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Verstappen: Jeddah still "more dangerous" than Spa amid F1 safety concerns

Red Bull Formula 1's Max Verstappen says Jeddah's street circuit is "more dangerous" than Spa-Francorchamps amid calls to change the Belgian Grand Prix venue.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Last weekend, 18-year-old Formula Regional driver Dilano van 't Hoff suffered a fatal accident at Spa, when the Dutchman was hit by a following car while stationary on the Kemmel straight.

The crash happened on a last-lap restart in heavy rain, which dramatically reduced visibility.

It is the second fatal accident at the venue in four years' time after Anthoine Hubert was killed in F2 in 2019 on the Raidillon.

In the wake of Hubert's passing, barriers were pushed back to reduce the likelihood of crashed cars bouncing back into harm's way.

But van 't Hoff's accident, which happened further up the road, raised fresh safety questions about the historic venue. Aston Martin's Lance Stroll said "F1 is playing with fire" by returning to Spa for this month's Belgian Grand Prix without modifying the Eau Rouge and Raidillon complex.

But while world champion Verstappen acknowledged the iconic corner combination is dangerous, he pointed out that Saudi Arabia's Jeddah Corniche Circuit, which was only added to the calendar in recent years, was still more perilous.

"It's for sure quite a dangerous corner but we're also going to Jeddah in Sector 1 and that for me is probably more dangerous even," Verstappen said after winning Sunday's Austrian grand Prix.

"I'm happy that nothing has happened yet in that sector because going through [Turns] 6, 7, 8, if you have a shunt there that can be the same – it's all blind, you don't know what's coming.

"I remember in the beginning of the year there, I got upset with my engineer because I impeded Lando [Norris], and I know how that feels. It's super dangerous when these things happen."

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1st position, in the Press Conference

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1st position, in the Press Conference

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Verstappen does agree that more can be done to make Spa safer but thinks it is unfair to blame the circuit's layout when the huge spray in rainy conditions, one of the main factors in van 't Hoff's accident, can make any track just as dangerous.

"For sure, Eau Rouge is blind going up, but of course this accident happened later," he added.

"I think the only thing that maybe can be improved there is to make more space in terms of trying to move the barriers more out, because at the moment it looks like as soon as you crash, you hit the barrier, you bounce back onto the track quite easily.

"I think already the changes they made in Spa, they definitely opened it up a lot more but it will always be a dangerous corner.

"But we are going to a lot of tracks where there are dangerous corners, where up until probably there is an accident, you won't say anything.

"And now, of course, it gets brought up, but 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 they restarted [the race]."

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Verstappen's team-mate Sergio Perez thinks the incident shows the weather conditions modern single-seaters can safely run in are limited, despite pressure from fans to avoid weather delays and red flags.

"To me, the most important one is definitely the track conditions, because I think sometimes race directors are pushed by, probably fans and social media, people sitting back at home thinking that the circuit looks fine to race but the visibility is just the most important," Perez added.

"Accidents can happen but you cannot have situations where drivers are basically blind and just going flat out, because it's when those big accidents can happen in any series.

"So, if that means delaying the start and means that we won't have the start when the track is really wet, then fine.

"We've got to do what is safe for all the drivers."

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