These pictures went around the world: Guanyu Zhou’s Alfa Romeo C42 slipping through the gravel bed after the rollover, being thrown up and flying into the safety fence. And then the great relief when it becomes clear: Zhou survived the serious accident at the Formula 1 race in Silverstone 2022 unharmed.
“That’s the most important thing,” says his manager Graeme Lowdon on ‘Channel 4’. And: “We knew that pretty quickly.”
Because the marshals and assistants who arrived at the scene of the accident as soon as possible, as well as George Russell, who hurried to them, quickly established that Zhou was conscious and at least outwardly uninjured. The Formula 1 picture direction did not initially show recordings that prove this. The resolution came later, when Zhou had long since been transferred to the route hospital.
Zhou thanks the first responders
The examination there confirmed the initial diagnosis: no fractures, no injuries. “I’m fine,” Zhou then assured himself, first on social networks and then on site at the racetrack.
He was “happy” about the outcome of the accident and expressly praised the efforts of the first responders: “The marshals and the medical team were fantastic. They reacted quickly.”
“I would also like to thank the FIA and Formula 1 for all the work that has gone into improving safety. Halo saved me. It shows that every step we take in optimizing the cars brings valuable results.”
Verstappen: There was luck too!
That’s how Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen sees it. He said on ‘Sky’: “I don’t think he would be there without Halo. And yes, of course he was very lucky.”
That’s why Alfa Romeo team boss Frederic Vasseur insists on further improvements in favor of safety. Original sound: “We mustn’t stop optimizing safety. This day reminds us how important it is. Because Guanyu is healthy and physically able to drive in Austria next week, that’s really it great success.”
Silverstone winner Carlos Sainz agrees with Vasseur on this point and says: “We sometimes criticize the FIA, but in such cases you have to give respect to the world association for how much it helps us. If you also consider the accident in formula 2 considers then [hat Halo in Silverstone] saved two lives.”
“I feel fortunate to be driving in an era in Formula 1 where you can duel at 300km/h knowing you’re operating within a safety window. I want to thank you for that because it feels looks great.”
Why the accident needs to be investigated
Sergio Pérez, who finished second at Silverstone, also gave the FIA a “compliment”. And he also urges taking the accident as an incentive to continue to push safety. There would certainly be “further improvements and good lessons to be learned from it,” says Pérez.
The former Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button, for example, specifically asks whether Zhou’s accident car shouldn’t have turned around again. Speaking to ‘Sky’, Button said: “What was strange from my point of view was that the car stayed upside down for so long. Normally a car rolls over once it’s thrown in the air.”
He speaks of “luck” that the safety fence finally stopped the Alfa Romeo. “It worked really well,” says Button. But why the car lifted off the gravel bed at all is one of the points that an investigation could clarify.
Another question concerns the roll bar in the air box behind the driver’s head. Because this roll bar was completely “sanded off” in the Zhou accident, leaving only Halo to protect the driver’s head. That should also be the subject of investigation.
Hill: Russell needs to question himself
According to ex-champion Damon Hill, one or the other driver in the field has to reconsider his actions in the starting phase. Specifically, Hill comes to speak of Mercedes man Russell, who, prompted by Pierre Gasly, drove into Zhou’s Alfa Romeo.
On ‘Sky’, Hill criticized Russell’s behavior a few moments earlier: “George should have assumed [auf Hard-Reifen] not getting a good start. By the time Latifi got through in the middle, it was too late for him to defend himself. He should have settled in, he was headed for a long first stint with hard tyres.”
“I would say: maybe he could still think about staying on his line and being a little more careful.”
For self-protection: Sainz did not want to see the pictures of the accident
Self-protection, on the other hand, was a big issue for some Formula 1 drivers after they parked their cars in the pit lane following the accident. Sainz, for example, says frankly: “I made the decision not to watch the accident.”
“When the red flags came out, I knew there must have been a serious accident. But I didn’t watch the scenes on TV. When I saw it later on the podium, I was completely shocked. It was an incredible one Crash. That he got out of there is crazy. I think it’s incredible.”
Pérez dealt with the situation differently: he looked at the relevant recordings in the Red Bull pits before the race restarted. And he too is “shocked” and says: “It’s difficult to see something like that and then try to erase it from your memory in order to concentrate on work.”
The manager as “gatekeeper” for the family
The latter was also the big challenge for Zhou manager Lowdon in the first few minutes after the crash: “The most important thing is to stay calm and provide accurate information [die Familie von Zhou] give, and as quickly as possible. Of course they’re worried,” Lowdon told Channel 4. He added: “I have kids too. It would be like that for everyone.”
But the family knew early on that Zhou would be back in the car in just a few days. Zhou himself assures: “I’m even hotter than ever to get back on track and do what I love. I’m fit and looking forward to Austria next week.”
For Pérez, however, there is an aftertaste, he “want to say something else” and explains: “You can hear that there are people who want to cap driver salaries, but it’s us drivers who take the risk on the track, so I think so It’s not good to talk about such things. But the most important thing is that nobody got hurt here.”