The British Grand Prix was flagged off at Silverstone on Sunday after a terrifying opening-corner multi-car smash in which Zhou Guanyue’s Alfa Romeo turned upside down and hit the circuit’s safety barrier. As Max Verstappen slammed pole sitter Carlos Sainz into the first corner, there was a “massacre” behind and Marshall ran towards Zhou trapped in his stricken car. George Russell’s Mercedes, Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, Yuki Tsunoda (Alpha Tauri) and Alex Albon’s Williams were also involved.
Zhou’s car was catapulted upside down, the Chinese rookie’s head being saved by the roll hoop-halo of his car as it slammed into a gravel net and catch fencing over tire barriers, where it hit a stable. Had sprung back to finish semi-straight in position.
A detailed replay of the accident was not immediately available until Zhou was rescued from his car.
He was attended and pulled out by the emergency evacuation medical team, transferred on a stretcher and taken by ambulance to the Circuit Medical Center.
Albon was also taken to a medical center before being transferred by helicopter to Coventry Hospital for further precautionary tracks.
The sport’s ruling body, the International Motoring Federation (FIA), advised that both drivers were alert and were being checked and evaluated.
The typical speed of Formula One cars in that part of the circuit is around 240 kilometers per hour.
In the re-runs of the opening, it appeared that Russell, starting in eighth, turned to his right after a poor start and collided with Zhou’s Alfa Romeo as the pair attempted to stay ahead of Pierre Gasly.
This started Zhou’s wild excursions off-circuit and pulled other cars around him in a number of less serious collisions.
In a separate additional announcement, the FIA also confirmed that several demonstrators had tried to flee the circuit following red flags.
“We also confirm that following the red flag, several people attempted to enter the track,” the statement said. “These people were immediately removed and the matter is now being dealt with by the local authorities.”
As a specialist extraction team entered the area back into the pits after the collision, Zhou attended, who remained in his car until it became clear.
The other drivers, including Russell, climbed out of their cars to assist Zhou after the collision.
All the teams involved in preparing for the restart after the incident were in frantic action to repair their damaged cars.
In a radio statement, Alfa Romeo said: “Zhou is conscious, he is talking, there is no fracture. Judging by the circumstances, he is very, very good.”
This was not the first collision in which the ‘Halo’ device was instrumental in saving a driver from serious injury – Roy Nissani survived when another car driven by Dennis Hauger landed above his cockpit in which he was rescued by Halo. Both narrowly escaped.
After a delay of about an hour the race was resumed in the original starting order, with the retirements of Zhou, Albon and Russell reducing the grid to 17.
Unlike the original start, Sainz managed to stop Verstappen in the first corner, as the Spaniard secured his first F1 victory in his 150th start after securing his first pole.
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