Guanyu Zhou, Alfa Romeo, Silverstone, 2022

Russell shaken by “incredibly scary” crash which left Zhou’s car between barriers

2022 British Grand Prix

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George Russell says Formula 1 will have to consider what it can learn from Zhou Guanyu’s huge crash at the start of the British Grand Prix.

The Alfa Romeo driver’s car was launched over the tyre barrier at Abbey after contact with Russell as they accelerated towards the first corner.

“Firstly, I’m glad to see Zhou’s okay,” a visibly shaken Russell told media including RaceFans at Silverstone. “Incredibly scary incident. Not just for him, but I’m sure for everyone in the crowd as well. Never nice to see.”

Zhou gained on Russell at the start as the Mercedes driver lacked grip having chosen to start on the hard tyre compound.

“Obviously, we took a gamble starting on the hards because I didn’t do a good enough job yesterday in qualifying and we were starting out of position,” he explained. “We knew it was going to be very tricky.

“But I just got completely swamped by everybody at the start and next thing I know I was in the side of Zhou.”

Russell was shocked when he discovered Zhou’s car had cleared a tyre barrier and dropped into the gap between it and a debris fence in front of the crowd.

“It was horrible,” he said. “I mean, in that position, he was stuck there and there’s nothing he could have done.

“We need to have a think, I guess, to avoid a car being stuck in such a fine gap in the space between the tyre barriers and the metal fence. He was just stuck in there, nowhere to go.”

He admitted he was frustrated at being unable to take part in the restart as the marshals had already begun to clear his car out of the way when he returned to it.

“[When] I saw it was a red flag I jumped out to see if he was okay. And when I came back – I couldn’t quite get the car started but I just wanted to check with my team – and when I came back the car was already on a flatbed and the FIA said we couldn’t restart. So it’s annoying because the only issue we had was puncture.”

“The car was generally fine,” he added. “A little bit of damage but nothing show-stopping. So many different emotions right now. I was really excited to see how the performance the car would have been but looking forward to see how Lewis gets on now.”

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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34 comments on “Russell shaken by “incredibly scary” crash which left Zhou’s car between barriers”

  1. That was a scary looking accident for Zhou. Really glad he is ok. It was getting worrying when the replays wouldn’t show. It really highlights the sheer acceleration of these cars given the distance he travelled across the gravel and over the barrier just from the start. I dread to think what would have happened Verstappen last year if his car had flipped or dug into the gravel going at full speed.

  2. Zhou being ok is probably what makes this race the best today, that was a really scary incident, being showed over the track for a hundred meters upside down, rolling again and ending up bottom up stuck between the barriers and the fence like that.

    Happy one can get through that without fractures, I hope he has no concussion etc either.

    As for Russel – the left rear wheel was missing, not sure Russel would have been able to just drive that back to the pits. But kudos to him for immediately going to check on Zhou off course.

    1. Was he going to check on him, or to apologise for causing the crash with his Grosjean-style move? If he escapes a penalty he can consider himself extremely lucky.

  3. Once again hats off to the Halo designers, they deserve a medal for the lives they have saved.

  4. Roy Beedrill
    3rd July 2022, 18:15

    The only thing you can learn from that incident is this: if you screwed up your getaway from the grid slot, do not try to block as much passing cars as possible. You may end up killing someone.

    1. If you are talking about Russel, I don’t think he was trying to block anyone, he was just positioning himself. It is almost impossible to see anyone in the mirrors so the only way to avoid these crashes is to either force all drivers to hold their line (and therefore not pass anyone) until the first corner or to start under a safety car. Or we could just accept that F1 is a potentially dangerous sport and keep increasing the safety of the cars and tracks.

    2. I agree with Roy on this. That was straight out of the Romain Grosjean “Rules? What rules?” playbook.

  5. While the halo stood up to the impact the roll over structure did not and the halo is not there as a backup rollover structure. So there is some serious analysis and improvements needed in that area.

    1. Yes it’s not the first time in recent years the roll hoop has failed – totally unacceptable and a rethink with better crash testing required.

    2. As Scarbs explained on twitter, the roll-over structure more or less did the job of absorbing the impact when the car landed on it’s head (but that did then more or less take most of its strength); indeed good that we have a range of protections good enough that this was the result. I guess the FIA will be looking at that car closely, as they did with the Grosjean accident, and see what can/has to be improved.

  6. I’m beginning to doubt whether the bladed roll or roll blade design airbox is fit for purpose.

  7. Russel can learn not to drive in and cause a massive collision whilst later innocently claiming he was ‘hit from behind’ when the top view clearly shows noone was in his rear arc.

    1. The precise opposite: the overhead view (7-8 seconds in) clearly shows Russell getting clipped as he moves across to the left, which flips him left into Zhou.

      1. Russell misjudged his move. Gasly had just appeared on his left side and he looked in his mirrors but couldnt tell how much alongside Gasly was.

        1. He didn’t misjudge anything. He was way ahead when he started moving left, preparing for the corner. I can understand a faster Gasly going for the gap but by the time he had committed Russell was also already going left and Gasly simply had nowhere to go.

      2. He gets clipped as he moves to the left i.e. he moves into a car that was to the left of him, not behind him. How is that the opposite of what I said?

        It’s a racing incident, these things happen, but for him to claim someone hit him from behind is disingenious in the extreme. He moved to the left, either did not see the car to his left or took a gamble that that car would back off, then got clipped with the crash as a result.

        1. It was a slight move to the left and you’d expect the driver behind him not to try and shoot between a cap, when in effect that would make four cars in a line.

