George Russell reflects on his ‘human reaction’ after Zhou Guanyu horror crash

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

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

George Russell explained his “human reaction” to Zhou Guanyu’s Silverstone horror crash as he reflected on the frightening moment.

It was at the start of the 2022 British Grand Prix when Russell tagged Zhou’s Alfa Romeo, that standard impact leading to one of the scariest crashes in recent Formula 1 history.

In what would later lead to a revised roll hoop for 2023, Zhou’s C42 slide and then was sent airborne over the tyre barrier, crashing into the catch fencing and landing between the two safety features.

Thankfully Zhou escaped without major injury, and Russell was quickly on the scene, alongside marshals and medical personnel, as he stopped and climbed out of his Mercedes.

“When you see an incident like this, at the end of the day, there are only 20 Formula 1 drivers, and you know how it feels inside that cockpit,” Russell told as he recalled the incident.

“Wearing three layers of clothing and helmet, gloves and boots, with a radio plug-in, with a drink bottle in your mouth – it’s quite claustrophobic.

“When you see a car flying through the air, and land in a position, which is essentially trapped, that’s a pretty horrendous place to be in.

“I was out of the race and when you are out of the race, your first thought is ‘can I help him in a way?’

“I guess, if I was in that position, I would want every single bit of help as soon as possible, because you don’t know what is going to happen next, the car’s going on fire or whatnot.

“So, I guess that was probably more of a human reaction as opposed to a racing driver reaction.”

In what was Zhou’s rookie season, the Chinese racer was back in the Alfa Romeo for the following round in Austria, the latest driver to credit the Halo device for saving his life in that terrifying ordeal.

Romain Grosjean had done the same 18 months prior in Bahrain when his Haas car burst into flames upon impact with the barrier, which Grosjean actually went through, strapped into the cockpit that detached from the backend of the VF-20.

Formula 1 safety once more a resounding success

In both of these scary examples, we saw just how crucial Formula 1’s work to improve safety for drivers has been, as in times gone by it is very unlikely that either driver would have survived such incidents.

While the safety features add weight to the cars, which can sometimes be grounds for frustration, incidents like these really do put all of that into context and turn the emotions into overwhelming gratitude that these advancements saved the life of a driver, and at this stage, multiple drivers.

The push to make the series even safer will always be active, and this is simply a very good thing.

Read next: George Russell’s 2023 seat-fitting offers first glimpse of revised roll hoop