Guanyu Zhou, Alfa Romeo, Silverstone, 2022

Zhou says Silverstone crash force exceeded roll hoop impact test

2022 Austrian Grand Prix

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Zhou Guanyu believes his car’s roll structure gave way in his huge Silverstone crash because the initial impact exceeded the level it is required to withstand.

His Alfa Romeo was launched airborne following a collision with George Russell’s Mercedes at the start of the British Grand Prix. The roll hoop appeared to break as it took the weight of the car in the crash, and Zhou slid several hundred metres along the track supported by his halo.

Speaking to media including RaceFans ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix, Zhou said the team’s initial findings indicated the forces generated in the crash exceeded those of the impact test the roll hoops are subjected to.

“With that first impact, that’s where I landed, the first flip, the team said it’s still under investigation. But I think the first hit is much harder than what they tested for the safety test,” Zhou explained.

“It’s a few times harder than the actual numbers we’re working on,” continued Zhou. “Obviously, that probably created the problem that [it] came off straightaway.”

Formula 1 cars must have principal and secondary roll structures which are capable of passing a series of impact tests described in the technical regulations. These include a vertical load of 105kN applied to the principal roll structure.

However Zhou said the aspect of the crash which concerned him most was the position his car landed in, having cleared a tyre barrier and fallen between it and the debris fence it hit. This made it difficult to extract the driver from his overturned car.

“I’m more just curious that maybe in the future they can do something just between the barriers so you don’t have another driver get stuck in between that,” he said.

“If they can make it a little bit longer, wider or narrow, it kind of just plays a bit more in hand<" he said. "Either having no gap or a little bit wider. Because my position [was] probably the worst position, if something caught on fire. So it's not ideal." [leaderboard2]

2022 Austrian Grand Prix

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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10 comments on “Zhou says Silverstone crash force exceeded roll hoop impact test”

  1. Many indications that this incident will trigger an investigation to make sure they improve the safety measures once agian.

  2. I had missed that his Halo had failed, expect new regs for next year.

    It will be interesting how F1 deals with barriers as the position he was in was not good. Thank goodness there wasn’t a fire.

    1. Halo did not fail, roll hoop did.

    2. Who’s [leaderboard2] ?

  3. The roll hoop absorbed the initial impact and the halo protected the driver after that. So the system worked. Could it be improved? Most likely, but the cars are pretty darn safe right now. Zhou’s, Romain’s crashes, and Max’s last year, were as bad as F1 has experienced yet all three drivers are still racing.

    1. The system did not work as intended because the roll hoop is not suposed to break.
      That is a major fail.

      I’m sure for the next year rules, the roll hoop tests will be more strict

  4. The requirements the safety structures have to withstand are usually based off data from previous accidents.

    They take the peak forces and add a bit extra as a safety margin and those requirements will also change to go along with apeed and weight increases as well as any other alterations in regulations.

    In this case the FIA will study the video, look at the data & the car to understand what forces were involved, How they were applied, What failed & how the way the forces were applied led to that failure. Once they have that they will make changes to the tests and requirements.

    It could also be in this accident that the peak force of the initial impact was within what the roll structure is meant to withstand but that it was the direction of the impact and the subsequent rotation of the car applying those forces in an unusual way that lead to something failing.

    You can make things as strong as possible aimed to withstand the most extreme forces you can imagine only to find it can still fail if it takes an impact or has the load sent through it in an unusual and unexpected way.

    1. @gt-racer Nice post GT!

      It will be interesting to see what they find out. I’m sure we’ll all get to hear about the findings after a long thorough and detailed investigation. They learn a lot from each crash.

      As I understand it, Sauber (AR) is the only one to use a single hoop roll bar? Not to say it’s weaker than any other design currently being implemented in F1 but it does bring pause why they’re the only ones.

      My question is what will happen during this season if Sauber’s single hoop roll bar design is deemed not safe by FIA? Do they let AR continue to race as is or be allowed to alter their chassis’s? They did pass all the FIA safety crash tests. Maybe it was just from an error during building process of that particular chassis and not the design. There’s been mentioned the roll hoop was glue/bonded to chassis.

      I also wonder from the unplanned failure how much energy was absorbed by the roll bar breaking up, and if it helped dissipate some of the negative energy that would have been transferred to the Zhou’s body? Hence one of the main reasons why we see so many parts now a days exploding off the tub/chassis during impact. Thank god for halo and it’s designers. It was awesome to see Zhou walking around the paddock afterwards

  5. One report I read said that the roll hoop was ripped off the car, suggesting it wasn’t the hoop which failed, as such, but rather the way it had been bonded to the chassis. I was surprised because I thought that was all part of the survival cell and that all cars had the same halo and hoop, but now I am reading that the hoop is part of the bodywork and designed by each team individually to try to find aero advantage whilst meeting FIA test criteria. The hoop is supposed to be able to support loads of around 5 tons laterally and 10 tons vertically, which is a lot, but the force of the accident at the point where the car flipped was enough to gouge out a piece of the Silverstone track.

    1. That was my understanding too. The roll hoop came off the car. Which is not cool. I’ll have to go back and check.

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