‘I didn’t know where I was’ says Zhou, as he relives scary Silverstone start crash ahead of Austrian GP
Zhou Guanyu has spoken about the high-speed crash he walked away from at the start of last weekend’s British Grand Prix, the Alfa Romeo driver recounting in vivid detail how it felt flying across the gravel at Turn 1.
Zhou’s car ended up taking the brunt of the impact after Pierre Gasly and George Russell came together on Lap 1 at Silverstone, the rookie driver’s Alfa Romeo flipping and skidding across the floor before being thrown into the barriers beyond the Turn 1 run-off area. Ahead of this Sprint weekend in Austria, he looked back at the incident.
“Yes, I mean for me when the flip happened, the first thing I was trying to do was to release my hand off the steering wheel because you never know, you can break your hand quite easily with a crash like that.
“And then the next thing I tried to do, because when I was rolling on the ground, I knew I’d be facing a massive impact coming up because the car wasn’t stopping… I tried to lock myself in that position that is the safest possible. Just bracing for the last impact. So holding my hands backwards but keeping it reasonably [tense] so it doesn’t go flying around when I have the last impact.
“Basically, I was just waiting for the last stop [and] hit – and once I was basically stopped, I didn’t know where I was because I was upside down and the next thing I felt was there was some leaking from, I don’t know, I wasn’t sure if it was my body or from the car, so I just tried to switch the engine – the engine was still on by then – because I knew if the fire starts, it would be difficult to get out. So I switched my engine off,” he said.
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The Chinese driver also revealed that, despite the violence of the impact – with Zhou examined in the Silverstone medical centre before being given the all-clear – the first thing he thought of was returning to the wheel of his Alfa Romeo to compete in this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix and Sprint.
“Honestly, Sunday night I was texting my engineers asking ‘is my seat okay?’… as obviously the engine takes a bit of time but for the drivers, the seats are very important, very comfortable, and so far so I don’t want to change something.
“Apart from that, I was quite happy to have a back-to-back race, because if I had a summer break just after that, that would be terrible because you would be asking the questions and you’d be thinking about it, repeated questions… even though you try to avoid it, you somehow find it somewhere. But yes, it’s good to be back straight away.”
Zhou also spoke highly of Mercedes’ George Russell, who instantly went over to the stricken Alfa Romeo – and therefore retired from the race – to check on the driver after their high-speed tangle.
“I saw that already, he was very sportsmanlike and really showed huge respect, even though I don’t think he was the one causing the issue, I think it was more like a racing incident. It’s nice to have that. Of course, he called me after, so it’s all good.”