Teenage driver Sophia Floersch survived an airborne crash during the Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix on Sunday. Tony Wong/Apple Daily via AP.
Teenage driver Sophia Floersch survived an airborne crash during the Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix on Sunday. Tony Wong/Apple Daily via AP.

Teen F3 racer saved from paralysis after horror crash

By Jonathan McEvoy Time of article published Nov 20, 2018

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Macau - The painkillers were wearing off last night and Sophia Florsch felt every ache left by the 11 hours of surgery that followed her horrific crash in Macau on Sunday.

But the good news was that the 17-year-old German racing driver had been saved from paralysis by a team of doctors working a long shift inside the local hospital.

At her bedside was father Alex, who, speaking to Sportsmail by telephone, relived the horrifying moments of uncertainty he endured when his daughter’s accident brought a halt to the Formula Three race.

Four laps into the Macau Grand Prix, Florsch hit the back of rival Jehan Daruvala’s car. That launched Florsch over the inside kerb into the car of Sho Tsuboi. This impact then catapulted her some 12 feet into the air, through the safety fence at 275km/h and into a temporary photographers’ platform with marshals standing in front of it.

Florsch’s team boss Frits van Amersfoort - of Van Amersfoort Racing - said she must have had "an angel on her shoulder" to have survived the impact as a gasping crowd feared the worst.

Her father was among the anxious spectators. "Those 30 or 40 minutes after the crash were the hardest minutes of my life," he said. "Trying to find her was very difficult. I did not know what was going on. All sorts of concerns come into your mind at a time like that." By the time he found his daughter, who was removed from her car, she was being treated by doctors. "The FIA and all the medics did a great job and I would like to thank them for everything they did," he said.

Florsch fractured her spine. And doctors, working deliberately slowly so as not to damage her spinal cord and cause paralysis, took bone from her hip to repair her seventh vertebrae. They later confirmed that her vital signs were stable and all her limbs working.

"The surgery went well," confirmed her father, who is sending progress reports home to the rest of the family in Munich. "She is awake and things are going smoothly after the operation.

"The doctors say that if everything continues to progress satisfactorily that she will be in hospital in Macau for six or seven days before flying back to Germany.

"I am sitting at her side now and she’s just happy the surgery is done. Things will get better every day. But for now she has some pain - the drugs are wearing off.

"We have not yet spoken about whether she will race again - it is too soon for that - but from my point of view there is nothing I would do to stop her."

Jean Todt, president of the FIA, motor racing’s ruling body, said: "The FIA is mobilised to help those involved and analyse what happened. We will monitor the situation and make the necessary conclusions."

It is the second major accident in two years at the city-state track on which F1 greats such as Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher have raced. British rider Daniel Hegarty died there 12 months ago in the feature motorcycle race.

Sunday’s Grand Prix was stopped for an hour before being won by 19-year-old Brit Dan Ticktum, a Red Bull junior driver.

Daily Mail

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