          It’s a racing incident. George probably thought he was clipped in the heat of the aftermath, where he was still shaken.

          Some people want to blame drivers for every incident.

        2. Because as far as Russell was concerned, he was hit from behind, which sent him into Zhou, that’s all. If you want to blame Russell for being incautious, fine, but he was probably largely unsighted. When he started moving left, Gasly was only level with his rear tyres.

          1. Albon was hit from behind. Russell was drifting left enough to leave nowhere for Gasly to go. But either way, racing incident.

          2. Even Grosjean got hit from behind by Hamilton in Spa 2012 but we don’t say Hamilton caused that shunt, do we?

            George’s move was similar to what Vettel did in Singapore 2017. Drift towards the left of the track thinking you need to leave space for only 1 driver but there are 2 drivers needing that space.

            Not deserving of a penalty but he was majorly responsible for this crash

          3. @sumedh:
            I feel you summarized it best.

            Russel did not get clipped, he trapped Gasly’s front wheel by pinching him. That was clumsy. He was made aware of the gap between Zhou and himself by Latifi blasting through. He can’t claim he thought it was unlikely there wasn’t a car there.

          4. It was not clumsy by Russel. There was no way he would have been able to see Gasly flying up the inside… The mirrors are tiny and he is concentrating on what is going on ahead of him. Gasly did not have to try to squeeze through a small gap either… But this happens all the time and the drivers mostly do okay. It however only takes a tiny error or bad luck and all of a sudden it turns into a big accident. No one was to blame it was just F1 being F1.

          5. @Lee1:
            I think everybody knows the mirrors are almost useless, that’s not the point. I’m also convinced it was absolutely impossible for him to see Gasly, I agree. But I disagree an Gasly trying to squeeze through part. With the speed difference it was the way to go for him, after Latifi.
            In fact, Russell and Zhou made a very slow start. And unless you close a door right away after a poor getaway, you can be sure a car will be there. If he made a proper start, sure, you can wander slowly to the left but not in this case.

  8. If I was being very harsh on Russell, he should be asking why he even got out the car and didn’t attempt to get the car back to the pits.

    It is a perfectly understandable and natural reaction to try and help one of your follow competitors in a very difficult place but the cold hard fact here is that he would have provided absolutely nothing of benefical value to the rescue operations.

    1. @chimaera2003 Drivers have pulled other drivers out of wreckage in the past. I really don’t see why he should be criticized for checking on Zhou and also think the stewards should have shown some leeway for a commendable reaction (presuming his car could have been in a fit state to race by the end of the red flag period).

      1. @david-br David, I cannot think when I last heard of a driver pulling another driver out of the wreckage. If a car was burning and a driver struggling to get out then another driver in their flame-retardant race suits might be able to help, but surely everyone knows that in an accident like we saw today, no flames, the last thing you should be doing is pulling the driver out. I’m sure Russell had good intentions, but he simply doesn’t have the skills or equipment to do anything useful at that point, and by abandoning his car where he did, he created another potential obstacle. Best thing he could have done was to try to limp it back to the pits, in which case the team might well have had time to repair it for the restart, and if it became clear he couldn’t get back to the pits, at least get it to a point where it could be taken off track without needing to send a recovery truck for it.

        1. I am sorry, but are you criticising a driver for being concerned for another driver? How odd. Russel did the right thing. He stopped safely and went to see if he could help another driver. He should be commended not lambasted. The FIA however need to be asked questions over whether it is fair to disqualify a driver when the driver was attempting to safely help another driver and had explicitly asked to have the car left where it is for a short time during a red flag.

          1. Lee, no I am not criticising him for being concerned, but I am criticising him for letting his heart rule his head. It is the first corner, there are plenty of marshals around the track, and a highly trained medical team just seconds away. Pulling a driver from the wreckage when you don’t know what you are doing will do more harm than good. The best thing you can do is give the professionals room to work.

    2. You are absolutely correct. I feel Russell felt a little guilty and some concern for his fellow driver. It also helped that his car was partly wrecked.

    3. It is a perfectly understandable and natural reaction to try and help one of your follow competitors in a very difficult place but the cold hard fact here is that he would have provided absolutely nothing of benefical value to the rescue operations.

      People’s reaction to a situation isn’t always the “right” thing. Most people try to help. I think it makes him human.

      A question for you all:
      If you work in a hospital and in the course of your day you see a patient falling, is your expected action (as per mandatory training) to –
      1. Attempt to catch them and stop or ease the fall
      2. Allow them to fall and work to help them back up, if it is safe to move them

      Pick one.

  9. I think they should that a look at the end of the gravel asfalt road that flipped the car up when it made contact with the asfalt. I think they should take the gravel back extend the asfalt downwards into the gravel and then return the gravel over it so cars can’t grap the side and tumble around.

    1. I doubt they have ever ran a simulation to see how a halo acts when skidding over the gravel… It is an edge case that may never happen again…

    2. They’ll certainly need to look at it, Mac, but I think very few people would have predicted the particular way the accident unfolded. The halo can protect a driver in an upside down car, or a car that’s been hit from above. Cars that are flipped at speed tend to roll and I doubt anyone envisaged what might happen when a sliding upside down car transitions from the tarmac to the gravel while still travelling at speed. Gravel traps are very ‘old school’ and they may have to consider getting rid of them entirely.

  10. After the precedent set at Spa last year with Perez’s car being allowed to re-enter the delayed race start after being recovered to the pits and repaired – I think the FIA were a little harsh on George/Mercedes!

Comments are closed.