Roll-hoop safety changes confirmed after Zhou Guanyu’s terrifying crash

Jon Wilde
Zhou Guanyu's Alfa Romeo upside down in the gravel. Silverstone July 2022.

Zhou Guanyu's Alfa Romeo upside down in the gravel during his British Grand Prix crash. Silverstone July 2022.

Changes to roll-hoop safety standards have been approved by the FIA World Motor Sport Council for the 2023 F1 Technical Regulations.

The measures were prompted by the terrifying crash involving Zhou Guanyu at the British Grand Prix in July when his Alfa Romeo clipped George Russell’s Mercedes on the run to the opening turn of the race.

Zhou’s car was flipped upside down and skated off the track and through the gravel in a spinning motion before hurdling the tyre barrier and hitting the catch fencing.

Thankfully, after the C42 had come to rest on its side, Zhou was extricated from the car with no injuries – and later credited the Halo device for saving his life.

However, the Alfa Romeo’s roll hoop had broken off and the FIA are implementing measures to try and ensure that does not happen again.

On the day when the 2026 power-unit regulations were finally approved, it was also confirmed what would be put in place regarding increased roll-hoop safety.

The FIA’s statement read: “After the serious accident at the start of the 2022 British Grand Prix, a detailed analysis has been conducted on a number of issues, from the start of the accident to the final rescue operation and vehicle recovery, as is normal for any serious accident.

“One item that was highlighted was the performance of the roll hoop, which came off the chassis during the accident. The key findings were:

  • That the pointed top of the roll hoop dug into the tarmac, which contributed to the high horizontal force which led to it breaking off.
  • That the wording, as currently in the regulations, allows teams to homologate their roll hoops with forces acting through a lower point than intended. This can lead to the roll hoop resisting forces that are lower than originally intended by the regulations.
  • That a significant increase in roll hoop strength should be implemented in Formula 1.

“These matters were extensively discussed in three Technical Advisory Committee meetings specifically called to analyse the issue.

“Following a review of the above information, the World Council approved these changes to the 2023 Formula 1 Technical Regulations:

  • A change to require a rounded top of the roll hoop, which will reduce the chance of it digging into the ground during an accident.
  • A change to ensure a minimum height for the point of application of the homologation test.
  • Creation of a new physical homologation test where the load pushes the roll hoop in the forward direction.
  • Definition of new tests to be carried out by calculation.

“As a medium-term objective, for 2024 the intention is to proceed to a significant overhaul of the roll hoop tests to ensure cars in the future resist significantly more severe loads.”

FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem added: “It was evident that an update to the requirements for the roll hoops was needed after the crash of Zhou Guanyu at Silverstone.

“While this incident showed us all how remarkable the safety systems in Formula 1 are, it also proved again we must continue to innovate and pursue safety matters without compromise.”