General Formula 3

Sophia Flörsch: “My Experience of the Accident was Quite Different”

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Sophia Flörsch - 2018 FIA European F3 - Hockenheim II
Credit: FIA European Formula 3 Championship

Last month the Macau Grand Prix attracted the attention of the whole world after Sophia Flörsch suffered a serious accident.

The German was launched into the air and went through a barrier after an incident on the straight heading to Lisboa Corner.

However, footage of the incident itself had been missed by the camera directors and instead social media was flooded with videos taken by fans trackside.

In her first interview since that day, with Motorsport-Magazin.comFlörsch spoke of seeing the footage for herself.

“It took me a few days to come round, because I was heavily dosed with painkillers. I didn’t watch the video until the Friday after my accident, which was five days later. In the meantime, I’ve put the accident behind me, because I’m just so happy that I can move all my limbs and start convalescence so soon. The doctors say that I had millions of guardian angels that day. They are very upbeat about me being fit enough towards the end of February or early March to get back in a racing car again.”

A crash of that magnitude understandably drew attention from the media across the globe, with several racing drivers such as fellow German Nico Hülkenberg and two-time Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso reaching out to her.

“The accident was at 15:30 local time, and they handed me my mobile phone at 20:30 that evening. I had hundreds of messages on WhatsApp and suddenly 155,000 followers instead of 38,000 on Instagram. I thought: “What’s going on?!” My experience of the accident was quite different. I had no idea at the time that it looked so bad and would feature so prominently in the news.

“I didn’t know what to make of the whole situation, because I hadn’t seen the accident. I also didn’t understand why even the teachers at my school were writing to me. I thought: “How do they know about the accident?”. I still haven’t read all the reports from around the world because there were just so many of them.

“I only realised on the Friday, Saturday, Sunday after the operation that famous racing drivers such as Fernando Alonso had also written to me.” 

Although, it was not just Flörsch who was involved in the accident.

Fellow driver Sho Tsuobi, two photographers and a marshal were all injured in the incident.

The Japanese racer was admitted to hospital with lumbar pain.

Marshal, Chan Cha In had suffered a laceration to his face, abrasion of his upper abdomen, and a fractured jaw.

Photographer Chan Weng Wang sustained a liver laceration whilst his colleague Hiroyuki Minami suffered a concussion.

“At first, I didn’t know that other people had been injured in the crash,” said Flörsch. “I found that out later in the evening when my dad told me that everyone else involved had survived. I burst into tears. I think that would have been the worst thing for me if something very bad had happened to other people because of the accident.”

With a spinal injury following a crash that severe everyone was wondering the same thing – will she race again?

Flörsch had to wonder whether her career was over before she had had the chance to really get it going.

“There were, of course, questions about whether I would carry on and what my long-term plans would look like. I have always been very frank about my desire to continue and that I’m not going to let an accident get me down.

“Most people I speak to understand that. I mean, I’ve been in this sport for the past 13 years, it’s my life, and I want to get into F1. Giving up that dream because of an accident like this just doesn’t make sense to me.”

For now, Flörsch can rest up and work on getting herself back up to fitness in the hopes of returning to racing in 2019.

It is believed she will remain with Van Amersfoort Racing in the new Formula European Masters series which replaces FIA European Formula 3 on the DTM Series support package.

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An NCTJ accredited Journalism Graduate covering DTM and the FIA Formula 3 Championship.
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