There were terrifying scenes on the opening lap of the British Grand Prix when Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu crashed at high speed and his car flew upside down into the guardrails.
When Max Verstappen took the lead from pole-sitter Carlos Sainz through the opening corners, you could see Zhou slipping into the gravel.
The crash occurred as Pierre Gasly, George Russell and Zhou went three-wide, Russell’s left rear tire was snapped by Gasly’s car, causing him to crash into Zhou. As Russell’s Mercedes spun, he grabbed the underside of Zhou’s car and tipped it over.
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The race was immediately stopped via a red flag with Zhou’s car caught in the barriers. The speed of the crash caused the car to fly over the barriers and get stuck between the barriers and the wall in front of a grandstand.
Russell stopped his car and ran to the crash site to see if he could help.
After being in the car for nearly 15 minutes, Zhou was finally removed and taken outside on a stretcher, with commentators reporting that he was conscious and on the move when the medical team took him off the road to receive treatment.
No replays were shown for 25 minutes until it was clear that Zhou was okay.
Carlos Sainz surprised himself on Saturday when his daring lap in wet weather delivered first pole position for his 150th Formula 1 race start in Sunday’s British Grand Prix.
The 27-year-old Spaniard defeated both his Ferrari teammate qualifying specialist Charles Leclerc and Red Bull world champion and series leader Max Verstappen to secure first place on the grid.
His best lap of one minute and 40.983 seconds came at the end of a tense session in which every driver was warmly cheered by the rainy spectators.
“Thank you to the entire audience for encouraging me,” he said during his post-session interview. “Thank you to everyone for staying there with this rain!
“We Spaniards are having a bit more trouble with this rain, but you can see that you are used to it! So thank you for being there.”
When asked about his performance in the treacherous conditions, Sainz admitted he was surprised to be the fastest.
“It was a good lap, but I had a lot of trouble with the standing water on the intermediate tyres,” he said.
“There was a lot more standing water on the race line and it was very easy to get snaps and lose the lap.
“It was also more difficult to get temperature in the intermediate products under these conditions. In the end I put together a lap that I didn’t think was anything special, but I just put it on the board — and it was the pole position that came as a bit of a surprise!”
Sainz, son of two-time world rally champion Carlos Sainz Sr., said he was confident he could turn his first pole into a maiden win on Sunday.
“I think so,” he said with a broad smile.
“The pace has been there all weekend, except in FP3 where we had some issues that we think we corrected for ‘quali’ but if I base my FP2 pace then we would be in a good position have to be to hold it. †
“I’m sure Max and Charles (Leclerc) will exert a lot of pressure, but of course I will do my best.”
He later added: “Leading a formation lap will feel amazing in a Ferrari, I think, and the first time I will do it.
“I don’t think I’ve forgotten it since I led a formation lap in the World Series by Renault. I think I led a few races in Formula 1 – I think there was one in Portimao and it felt great.
“So that’s the goal, to do it again. Confidence is great. I can hold the lead and try to run my own race, push from the start.”
Two weeks ago in Montreal at the Canadian Grand Prix, Sainz was the fastest driver in the race but could not find a way to pass Verstappen who took his sixth win of the season and the sixth Red Bull in a row.
The 24-year-old Dutchman leads this year’s title race by 175 points ahead of Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez at 129 and Leclerc at 126 after nine of this year’s 22 Grands Prix.
Leclerc, who took six poles this year, was disappointed to spun on his final lap at the end of Q3 when Sainz managed to retain control of pole.
Verstappen also had a spin, recovering from a full 360 spin, before finishing second.
“I am disappointed, yes,” said Leclerc. “But I’m happy for Carlos, he did a great job today. I spun on that last lap. So I don’t deserve to be on pole, but P3 is still a good position. We can still have a very good race to drive.”
2022 BRITISH GRAND PRIX – Starting grid
1. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
3. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
4. Sergio Perez (Red Bull)
5. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
6. Lando Norris (McLaren)
7. Fernando Alonso (Alps)
8. George Russell (Mercedes)
9. Zhou Guanyu (Alpha Romeo)
10. Nicholas Latifi (Williams)
11. Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri)
12. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo)
13. Yuki Tsunoda (Alpha Tauri)
14. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren)
15. Esteban Ocon (Alps)
16. Alex Albon (Williams)
17. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)
18. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin)
19. Mick Schumacher (Haas)
20. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)
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