George Russell enjoyed a sensational first season at Mercedes, with the 24-year-old having ended the year above team-mate Lewis Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championship, a feat only Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg can boast about.
However, whilst Russell’s 2022 campaign was a largely successful one, the British driver did play a crucial role in the biggest crash of not only this year, but one of the biggest in the recent history of Formula 1.
The King’s Lynn-born driver was involved in Zhou Guanyu’s terrifying opening lap crash at the British Grand Prix, which occurred quite literally seconds after the red lights went out.
Russell clipped the right-rear of Zhou’s Alfa Romeo after slightly cutting across the front of Pierre Gasly, which resulted in the Mercedes driver losing control.
By cutting across Gasly, the Frenchman made contact with Russell, which resulted in the Brit hitting Zhou.
The contact Russell made with Zhou resulted in the Chinese driver flipping over and barrel-rolling through the gravel trap at the opening car, before flipping over the tyre barrier and hitting the catch fencing, which protects a grandstand at Abbey from the track.
Zhou’s C42 eventually came to a halt on its side, between the tyre barrier and the catch fencing, where he remained trapped for several seconds.
It was a terrifying crash which once upon a time would’ve resulted in deadly circumstances; however, thanks to the ‘halo’, Zhou was unharmed in the crash.
The initial contact also resulted in Russell spinning out of the race at the opening corner, where he then watched Zhou’s crash conclude.
Heroically, Russell jumped out of his W13 and sprinted across the gravel to try and help the marshals get to the Chinese driver, with the Brit being aware of how “claustrophobic” Zhou must have felt.
“When you see an incident like this, at the end of the day, there are only 20 Formula 1 drivers and you know how it feels inside that cockpit,” Russell told Autosport.
“Wearing three layers of clothing and helmet, gloves and boots, with a radio plug-in, with a drink bottle in your mouth – it’s quite claustrophobic.
“When you see a car flying through the air, and land in a position, which is essentially trapped, that’s a pretty horrendous place to be in. I was out of the race and when you are out of the race, your first thought is: ‘Can I help him in a way?’
“I guess, if I was in that position, I would want every single bit of help as soon as possible, because you don’t know what is going to happen next, the car’s going on fire or what not. So, I guess that was probably more of a human reaction as opposed to a racing driver reaction.”