Romain Grosjean crash, Bahrain International Circuit, 2020

“We’ve never seen that much fire”: FIA Medical Car driver on Grosjean’s crash

2020 Bahrain Grand Prix

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The scale of Romain Grosjean’s crash on the first lap of the Bahrain Grand Prix shocked the FIA’s Medical Car driver Alan van der Merwe.

The Haas driver’s car exploded into a ball of fire when he struck a barrier at turn three with a 53G force.

“We’ve never seen that much fire,” said van der Merwe, who arrived on the scene within seconds of the crash.

“In 12 years, I’ve never seen that much fire at an impact like that. We just took a little while to process what was going on.”

Although the force of the impact was sufficient to break his car in two, and its monocoque was embedded within the barrier, Grosjean managed to free himself. He emerged from the still-burning wreckage around 28 seconds after striking the barrier.

“I’m sure it was only a second or so, but it felt like ages,” said van der Merwe. “Then Romain just actually started to get out of the car himself, which is pretty amazing after an accident like that.”

Grosjean suffered minor burns in the crash and has been taken to hospital with a suspected rib fracture.

The medical crew were relived to discover he was largely unhurt in the crash, said van der Merwe.

“It just goes to show all the systems that we’ve developed, everything worked hand in hand: The Halo, the barriers, the seat belts, everything worked how it should.

“Without just one of those things, it could have been a very different outcome.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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8 comments on ““We’ve never seen that much fire”: FIA Medical Car driver on Grosjean’s crash”

  1. Bottas slow down on the racing line didn’t help at all at turn 2. Seem to create the bottleneck behind which lead to the incident.

    1. Ultimately, Grosjean made the choice to cut straight across Kvyat when the path wasn’t clear. No point trying to apportion blame to anyone.

      1. Exactly, it was a messy first lap but we have plenty of those without serious consequences.

  2. What was burning? The batteries? The fuel?

    1. Batteries do not explode in that manner. It was clearly fuel.

  3. everything worked hand in hand: The Halo, the barriers, the seat belts

    I’m not sure I would include the barriers in that praise just yet…

    1. I have never seen a barrier fail like that in around 40 years of watching F!… Questions need to be asked why it practically let the car go through. It has to be said that the Halo and the amazing strength of the car saved his life.

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