‘Miracle he’s alive’: Terrifying F1 crash
The Bahrain Grand Prix was red flagged on the first lap after a horrific moment that saw Romain Grosjean's Haas engulfed in a fireball after colliding with the barriers.
Grosjean climbed out of the car through the flames and was dragged away from the fire by marshals before being helicoptered to hospital with a suspected broken rib and burns.
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It was a terrifying moment after the start with all the drivers bunched up.
But with some going wide, it appeared as though Grosjean tried to cut through the pack into a gap but came in contact with the wheel of AlphaTauri's Daniil Kvyat, driving straight into the barrier at turn 3, a corner which is taken at approximately 140m/h (225km/h).
The car was sliced in half by the barrier with the tail sitting separate from the fire.
"It's a miracle that he's alive," said 1996 world champion Briton Damon Hill who was Ayrton Senna's teammate at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix when the Brazilian champion was killed.
Safety and official medical car driver Alan van der Merwe, who was in the scene in seconds, said: "It was a big surprise for us as well, we've never seen that much fire in 12 years.
"Romain started to get out of the car himself which was pretty amazing after an accident like that. It was a relief to see he was okay. It just goes to show all the systems we've developed worked hand-in-hand - the halos, the barriers, the seatbelts, everything all worked as it should.
"Without just one of those things, it could have been a very different outcome."
Haas team principal Gunther Steiner was quick to thank the rescue crews for their reactions, calling the crash "scary".
"The latest what I've got, he's doing OK," he told Sky Sports. "I don't want to make a medical comment here but he had light burns on his hands and ankles. He's obviously shaken and for sure is going through all the checks you need to do after an impact like this but he's conscious and he's fine.
"If you see where the barrier has been torn down, it's unbelievable. I think we were lucky by being unlucky. I prefer that luck than racing luck."
Sky Sports' David Croft immediately called the crash "horrendous" as the race was immediately red flagged.
Martin Brundle added that it was "so unusual to see a Formula One car with all the safety cells and fuel and what have you immediately go into flames".
"The driver is well protected with fire proof clothing, helmet, gloves, boots and everything but that just went straight up," he said.
But Brundle said he couldn't remember a time he had seen a car explode like that.
Grosjean was taken by the medical staff to an ambulance before being taken by helicopter to hospital.
Marshals were lucky as well with two tyres flying off the car, before they rushed to Grosjean's aid.
"That's a miracle," Brundle said, while Croft added "I've not seen a car like that in my time commentating in Formula One".
Brundle continued: "It's pierced the barrier like a tin opener and that's just levered the car apart such was the energy. But full respect to the FIA, and the teams and the designers and all the stress analysis for constantly trying to improve the structural integrity of the survival cell or the chassis. That's just saved his life because that is just extraordinary."
"The fact that Romain Grosjean has survived that crash is not only miraculous but quite frankly marvellous as well," Croft said. "That is horrendous."
The pit crews were left stunned with many looking on in disbelief.
Hill praised the halo for saving Grosjean from more serious injuries.
"Like everyone, absolute shock and horror," he said of his first reactions to the incident.
"I was just thinking the drivers going down the straight would have looked in their mirrors and seen the flames. I think it's so long since we've seen anything like that. It's such an unusual sight to see a fuel fire and then to see how he actually impacted the barriers and gone straight through, we can't jump to any conclusions at all but it looks like the halo has saved Romain from worse injury there."
The halo is a titanium curved bar structure that sits above the drivers' head to protect them from flying debris and were only made mandatory in 2018.
World champion Lewis Hamilton tweeted from the paddock about how dangerous the sport is.
"I'm so grateful Romain is safe. Wow … the risk we take is no joke, for those of you out there that forget that we put our life on the line for this sport and for what we love to do. Thankful to the FIA for the massive strides we've taken for Romain to walk away from that safely," he tweeted.
I'm so grateful Romain is safe. Wow... the risk we take is no joke, for those of you out there that forget that we put our life on the line for this sport and for what we love to do. Thankful to the FIA for the massive strides we've taken for Romain to walk away from that safely https://t.co/dG8AXmsbKN— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) November 29, 2020
Massive relief to see Romain is ok. Huge credit to all the teams, the FIA and F1 for all the safety measures we have in the sport today 🙏— George Russell (@GeorgeRussell63) November 29, 2020
Incredibly, after a long break to repair the barrier and remove the wreckage, there was more drama.
It didn't even take a lap before Racing Point's Lance Stroll's car flipped over sparking a yellow safety car.
This time the Canadian's Racing Point made contact with Daniil Kvyat's Alpha Tauri at Turn 8, his car coming to a halt upside down.
Stroll was uninjured and stayed cool inside car.
"I'm ok, just hanging upside down," he told his team before climbing out.
Social media lit up with people thankful for the safety precautions.
Twice in the space of an hour and a half, the halo has proved once and for all its priceless value in protecting F1 drivers. First that frightening crash with Grosjean and now Stroll.— Joe Krishnan (@joekrishnan) November 29, 2020
If I ever moaned about the Halo in F1 I take it all back.— Jack Goff (@jgmotorsport) November 29, 2020
My god Romain, you are a lucky boy.
Huge testament to all the safety these days and to the medical and marshall teams for getting to the scene fast. #F1 #BahrainGP #grosjean
The more I watch it the more upsetting it is. Truly incredible strength of modern #F1 cars. How he was even conscious after such deceleration I can’t quite comprehend. The Halo saves another life! Grosjean acting on pure instinct to get out of that car. Thankful he did!— Dan Cammish (@DanCammish) November 29, 2020
The risk 0 doesn’t exist in motorsport. The HALO & all new safety measures developed by @fia / @JeanTodt clearly saved Romain’s life. I’m glad you’re ok @RGrosjean 🙏🏼. Congratulations to the marshals and fia doctors for their reactivity #Motorsport #Safety #F1 pic.twitter.com/Aa3THVjMJs— Jean-Eric Vergne (@JeanEricVergne) November 29, 2020
45 minutes later and I’m still in utter disbelief that Romain survived the crash. Fireproof clothing and the halo, a safety device only added to F1 cars two years ago, has undoubtedly saved his life today. https://t.co/c7wsadMPcQ— Alistair Charlton (@AlistairJ90) November 29, 2020
Originally published as 'Miracle he's alive': Terrifying F1 crash