George Russell relieved to emerge unscathed from ‘scary’ crash in Belgium

Belgium F1 GP Auto Racing (AP)
19:51pm, Sun 30 Aug 2020
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Britain’s George Russell relived the “scary” moment a wheel came hurtling towards him at 125mph during Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix.

Russell, the 22-year-old from Norfolk who is tipped to be a future world champion, was in the wrong place at the wrong time, having just navigated the Fagnes Chicane when Antonio Giovinazzi lost control of his Alfa Romeo.

The Italian slammed into the wall, his car breaking into pieces, before his rear-left tyre was sent flying at an unsuspecting Russell.

Russell took evasive action by turning left but could do nothing to avoid hitting the errant wheel. The Williams driver ended up in the barrier on the opposing side of the circuit.

Twelve months after Anthoine Hubert – a former team-mate of Russell’s – was killed here during a Formula Two race, the sport held its breath once again as the grizzly crash scene was projected on television screens.

But mercifully, both Russell and Giovinazzi emerged unscathed from their wrecked machines. A breathless Russell reported on the radio: “I had nowhere to go.”

Speaking in the hours after his harrowing accident, a relieved Russell added: “It was scary for a split-second to have this massive rear tyre flying towards me. It is certainly the most dramatic incident in my Formula One career and the biggest crash I have had.

“I was unfortunate that the tyre hit my car, but it could have hit a marshal or someone in the crowd. F1 has taken massive steps on safety, but this is something that needs to be improved.

“I am immensely grateful to be in this era. Motor racing is incredibly dangerous but it can never be entirely safe.”

The heart-stopping incident took place on lap 10, less than an hour after an emotional one-minute silence had been staged to mark Hubert’s death – the Frenchman who was killed following a four-car pile-up at the fearsome Eau Rouge corner.

Hubert’s mother Nathalie took her place alongside the sport’s drivers as they formed a circle around a giant black-and-white portrait of her son.

“The memories I had of Anthoine and the times we experienced together flooded back,” Russell added.

“It is a very emotional situation, one that I have never been in in my life, and it is difficult to comprehend.

“Once the helmet is on and the engine is fired up, you are ready to go racing. But when the helmet is off, you start thinking about him and what happened a year ago here.

“You have a moment to realise what life is about and that it can happen to any of us.”

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