Sophia Flörsch Is Back In The Cockpit, Just 100 Days After Her 170-MPH Macau Crash
You will no doubt recall Sophia Flörsch’s horrific high speed accident during the Macau Grand Prix towards the end of last year. In it she sustained a spinal fracture and was left perilously close to paralysis. Well, just over 100 days on she is back behind the wheel. And what’s more she is picking up exactly where she left off, as she’s testing a Van Amersfoort Racing Formula 3 machine at Monza in Italy–just like the one she raced in Macau–preparing for the forthcoming Formula European Masters campaign. Flörsch tweeted in advance of Wednesday’s running that she is “so happy” to be back.
Flörsch sustained the injuries after, early in the main Macau race last November, her car vaulted a crash barrier and hit a photographer’s bunker. It came after contact with Jehan Daruvala’s Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen, which in a flat-out section had slowed apparently after seeing an erroneous yellow light, left Flörsch’s VAR Dallara-Mercedes without its left-side wheels. Careering out of control her car at the subsequent corner then launched off a combination of a kerb and a third car, the TOM’S Dallara-Toyota of Sho Tsuboi. A speed trap figure indicated that she was traveling at 171.6mph at the time of the accident; two photographers and a marshal also sustained injuries in the smash, though thankfully minor ones. Doctors said a bone splinter was just millimeters from causing serious damage to Flörsch’s spinal cord which may have paralyzed her, and in the crash’s immediate aftermath Flörsch had to undergo a seven-hour operation on her back. But she quickly confirmed her intention to return racing and started an intense rehabilitation program, which she kept fans up-to-date of online.
The following month Flörsch confirmed that in 2019 she will compete in the DTM-supporting Formula European Masters with VAR. It meant that as well as staying with the same team as in 2018, the 18-year-old also in effect continues in the same championship, as the new Masters series effectively keeps the F3 European Championship that Flörsch competed in with VAR last season going under a new name with the same-spec F3 cars. Officially though the Euro F3 series for this year merges with GP3 to form the FIA Formula 3 Championship, which will support a number of Formula 1 races. Flörsch joined the Euro F3 series last July after missing the opening three rounds, completing the season with VAR. “If I watch it now it does not feel like me crashing,” Flörsch told The Times. “I watch and think, ‘This guy is not going to survive’. I don’t watch the crash now unless media people show it to me. It feels like it was three years ago. It is strange. The flying stuff felt very different. You don’t think, ‘Oh s***, I’m 270 [kph] now’. You just wait for the wall to come.”
Images courtesy of Sophia Flörsch, Van Amersfoort Racing, Thomas Suer