Barely two minutes of the second practice session were complete when Ericsson’s C37 veered left into the wall near the end of the start-finish straight, smashing into the barriers at a very high velocity before barrel rolling numerous times over the grass.
Once his mangled car came to a halt, Ericsson was able to report to his team "I don't know what happened there” before climbing out of his cockpit and heading to the medical centre for the precautionary check-up. He was then seen returning to his garage, where he was greeted with huge cheers from the Italian crowd.
Sauber later confirmed their driver was uninjured following the scary shunt, and although they remained tight-lipped on what caused Ericsson to stray off the track. TV footage suggested a rear wing issue may have played a role, with replays showing that his DRS did not close as expected as he approached the Turn 1 chicane.
Speaking after the session, Sauber Team Principal Fred Vasseur said the team had identified the problem that caused the incident. "There was a problem with his DRS, which stayed open when he hit the brakes at Turn 1," he said. "We detected the same issue on Charles’ car shortly after that, and brought it back to the garage immediately to resolve the problem."
The incident is the second time in a week that Formula 1 safety has proved crucial, following Leclerc’s dramatic shunt at the beginning of last week’s Belgian Grand Prix.
That enormous Turn 1 crash at Spa was caused by Nico Hulkenberg locking his brakes going into the La Source hairpin and cannoning into the McLaren of Fernando Alonso, who in turn wiped out the Sauber of Leclerc.
Alonso's car flew across the top of Leclerc's cockpit, with the halo safety device protecting the Frenchman from injury.