Over the past weekend, tragedy struck at Spa when 18-year-old Formula Regional driver Dilano van ‘t Hoff suffered a fatal accident. Stationary on the Kemmel straight, he was struck by a following car due to the heavy rain, which severely limited visibility.
This marks the second fatal accident in four years at Spa, following Anthoine Hubert’s tragic death in F2 on the Raidillon in 2019. Measures were taken after Hubert’s passing to push back barriers and reduce the chances of crashed cars rebounding dangerously onto the track.
However, van ‘t Hoff’s accident occurred further along the circuit, raising fresh safety concerns about the historic venue. Lance Stroll of Aston Martin expressed concerns, stating that “F1 is playing with fire” by returning to Spa for this month’s Belgian Grand Prix without modifying the Eau Rouge and Raidillon complex.
While acknowledging the danger of the iconic corner combination, reigning world champion Max Verstappen emphasized that Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah Corniche Circuit, added to the calendar recently, remains even more hazardous.
“Undoubtedly, it’s a dangerous corner, but when we consider Sector 1 in Jeddah, that is probably even more perilous,” Verstappen commented after his victory in the Austrian Grand Prix last Sunday.
“I’m relieved that nothing has occurred in that sector so far because going through Turns 6, 7, and 8, a crash can have the same consequences. It’s all blind, and you have no idea what’s ahead.
“I recall earlier this year when I impeded Lando [Norris] there, and I know how dangerous it can be when such incidents occur.”
Max Verstappen acknowledges that Spa can be made safer, but he believes it is unfair to solely blame the track layout. He points out that the heavy spray in rainy conditions, a significant factor in van ‘t Hoff’s accident, can make any track equally dangerous.
“While Eau Rouge is certainly blind on the incline, this accident happened later,” Verstappen added.
“I think the only potential improvement is to create more space by moving the barriers farther out. Currently, it seems that when you crash, you easily bounce back onto the track after hitting the barriers.
“I must say, the changes they made in Spa have already opened it up significantly, but it will always be a dangerous corner.
“We encounter many tracks with dangerous corners where people don’t voice concerns until an accident occurs. It’s only then that these issues are raised, but I find it somewhat unfair to solely blame the track. In the first place, we should question why the race was restarted.”
Verstappen’s teammate, Sergio Perez, believes this incident highlights the limitations of the weather conditions under which modern single-seaters can safely race. Despite pressure from fans to avoid weather delays and red flags, he emphasizes the importance of considering track conditions and visibility.
“The most crucial aspect, in my opinion, is the track conditions. Sometimes, race directors are influenced by fans, social media, and people watching from home, assuming the circuit is suitable for racing. However, visibility is of utmost importance,” Perez added.
“Accidents can occur, but we cannot have situations where drivers are essentially blind and pushing to the limit. It’s in these circumstances that major accidents can happen across any racing series.
“If it means delaying the start or not commencing the race when the track is excessively wet, then that’s the right course of action.
“We must prioritize the safety of
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Formula 1 safety concerns
Q: What safety concerns have been raised in Formula 1 regarding Spa and Jeddah circuits?
A: Safety concerns have been raised regarding both Spa and Jeddah circuits in Formula 1. The recent fatal accident of Dilano van ‘t Hoff at Spa has brought attention to the track’s safety measures. While Max Verstappen acknowledges the danger of Spa’s iconic corners, he considers Jeddah’s Sector 1 to be even more perilous. The visibility and blind turns in Jeddah pose significant risks. These incidents highlight the need for track modifications, improved safety measures, and considerations for weather conditions to ensure driver safety in Formula 1.