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SILVERSTONE, England (AP) — Zhou Guanyu was involved in a frightening first-lap crash on Sunday that immediately halted the British Grand Prix as safety teams tended to the only Chinese driver in Formula One.
Zhou’s car slid upside down on the gravel and his Alfa Romeo appeared 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 crash, sprinted from his car at the tire barrier to check on Zhou.
“Zhou is conscious, he is talking, there are no broken bones,” Alfa Romeo told teammate Valtteri Bottas over radio.
The FIA said Zhou was under observation at the medical center.
Williams’ Alex Albon was also taken to the medical center and then his team said he was flown by helicopter to Coventry Hospital for a precautionary check. Albon had spun into the pit wall after being hit by Sebastian Vettel from behind as the drivers tried to avoid the incident involving Zhou.
Russell appeared to be hit from behind at the start and was knocked down by Zhou, whose car crashed through a gravel pit and tire wall into the retaining fence. The car skidded on the “halo” that protects the driver’s head, then flew away. He was wedged between the wall of tires and the fence, delaying efforts to extricate Zhou.
Russell, who fled his car to help Zhou, called it “one of the scariest accidents I have ever seen”.
Russell was declared out of the race by the FIA because his Mercedes was loaded onto a truck to be driven back into the pit lane while he watched Zhou. Mercedes protested the appeal, but the FIA did not budge.
The drivers returned to the pits to wait for a restart.
After the race was stopped, “several people attempted to enter the track,” F1 said in a statement. “These people were immediately evicted and the matter is now being handled by the local authorities.”
Local police had warned on Friday that spectators could enter the track as part of a protest. An environmental group called Just Stop Oil said five of its activists entered the track and sat down.
The group have also attempted to disrupt some Premier League football matches in England in recent months. Just Stop Oil has named one of those who were on the track at Silverstone on Sunday as a protester who also tied himself to a goal post during a March game between Everton and Newcastle.
The “halo” device around the cockpit played a prominent role in a Formula 2 race at Silverstone earlier on Sunday when Dennis Hauger’s car landed on rival Roy Nissany’s car. The incident was reminiscent of an F1 crash involving Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton at the Italian Grand Prix last year.
More AP Auto Racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
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