Sophia Floersch’s Macau GP crash return wins Laureus Comeback Award

South China Morning Post

Teenage driver was back to racing within four months of life-threatening crash and dreaming of Formula One success

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Formula Three driver Sophia Floersch in her HWA Racelab car at the 2019 Macau Grand Prix.

Sophia Floersch, the teenage driver who suffered severe injuries in a crash at the 2018 Macau Grand Prix, has won the Laureus Comeback Award for her return to racing.

The 19-year-old Formula Three driver described it as “a dream come true" when she picked up her award in Berlin at the 20th anniversary Laureus World Sports Awards on Monday. She also thanked the Laureus Academy, her family and her doctor.

“I started this sport when I was four and loved it from the first moment onwards. I had this crash in Macau and it was bad, the video was very bad, but for me in the car it didn’t feel that bad. I remember everything. It happened so quick you don’t really realise it."

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“It was hard times but for me I always had the goal to come back in race car, which was happening 106 days later.”

“Hopefully I am going to be up on this stage in some years again, Sportswoman of the Year,” she said to applause from the crowd of sports stars gathered in the German capital.

The German driver was injured after coming off the track at the Lisboa Bend at the Guia circuit. She entered the bend at 276km/h, clipped a raised kerb then hit the top of Japanese driver Sho Tsuboi’s TOM'S Dallara-Toyota car.

German F3 racing driver Sophia Floersch attends a press conference at a hospital in Macau to discuss her injuries and recovery before flying home on November 26, 2018.
Photo: AFP

Her car went through the catch fencing before landing backwards in a photographer’s hut through the safety fencing and into a photographers’ platform.

Sophia, just 17 at the time, suffered life-threatening injuries, according to her Van Amersfoort Racing team owner Fritz van Amersfoort.

She was rushed to the Conde S. Januario Hospital along with Tsuboi, two photographers and a race marshal. The 17-year-old underwent 11 hours of spinal surgery at the Macau hospital before months of recovery where she could not move her neck or back.

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Within a month, Sophia was telling the BBC that she not only wanted to get back in a car but was dreaming of becoming Formula One world champion.

“I’ll see how it goes, but my goal is to get to Formula One and have success there and maybe be world champion,” she said in December 2018.

Sophia was back racing within four months of the crash and was back in Macau in November for the 2019 event, on a course that had seen several safety changes after her crash.

She described her as a return as a “very, very emotional moment” as she drove for HWA Racelab, a drive she picked up in the weeks before the Macau event.