Formula 1, after a fatal accident in Spa: Stroll calls for change

Lance Stroll confirmed certainly one of his finest performances of the 2023 season within the Formulation 1 dash in Austria on Saturday. After fourth place, the Aston Martin driver didn’t really feel like speaking about his race or the battle in opposition to teammate Fernando Alonso. Stroll was visibly affected by Dilano van ‘t Hoff’s deadly accident on the Formulation Regional in Spa-Francorchamps. He’s notably apprehensive concerning the upcoming Belgian Grand Prix in July.

“Today it’s not about the race, it’s about the fact that we lost a young driver in Spa. My thoughts are with him and his family,” said Stroll, who drove the sprint with a black ribbon on his left upper arm over his overall. During the supporting program of the 24-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps, young driver Dilano van ‘t Hoff died in the second round of the Formula Regional in the morning.

The 18-year-old Dutchman was involved in an incident on the Kemmel Straight in pouring rain. As a result of another driver’s accident, he too lost control of his formula car for reasons that have not yet been clarified and then slid across the track. An approaching pilot hit van ‘t Hoff’s car near the monocoque, resulting in fatal injuries.

“I can’t cope with what happened today. This corner needs to be looked at and changed because we lost two young talents here within four years,” says Stroll, referring to Anthoine Hubert’s fatal accident in Formula 2 races in the 2019 season. The Frenchman had an accident at the exit of Eau Rouge and was hit by Juan Manuel Correa. However, the scene of the accident was a few meters in front of van t’ Hoff, and rain had not played a role at the time.

Spa-Francorchamps for Stroll playing with fire

For Stroll, the measure is full despite the different accidents. For him, Eau Rouge is no longer up-to-date. “Even if it’s dry and someone loses the car there – it’s a blind corner. You crash into the wall and then come back onto the track. The car is then in front of you at over 300 km/h,” explains the 25th driver -year-olds.

It is almost unthinkable for him that he should drive there again with Formula 1 at the end of July. “You have to change something. You’ll be playing with fire again in a few weeks. And that doesn’t just apply to us. It’s also the kids in Formula 2 and Formula 3. Just everyone who drives through this curve,” clarifies Stroll.

After Hubert’s accident, the track area around the notorious Eau Rouge was already modified. Larger run-off zones are intended to prevent the accidents described by Stroll. On the Kemmel Straight, where the momentous incident happened today, however, no modifications were made. “They made some changes, but it just wasn’t good enough,” Stroll said.

In international motorsport, Spa-Francorchamps is one of the most popular racetracks for drivers. Stroll, on the other hand, has never been known as a fan of the legendary Grand Prix circuit in Belgium and now makes no secret of his opinion: “It’s never fun to drive there. Every time we go there [Eau Rouge] driving through, we are risking our lives and today we saw that something bad happened.”

Alonso puts it into perspective: Spray is the problem, not Spa-Francorchamps

His teammate sees things a little differently. Fernando Alonso drove in Formula 1 for the first time at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in 2001, when the run-off zones in Eau Rouge were not even paved. The 41-year-old does not see the route as a problem. “I don’t think it’s just the track or the speed,” said the two-time world champion.

He sees the weather as the decisive factor in the course of the accident at van ‘t Hoff. “Visibility is the biggest problem. It’s not that we can’t drive in the wet when we always have the red flags and shifts and the fans at home get angry. It’s just the way formula cars are today. The Visibility is very poor and we can’t drive at certain speeds on some tracks,” he explains.

An accident like today could also happen on any other race track. “I don’t know if it’s a problem for Spa. I think if there’s a car in front of you in the middle of the straight in Monza, you won’t see it either. Visibility is just so bad,” says Alonso. The Ground Effect introduced in 2022 has made the spray from Formula 1 cars even stronger.

To solve the problem, a rain configuration with wheel arches was brought into play by the FIA ​​​​last November. These are to be tested for the first time at the test in Silverstone on July 13th. “At least we’re working on a solution and we drivers are of course willing to test it and help as best we can,” said Alonso. “What happened today is hopefully the last time it will happen.”

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Revealed : 2023-07-01 17:49:00

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