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Sophia Floersch wins global sport award for racing return

by Ida Wood

Sophia Floersch was presented the World Comeback of the Year award at the Laureus World Sports Awards on Monday for her racing return after her back-breaking Macau Grand Prix crash.

The 19-year-old was hospitalised with a spinal fracture after a spectacular crash in the 2018 Macau GP, that resulted in changes to the cars used in the race and the circuit itself for future races.

Floersch made her racing comeback in Formula Regional European Championship with Van Amersfoort Racing last year and finished seventh in the points. She then returned to Macau with HWA Racelab, but failed to finish due to mechanical issues.

“This is a dream come true,” Floersch said as she received the award. “First of all I’m really happy to be here, and to hold this in my hand is a big honour. Standing in front of you all, who are actually my idols and who I look up to is incredible.

“I had this crash in Macau, 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.

“I want to thank my parents, at that point my parents and my little sister had an even harder time than me.”

VAR’s Floersch had hit Carlin’s Jehan Daruvala, who had braked in response to lights signalling yellow flags, on the run to the first braking zone as Lisboa corner.

Having already lost her rear wheels, Floersch rode over TOM’S driver Sho Tsuboi and the top of the catch fencing at the corner’s exit into a photographer’s bunker. The estimated speed of the crash was over 170mph.

“I want to thank Toto Wolff and the Mercedes-Benz Formula 1 team who helped me in that week. Who were helping me with the Dr Riccardo Ceccarelli [of Formula Medicine] who was next to me during the whole week in Macau in hospital.

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

“Hopefully I’m going to here in some years as Sportswoman of the Year.”

Lewis Hamilton became the third racing driver to win the World Sportsman of the Year award, which was jointly prized to football great Lionel Messi. Hamilton’s Mercedes team was nominated for the team award but lost out.

Floersch is the third person in motorsport to win the Comeback award, following double amputee and CART champion Alex Zanardi in 2005 and MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi in 2011.