SILVERSTONE, England (AP) – Zhou Guanyu was involved in a terrifying first-lap crash on Sunday that immediately brought the British grand prix to a halt when security personnel attended to the only Chinese driver in Formula 1.
Zhou’s car slid upside down on the gravel and his Alfa Romeo appeared to be stuck between the railings and a tire barrier in the first corner. The race was red flagged and George Russell, one of the drivers involved in the crash, sprinted from his car to the tire barrier to check on Zhou.
“Zhou is conscious, he is talking, there are no fractures,” Alfa Romeo radioed to Zhou’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
The FIA said Zhou is under observation at the medical center.
Williams’ Alex Albon was also taken to the medical center when his team said he had been helicoptered to Coventry Hospital for a precautionary examination. Albon had been turned into the pit wall after being hit from behind by Sebastian Vettel as drivers tried to avoid the incident involving Zhou.
Russell appeared to have been hit from behind at the start and collided with Zhou, whose car flew over a gravel trap and over a tire wall in the barrier. The car skidded on the ‘halo’ protecting the driver’s head and then went up in the air. It was trapped between the tire wall and the fence, delaying efforts to free Zhou.
Russell, who ran out of his car to help Zhou, called it “one of the scariest crashes I’ve ever seen.”
Russell was declared out of the race by the FIA because his Mercedes was loaded onto a truck to be taken back to the pit lane while he checked on Zhou. Mercedes protested the call, but the FIA didn’t flinch.
The drivers returned to the pits to await a restart.
After the race ended, “several people tried to get onto the track,” F1 said in a statement. “These people were immediately removed and the matter is now being handled by the local authorities.”
Local police had warned on Friday that spectators would enter the track as part of a protest. An environmental group called Just Stop Oil said five of its activists took to the track and sat down.
The group has also tried to disrupt some Premier League football matches in England in recent months. Just Stop Oil named one of those on the track at Silverstone on Sunday as a protester who also tied himself to a goal post during a March game between Everton and Newcastle.
The “halo” device around the cockpit played a prominent role in a Formula 2 race at Silverstone earlier Sunday when Dennis Hauger’s car landed on rival Roy Nissany’s car. The incident was reminiscent of an F1 crash involving Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton at last year’s Italian Grand Prix.
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