FIA to investigate after George Russell’s Williams was struck by errant wheel

The FIA has launched an investigation into the dramatic accident involving British driver George Russell at the Belgian Grand Prix.

Russell was fortunate to escape unharmed from his Williams after he hit Antonio Giovinazzi’s errant wheel at 125mph.

The tyre was sent hurtling towards Russell when Giovinazzi lost control of his Alfa Romeo on the exit of the Fagnes chicane.

Wheel tethers were introduced into Formula One to prevent a tyre from flying off a car during a collision.

FIA race director Michael Masi said: “It is a concern that it happened.

“Why the wheel came detached, I am not 100 per cent sure, but immediately when the car arrived back our technical team started their investigation.

“Photos have been taken and we have all the available footage of the accident so the FIA technical department along with the safety department will investigate why it happened.

“It is too early to draw conclusions with an incident like that, but what I will say is that safety is live. It is not a start-and-finish thing. It is something that is always improving and something we can always learn from. An educated decision will be made, and not a knee-jerk reaction, as to whether any improvements are required.”

Formula One’s governing body will be keen to get to the bottom of the heart-stopping accident ahead of the Italian Grand Prix which takes place at Monza this weekend.

The track, nicknamed the Cathedral of Speed, is the fastest on the grand prix calendar with an average lap speed of just under 160mph.

Russell, the 22-year-old from Norfolk, admitted he was grateful for the halo – the cockpit protection device introduced in 2018 – had the wheel struck his car a few inches higher.

And F1 motorsport boss Ross Brawn added: “That accident was horrible and it was one of those situations where, though it wasn’t so relevant in this case, we are glad we have safety devices like the halo. It was such a relief to see George and Antonio get out of the car unscathed.

“It is testament to the progress that has been made in the safety of F1 cars in the last 20 to 30 years, but safety is something we must never take for granted.”

Lewis Hamilton will head to Italy for the eighth round of 17 with a 47-point lead over Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in the championship following his commanding win at Spa-Francorchamps on Sunday.