British Grand Prix: Zhou Guanyu and Alex Albon escape major injuries after alarming Silverstone crash

July 03, 2022

The British Grand Prix was red-flagged on the first lap after Zhou Guanyu was launched upside down at the first bend at Silverstone.

Mercedes' George Russell and Williams' Alex Albon were also caught up in the alarming accident at the start of the race but the drivers escaped without suffering major injuries.

Zhou's Alfa Romeo rolled over after the crash into the high-speed first Abbey corner and travelled upside down into the barriers at pace before being launched into the catch fencing. The car ended up lodged on its side, between the tyre wall and the fencing, with nearby fans and photographers ducking for cover following the impact.

Sky's Ted Kravtiz caught a word across the pit-lane with Frederic Vasseur, Zhou's team boss, after the incident and he revealed the 23-year-old Chinese rookie was okay and that he believed he was conscious throughout as the medical teams took care and time to extract him from the car before he was taken away on a stretcher for treatment at the medical centre alongside Albon.

Albon was taken to Coventry Hospital for precautionary checks, but an FIA statement revealed none of the drivers had suffered any major injuries.

"Two drivers involved in the incident at the start of the race were checked in the medical centre," read the statement. "There were no major injuries. The driver of Car 24 (Zhou) is under observation in the medical centre. The driver of Car 23 (Albon) will be transferred by helicopter to Coventry Hospital for precautionary checks.

"The driver of Car 63 (Russell) was checked by medical staff and was declared fit."

Williams later confirmed that Albon had been released from hospital.

"We are pleased to confirm that Alex has been given the all clear and has been discharged from Coventry Hospital. Thank you to everyone for your well wishes," read a statement on social media.

A radio message to Zhou's team-mate Valtteri Bottas also provided a positive update: "Zhou is conscious. He is talking. There are no fractures and, considering the circumstances, he is pretty good, pretty well."

And a later FIA statement revealed Zhou had been declared fit and released from the medical centre, with the driver then tweeting a message to say: "I'm ok, all clear. Halo saved me today. Thanks everyone for your kind messages!"

Restart frustration for Russell

Russell was quickly out of his car after the incident and appeared unhurt as he went over to check on Zhou, but he was unable to line up when the race was restarted an hour later, with Carlos Sainz going on to claim his first F1 victory.

The 24-year-old Briton revealed his frustration at not being allowed to restart and told Sky Sports F1 what had happened at the first corner.

"Firstly I'm glad to see Zhou is ok after an absolutely horrific incident," he said. "Ultimately we took a risk starting on the hard because I made a mistake in qualifying and we were starting out of position. We thought that risk gave us the best opportunity later in the race, but there was just no grip whatsoever. The hardest compound is cold out there and I got swamped by all the cars. Next thing I know I got touched, was in the side of Zhou and that was it.

"I jumped out of the car to see if Zhou was ok. I saw it was red-flagged straight away. When I came back to the car I couldn't quite get it started for whatever reason so I ran back to the team to check. I told the marshals to leave the car and when I got back it was on the back of the flatbed. As soon as you get assistance you can't restart.

"We are trying [to appeal] but they are pretty adamant, the FIA. It's one of those unique scenarios."

Yuki Tsunoda and Esteban Ocon were also caught up in the frenetic first moments of the race, with both drivers limping back to the pits for repairs and able to take part in the restart.

Protesters arrested after storming track

There was also another incident at Silverstone following the red flag when a number of protesters stormed onto the track, before being quickly removed.

An FIA statement read: "We can confirm that after the red flag, several people attempted to enter the track. These people were immediately removed and the matter is now being dealt with by the local authorities."

Northamptonshire Police later revealed they had made seven arrests.

Event Commander, Chief Inspector Tom Thompson, said: "I'm really disappointed that this group of people ignored our warnings prior to race-day and made the incredibly dangerous decision to enter the track.

"We offered to facilitate a peaceful event at the circuit, but they instead chose to put the lives of the drivers, marshals and volunteers at risk. It is incredibly disappointing that anyone would make the decision to do this.

"Thankfully we had plans in place for an eventuality such as this and the group were swiftly removed and arrested by our officers."

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