Dhat is horror for a racing driver. A collision at an obtuse angle. The Bahraini Grand Prix was a few seconds old on Sunday when Romain Grosjean shot to the right across the track in the field of cars at the exit of the third corner when he spotted a gap but overlooked the competitor. He touches the left front wheel of Daniil Kwiat’s Alpha Tauri. The Haas turns almost at a right angle, at full throttle, crashes into the guardrail after a short braking distance. The bolide is immediately immersed in a fireball. The flames rise into the sky and reach the advertising bridge over the route.
Minutes pass before the TV world view of Formula 1 dissolves the anxious wait: It shows Grosjean disturbed in the Formula 1 ambulance, he is supported when changing to the ambulance. The Geneva limps. The recording shows how he emerges from flames, how he climbs over the guardrail using the fire extinguishers from marshals and with the help of a doctor from the ambulance. The ambulance was there in no time. Only when the smoke has subsided can it be seen which inferno Grosjean escaped: the car was torn in two, fortunately burst at the breaking point where the engine is connected to the cockpit.
The carbon fiber safety cell held up. But it is stuck in the side of the broken guardrail, tore open the steel like a can opener a tin can. Apparently the front half of the car was pushing its ground first through the guardrails. The underside of the chassis probably saved Grosjean from serious injuries in his third-last Formula 1 Grand Prix. The so-called halo, the ring in front of the cockpit opening to protect the head, seems to have prevented it from slipping through. Blessing in disguise. Grosjean comes out of the wreck by himself behind the guardrail almost 27 seconds after the accident. The Haas racing team announced that the driver suffered second-degree burns on his hand and two toes that were broken. Grosjean is allowed to light a candle for the first time in Advent.
“It was a huge shock to see that,” said Hamilton after his 95th Grand Prix win, this time ahead of Max Verstappen and Alex Albon (both Red Bull): “It was terrifying to see the car being torn apart. I’m so grateful that the halo worked, that the guardrails didn’t cut off his head. ”The crash reminded the former pilots, now television commentators, of the danger in their day. “It is a miracle that it came out in one piece,” said Damon Hill, the 1996 world champion, at the time rival of Michael Schumacher in the battle for the titles in 1994, 1995 and 1996. “Twenty or thirty years ago, nobody would be that easy come out. The security precautions of Formula 1 are huge. Sometimes the drivers get upset about it and wonder if it is still necessary. That won’t be the case now. “
Safety is an important issue for Formula 1
Safety has been an issue since the first Formula 1 race. But the efforts were only pushed forward in larger steps by the world champions Jackie Stewart and Niki Lauda in the 1970s. In 1994, the then President of the International Automobile Federation (Fia), Max Mosley, made security policy his core issue. The fatal accidents of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna on the first weekend in May in Imola and two weeks later the serious accident of Karl Wendlinger in Monaco broke the resistance of racing teams, which sometimes feared for their hard-earned performance advantages because safety regulations changed the design of the cars . Under Mosley, the Fia developed a strict security program. Among other things, the crash test values were constantly tightened, the Fia prescribed the Hans head and neck protection system, and after an intensive discussion in 2018 introduced the halo as a result of Jules Bianchi’s accident.
The Frenchman slipped under a recovery vehicle in 2014 and died of the consequences of his head injury. The halo is supposed to prevent such disasters. It is made of titanium, weighs seven kilograms, but can withstand the pressure of twelve tons. “I am aware of the risk,” said Hamilton, also referring to the fatal accident of Anthoine Hubert in a Formula 2 race in 2019: “We are constantly pushing the limit. We should have respect. Now it will be important to learn from the accident. ”Because one important question remained unanswered: How was it possible that the Haas went up in flames? The tank consists of a kind of non-tearable cover. The lines close when it is torn down. Did the hybrid drive battery play a role? Why did the guardrail give way?
Grosjeans Crash will inspire the Fia to move forward again. The pilots had about 85 minutes to process what they had experienced. No sooner had Formula 1 dared the second start than Lance Stroll was lying upside down on the asphalt in his Racing Point. He, too, had overlooked an opponent when turning in. But the mistake cost him no more than continuing the race. After Serigo Perez (Racing Point) had an engine failure behind the safety vehicle, it ended with Mercedes’ 14th success thanks to Hamilton’s never-endangered lead. And with the next setback for Ferrari. Charles Leclerc was tenth, Sebastian Vettel 13th.