The guardian angel is working overtime at Silverstone on Sunday. Already in the support race of Formula 2 there was a bad crash: Young driver Dennis Hauger was levered out by a notch and torpedoed Roy Nissany’s car at cockpit level. Only the Halo bracket saves the Israeli’s life.
Nevertheless, anxious minutes begin until Zhou is freed from the wreck. After initial checks at the track hospital, his team finally gives the all-clear: The Chinese was unhurt in the horror crash.
For Nico Hülkenberg, who works as a TV expert in Silverstone, the mild outcome is not such a big surprise: “Sure, flying around in the air, upside down at that, is not cool. But in that sense he didn’t have a hard impact “, comments the German, who himself landed upside down on the tire wall in Abu Dhabi in 2018.
Background: Although flashovers look spectacular, the energy released can dissipate over a longer period of time than with a blunt impact. “For example, Max’s (Verstappen; ed.) departure here last year was harder: 51g, that really hurts,” explains Hülkenberg.
Crash pilot Zhou can be seen again in the paddock towards the end of the race on Sunday and reported to his fans via Twitter in the evening: “I’m okay. The halo saved me today.”
Despite much resistance, the cockpit bar was introduced in Formula 1 for the 2018 season. “A lot of people were against it, but without Halo it would have looked different today. That’s why we can be proud of the work we’ve done in terms of safety in Formula 1,” says F1 boss Stefano Domenicali. After crossing the finish line, TV pictures show the Italian arm in arm with Zhou, asking how he is feeling well.
“I’m very relieved that he’s doing well. But these things remind us how dangerous racing is,” says Domenicali. “It was a dramatic moment that shows we can never rely on what we have. We must work with the FIA to ensure cars become even safer.”
Further proof of this: in the course of the Zhou accident, there is a second violent crash. Sebastian Vettel crashes into the rear of Alex Albon because the Williams driver brakes hard because of the start collision. Although Albon is conscious after his violent impact with the wall, he is taken to the hospital by helicopter for further examinations.
In his case, too, there was the all-clear in the evening: Albon tweeted a picture of himself in bed with the caption: “Everything okay” and thanks the medical staff. His Williams racing team announced a little later that the Briton was uninjured and was discharged from Coventry Hospital at 8.30am local time.
Vettel explains the accident from his point of view: “My start was very good, but then I got stuck a bit on the right. It was the typical traffic jam effect, like on the freeway. The rear then drives up. In this case, I did because I met Alex .” Vettel does not have a chance to avoid Williams. “It’s very fast, you don’t have much time to think about it. It only takes a small mistake or someone pulling over and closing a gap, then it explodes.”
That’s exactly what happens before turn one on Sunday. According to the experts, the main trigger for the crash is Mercedes driver George Russell: “George pulls over from his line to the left, so Gasly runs out of space behind him. He hits Russell and then Zhou in turn,” analyzes ex-F1 driver Karun Chandhok at Sky.
For the Indian it is clear: “George knows that he got off badly at the start because the cars are rushing away in front of him. Then it gets critical because he still looks to the left in the mirror, but completely underestimates that Gasly with so much speed comes and pulls over anyway. Three in one, that just doesn’t work well.”
Curious: the mega crash at Silverstone on Sunday may prevent an even bigger catastrophe. Because the race is interrupted immediately after the accident with the red flag, the cars drive slowly back to the pits – and on their way there they pass a few environmental protesters who (sometimes disguised as marshals!) gain unauthorized access brought to the race track.
Actions of this kind at the Great Britain GP had already been announced in advance, and despite an increased police presence and urgent warnings, they could not be prevented. Seven people have been arrested in connection with the incident, local security officials said after the race.
F1 boss Domenicali also has a clear opinion on this: “Completely irresponsible! People can protest and say something with their voices, there is freedom of speech for that. But to take the risk of running onto the track and a really bad accident for the drivers and Putting yourself at risk is completely stupid and unacceptable.”