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F1 must learn from Silverstone incident, warns Russell

NEWS STORY
05/07/2022

George Russell has warned that F1 must learn from Sunday's first lap clash, the Briton fearing it could have ended in disaster, while John Surtees' daughter says crash vindicates her Father's drive for the Halo to be introduced.

On and on it went, the waiting, the lack of news, far less the lack of TV images.

Then, all at once, it was revealed that Guanyu Zhou was OK, that he had never lost consciousness and would be taken to the circuit's medical centre.

However, now it had been established that the Chinese driver had essentially escaped the horrific crash unscathed, it soon became clear that the reason for the long delay in conforming this was due to the problem his rescuers had in extracting him from his car.

Having flipped over the Tec-Pro barrier and into the catch fencing that protects the marshals and fans, the car was wedged in a small gap between the two, and it was the difficulty in working in such a confined space that was the problem.

George Russell has warned that it could have been so much worse, especially, this being the first lap of the race, had the car caught fire.

"It was horrible, in that position he was stuck there, nothing he could have done," said Russell. "We need to think to avoid a car being stuck in such a fine gap.

"The space between the barriers and the metal fence and he was just stuck in there, nowhere to go. Yeah, it's something to learn."

Referring to the crash, and his inability to make the restart, the Briton, who is a director of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association, said: "We started on the hard tyre because I made a mistake in qualifying and we thought that risk gave us the best opportunity later in the race but there was just very little grip at the start.

"It's the hardest compound, it's cold out there and I got swamped by all the cars," he continued.

"Next thing I know I got touched, I was in the side of Zhou, and that was it. I jumped out the car to see if Zhou was okay and I saw it was red-flagged straight away but when I came back to the car, I couldn't quite get it started for whatever reason, so I ran back to the team to check.

"I asked the marshals to leave the car and next thing, when I got back, the car was on the back of the flat-bed which meant I couldn't restart.

"It was obviously frustrating for my race because the car just had the puncture and there's no doubt we had the pace to come back to P6 today but I'm just glad that Zhou was OK."

Meanwhile, Leonora Martell-Surtees, daughter of the late John Surtees, who was a driving force behind the introduction of the Halo device following the death of his son, Henry, believes that Sunday vindicated her father's determination to give drivers more protection.

"My dad would have been very, very thankful that things had moved on," she tels the Daily Telegraph. "Even just a few years ago, this crash probably wouldn't have been survivable.

"Dad would have been grateful that neither Zhou's parents nor his family were having to deal with this on a personal level," she adds. "Yes, these are sports people and we put them on a pedestal, but fundamentally, they are someone's child, someone's partner. Thank God his family isn't having to go through what ours did. There's relief on all fronts that we have seen progress.

"It's miraculous that a driver can have such a horrendous accident and survive, and I think everyone can see that the halo must have played a huge part in that.

"What I do know, from the time when my dad was supporting the halo, was that he was very frustrated at how much pushback there was from the industry. It was primarily about aesthetics, but also the aerodynamic aspect. Dad felt angered. He thought that if there had been other people in his position, with what had happened to Henry, they would never had said the same. We'll never know if Henry had survived, had the halo been in place on his car. But there was obviously a good chance, given the type of accident it was."

Surtees, admits that when, in 2016, Lewis Hamilton dismissed the idea, essentially saying he wanted nothing to do with the Halo, her Father was hugely frustrated.

"That's the key thing I remember, how passionate Dad was about it, how much he was trying to urge people in the industry to support it. He was desperate for any measures that would push safety forward. I recall a real frustration that it took so long for people to get on board. Undeniably, it has been such a great addition in terms of safety."

As it happens, fast forward to Monza 2021 and Hamilton had every reason to personally thank Surtees for the Halo.

"When Dad was racing in the sixties, one of the main reasons drivers died was due to fire," she says. "It would have been catastrophic for Zhou had there been any kind of fire. But safety has come on so much, and this was a massive factor in him not being more severely injured."

"I'm just so relieved that someone else doesn't have to experience what we did," Leonora says, firmly. "This time the halo was there, doing its job."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by elsiebc, 07/07/2022 18:03

"Russel is losing my respect. You can always "what if". You can always go the next step."

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by didaho, 06/07/2022 11:37

"Perhaps not changing line while being swamped off the start line might also be a lesson for George (at least without being certain no-one was already committed to the same piece of track)."

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

3. Posted by yakker, 06/07/2022 9:33

"Tardis40 Yes it is, but without the efforts of Jackie Stewart and John Surtees it would be a lot more dangerous.
The sport needs to keep improving throughout all motor racing, not just F1."

Rating: Positive (6)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

4. Posted by Tardis40, 06/07/2022 2:38

"Earth to Russel - racing is a dangerous pastime"

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5. Posted by prime, 05/07/2022 20:15

"this means Russel will not learn"

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6. Posted by atlanta fan, 05/07/2022 15:53

"I agree with Russell that the danger of lack of access had their been a fire with a full race fuel load could have been ugly. "

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