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Formula 1 Austrian GP

Stroll: F1 “playing with fire” if Spa is not changed

Lance Stroll says the sport will be “playing with fire” if the Spa circuit is not changed ahead of the Formula 1 Belgian GP at the end of this month.

Lance Stroll, Aston Martin F1 Team

The Canadian’s impassioned call came after Dutch Formula Regional driver Dilano van ’t Hoff lost his life on Saturday in an accident on a rain-soaked circuit at the top of Raidillon.

The incident involved a high-speed collision and was similar in nature to the accident that cost the life of F2 driver Anthoine Hubert at the same part of the track in 2019.

The fact that two young drivers have now lost their lives at the Belgian venue has led Stroll and others to call for changes to make that section of the circuit safer.

“The story of the day is not the race,” said Stroll after Saturday’s F1 sprint event in Austria. “We lost a young driver in Spa today, and my thoughts are with him and his family.

“It's not fair what happened, and that corner needs to be looked at and changed 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, and 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."

dilano-vant-hof

dilano-vant-hof

Asked by Autosport if the issue had been brought up in GPDA meetings Stroll said: "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, who was a close friend of Hubert and has previously called for improved safety measures at Spa, shared Stroll’s view.

"I think we're all shocked and extremely sad with what's happened,” said the Alpine driver. 

“And it reminds us of some obviously very sad times, with what happened with Anthoine a couple of years ago. It just seems wrong, like we should never be in such positions 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. Because I think it's enough, losing some talent in such a fashion, and it’s obviously extremely sad.”

Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri, lays flowers in memory of Anthoine Hubert

Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri, lays flowers in memory of Anthoine Hubert

Photo by: Jean Petin / Motorsport Images

He added: "I really hope all the people involved in safety and looking after the safety of all the drivers are going to take some actions, because it's not the first time, and it should have never taken place.

“I mean, we should have never been in such a situation already a few years back, and it definitely needs a review."

Fernando Alonso, who first raced at Spa when he won the F3000 race 23 years ago, stressed that wet weather visibility – a factor in today’s accident but not Hubert’s – was a key issue. He noted that in such circumstances other high-speed tracks can also be dangerous.

“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.”

Asked if he would be prepared to lose the traditional Eau Rouge/Raidillon layout Alonso said: “Yeah, 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.”

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