SPIELBERG, Austria — Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll called for changes to Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps circuit on Saturday after Dutch racer Dilano van ‘t Hoff died in a junior series race.
Van ‘t Hoff, who was killed in a multi-car collision during a wet Formula Regional European Championship race, was the second single-seater fatality in four years at the circuit.
Stroll said it is time changes are made at the venue, which will host F1’s Belgian Grand Prix on July 29-31.
“It’s not fair what happened, and that corner needs to be looked at and changed, because we lost two young talents in like five years, it needs to be changed,” Stroll said. “We’re going there in a few weeks, it’s horrible what happened today, we lost a member of the racing family.
“Seriously, we need to think about what to do with that corner as it’s never fun going through there, every time we go through there we put our lives on the line.
“Today we saw something bad happen. It’s not right.”
Stroll said previous talks with F1 and the drivers about changing the section of the circuit just before the straight where van ‘t Hoff crashed have come to nothing.
“We’ve discussed it but then it blows over, it needs to be changed.
“We’re losing lives in that corner, it has to change, for me it’s not even a discussion.”
When asked if Van ‘t Hoff’s fatal crash was more a question of low visibility in wet conditions than the layout of the circuit itself, Stroll replied: “Even if it’s dry and someone loses the car it’s a blind corner, hit the wall, car comes out, 300 plus km/h, you’re toast.”
Van ‘t Hoff’s accident was similar to the crash that resulted in the death of Formula 2 driver Anthoine Hubert in 2019 and happened just a short way down the road from that incident.
On that occasion, Hubert’s car hit a barrier, ricocheted back into the middle of the track and was hit a second time by Juan Manuel Correa’s car at high speed.
AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, who was close friends with Hubert, said Saturday’s news brought back painful memories from 2019.
“Obviously it reminds you of horrible scenes from the past,” Gasly said. “Also, this young champion, fighting his way through the ladder to make it to the top of F1… we should never put these young guys in danger.
“We know as a driver the risk we are taking, but still it doesn’t feel right to lose some guys like that”
Gasly added: “Honestly I didn’t want to look at the crash.
“I really hope all the people involved in safety and looking after the safety of all the drivers are going to take some actions as it’s not the first time and it shouldn’t have taken place.
“Should never have been in such a situation already, a few years back, it’s just definitely needs reviewing.”
Unlike F1 or its F2 and F3 support categories, Formula Regional is not directly overseen by the FIA, just certified by it. That means the series takes rules put forward by the governing body but they are actually applied by the ASN, which in this case is the Automobile Club d’Italia (ACI).
An FIA spokesperson told ESPN the governing body will fully support and assist the ACI’s investigation into the crash.
F1’s upcoming Belgian Grand Prix week will feature races with support series F2 and F3.
“They need to do something,” Stroll added. “You know, playing with fire… in a couple of weeks time, again, and not just us. F2 kids, F3 kids, everyone goes through that corner.”
The news on Saturday overshadowed proceedings at this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix, where runaway championship leader Max Verstappen won the sprint race.
“It is incredibly sad,” Verstappen said about the Spa incident. “I did not know him personally but he was a fellow Dutch racer and was an up-and-coming driver.
“He had the same dream as we did at that age and I am sad for the whole family and the team, MP Motorsport.
“We have to look into these kinds of situations when you look at how wet it was and see how we can do better to protect drivers because today it was not necessary.”
The Spa-Francorchamps circuit is widely regarded as one of F1’s best and remains one of the most popular among fans.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said the beloved nature of the circuit should not stop changes being made if necessary.
“We all cherish Spa because of the track that it is. But is there something that we need to look at?
“I’ve seen the video of the accident, and it seemed like that it happened much later than, Raidillon. So there must have been some tangling on the straight, and low visibility. And then you just come back [onto the track]. But in any case, terrible.”
“So, 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. But it is a dangerous sport.”
Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso said the wet conditions at Spa likely played a bigger role than the design of the circuit itself and pointed out that fans need to be more understanding when races are delayed or red-flagged because it is too wet.
“I don’t know, really, if it’s the track or it’s just the speed and the visibility,” he said. “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, you know, frustrated at home and things like that… you know, this is the way single seaters now works, and the visibility is that poor that we cannot drive in certain circuits at certain speed.
“I don’t know if it’s a problem of Spa itself. I guess Monza [as well], 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.”
Lance Stroll calls for changes to Spa after fatal crash at circuit