Hours after the serious accident suffered at the British GP this Sunday, Guanyu Zhou used social media to reassure the F1 public and confirmed, in an official statement, that he will be at the Austrian GP, stage next weekend. The Alfa Romeo rookie even published a selfie and thanked the Halo, a safety device for cars in the category, for saving his life.
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– I’m glad I’m okay. The stewards and medical staff were fantastic with their quick response, and I also owe my thanks to the FIA and Formula 1 for all the work they have done to improve safety. The Halo saved me, and it shows that every step we take to improve our cars has real and valuable results. I’m more excited than ever to get back on track and do what I love, and in shape for Austria next week.”
Guanyu Zhou is rescued on a stretcher after an accident at the start of the F1 British GP – Photo: Vince Mignott/MB Media/Getty Images
The Halo consists of a titanium bar that circles the top of the cockpit (where the pilot sits). The part can withstand impacts of up to 12 tonnes, has undergone improvements for the 2022 F1 season and was introduced as part of efforts to improve safety in the series after the crash that killed Frenchman Jules Bianchi in 2014.
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Still, Zhou’s accident raised another concern: the ski lift, which is on the top of the cars above the drivers’ heads – in which the on-board cameras are installed – of the Chinese was destroyed in the first impact of the single-seater with the ground. That is, the only thing that stopped the freshman’s head from hitting the ground was the Halo.
Zhou Guanyu’s car, upside down, in the gravel pit at Abbey Curve at Silverstone — Photo: Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images
The fact should be investigated more carefully by the International Automobile Federation (FIA). One of the hypotheses raised is the design of the Alfa Romeo sling, which has a sharp structure at the top, a model abandoned by the teams in the last years of F1.
The incident took place at the first corner of the Silverstone Circuit. Pierre Gasly, who started 11th, touched George Russell, eighth, as he tried to put himself in the gap between the Brit and ninth-placed Zhou. On impact, the Mercedes driver touched the Alfa Romeo rookie’s car and spun.
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Lance Stroll, in the midst of the mess, was almost hit and brushed against Sebastian Vettel’s left rear wheel, but both escaped. In a parallel incident, Alexander Albon also spun, and Esteban Ocon was hit on his front right wheel by one of those involved in the crash.
Guanyu Zhou flipped violently at the start of the British GP – Photo: Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images
– Hey guys! Thank you all for the kind messages. I want to thank the stewards and the medical team at Silverstone, they were really fantastic. I’m more excited than ever to get back on track, see you in Austria! – tweeted the 23-year-old Chinese on Monday.
Images captured by fans in the stands showed the seriousness of the accident. After flipping over, Zhou’s Alfa Romeo dragged itself violently upside down from the exit of Turn 1, across the gravel area, and catapulted itself.
He flew over the tire barrier that separates the sand from the grid of the stands and stopped close to the audience, vertically, in the gap between the fence and the barrier. Russell stopped his damaged car at the turn and ran to the spot. He confirmed with a hand signal that the Chinese was fine and asked for more inspectors to help him.
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Guanyu Zhou flipped at the start of the British GP – Photo: Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Albon, who was also heavily impacted by the accident, asked the inspectors who attended to him to go to Zhou. The Williams driver was transferred by helicopter to Coventry Hospital and released after five hours of examination.
– I’m fine, all right. The halo saved me today. Thank you all for your kind messages! – wrote Zhou still on Sunday.
The race was stopped for almost 1h and resumed with the starting positions, which put Carlos Sainz back in pole position. The Spaniard defended himself from Max Verstappen and overcame a mistake that took him out of the lead to win for the first time in his career.
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Silverstone Circuit medical team to help Guanyu Zhou after an accident at the British GP – Photo: Vince Mignott/MB Media/Getty Images
F1 returns this weekend with the Austrian GP at the Spielberg Circuit on July 10th.