[imagesource: Tim Goode / PA/ PA Wire]
When the British Grand Prix at Silverstone was stopped on the first lap, following a horrific crash involving Chinese driver Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo, many feared the worst.
George Russell was lauded for sprinting over to check on his fellow driver (take note, Max Verstappen), and Zhou spent quite some time trapped in his vehicle as it came to halt between the barriers and the catch fencing.
Let’s take a brief moment to revisit how close he came to flipping over the fence and into the crowd:
Thankfully, news eventually filtered through to broadcasters that Zhou was not seriously injured. He released a short message on social media confirming the news, but yesterday was the first time he’s recounted in detail what he was thinking as he flipped and careened off the track.
The Telegraph reports:
“When the flip happened, the first thing I was trying to deal with was to release my hand from the steering wheel because you can break your hand comparatively easily in a crash like that,” [Zhou] said.
“When I was rolling on the ground I knew I’d be facing a massive impact because the car wasn’t stopping. And then I was trying to get myself in a position that was as safe as possible, just waiting for the last impact.
“Once I was stopped, I didn’t know where I was because I was upside down and the next thing I felt was there was some leaking, from I don’t know [where]. I wasn’t sure if I was my body or if it was the car.”
Zhou said at that point, he focused on switching off the engine and felt a cold liquid on his left-hand side, adding “I didn’t know if it was blood”.
Only later when he watched the crash did he realise the role the halo safety feature had played in saving his life:
“I was thinking I was next to the barriers but I was actually between the barriers and the fence. I don’t know how I survived and then looking back. Hopefully the halo saved me there from that.”
“I don’t think you get much bigger than that, to be honest. Nothing was going through my mind,” he said.
The halo, which formed part of the vehicle’s survival cell or monocoque (pictured above), is made from titanium and weighs just nine kilograms, although it can withstand the weight of a 12 000-kilogram London double-decker bus.
Via The Guardian, there were some minor concerns regarding certain functionalities:
The FIA, F1’s governing body, is investigating the incident and a key point will be why the roll hoop gave way given it is designed and tested to ensure it can withstand an impact.
Zhou believes the forces involved were too severe. “I think the first hit was much harder than what [the team] investigated through the safety test, a few times harder than the numbers we want,” he said. “So that’s obviously created a problem.”
Once he knew he had dodged a bullet with his Silverstone crash, Zhou, who had some minor bruising but felt fine by the next day, turned his attention towards making sure he was going to be ready for this week’s race.
Sunday sees the drivers heading to the Red Bull Ring in Austria for Round 11 of the 2022 season. Meanwhile, South African F1 fans have been buoyed by the news that we may just be edging closer to hosting a race in 2023.
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