Guanyu Zhou, Alfa Romeo, Silverstone, 2022

Impact on Zhou’s roll hoop was double the force of FIA crash tests – Vasseur

2022 Austrian Grand Prix

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The roll hoop on Zhou Guanyu’s car suffered an impact over twice the magnitude of the maximum load in FIA safety tests during his Silverstone crash, Frederic Vasseur revealed.

The Alfa Romeo driver suffered a violent accident at the start of the British Grand Prix last weekend after being flipped over following contact between Pierre Gasly and George Russell. The roll hoop on Zhou’s car broke in the impact, sending Zhou skidding along the asphalt with only his halo protecting his helmet from contact with the ground.

Alfa Romeo team principal Vasseur says that the team’s initial investigations have shown the force exerted on the roll hoop was over twice the maximum they are subjected to during FIA’s safety tests.

“It’s still under investigation,” explained Vasseur. “We showed the information about the crash with the FIA, we are already into the process of this.

“The first concept is that the crash was something like two times more than the load of the crash test. I don’t know if you had a look at the Tarmac, but we dug a groove into the tarmac, something like four or five centimetres deep. At some stage, it doesn’t matter the level of the crash test – you can always find something a bit bigger.”

Vasseur says that he is grateful that Zhou was uninjured in the accident and that he had not been placed at risk of a fire at any point during his ordeal.

“For sure we’ll have to take action, on our side and with the FIA, to see how we can improve the safety. But, at the end of the day, I want to stay positive and to say also after a big crash, nothing happened,” explained Vasseur.

“You can’t imagine also what could be the outcome if we [had] a fuse on the car. It’s thanks to the safety decisions that we have no fuel leak on the car, because this would have been by far the worst-case scenario.”

With team principals having discussed the prospect of increasing the budget cap on teams for 2022 in reaction to worldwide inflation during a meeting of the F1 commission on Friday, Vasseur says the heavy accident damage will not give Alfa Romeo concerns with their own budget this season.

“I don’t want to come back on the discussion of yesterday,” he said. “The big difference is that, in this case, I don’t have to deal with the cost cap, I have to deal with my own budget because we are still below the cost cap.

“I won’t go to the bank to make a loan to pay the parts. It would mean I would have to find savings on the development or on some other topic, but we’ll have to deal with it and we will be able to do with it.”

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...
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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13 comments on “Impact on Zhou’s roll hoop was double the force of FIA crash tests – Vasseur”

  1. We’ve seen flips like that hundreds of times and the roll hoops never brake.
    All of the cars’ roll-hoops can withstand forces well beyong the homologation minima – but the real life impacts generate much larger forces as well – and maybe it so happens that the Alfa Romeo’s hoops are weaker than average.

    1. What a pathetic comment.
      Alfa Romeo’s cars passed all the FIA safety tests.
      If you think other teams are making their cars a few kilograms heavier to be beyond the FIA test requirements, then you clearly know NOTHING about F1.

      1. I also find it hard to accept that this accident was x times the tested force. The car wasn’t dropped from a crane. It didn’t look like some freak scenario like with Dan Wheldon hitting the fence posts. It may be worth considering for example whether the “blade” design has a failure mode other designs don’t.

        One does not have to assume negligence or malfeasance on the part of the team. Safety regs as they say are written in blood. Real world scenarios is where you learn of gaps in your engineering and implementation. We got away with one this time.

        1. It happened at great speed which I’m guessing an FIA drop test simply can’t take into account. I think the lateral energy combined with the vertical load is what made it sheer off instantly. If the car passed the tests I’m not sure anyone can complain. It’s a learning experience and maybe changes need to be made to the tests in future.

        2. Agreed. Change of angle can change everything.

      2. Dale, come down for a second and try reading my post with a bit of comprehension for a change, please.

        “Alfa Romeo’s cars passed all the FIA safety tests.”
        Of course they did, Captain Obvious, nobody disputes that.
        The thing is that the hoop collapsed in a crash that we’ve seen a hundreds of times where nothing ever happens.

        “If you think other teams are making their cars a few kilograms heavier to be beyond the FIA test requirements, then you clearly know nothing about F1.”
        – What a silly idea. Again, try reading with at least a bit of comprehension instead of coming with such nonsensical assumptions that have nothing to do with what I say. Don’t make up stuff.

        1. If the term you were looking for was “calm down”, then you failed at that too.
          Best you quit while you’re ahead.

  2. I find it shocking that almost nothing has been said about George’s driving standards as a cause of this huge accident, especially considering his position on the GPDA.
    He deliberately moved over on Gasly who already had part of his car alongside. From the onboard footage we can clearly see him looking in his mirror while making the move to pinch Gasly.
    Shocking driving standards, but somehow in all the focus on what happened next, his actions have been swept under the rug.

    1. Frankie Bean
      9th July 2022, 13:08

      Romain Grosjean would have gotten another ban for this move. Or is it cause I was only against a mid field driver instead of a top team driver. Who knows….

      But some sort of ‘causing a collision’ penalty would have been expected

    2. Which Gasly then did today to Hamilton in what was nearly a exact repeat a week later. I think the issue is more how much they let the drivers get away with because its lap 1.

  3. I hadn’t seen that image before. Startled me for a second, he really was ‘skating’ on the halo. Can’t imagine what would have happened had it not been there. Again – I was a doubter when I first saw the halo, but that imagine alone is enough.

  4. Zhou’s roll was a bit freaky in that he was almost instantly flipped over and seemed to lose very little energy in the actual collision. A lot of flips in the last 15 or so years have happened in braking zones or even on the end of a corner, at much lower speed and not under full acceleration.

    Hopefully something is also done about the poor visibility. You can see Russell look over in his left mirror, and then he just edges towards the left anyway. Did he not see Gasly or Zhou? Poor mirrors have been talked about for years, but F1 doesn’t seem to actually consider this a serious issue despite their insistence on remaining an open wheel formula.

  5. Maybe i’m forgetting something but I can’t recall seeing an F1 car flip at that sort of speed & land full force directly on the roll hoop.

    Roll’s usually happen at lower speed, Occur due to a car digging into gravel or the car lands with another part of the car first meaning that the roll hoop itself doesn’t take the full force of the impact.

    For example if you look at Mark Webber’s flip at Valencia in 2010 which also happened at fairly high speed, The car landed more on the nose with the first big impact & then rotated so when the roll hoop did hit the floor it was more of a glancing blow as the car was rotating onto its side before it landed the right way up.

    I saw it mentioned that the FIA tests are usually the result of taking the highest forces they have seen with a bit extra as a safety margin. So I guess they will look at this crash, See what sort of forces were involved & then alter the test’s accordingly.

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