A teenage German racing driver has survived a horror Formula Three crash after her car catapulted off the track at 172mph and smashed into a media hoarding.
Sophia Floersch was flung through the air when she lost control at a bend at the Macau Grand Prix, sending her car hurtling into into a temporary platform and injuring her, another driver, a marshal and two photographers.
Horrified fans feared the worst but the 17-year-old posted on Twitter just hours later to say she was alive and would have surgery on Monday after fracturing her spine.
‘Just wanted to let everybody know that I am fine but will be going into surgery tomorrow morning,’ Floersch wrote on Twitter.
‘Thanks to the @fia and @hwaag_official @MercedesAMGF1 who are taking great care of me. Thanks to everybody for the supporting messages. Update soon.’
The Van Amersfoort Racing driver lost control as she drove into the Lisboa bend while running 16th in the Formula Three Race.
Floersch clipped a rail and collided with the back of driver Jehan Daruvala, before hitting Sho Tsuboi’s vehicle and hurtling through the air.
The 17-year-old’s car was flung through the safety fencing at the side of the track and into a platform used by photographers at the Macau showpiece.
Slow motion footage shows the car flying towards the platform, as terrified stewards and marshals duck for cover on the other side of the barrier.
Floersch’s car clips the top of the fence just before hitting the platform, flipping it over and sending the top side smashing into the temporary structure.
With debris flying around, the car is momentarily upside down before settling back on the ground, as marshals rush to the aid of the teenager and the other injured people.
Japanese driver Sho Tsuboi was taken to hospital with back pain while a marshal, Chan Cha In, suffered a deep cut to the face, a fractured jaw and an abrasion of his upper abdomen wall.
Photographer Chan Weng Wang sustained a liver laceration and is being treated in hospital, while fellow snapper Minami Hiroyuki, suffered a concussion and remains under observation.
‘All were conscious during transit to the hospital and are now receiving medical treatment. Further updates will be provided as soon as possible,’ said the Macau Grand Prix Organising Committee in a statement.
A medical report sent to AFP said Floersch was admitted to the emergency room of a Macau hospital with a spinal fracture and vital signs stable.
Ferrari junior Guan Yu Zhou, who was in the car directly behind Floersch at the time of the accident, said a yellow caution light might have distracted her.
‘First of all it was such a scary moment,’ Guan said.
‘Coming after Mandarin [the preceding right-hand kink], I saw the yellow, but I think it was just a mistake by the organisers’ station.
‘Sophia was really close to Jehan, so when Jehan braked early she had no time to react.
‘She hit Jehan’s right-rear, and that spun her around straight into Lisboa, and she flew into the other car. I just hope she’s OK.’
Floersch’s father Alexander was at the race and went to the hospital with his daughter, confirmed her team boss Frits van Amersfoort.
Before the crash, Floersch had shared her excitement for the Macau Grand Prix on her social media channels.
‘Lets get the party started at Macau!’ she wrote alongside a snap of herself on Instagram three days ago.
After a qualifying race she shared a picture pulling a face in her car, saying: ‘Had a bad start and felt not aggressive enough to gain more positions.’
But she appeared to have cheered up later and shared a selfie taken with two police officers on Instagram.
‘We have to thank the angels she had with her today, and for the fantastic strength of the Dallara car,’ Van Amersfoort told Motorsport.com.
Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso and Nico Hulkenberg were among the Formula 1 drivers and ex-drivers quick to send their best wishes to Floersch, who is considered one of the hottest young talents in motor-racing.
European champion Mick Schumacher, the son of stricken F1 legend Michael, said: ‘I hope everybody’s OK after this crash, I wish them the best recovery.’
Alonso said: ‘All my thoughts are with Sophia Floersch after the accident at Macau. Let’s hope to receive positive news soon. Stay strong’.
British driver Button added: ‘Sorry to hear that Sophie Floercsh has a spinal fracture but looking at the horrific accident she had today in Macau it could have been so much worse. #getwellsoonSophia.’
Fellow German racer Hulkenburg tweeted: ‘Just saw the horrible pictures from Macau… my thoughts are with Sophia Floersch and the other people involved. Stay strong!!’
F3 is a breeding ground for future F1 drivers and Floersch moved up to that level after making history at F4.
Nineteen-year-old Briton Dan Ticktum of Red Bull Junior Team won the race on the fabled Macau street circuit.
It has been graced by F1 greats such as Schumacher senior and Ayrton Senna.
At least three people have died on the Macau Grand Prix circuit.
British rider Daniel Hegarty died last year after hitting a barrier at Fishermen’s Bend during the Macau Grand Prix’s feature motorcycle race.
The Macau Grand Prix also suffed two deaths in 2012 when Portugal’s Luis Carreira and Hong Kong’s Phillip Yau were killed within two days of each other.