A Formula 1 driver is lucky to be alive after a horrific crash at Sunday night’s Bahrain Grand Prix, which saw his car tear in half and explode after colliding with a safety barrier.
Frenchman Romain Grosjean, a driver for the Haas F1 Team, clipped the wheel of Alpha Tauri’s Daniil Kvyat on the first lap and veered into the barrier at high speed.
Footage shows Grosjean’s car ploughing into the barrier and bursting into flames.
The impact ripped the front half of the car – including the driver’s cockpit – from the vehicle’s rear, partially trapping Grosjean within the ruined barrier.
Medical crews and track marshals were on the scene in seconds, and worked to extinguish the flames as Grosjean pulled himself from the cockpit.
Stunningly, Grosjean was able to wrest himself from the car and hop over the barrier, even as flames engulfed the wreckage.
Grosjean was helped from the scene and was taken to hospital. He is receiving treatment for burns to his hands and feet, and suspected broken ribs.
In a video taken from his hospital bed, Grosjean waved his bandaged fingers while telling fans he is “okay, well, sort of okay”.
The Formula 1 veteran also mentioned the halo cockpit safety device, introduced after the tragic death of F1 driver Jules Bianchi in 2015.
The halo is comprised of round protective beams over the driver, designed to shield their helmets from impact.
Photos from the scene shows the sheer force sustained by the halo on Grosjean’s car.
This is a significant shot – the Halo scraped and damaged after an extraordinary impact, and yet intact: pic.twitter.com/tai6yz4xKl— Adam Cooper (@adamcooperF1) November 29, 2020
Grosjean, a director of the influential Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, originally opposed making the ‘halo’ mandatory. Now, he says he would not have survived without it.
“I wasn’t for the halo some years ago, but I think it’s the greatest thing that [we’ve introduced] in Formula 1, and without it I wouldn’t be able to speak to you today,” he said.
It would not be the only time the halo featured in the race, either. The race restarted when the track was declared safe, only for Racing Point driver Lance Stroll to clip another Alpha Tauri and flip upside down. Stroll emerged unharmed.
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton secured the victory, just one race after he claimed his Formula 1 seventh world title. Hardly the most eventful element of the night, that.
Get well soon, Romain.