Formula One

Hamilton trusts FIA to deal with Spa safety concerns

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Lewis Hamilton has expressed his confidence in the FIA’s ability to prioritize safety this weekend at Spa amid weather forecasts calling for challenging conditions at the Belgian track.

Upon F1’s return to the Ardennes, safety has once again taken center stage at Spa where earlier this month young Dutch hopeful Dilano van ‘t Hoff was killed in a round of the FRECA junior series.

Van ‘t Hoff’s tragic crash occurred on the track’s Kemmel straight which follows Raidillon, where the 19-year-old was caught out by a massive lack of visibility due to the wet conditions.

However, the tragic accident inevitably brought back memories of the somewhat similar crash that claimed the life of F2 driver Anthoine Hubert near the same spot in 2019.

Spa-Francorchamps subsequently completed significant changes to its Eau Rouge/Raidillon complex.

While the layout remained unchanged, a vast run-off area was added on the left of the uphill sweep to improve safety and reduce the chances of a car hitting the barriers and rebounding in the middle of the track.

According to forecast, treacherous conditions are set to prevail on Saturday for F1’s Sprint event. Hamilton was therefore asked about his concerns regarding Spa’s safety.

“It is not something you can ever let into your mind,” responded the seven-time world champion. “But [I] trust in what the FIA are doing.

“I don’t think we would be here if they didn’t think we would be safe. I trust in them as they have done such incredible work over the last couple of decades, I trust them to make the right decisions going forward.”

Championship leader Max Verstappen was also queried on Spa’s safety in the wet, but the Red Bull charger reckoned that overall, Monaco was a more dangerous proposition than Spa on a rainy day.

“I don’t think it is track related,” he said. “There are dangerous corners, yes, and in the wet there are always more risks.

“Everyone is competent enough to make the right calls. If it is too wet, it is too wet.

“We are racing in Monaco, which is a lot more dangerous than here, but we race there because it is deemed safe enough.

“Accidents happen, unfortunately. When you look back at the accident [van ‘t Hoff’s crash], it was extremely unfortunate the way it happened.

“There is not a lot you can do or change for it to be a lot safer. There are other tracks where you can have a crash and bounce back onto the track, there’s low visibility and that can happen again.

“It was unlucky, in a way, that it happened at Spa twice, both close to each other.”

F1 returnee Daniel Ricciardo echoed Hamilton’s view, insisting an F1 driver cannot afford to harbor thoughts of a potential tragedy, regardless of the conditions.

“The truth is, as a driver, you cannot think about it,” he said. “You are aware of it but you don’t get into the car thinking about it.

“It is one of those sports where you can’t be one foot in, one foot out. In some ways, driving a car closer to the limit is easier or safer or more how the car is meant to be driven than being a bit cautious.

“I don’t think it changes. The reality is these cars are tricky in the wet. With temperatures and getting the tyres turned on, it is tricky for us but once we are there, it is more tricky than the dry but we will manage.”

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