After Guanyu Zhou’s crash at the British Grand Prix, George Russell warns that Formula 1 needs to rethink tire barrier safety to prevent cars like Zhou’s from getting stuck in gaps.
The Japanese’s Alfa Romeo was thrown through the gravel trap and over the tire barriers on the first corner of the race at Silverstone after being involved in a crash involving several other cars, including Russell.
Zhou’s car then became wedged in a gap between the tire stack and the safety fence. Although he was unhurt and was extricated from the car by security forces, Russell said the situation was far from ideal.
Russell: “A scary incident”
“He was stuck in that position,” says Russell, who ran over to Zhou to check on his condition immediately after the accident. “There was nothing he could have done. “I think we should have avoided the car getting stuck in such a small gap between the tire barriers and the metal fence. He was just stuck there with nowhere to go.”
“It was an incredibly frightening incident, not only for him but also for everyone else in the audience,” says the Mercedes driver. “It wasn’t nice to see that.”
He himself was one of the causes of the accident: shortly after the start he spun as a result of contact with Pierre Gasly in the AlphaTauri and slipped before the first corner in Zhou, whose car took off, landed on its roof and crashed into the barriers.
“Obviously we took a risk by starting on the hard tires because I didn’t do a good job in qualifying yesterday and we started from a worse position,” said Russell, recapitulating his starting position.
“We knew it was going to be very tricky but I was just bowled over by everyone at the start and the next thing I know I was on Zhou’s side. There are so many different emotions.” However, there was great relief that Zhou escaped uninjured.
Why Russell couldn’t continue
The race was over not only for him, but also for Russell after the crash at the start. “When I came back I couldn’t start the car for some reason,” he says. “I wanted to talk to my team and asked the marshals to leave the car. But when I came back, it was already on the van and they said we couldn’t start anymore. That’s annoying.”
Because the only problem was a puncture: “The car was generally fine. There was a small damage, but nothing spectacular.” Russell was later seen chatting with FIA Technical Delegate Jo Bauer to clarify the situation.
He was told he could not resume racing because of outside help. “As soon as you get help, you can’t seem to start anymore. It’s very frustrating,” Russell says angrily, adding: “There’s no doubt that we had the pace to finish in the top 6.”