Pierre Gasly joins calls for safety changes following fatal Spa crash

Thomas Maher
Alpine driver Pierre Gasly at the British Grand Prix. Silverstone, July 2023.

Alpine's Pierre Gasly at the British Grand Prix. Silverstone, July 2023.

Pierre Gasly is eager to see changes made to improve visibility in wet conditions, highlighting the “biggest” safety concern in F1.

Last weekend, 18-year-old Dutch racer Dilano van ‘t Hoff passed away following a high-speed FRECA crash along the Kemmel Straight at Spa-Francorchamps.

It was an accident that bore startling resemblances to the accident that claimed the life of Formula 2 racer Anthoine Hubert in 2019, albeit in dry conditions – Gasly was childhood friends with Hubert, and was distraught by the passing of the French driver.

Pierre Gasly eager to see changes made to wet racing visibility

With racing in heavy wet conditions no longer a common event in Formula 1, due to the lack of visibility as a result of spray being thrown up by the modern F1 cars and tyres, a solution is being evaluated next week in a test at Silverstone as Mercedes will trial a ‘mudguard’ device in a bid to curtail the spray.

Gasly was asked for his thoughts on the device as he spoke to media, including PlanetF1.com, ahead of the British Grand Prix.

“I think visibility in the rain is critical,” he said.

“Unfortunately, what’s happened in Spa… I had another conversation with Esteban on the parade – we had a very similar situation in 2012 in Formula Renault 2.0 where we both started from the back of the grid in similar conditions and, to be fair, you’re praying for your life that no one is stopped in the middle [of the track]  because you can’t even see five metres ahead of us.

“It’s really extreme conditions. I think, most of the time, it’s the reason why we don’t get on the track – it is not so much driving-wise and purposes, but just the fact that we just can’t see where we’re going. This is definitely one point to address and I really hope it can improve that.”

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Asked whether visibility in the rain is the most pressing safety concern in F1 and its junior categories at the moment, Gasly was in full agreement.

“Especially, obviously, you’re talking wet conditions,” he said.

“In dry conditions. visibility is fine. It’s more related to our system to put in place, but clearly, what’s happened in Spa – it’s just important to review everything that happened and just take actions now before we see dramatic outcomes happening.

“We accept the risk that is part of our sport, and this will, somehow, always remain. I think, in Suzuka last year, we were happy to drive – the problem is we don’t see where we going.

“From the moment you know that you don’t know where you’re going, if someone is stuck in front of you – these cars are going extremely fast, you take the risk of taking the life of someone away.

“This should not be part of the sport, we should not be put in such conditions and even more with young talents trying to make their way to Formula 1.

“So it’s clearly something that needs to be addressed. It’s just a request from all the people involved, whether it’s the organisation, the Federation [the FIA], to make the right review and analysis and that we take action really quickly.”

Does Pierre Gasly believes Spa-Francorchamps needs changing?

Asked by PlanetF1.com whether he feels a tweak to Spa’s layout at the top of Raidillon or along the Kemmel Straight is needed in order to slow the pace, following the widening of the track through the section in a bid to improve safety, Gasly said he couldn’t offer comment after deciding against watching footage of the fatal accident involving Van ‘t Hoff.

“I personally decided not to look at the footage because it was so hard to get over what’s happened with Anthoine that I’m not ready to go through the emotions and have this stuck in your mind,” he said.

“So I can’t really make precise comments on what needs to be done. But I think the straight-line itself, you can take the straight line in Barcelona, the speed will be pretty much the same. In Jeddah, it’s extremely fast… we’re always gonna be at high-speed. We don’t want F1 or lower categories to be limited to 150 kph, obviously.

“Visibility is clearly one of the priorities which needs to be changed. It needs to be reviewed. I don’t know personally, I don’t think it’s track related. But I don’t have the magic answer. There are people working on it, who will be better placed than me and have more information to know exactly what’s needed to be done to make sure we don’t lose other drivers.”

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