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spa francorchamps eau rouge

Van’t Hoff tragedy at Spa raises harsh questions

spa francorchamps eau rouge

Formula 1 drivers called for safety improvements at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit after Dutch racer Dilano van’t Hoff died competing in a Formula Regional race, ahead of the 24 Hours Race for GT3s at the venue on Saturday.

The 18-year-old, who was taking part in a wet Formula Regional European Championship race, was the second such fatality in four years at the Belgian Grand Prix circuit. His was the 49th racing fatality at the venue since 1925.

Reacting to the news, after finishing fourth in the Formula 1 Sprint Race at Austria’s Red Bull Ring, Lance Stroll said: “My thoughts are with him today. It breaks my heart what happened and I think Eau Rouge at Spa needs some looking into because we’ve lost two drivers now in the span of four or five years.

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

Alonso: What happened should not be repeated

Dilano van't Hoff, teenage Formula One hopeful, killed in crash during race at Spa in Belgium - CBSSports.com

Spa-Francorchamps hosts the Belgian Grand Prix on July 30. Eau Rouge is the name given to the circuit’s most famed corner but that left-handed kink leads into the fast and steep Raidillon right-hander.

French driver Anthoine Hubert died in August 2019 in a multi-car accident at the exit of Raidillon in an F2 race, with his car hitting barriers and bouncing back on track.

Organisers made changes after that crash, notably by enlarging run-off areas and moving back barriers.

Double F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso, Formula 1’s most experienced driver and Stroll’s teammate, said the real risk was a lack of visibility in the wet: “We cannot see anything. So if there is a car in the middle of the straight or whatever, that’s the real danger.

“What happened should not be repeated. The spray of cars needs to be studied to reduce it… I don’t know if Spa is the problem. I guess in Monza it will be the same thing if you find one car in the middle of the straight. You will not be able to see it, and that’s the real problem,” added the Spaniard.

Verstappen: We need to look at how best to protect drivers

Red Bull’s double F1 World Champion Max Verstappen agreed there needed to be an investigation: “It’s easy to blame the track, but I think also looking at how wet it was and these kinds of things. Yeah, definitely there are things that we have to look at for the future, what we can do better to protect drivers.”

Van’t Hoff won the 2021 Spanish F4 championship and was racing for the Dutch MP Motorsport team on the ladder that leads to Formula 1. Media reports said his car crashed on the long Kemmel straight that follows on from Raidillon.

The race, in wet conditions with heavy spray, was on the support programme for the 24 Hours of Spa endurance race. Formula 2 teams and drivers competing at the Austrian Grand Prix held a minute’s silence before Saturday’s sprint race.

“Dilano died in pursuit of his dream to reach the pinnacle of motorsport. Along with the entire motorsport community, our thoughts are with his family and loved ones,” said Formula 1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin)