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2018-11-20 09:36
Sophia Floersch

Image: K.Y. CHENG / SCMP / AFP

The 17-year-old driver who survived a terrifying crash at the Macau Grand Prix was recovering on Tuesday after a "frightening" spinal operation which took hours longer than expected and was fraught with the risk of paralysis.

Germany's Sophia Floersch, whose Formula Three car was catapulted airborne over safety barriers and into a hut during Sunday's race, needed a bone graft from her hip to fix a spinal fracture.

Not in the clear yet

Doctors said the Van Amersfoort Racing driver spent seven hours in surgery on Monday, much longer than the expected four to five hours, because of the bone graft and the need to set up neurological monitoring.

READ: Teen Formula 3 driver Sophia Floersch fractures her spine in Macau GP horror crash

Clinical director Lei Wai-seng told reporters that Floersch can move her limbs freely but is expected to remain in Macau's Conde S. Januario Hospital for one or two weeks.

He added that Japanese racer Sho Tsuboi, who was apparently protected by his safety arc or halo when Floersch's car hurtled into him, had been discharged, along with a photographer.

Another photographer, who suffered a lacerated liver, and a marshal with a broken jaw remain under observation, Lei said.

High hops for Floersch

After a collision near the end of a high-speed straight, Floersch's machine bounced off a kerb, clipping the top Tsuboi's TOM's Racing car and flying backwards into a hut housing media and officials.

Team principle Frits Van Amersfoort told Motorsport.com that he received a picture of a smiling Floersch after the operation.

"The operation was frightening because it is known as a risky operation. She will have to stay there for a while, but let's hope we see her again soon where she belongs: in a racing car," he said.

He also described his panic immediately after the crash on Sunday, as the team tried in vain to get updates on the young driver's condition.

Not a pleasant history

"The worst thing was the twenty minutes in which we did not know anything, I will not forget that my whole life. (She) had an angel on the shoulder because it could have been much worse," he said.

Three people have died in recent years on the Chinese gambling enclave's tight and hilly street circuit, which has been graced by Formula 1 greats including Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna.

British rider Daniel Hegarty died last year after hitting a barrier during the feature motorcycle race.

In 2012, Portugal's Luis Carreira and Hong Kong's Phillip Yau were killed within two days of each other during the Macau Grand Prix.

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