What can be taken away from Grosjean's brutal accident?
Taking a look at Romain Grosjean's horrific lap one smash
In the opening lap of this afternoon's Bahrain Grand Prix, Haas driver Romain Grosjean suffered a sickening impact into the barrier after turn three. The car split into two and instantly burst into flames as the race was immediately red-flagged. Before I go into any further detail about the incident, please be ensured that Romain is indeed okay, with news just coming out in the last half hour at the time of writing that he will spend a night in the hospital to address the burns on his hands, but Romain himself is indeed fine.
I know we sometimes take the laugh out of Romain for his mishaps behind the wheel of an F1 car, but what happened today was truly frightening. In my twenty-odd years of watching F1, I have never seen a car disintegrate and explode like that and like many of us I am sure, I thought the worse. The relief was indescribable when the cameras showed Grosjean out of the car and away from the accident in relatively okay condition.
Take a look at the accident below, with a warning. It is brutal and viewer discretion is advised.
What is more astonishing is the fact that as later replays showed, as the car split in half upon impact with the barrier, the front half of the car penetrated the Armco barrier, essentially trapping Romain between the barrier. The halo, once again proving it's worth on an F1 car, as it single-handedly stopped the barrier from going anywhere near Grosjean's head or crash helmet, single-handedly saving the French driver from what very much could have been a far worse injury.
As the flames erupted around the cockpit, marshals sprung into action with fire extinguishers, while the medical car, still following the cars from the start of the race, pulled up with doctor and FIA medical delegate Ian Roberts effectively rushing into the blaze itself to pull Grosjean from the car. Grosjean at that point was emerging from the flames like some sort of Hollywood movie, but this was far from a blockbuster epic. This was a proper real-life incident, and if it wasn't for those involved, it would've ended much worse. The people involved today were the real heroes. I honestly could not believe my eyes .
Usually, when there is a bad accident in F1 or something goes wrong, I unleash my inner keyboard warrior and shout on here about why it was wrong and how to fix it, but I cannot today. Sure, maybe the FIA can look into why the barrier sheared like that, which it obviously isn't supposed to do, and maybe something can be done with the cars to further protect drivers from fire upon a heavy impact. It's the second time such an incident has happened this year, alongside that bad crash between Luca Ghiotto and Jack Aitken during the F2 sprint race in Sochi last September, and that for me is two accidents too many. However, we got a reminder today just how much work goes into ensuring the safety of drivers, marshals, personnel and indeed spectators today.
It is indeed an utter miracle that Grosjean was able to relatively walk away from such a brutal impact, but the sport of F1 and the FIA should be proud for the lengths it's crossed to see such a mark of safety. We all complained about the halo upon it's introduction to the sport in 2018, myself very much included, but that argument ends here and now. Accidents like this will always show that there is forever improvements that can be made in safety, but is a clear indication that the fight for safety should never stop, as well as showing just how much has been achieved.
I want to of course send my full wishes to Romain and I hope he can join us at some stage for what will be his final two races in F1 before he departs Haas F1 Team at the end of the year. To the medical car crew of Alan Van Der Merwe and Dr. Ian Roberts, the marshals involved every weekend and at Bahrain, everybody who works in F1 to provide these levels of safety a massive thank you to you all. Not all heroes wear capes, and you guys are the foundation as to why we can enjoy such good racing.
I think the lesson here for us all is, regardless if you're at a Grand Prix or your local circuit, always respect the marshals and the safety crew, they are there to ensure the safety of drivers and spectators to the best of their abilities, but motorsport of any kind will always be dangerous. Often these marshals and safety crews can go to extreme lengths in order to protect or help someone and that needs to be recognised. Thank you everyone.