Max Verstappen has defended Spa Francorchamps’ safety record following the death of young Dutch talent Dilano van ’t Hoff during a Formula Regional European Championship event held at the circuit on Saturday.
Van ’t Hoff lost his life after a multi-car pile-up during a rain-affected Race 2, which saw drivers struggle with limited visibility and would ultimately cause Adam Fitzgerald to t-bone the stationary Dutchman.
Formula 1 paid tribute to Van’ t Hoff by taking a minute of silence on the grid before Sunday’s 2023 Austrian Grand Prix, which Verstappen would ultimately win.
“It’s for sure quite a dangerous corner, but we also go to Jeddah, and Sector 1 [there] is probably more dangerous,” said Verstappen, when asked whether F1 was taking an unnecessary risk racing at Spa.
“I am happy that nothing has happened in that sector because going through [Turns] 6-7-8, if you have a shunt there, it could be the same. It’s all blind you don’t know what’s coming.
“For sure, going up Eau Rouge is blind, but this accident happened later [on the Kemmel straight]. I think the only thing which can be improved is trying to move the barriers.
“At the moment, as soon as you crash, you hit the barrier and bounce back onto the track quite easily. With that scenario [when] theirs no visibility, that is a big issue.”
Eau Rouge will always be a dangerous corner
Although Eau Rouge was widened in 1995 following calls for track safety improvements after the death of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger at Imola in 1994, the corner has been the site of several big accidents.
In 2019 Anthoine Hubert lost his life at Eau Rouge-Radillon after a crash in a Formula 2 race, causing Spa to change Eau Rouge and Radillon, making it slower and adding extra run-off areas.
However, despite these safety improvements, Renger Van Der Zande was lucky to escape unharmed from a massive crash at the same corner during this year’s 6 hours of Spa sportscar race.
“Already the changes they made at Spa opened up it a lot more”, continued Verstappen. “But it will always be a dangerous corner.
“But we’re going to a lot of tracks where there are a lot of dangerous corners where up until theirs an accident you won’t say anything, and now it gets brought up.
“I feel It’s a bit unfair to just blame it on the track because I think, in the first place, you have to look into why did they start [the race]
“It’s a big championship with a lot of cars, they’re [lots of] up-and-coming talents, they risk a bit more and with [limited] visibility, it was just impossible to see anything.”