Alfa Romeo driver Guanyu Zhou appeared to trigger anti-stall when he attempted to launch from fifth on the grid after starring in qualifying. As he worked to recover, he nosed into the back of the returning Daniel Ricciardo under braking into the Turn 1 downhill right-hander.
This projected the AlphaTauri into Ocon and the rear axle of his Alpine was launched into the air. He landed on the sidepod of team-mate Pierre Gasly.
At the conclusion of the first lap, the latter encountered a right-rear tire malfunction, damage to the rear wing, and a puncture in the engine cover bodywork as they made their way back to the pits.
He was retired before Ocon was withdrawn at the end of the following lap, the 2021 Hungarian GP winner later revealing his seat had broken as a result of the ‘four-metre’ airborne shunt.
Ocon clarified that they experienced a collision at Turn 1. Zhou made an error from behind, resulting in a significant impact.
“I gained some altitude, maybe around three meters, four meters on the back wheels. Upon landing, there was a significant impact.”
The seat I was sitting on shattered into two separate pieces, indicating the significant force of the impact.
Pierre Gasly, Alpine A523, heads to the pits with a puncture
Photo by: Michael Potts / Motorsport Images
Regrettably, both vehicles were eliminated thereafter. These are the repercussions of engaging in racing from a disadvantaged position. Individuals tend to assume greater risks. We were aware of this and experienced the negative outcome today.
“We will participate in a race next week, which is fortunate as it allows us to swiftly put this weekend behind us.”
Zhou received a penalty of five seconds for starting the collision and his license was given two penalty points. The stewards concluded that the Alfa driver, who bumped into Ricciardo, had triggered a series of events leading to the collision.
They added: “Although this was a lap-one incident, where some leeway is given to the drivers who get caught up in the middle of a number of cars, this particular incident was not one of those.
Zhou had a sluggish beginning and failed to reduce speed adequately while approaching the corner, leading to an avoidable collision.
Gasly, who began in the 15th position, acknowledged the disappointment felt by the entire team following a promising start. However, he recognized that Alpine had been consistently lacking speed and not performing at an adequate level throughout the entire weekend.
Team boss Otmar Szafnauer said it was “like bowling” into Turn 1. On Ocon’s seat breaking, he added: “They are lightweight, made of carbon, so if you come down on them in the right way they split.”