Lance Stroll vocalized his frustration over today’s tragedy, insisting on the importance of changing the Eau Rouge and Raidillon section to stop young drivers from passing away.

“It breaks my heart what happened, and I think, you know, Eau Rouge in Spa needs some looking into because we lost two drivers now in the span of four or five years and it’s a really dangerous corner, and we say it every year.

“It’s not fair what happened today, and that corner has to change. It’s way too dangerous, and I think every time we go there, there’s an accident waiting to happen, and today it happened again, and we lost a young kid.”

Stroll was then questioned by written media if the subject had come up in GPDA meetings.

“We discussed it, but then it blows over. It needs to be changed.

“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.”

Pierre Gasly, a close friend of Anthoine Hubert, shared the same sentiments as Stroll.

“We’re all shocked and extremely sad with what’s happened. Obviously a similar situation that happened some years ago with Anthoine, so I think it definitely needs a review.

“We just can’t afford to lose young guys trying to fight their way up in the sport, and as a community, it’s important that we address this issue because there’s clearly seems to be a problem and we should never be in such situation.

“All my thoughts are with the family and the loved ones but we clearly need to do something.”

“The biggest thing is the visibility.”

Stroll’s teammate, Fernando Alonso, also commented on the dangerous visibility issues that the drivers have to face running in the wet at tracks around the world. He hopes improvements can be made to the visibility available to the drivers.

“I don’t know, really, if it’s the track or it’s just the speed, and the visibility,” said the Spaniard. “I think the biggest thing is the visibility. It’s not that we are not able to drive in wet conditions, when we see all these red flags, delays and the fans they get frustrated at home and things like that.

“This is the way single-seaters now work, and 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 it again what happened today. It has to be the last time that happens.”

Max Verstappen, a fellow Dutch driver also insisted on the importance of improving the visibility with the spray of the cars, saying:

“I don’t think it’s necessarily that corner, because it can happen anywhere, I mean also here today, from the people behind were saying there is a lot of spray and the visibility is very poor, so we can look into in general the visibility and the spray of the cars, the safety of the cars always, you look at when these kinds of things happen, in general, you look at it, but probably with what happened today even more.

“I don’t think they should’ve restarted that race, when you look at how much water was coming down, you know these guys in the back they’ve got nothing to lose they just go flat out, this is just the young driver mentality, a bit fearless I guess.

“But it’s incredibly sad of course for the whole family, for the team, of course, they were in shock as well, a Dutch team, a Dutch driver, of course when I read the news I was also in shock, I couldn’t believe it.”

Photo credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team

In the upcoming months, it is expected that the FIA will launch an investigation into the fatal accident, as it usually does through it’s safety departments in order to learn how to avoid such tragedies.

When asked about the safety at Spa and what needs to change, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff added: “Learn, learn, learn, How can we improve the safety furthermore? What are the steps that we can take, and make sure that young lives are protected as best as possible.”