Zhou’s car slid down over the gravel and his Alfa Romeo seemed to be stuck between a fence and a tire barrier at the first corner. The race was red flagged and George Russell, one of the drivers involved in the accident, ran in his car to the tire barrier to check on Zhou.
“Zhou is conscious, he is talking, there is no fracture,” Alfa Romeo radioed to Zhou’s teammate Valtteri Bottas.
The FIA said Zhou has been kept under observation at the medical centre.
Williams’ Alex Albon was also taken to a medical center and his team said he was transferred by helicopter to Coventry Hospital for a precautionary check-up. Albon was driven into the pit wall after being hit from behind by Sebastian Vettel as drivers tried to avoid an incident involving Zhou.
Russell was initially hit from behind and knocked over to Zhou, whose car blew into the retaining fence over a gravel net and over a tire wall. The car was slamming on the “halo” that protects the driver’s head, then went into the air. It was trapped between the tire wall and the fence, delaying efforts to evacuate Zhou.
Russell, who ran out of his car to help Zhou, called it “one of the most horrific accidents I’ve ever seen”.
Russell was declared out of the race by the FIA after his Mercedes was loaded onto a truck while he was checking in on Zhou. Mercedes resisted the call, but the FIA left no stone unturned.
The drivers returned to the pits to await the restart.
After the race closed, “many people attempted to enter the track,” F1 said in a statement. “These people were immediately removed and the matter is now being dealt with by the local authorities.”
Local police warned on Friday that spectators could enter the track as part of the protest. An environmental group called Just Stop Oil said five of its workers broke into the track and sat down.
The group also attempted to disrupt some Premier League soccer games in England in recent months. Just Stop Oil named one of those standing on the track at Silverstone on Sunday as a protester, who tied himself to a goal post in a game between Everton and Newcastle in March.
The “halo” device around the cockpit played a major role in a Formula Two race at Silverstone on Sunday when Dennis Hauger’s car rammed over rival Roy Nissan’s car. The incident is reminiscent of a crash in F1 involving Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton at the Italian Grand Prix last year.
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