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Zhou calls for Spa changes: "I lost my friend there"

Following the death of young driver Dilano van't Hoff at Spa earlier this month, Zhou Guanyu has joined a chorus of key F1 figures to suggest that changes need to be made to the Belgian circuit.

Zhou Guanyu says the layout of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit needs to change, after the death of Dilano van't Hoff in a European Formula Regional event on July 1. The 18-year-old lost his life after a multi-car collision in wet conditions at the fearsome Eau Rouge/Raidillon complex. A similar accident in an F2 race at Spa in 2019 had claimed the life of Anthoine Hubert, who was a member of the Renault Sport Academy along with Zhou, and the Chinese suggested that that section of track was no longer safe in its current format. "From my side, the track layout needs to change," Zhou told media, including RacingNews365.com . "I lost a friend there in 2019, Anthoine, so it hurts. It's a historic, iconic corner, but we've lost too many lives in the past." Zhou's comments echo those of Max Verstappen, Lance Stroll, Pierre Gasly and Toto Wolff, all of whom have called for changes in the aftermath of van't Hoff's crash.

Temporary chicane at Eau Rouge?

Following the deaths of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger early in the 1994 F1 season, temporary chicanes were installed at several circuits in order to slow the cars down. Spa was one such circuit to change, with the profile of Eau Rouge being modified considerably to reduce speeds, and Zhou suggested this might be an ideal template for the circuit's future. "I've seen some videos [from 1994], where a slow chicane was added," Zhou said. "I think that's the right way forward, because the grandstands can move back, there's enough space there. "Overtaking is still possible [on the following Kemmel Straight] using slipstream, but at lower speeds, so everything happens less straightforward."

Zhou: Spa race should never have restarted

Van't Hoff's accident happened in wet conditions after several laps under the Safety Car with visibility still at a premium. Zhou suggested that the race should not have gone ahead, likening the situation to the treacherous conditions in last year's Japanese Grand Prix, which was red-flagged on Lap 2 after Carlos Sainz had aquaplaned into the barriers. "They should never have restarted the race," said Zhou. "They had already done so many laps behind the Safety Car. "It was similar to the F1 race in Suzuka last year. I don’t know how we started the race. I literally saw nothing on the first lap. I was just guessing where to brake. "This was the case in the [Formula Regional] race. Drivers couldn't see anything and someone got T-boned. "You can't base [the conditions] on the spray that the Safety Car or the race leader has to deal with. "You have to base it on the drivers from P10. That's where the action is and that’s where the visibility is really low."

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