Zhou Guanyu was sensationally asking his Alfa Romeo engineers about the damage to his car immediately after his horrific crash at the British Grand Prix.
On the first lap at Silverstone, the rookie’s Alfa Romeo flipped upside down and skidded across the track before flipping into the catch fencing in front of thousands of stunned – and frankly, concerned – fans. Zhou was travelling at approximately 160mph at Abbey corner when Mercedes star George Russell clipped the back of his car.
The Chinese star flipped onto his roof and slid out of control across the gravel. He continued through the gravel until he spectacularly flipped over the tyre barriers into the catch in the horrific moment.
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After an agonising wait, Alfa Romeo confirmed the driver was ‘conscious’ and ‘talkative’ following medical treatment as the FIA team extracted him from the wreckage. An extraction team quickly attended to Zhou and he was carefully removed and taken away in an ambulance to the medical centre – but his thoughts turned to getting back behind the wheel almost immediately.
“On Sunday night I was texting my engineers asking ‘is my seat okay?” the Alfa Romeo rookie, who finished 14th at the Austrian Grand Prix last time out, explained. “Obviously the engine takes a bit of time but for the drivers, the seats are very important, very comfortable, so I don’t want to change something.
“I was quite happy to have a back-to-back race. If I had a summer break just after that [crash], that would be terrible because you would be asking the questions and you’d be thinking about it, repeated questions… even though you try to avoid it, you somehow find it somewhere.”
Zhou has made an impressive start to life in F1 although the Chinese star has unfortunately been plagued by unreliability issues when piloting his Alfa Romeo. He arrived at Silverstone following his career-best eighth place finish in Canada before suffering the mega crash.
The 23-year-old returned from the medical centre unscathed. Alfa Romeo CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato recalled the driver’s first comments to team principal Frederic Vasseur.
“This young kid, two hours after the crash was asking, ‘Hey Fred do you have the spare parts to rebuild the car?’ Two hours! Five days after he is in the car,” Imparato told RaceFans. “Chapeau, monsieur! Chapeau l’artiste! So first for that, I like the behaviour and the fighting spirit and the mindset of Zhou Guanyu.
“It was scary. I was at Le Mans Classic in order to promote our Tonale so I was not in Silverstone. But when we saw that, we stopped everything. And I was first thinking of his family because it was the first time in the last two years I think that he had the whole family with him in Silverstone.”
What have you made of Zhou Guanyu's start to his F1 career? Let us know in the comments section.
Zhou has impressed during his time with Alfa Romeo in his debut F1 campaign, and he seems to be a safe bet to return to the fold in 2023. Imparato made it clear that the driver’s place in the team will be based on his performances rather than publicity or sponsorship.
“Zhou Guanyu for me is not a marketing tool,” he declared. “Allow me to tell you that because we are living in a specific period.
“Obviously it helps us in terms of awareness in China. But he’s not a marketing tool.”
The 22-race F1 2022 campaign continues with the French Grand Prix at Circuit Paul Ricard on July 24.
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