Zhou Guanyu’s Silverstone crash to prompt stricter roll-hoop tests in F1

Jamie Woodhouse
Alfa Romeo's Zhou Guanyu slides along the ground on his Halo at the British Grand Prix. Silverstone, July 2022.

The FIA reportedly discussed plans for stricter roll-hoop tests from 2023 with teams following Zhou Guanyu’s Silverstone incident.

The Chinese racer was involved in a terrifying shunt back at the British Grand Prix, after contact from Mercedes’ George Russell at the start.

Zhou’s Alfa Romeo would be flipped upside down before skidding into the gravel, at which point it dug in, flew over the tyre barrier and hit the catch fencing, falling between the two.

Zhou credited the Halo device for saving his life, though the roll-hoop of the Alfa Romeo C42 would fail as a result of the record force which it endured.

Read more: Zhou Guanyu also featured in the first part of our mid-season driver rankings from 11-20, find out his position here.

Since the incident, Alfa Romeo has worked alongside the FIA, with other teams also involved in the process, with the view of analysing what happened to determine if alterations can be made to the regulations on safety grounds.

 

 

“The analysis is still ongoing, we’re working since the first day with the FIA to try to reconstruct the accident and assess as best as we can,” Jan Monchaux, Alfa Romeo’s technical director, told Motorsport.com.

“Because it’s not an easy task, the force involved. As yet the internal investigations are not completely finished, so I won’t disclose anything. And if someone will disclose something, it’s going to be the FIA.

“In between, the FIA has asked all the teams to provide feedback, imposing several load cases on their respective roll hoops to understand potentially where there’s room for improvement in effect.

“The load cases that are being imposed by the rules, you have some vectors where you need to apply a force on the front and on the rear of your roll hoop [that] are potentially not the most adequate for the kind of accident we had, where effectively you have a car sliding, so subjected to forces that are quite flat-ish, and not so much a kind of vertical impact.

“So there might be here changes in the future. But I believe the FIA will come back before the shutdown [summer break] with some new recommendations, additional tests. We have to see what they will draw out from the feedback of all the teams.”

Zhou Guanyu's Alfa Romeo is flipped. Silverstone July 2022

Motorsport.com’s report adds that on Wednesday, a meeting of the FIA technical advisory committee was held, run by the FIA’s head of single-seater matters Nikolas Tombazis, bringing together technical directors from all teams.

The FIA is said to have discussed its plans to usher in stricter roll-hoop tests from 2023 in this meeting, Motorsport.com suggesting that a change to the regulations could scupper the plans for some teams who look to carry over parts of the 2022 chassis in order to cut costs.

McLaren’s technical director James Key reiterated that Zhou’s incident was unprecedented in terms of the forces going on, and like Monchaux, expects new tests to be introduced for 2023.

“I appreciate it’s very complicated to try and derive load cases from this,” he said. “But certainly, the FIA are working hard to help the teams derive a new test.

“That was a pretty scary situation with a unique set of conditions, and anything like that will always draw fresh conclusions from a safety point of view, and that’s exactly what the teams and the FIA are discussing further for next year.

“I suspect, as was mentioned, we’ll get some form of additional lateral loading tests or something like this, which we have to pass for 2023.”

Formula 1 is currently on hiatus for the summer break before returning at Spa for the Belgian Grand Prix, the race weekend running from August 26-28.