British GP red-flagged on first lap after big crash

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Alfa Romeo's Zhou Guanyu upside down at the first start for British Grand Prix. Silverstone, July 2022.

The British Grand Prix has been red-flagged on the opening lap, after a first corner collision involving several drivers.

The race at Silverstone was red-flagged just seconds after it began, after two multi-car collisions involving several cars. With the field negotiating their way through the first corner, several cars made contact in two separate incidents.

AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, Mercedes’ George Russell and Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu were one of the incidents, with all three making contact after bad starts from Zhou and Russell. The contact resulted in Zhou’s car being flipped over and sliding through the gravel upside down and somersaulting over the tyre barriers into the catch fencing.

No replays were initially shown, but confirmation has since come that Zhou has escaped serious injury.

A statement from the FIA has said that Zhou and Albon have been taken to the Medical Centre: “The FIA advises that following the incident at the start of the race, emergency crews were immediately in attendance, and the drivers of Car 23 (Albon) and Car 24 (Zhou) have been taken to the medical centre.”

Alfa Romeo have since updated on Zhou’s condition, saying: “Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN driver, Zhou Guanyu, underwent checks in the medical centre. There were no major injuries. He remains under observation in the medical centre.”

Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and Williams’ Alex Albon were involved in a separate collision, triggered by the carnage unfolding in front of them as drivers slammed on the brakes to avoid getting caught up in the Zhou incident.

Albon has been transferred to hospital for precautionary checks, with Williams confirming: “Alex has been transferred by helicopter to Coventry Hospital for precautionary checks following the opening lap incident. We will provide updates when available.”

The race has resumed after the barriers were repaired, with the restart grid putting Carlos Sainz back into pole position, despite having lost the lead to Max Verstappen on the opening lap.

All cars have taken the restart, aside from Zhou, Albon, and Russell. The Mercedes driver was not permitted to resume due to the British driver not making it back to the pits under his own power, having chosen to stop his damaged machine to rush to Zhou’s car to check on the Chinese driver.

Separately, a number of protestors have been arrested after invading the circuit on the first lap of the race at the same time as the accident unfolded. The red flag stoppage was timed fortunately to ensure the drivers didn’t encounter the protestors on the circuit while travelling at racing speed.

This article will be updated.