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Zhou: Alfa Romeo roll hoop impact exceeded FIA requirements

Zhou Guanyu says that the impact which caused the failure of his Alfa Romeo Formula 1 car's roll hoop at Silverstone was greater than that specified in FIA safety tests.

Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo C42 crashes at start of race

Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo C42 crashes at start of race

JEP / Motorsport Images

The C42’s roll hoop was lost early in the Chinese driver’s spectacular accident seconds after the start of the British GP when his car was flipped over after contact with the Mercedes of George Russell.

However, he was protected by the Halo, which remained intact as he skated along the track and into the gravel trap before bouncing over the barriers and coming to a halt.

Speaking to the media for the first time since the crash on Thursday at the Red Bull Ring, Zhou talked through the accident and its aftermath at length.

He explained that the roll hoop had surpassed figures specified in tests laid down by motorsport's governing body.

“With that first impact, where it landed on the first flip, the team is still doing an investigation,” he said.

“But I think the first hit was much harder than what they test for the safety test. This was like a few times harder than the actual numbers we want in that.

“So obviously, that's probably created the problem that came up straight away.”

Zhou recalled that he’d done his best to avoid any arm or wrist injury as the car slid upside down.

“Obviously when the flip happened, the first thing I was trying to do was trying to release my hand off the steering wheel,” he said, “because you never know, you can break your wrist very easily with a crash like that.

Alfa Romeo C42 of Zhou Guanyu after his crash

Alfa Romeo C42 of Zhou Guanyu after his crash

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

“The next thing I tried to do, while I was just rolling on the ground, I knew I'll be facing a massive impact coming up, because the car wasn't stopping. And then I tried to lock myself in a position that is the safest possible, just waiting for that last impact.

“It's not like I was just holding the hand backwards, but keeping it reasonably in tension, so it doesn't get flying around when you have that last impact.

“Basically, I was just waiting for the last stop hit. And once I was basically stopped, I didn't know where I was, because I was upside down.

“The next thing I felt was basically there was leaking. I wasn't sure if it was from my body, or from the car. So I just tried to switch the engine off, because the engine was still on by then. Because I knew if a fire starts, it will be difficult to get out.

“I didn't know what happened, who hit me, because I was going straight next to the white line before Turn 1, and then suddenly there was a massive shunt.”

Zhou was quickly able to signal to a track official that he was okay, and recalls engaging in conversation with marshals before extricating himself from the car.

“I had to kind of slide myself a little bit out,” Zhou explained, “so at least to have my leg, my feet already kind of out and on the top of the seat. And they were able to pull me out.

“I didn't realise I was between the barriers, I was thinking I was next to the barriers. But I was actually between the barrier and the fence, which I don't know how I survived.

“But then looking back then obviously I saw the Halo saved me for that.” 

The accident involving Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo C42, George Russell, Mercedes W13 at the start of the race

The accident involving Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo C42, George Russell, Mercedes W13 at the start of the race

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Zhou joked that the most frustrating part of his day was the journey home from Silverstone due to traffic on the M1 that meant his journey home took four hours.

“That was a long, long day,” he recalled.

“You just want to go back home just to chill a bit, because I was covered in dust.

“There was so much dust after the impact. So I just wanted to go home, have a shower and just relax.” 

Asked if he needed any support to get over the accident he said: “Already on Sunday, I watched the race back. I didn't feel sick watching it, or have that feeling.

“So I feel like I was able to kind of digest it a bit myself, so I was happy just to have one day off, and straight back into checking my physical condition the next day on Tuesday back home.

“For me, it wasn't a concern. Obviously there's times when you do something and you need a bit of mental help. But this time I don't feel it was needed.”

Marshals and medics assist Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo C42

Marshals and medics assist Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo C42

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Zhou is relieved to have a chance to get back in the cockpit in Austria this weekend, rather than having to wait.

“Sunday night I was texting all my engineers asking is my seat okay,” he revealed.

“For drivers obviously the seat is very important, it's very comfortable. So I don't want to change something, because they always can be different, even though they tried to do the same.

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“But apart from that, I'm just quite happy to have like a back-to-back race.

“If you have a summer break just after that, it would be terrible because you will be under pressure, you'll be thinking about it, repeat the crash again.

“Even though you try to avoid it, you somehow find it somewhere, it's good to be straight back in.”

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