Dallara has recalled all GP3 rollhoops for further reinforcement, following an investigation into the crash sustained by Mitch Gilbert over the British Grand Prix weekend. The crash, which happened on a waterlogged track during Saturday Qualifying, saw the car of Gilbert strike the rear of Sebastien Balthasar at 140mph going through the fast Hangar straight section of the circuit, resulting in an airplane crash we’ve seen too often over the last couple of years in open cockpit racing.
When the car landed the rollhoop section was torn away from the monocoque, and after also shedding its front right wheel had slide along the track for about 50 meters without its roll hoop, finally coming to rest on the outside of the gravel trap on the outside of Stowe. Gilbert was able to walk away from what looked like a heavily damaged car, with just an issue with his hand which he later had stitched up. He also commented on Twitter by saying it was the “biggest crash of my entire career.”
We never saw replays of the crash on the coverage, however Alex Lynn who was driving right behind the crash said “It was like a plane crash – the car backflipped and then slid a long way.” The official conclusion states that the rollhoop was forced off the chassis due to the nature of the impact and the speed. Speaking to Autosport, GP3 technical director Didier Perrin says that the “was pulled off the monocoque in this rearwards motion” and adds the incident “is very unusual.” He also says the GP3 roll hoops will be reinforced before Hockenheim “as a matter of precaution to prevent something like that happening again.”
Of course GP3 has seen a lot of crashes with this new chassis where one car has went into the back of another, and the rear wheel of the car in front has catched the underfloor of the car behind and sent it summersaulting over the top, with the engine cover effectively acting as a launching pad in the process.
Twelve months ago at Silverstone, it was of course the scene of Kujala and Fumanelli’s massive crash going through the Becketts section of the circuit. Emanuele Zonzini was also involved in a crash with Nick Yelloly at Hungary last year, when at relatively low speed the car was sent over the top of Yelloly’s Carlin, landing upside-down on the rollhoop t-cam structure, which actually snapped in half as he hit the ground. So its not like the nature of this type of crash isn’t unfamiliar to the series.
The FIA have impounded Gilbert’s helmet for further investigation according to Autosport, and plan on leading a full investigation into the matter in order to understand what happened, along with chassis maker Dallara. “We think it will be helpful to carefully examine the damage for our studies, and also involve the helmet manufacturer to try to understand what lessons can be learned,” said an FIA spokesperson.
Header and featured image via Autosport