The first lap of the British Formula 1 Grand Prix saw two separate multi-car wrecks which sent one driver to hospital for ‘precautionary checks’ and another slipping on the track and gravel before rolling into the fence .
Pierre Gasly started between Zhou Guanyu and George Russell, but as the gap narrowed, the AlphaTauri rider fell back. Gasly tagged Russell’s left rear wheel in the process, sending the Mercedes spinning into Zhou.
The Afla Romeo rolled over and skidded on the track and gravel before rolling over the barriers. The catch fence in front of the grandstand is what stopped Zhou, the rookie car from falling into the gap between the fence and the tire barrier.
Meanwhile, Russell was on track to watch it happen and jumped out of his Mercedes before sprinting over the gravel to Zhou. He quickly jumped over the barriers, signaling for the marshals to come and help.
“I saw the race was red flagged, so I knew it was safe to jump,” Russell said. said. “I wanted to go and see if [Zhou] was correct and if I could have helped anyway. When I came back I couldn’t start the car, but I don’t know, there was no reason why I couldn’t because the car was fine.
“I ran to the team to check and when I came back the car was on the set [truck] already. I asked the marshal to make sure they didn’t get the car back, and it turned out there was nothing wrong with the car except a flat tire. It’s really frustrating because we had the pace to definitely come back to P6 at least. So many emotions… [but] glad to see that Zhou is doing well. It’s horrible to see an incident like this.
The rules state that once a driver receives outside assistance, they cannot race. Russell was not allowed to continue participating in the grand prize.
As it turns out, it’s not the first time that Russell has stopped mid-race to help another rider. IndyCar’s Callum Ilott shared on Twitter: “First time I flipped a kart, [George] stopped on track to lift it from me. He has always been a good egg since day one, a great role model for everyone.
Russell felt that starting on hard tires not only impacted his starting performance, but was also a factor in the jaw-dropping wreckage.
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“We took a gamble starting on the hards because I didn’t do a good enough job in qualifying, and we were starting out of position,” Russell said, according to formula1.com. “We felt like it was our best opportunity to fight for a podium today, and it was.
“But we knew it would have been very difficult on the first lap and it turned out to be extremely difficult. I couldn’t get a temperature on the tires during the formation lap, and I just got overwhelmed with all the cars and the next thing I know I got hit from behind, [went] from Zhou’s side and we saw the rest.
Zhou and Williams driver Alex Albon, who was involved in a separate sinking, were both sent to the medical treatment center. While Williams’ driver later went to the hospital for “precautionary checks”, Zhou was eventually released from the medical center, tweeting that he was fine and crediting the halo with saving him.
williams share later Sunday afternoon that Albon “gave the all clear and was discharged from Coventry Hospital”.
Russell, who is also director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, said F1 needed to learn a safety lesson from Zhou’s wreck.
“It was horrible, in that position, he was stuck there, he couldn’t have done anything,” Russell said, per ESPN. “You have to think carefully to avoid a car getting stuck in such a tight gap.
“The space between the barriers and the metal fence and he was just stuck in there, nowhere to go. Yeah, something to learn.
Carlos Sainz won his first Formula 1 race while Sergio Pérez and Lewis Hamilton completed the rest of the podium.
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