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SILVERSTONE, England -- The British Grand Prix was suspended before the end of the first lap after two huge collisions involving multiple drivers on the pit straight resulted in Zhou Guanyu's Alfa Romeo ending up on the wrong side of the tyre barriers at Turn 1.

Emergency crews were immediately in attendance, with Zhou and Williams driver Alex Albon being taken to the medical centre. Both were cleared of major injuries and released from Coventry Hospital after precautionary checks.

A replay showed Pierre Gasly being pinched between George Russell on one side and Zhou on the other, with contact between Gasly and Russell pitching the Mercedes of Russell into Zhou's Alfa Romeo.

The energy of the second impact rolled Zhou's car, sending it upside down through the run-off area before it barrel-rolled over the barriers, only to be stopped by the catch fence in front of a grandstand.

Zhou later said Formula One's Halo cockpit protection "saved my life".

The Halo was introduced in F1 ahead of the 2018 season but was controversial, with many traditionalists as it was such a big step away from the unprotected look of cars.

The device likely saved Charles Leclerc from a serious injury at that year's Belgian Grand Prix and has been credited for saving drivers in several other incidents, including Romain Grosjean's fireball crash at the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix.

Just moments after Zhou's crash, Albon was involved in a separate incident, when he hit the brakes for the initial crash and Sebastian Vettel piled into the back of his Williams. The collision pushed Albon into the pit wall before he rebounded back onto the track and collided with Yuki Tsunoda and Esteban Ocon.

Tsunoda, Ocon and Gasly were able to continue back to the pits, while Zhou, Albon and Russell were out of the race on the spot.

Soon after the collisions the race was red-flagged as the leaders headed onto the Wellington Straight, suspending the race.

Separate to the collisions, protesters also broke onto the track further round the lap.

The race was restarted at 3:56 p.m. local time.

George Russell: F1 must learn lessons from Zhou Guanyu crash

George Russell said Formula One has to learn the safety lessons from Zhou Guanyu's huge crash at the British Grand Prix, which saw his car vault over a barrier and get stuck in a small gap.

Russell and Pierre Gasly were involved in the collision with Zhou, which flipped the Alfa Romeo car upside down before it skidded off the track.

After the crash, Russell ran from his car to the tire barrier, where Zhou's car was stuck while he was extracted from his car.

"It was horrible, in that position he was stuck there, nothing he could have done," Russell, who is also a director for the Grand Prix Drivers' Association, said:

"We need to think to avoid a car being stuck in such a fine gap.

"The space between the barriers and the metal fence and he was just stuck in there, nowhere to go. Yeah, something to learn."

Zhou credited Formula One's Halo cockpit device, which sits above the heads of drivers, for saving his life.

The Chinese driver was released from Coventry Hospital after precautionary checks on Sunday.