George Russell says the horrific crash suffered by Zhou Guanyu in the British Grand Prix showed the need for F1 to address the serious problem of a car becoming stuck in the tight space that exists at certain tracks between the tyre barrier and the catch-fencing.
Zhou's Alfa Romeo was overturned after a start-line contact with Russell's Mercedes and slid at full speed towards the gravel trap at the first corner when it dug in and somersaulted several times, eventually leaping over the tyre barrier and hitting the catch-fencing before it came to rest, wedged on its side in a tight space just behind the barrier.
The car's position made it impossible for rescue teams to immediately reach the Alfa driver, who was blocked in his cockpit. Zhou, who was unhurt and fully conscious, was fortunately spared a fiery blaze which would have had tragic consequences.
Russell exited his stricken Mercedes and ran towards where the Alfa was jammed behind the tyre wall to check on its driver.
"In that position, he was stuck there," said Russell. "There's nothing he could have done.
"We need to have a think to avoid the car being stuck in such a fine gap, in the space between the tyre barriers and the metal fence. He was just stuck in there with nowhere to go."
Extraction teams eventually managed to release Zhou from his uncomfortable position, after which he was transported to the medical center for a thorough check-up that revealed no injuries.
Reflecting on how the incident had started, Russell said he was veering towards the left side of the track after a slow start when his left-rear wheel was touched by the right-front wheel of Pierre Gasly's AlphaTauri, a contact that sent the Mercedes car into the side of Zhou's Alfa.
"It was an incredibly scary incident, not just for him but I'm sure for everyone in the crowd as well," said Russell. "It was not nice to see.
"We obviously took a gamble starting on the hards because I didn't do a good enough job yesterday in qualifying, and we were starting out of position.
"We knew it was going to be very tricky but I just got completely swamped by everybody at the start, and the next thing I know is I was in the side of Zhou. There are so many different emotions."
This fan footage of Zhou's crash at Silverstone is terrifying 😧
(via ted_meagher98/TikTok) pic.twitter.com/hkioNEUBkv
— ESPN F1 (@ESPNF1) July 4, 2022
When it was clear that Zhou was okay, Russell attempted to restart his Mercedes to bring it back to the pits for repair before the race's second start.
But the marshals loaded his car on a flatbed to return it to the pits which equated to Russell's de facto exclusion from the event.
"When I came back I couldn't quite get the car started but I just wanted to check with my team," he said.
"When I came back the car was already on the flatbed and they said we couldn't restart. So it's annoying because the only issue we had was a puncture.
"The car was generally fine. There was a little bit of damage, but nothing show-stopping."