Marcus Ericsson cleared to race in Monza after 220mph crash in practice
Swedish driver landed the right way up, and moments later confirm he was unharmed
Sweden’s Marcus Ericsson in his Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team C37 Ferrari crashes during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo di Monza. Photograph Getty Images
Marcus Ericsson will take part in qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix only 24 hours after surviving one of the biggest crashes in recent Formula One history.
Just five days after Charles Leclerc emerged unscathed from a terrifying opening-corner accident in Belgium, the sport held its breath once more as Ericsson lost control of his Sauber at 220mph in practice.
As Ericsson attempted to stop for the opening corner at the fastest circuit on the calendar in Monza, he dramatically veered left and into the barrier.
The force of the impact registered in excess of 20G – seven times the maximum force of a launching space shuttle – and sent his car spiralling out of control.
He smashed through two polystyrene brake boards at the side of the track, and somersaulted in the air three times as his car disintegrated into pieces across the tarmac.
Incredibly, the Swedish driver landed the right way up, and moments later he was on the radio to confirm he was unharmed. “I don’t know what happened,” he said. “I’m okay.”
The 27-year-old was aided by safety officials into the medical car, and an ensuing examination by doctors provided him with the all-clear to race for the remainder of the weekend.
He appeared to return to the Sauber garage with a limp and rubbing his neck, but the FIA confirmed that he will only require further tests if he reports of feeling unwell.
Sauber later confirmed Ericsson’s jaw-dropping crash was caused by a mechanical failure after the Drag Reduction System on his rear wing did not close which caused him to lose control.
“Marcus is OK,” Sauber team principal Frederic Vasseur said. “We had a chat together after the session.
“He was disappointed to miss the rest of the practice session, and also a bit shocked, but the car will be ready to race.”
Ericsson’s team-mate Leclerc was fortunate to avoid injury at Spa last weekend when Fernando Alonso’s airborne McLaren was deflected from his head by the halo, F1’s new cockpit protection device.
And Ericsson’s ability to walk away from Friday’s incredible crash without so much as a scratch was again testament to the sport’s impressive safety record.
“I am all fine,” the Swede said in a video posted to social media. “It was a big one. The safety of the cars is incredible. Hopefully, tomorrow we should be back fighting and I look forward to that.”
Lewis Hamilton, who holds a 17-point championship lead over Vettel, finished third, 0.287 seconds slower than his title rival.
Hamilton has not spoken to the media since he arrived in Italy after cancelling his press duties on Thursday due to an “unavoidable personal commitment”.
The British driver won from pole position last season, and has qualified first at Monza for the past four years, but, just as in Belgium last weekend, Mercedes are on the back foot.
Ferrari may have not celebrated a win on home turf since Fernando Alonso took the chequered flag in 2010. But Vettel, who escaped without damage following a spin into the gravel at the Parabolica, insisted he does not feel any extra pressure to deliver in front of the expectant tifosi.
“We are in Italy, in the home country of Ferrari, and everybody, not only the Ferrari drivers, can feel and sense that there is something special going on,” he said.
“Myself and Kimi have the two most special seats this weekend, and I am looking forward to it.
“People forget that for the last five years, Mercedes have been absolutely dominant, so it is good to be up with them, and a match, but we cannot take anything for granted.”