Yesterday’s tragedy in Spa, when 18-year-old Dutchman Dilano van ‘t Hoff died on a rain-drenched track in poor visibility during a FRECA youth series race, sparked a new wave of talk about the risks of motorsport, it was inevitable.
Moreover, the accident that claimed his life occurred on the same section of the Belgian track as the tragic incident in which French racer Antoine Hubert died in August 2019, and Juan Manuel Correa received severe leg injuries.
“I don’t know exactly what caused it – a dangerous track or just high speeds and poor visibility,” Fernando Alonso said when asked about another drama at Spa. Visibility is a very serious problem with rain racing. On some tracks, where the speeds are high, we see almost nothing. And there it is simply impossible to see if there is an obstacle in front of you.
It’s not that we can’t drive on a wet track, but when the race has to be stopped with red flags or the start time is delayed, it annoys the fans. But now our cars work just like that, and the visibility is really so bad that on certain tracks and at certain speeds we simply cannot fly.
Although I can’t say for sure whether the problem that led to the accident is related to the features of the track in Spa, but personally I would change this dangerous section of the circle. We cannot allow such tragedies to be repeated, and this must be the last.”
Lance Stroll, his partner in Aston Martin, agrees with the two-time world champion, and Nico Hulkenberg put it very briefly: “Rain racing sometimes turns into Russian roulette.
Most likely, the owners of the famous Belgian track will have to spend money on the next alteration of the dangerous section, where numerous accidents have occurred in different years, and the consequences of some incidents were very serious.
There is no doubt that the FIA will analyze the circumstances of the van’t Hoff accident in the most detailed way, present a full report and, among other things, propose measures aimed at preventing such tragedies. It remains to be hoped that the usual thesis “The race will take place in any weather” will not be subjected to too radical correction, and Formula 1 will not lose the rainy races, which often become the decoration of the season.
Damon Hill, world champion in 1996, on the air of the Belgian TV channel RTBF suggested: “The FIA will study if something can be done with the safety cell so that it can withstand even such severe impacts.
Visibility is another issue. I often raced at Spa in the rain, but is it even worth going to the track if you can’t see anything? Riders love to overcome difficulties and fly in such conditions, so it is probably not necessary to completely eliminate the risk factor. In general, these two elements will contradict each other.