Formula 3 driver Sophia Floersch went flying through a track fence and into a photographer stand during a horrific crash at the Macau Grand Prix on Sunday, at a street circuit known for being fast, tight and downright scary. She went into spinal surgery Monday, coming out seven hours later in stable condition.
The injury came from a crash on the Macau street course, which, like almost all street courses, has little runoff area for fast cars careening off of the race circuit. There isn’t much footage of the wreck before Floersch’s car launched into the air, but Autosport reported on Sunday that the sequence began when Floersch and fellow driver Sho Tsuboi crashed into each other before a hard right-hand turn. (Update: Here’s further footage of Floersch’s car before it went airborne.)
Floersch, front wheels dangling from her car, went flying through the air and into the photographer stand at an alarming speed, with the crash injuring herself, Tsuboi, two photographers and a race marshal, according to Autosport.
Many, including Jalopnik contributor Stef Schrader, noted that the tone of the broadcast during the red flag for cleanup was at a disconnect from the severity of the crash. Spectators where it happened caught footage of the wreck at full speed, though, and we’ll warn you that people were seriously injured in this:
Floersch went to the hospital with a spinal fracture, with a post on her Twitter account before the surgery saying she was “fine” otherwise—an overstatement showing just how tough people who go out and drive race on tracks like these have to be. Motorsport.com reported Monday that the spinal surgery took seven hours, with doctors saying her vital signs were stable and limbs were active in a press conference afterward.
She’ll stay in the hospital for up to two weeks, Motorsport.com reports. A post on Floersch’s Twitter account during the surgery, translated from German, said the operation went so slowly because of precaution around the spinal area.
“The medical team is deliberately working slowly to avoid risks,” the post said, translated. “The previous surgical course is good and without complications. The surgery that began this morning continues.”
Two of the four other hospitalized people have been released, Motorsport.com reports: the hospital discharged Tsuboi on Sunday night, and photographer Hiroyuki Minami was also released. Photographer Chan Weng Wang is expected to stay in the hospital for 10 more days with a lacerated liver, Motorsport.com reports, and race marshal Chan Cha, who had cuts and a broken jaw, should be out in three to four days.
Update, Monday, Nov. 26, 2018 at 8:46 a.m. ET: Motorsport.com reports that Floersch is flying home, eight days after the crash.