Frits van Amersfoort, the team boss of driver Sophia Floersch who broke her spine in a horrifying accident during the Macau Grand Prix on Sunday, has admitted that the wait for news on her condition for the “worst of my life” as he feared the teenager had been killed.
Floersch’s car ran over the inside kerb and hit the back of Sho Tsuboi’s Formula 3 during Sunday’s race in Macau that launched her car into a photographers’ bunker, with the rear of the vehicle making contact first before flipping the cockpit into the structure.
It’s understood that the 17-year-old made contact with another car – driven by Jehan Daruvala – on the main straight of the frighteningly fast Macau street circuit, with the ensuing damage causing a brake failure that left her out of control as she approached the Lisboa corner.
“It was nearly a rocket. Surviving was incredible,” said Van Amersfoort. “We reckon she was travelling at 276km/h (171.6mph) at the time.
"We were thinking the worst. I tend to say that she had an angel on her shoulder and so do the other people who were involved in the crash.
"We shouldn't forget that photographers and a marshal were also injured and it could have been a lot, lot worse.
The FIA are carrying out a full investigation to determine exactly what went wrong, but miraculously Floersch did not suffer any life-threatening injuries and will undergo surgery on a spinal fracture on Monday after posting a message on Twitter with an update on her condition.
“Just wanted to let everybody know that I am fine but will be going into Surgery tomorrow morning,” she wrote. “Thanks to the @fia and @hwaag_official @MercedesAMGF1 who are taking great care of me. Thanks to everybody for the supporting messages. Update soon.”
Just wanted to let everybody know that I am fine but will be going into Surgery tomorow morning. Thanks to the @fia and @hwaag_official@MercedesAMGF1 who are taking great care of me.
Thanks to everybody for the Supporting messages.
— Sophia Floersch (@SophiaFloersch) November 18, 2018
A second update was posted in German on Monday that revealed Floersch remains in surgery, with the delicate nature of her injury required a slow and careful procedure.
“The medical team is deliberately working slowly to avoid risks,” the update read. “The previous surgical course is good and without complications. The surgery that began this morning continues.”
Aktuelle Zwischeninfo: Das Ärzte-Team arbeitet bewusst langsam, um Risiken zu vermeiden. Der bisherige OP-Verlauf sei gut und ohne Komplikationen. Die heute morgen begonnene OP dauert an. pic.twitter.com/3gHSCtFe4B
— Sophia Floersch (@SophiaFloersch) November 19, 2018
Speaking after the crash, Van Amersfoort – the team boss of Van Amersfoort Racing – said that the nervous wait to hear any news of Floersch’s condition took 20 minutes to arrive to the team, during which they were left to “fear the worst”.
“We got some information from social media while we were waiting at the door of race control, but when you look at those images it is heart-breaking so we were thinking of the worst,” Van Amersfoort told BBC Radio 5 live.
“It took quite a long time before the race control could say anything about the health of Sophia – everyone can imagine that’s not a nice thing to have.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like this. I haven’t seen all accidents in motorsport but this was surely one of the worst I’ve ever seen.
“We were lucky that she was flying because she went over a barrier. If she had hit the barrier it would have gone a lot worse.”
Floersch is undergoing surgery on a fractured spine in Macau (Reuters)
Tsuboi was also taken to hospital complaining of back pain, while the FIA said that two photographers and a marshal were also admitted with injuries.
Photographers Minami Hiroyuki and Chan Weng Wang suffered a concussion and lacerated liver respectively, while marshal Chan Cha suffered a fractured facial bone and lacerations to his face.
FIA president Jean Todt has announced that a full investigation will be carried out to determine how the scary accident unfolded.
“After the serious incident in Macau, the FIA is mobilised to help those involved and analyse what happened,” said Todt, who is also the United Nations Secretary General’s special envoy for road safety. “We will monitor the situation and make the necessary conclusions.”