Chinese driver Guanyu Zhou reckons Formula One’s halo head protection system has saved him after his crushed car was wedged sideways between a tyre wall and metal fence at the British Grand Prix.
The race was halted after the multicar opening-lap collision on Sunday.
“I’m OK, all clear,” Zhou said on Twitter after a trip to the medical centre. “Halo saved me today. Thanks everyone for your kind messages.”
The titanium halo was introduced by Formula One in 2018, initially to some resistance from drivers who disliked the look of the protective ring around what had previously been a completely open cockpit.
It has since been credited with saving several lives in serious incidents.
Emergency crews were quickly on the scene to extract the rookie, whose car skidded upside down along the track at speed before bouncing across gravel and flipping over the impact-absorbing tyre wall.
Photographs showed it crumpled on its side, leaning at an angle in the space between the fence and barrier with the halo protecting the driver’s helmet.
It was the second time on Sunday that the halo had saved a driver from serious injury, and probably worse.
Roy Nissany was protected by it when Norwegian Dennis Hauger’s car flew and landed on the Israeli Formula Two driver’s halo during a morning race.
Williams driver Alexander Albon was also caught up in the grand prix carnage and flown to hospital in Coventry by helicopter for precautionary checks.
Mercedes’s George Russell got out of his stricken car and ran across to check on Zhou.
The Briton appeared to have been clipped from behind by AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, the Mercedes’ tyre then making contact with the Alfa.
“I got swamped by other cars and next thing I know I got touched, I was in the side of Zhou and that was it,” said Russell.
Zhou had been approaching the 260km/h opening Abbey corner when Russell tagged the right rear of the Alfa Romeo, sending it on to its roof and sliding out of control.
“I’m glad to see Zhou OK. It was an horrific incident,” Russell told Sky Sports.
Yuki Tsunoda and Esteban Ocon were also involved in the frenetic first moments of Sunday’s race, with both drivers limping back to the pits for repairs and able to take part in the restart.
A radio message to Zhou’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas said: “Zhou is conscious. He is talking. There are no fractures and, considering the circumstances, he is pretty good, pretty well.”
The race was immediately red-flagged, but as the cars made their way back to the pits, five protesters stormed the circuit at the 320km/h Wellington Straight before sitting down.
They were dragged away by marshals as a number of drivers sped by.
Following a delay of 53 minutes the race restarted.
Northamptonshire Police said they had made several arrests.