Three-car crash sends two drivers to the hospital

A dramatic crash during Saturday’s Formula 3 race at the Red Bull Ring in Austria ended with a three-car wreck with two drivers getting hospitalized as a result. The horrifying ordeal started when Carlin’s Ryan Tveter slid off of the track and kicked up a big cloud of dust that impeded the visibility on the track, ultimately causing his teammate, Zhi Cong Li, to inadvertently drive up the back of the Tveter’s idle car, launching the Chinese driver’s own race car into the air, corkscrewing multiple times before slamming into the gravel trap on the other side of the track. Van Amersfoort Racing driver Pedro Piquet also found himself unwittingly involved as his own race car slammed into Teeter’s spinning car, wrecking the Brazilian driver’s car in the process.

The spectacle of the crash would have been incredible if not for the fact that the two Carlin teammates were sent to the hospital as a result of the crash. Li got the worst of it as it was reported that he lost consciousness after the wreck. Fortunately, he eventually awoke and was alert at the hospital, although he did suffer broken bones on his heel to go with four fractured vertebrae. Tveter appeared to be fine in the immediate moments after the crash; he even got out of the car on his own before scampering onto the side of the track. But eventually, he too was sent to the hospital for a precautionary scan. The good news is that Piquet remarkably sustained no injuries from the crash, even though the impact of the crash completely mangled his race car.

In a visual spectacle sort of way, a massive three-car crash like this is what makes motor racing enjoyable to watch. But it also magnifies the kind of risks these drivers take when they’re competing in a a high-octane sport like racing. It’s not the kind of thing anybody would want to be involved in, even though it looks extraordinarily dramatic when you’re watching it on TV.

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Why it matters

My first reaction upon seeing this crash was a laundry list of curse words that eventually led to me re-watching the video at least five more times. On the surface, the crash looks spectacular and is arguably the most incredibly aesthetic crash I’ve seen in years. But that feeling of awe was immediately shattered upon seeing Li’s car slam into the gravel trap upside down, which meant that the driver could’ve suffered worse injuries if the car landed flat. The same can be said for both Tveter and Piquet who both escaped more serious injuries as a result of the crash. There’s still no update on Tveter’s condition, so let’s all hope that his injuries are nothing more than some bumps and bruises.

The crash also highlights something particularly interesting about Formula 3. It’s not as technologically advanced as Formula One, but the crash shows how amazingly safe Formula 3 cars have become. Racing itself is an inherently dangerous sport and incidents like this one will continue to happen for as long as there are people willing to drive fast cars to determine who among them is the fastest. But the fact that Li didn’t lose his life when his car catapulted into the air is a huge achievement for race organizers who are continuing their own fight to make Formula 3 safer for its drivers.

Personally, watching a crash like this is intoxicating in the same manner as watching a boxer get knocked out. You want to see it happen, but at the same time, you want those who end up getting involved in a crash or getting knocked out to not get hurt. You want them to bounce back up to race the next race. But sometimes, you can’t have a crash without the serious injury. It’s happened before and we’ve lost a lot of young and promising men and women because of it. I’m just happy that this isn’t one of those times. So yeah, get well soon, Ryan Tveter and Zhi Cong Li. Here’s to hoping that you get back on your respective feet in no time.

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