Grosjean crash response was “a credit to all involved” says Masi as FIA begins investigation

2020 Bahrain Grand Prix

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The FIA has begun its investigation into Romain Grosjean’s fiery crash in yesterday’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Haas driver sustained burns to the back of his hands in the crash, which catapulted the front half of his VF-20 chassis through a barrier. Grosjean spent 28 seconds in the burning wreckage before freeing himself.

Formula 1 race director Michael Masi praised the quick reaction of the safety team in attending to the biggest fire seen at a grand prix in decades.

“The guys here at the Bahrain International Circuit did an amazing job,” he said. “Credit where credit’s due: From all facets of that incident response be it marshals, fire marshals, our amazing medical team Alan van der Merwe and Dr Ian Roberts, the management from a race control perspective – it’s not just one little piece, it’s everyone working together. So it’s a credit to everyone involved.”

Several drivers have already expressed concern at the fast Grosjean’s car was able to penetrate the barrier, broke in two and caught fire. Masi said every aspect of the crash will be closely scrutinised by the FIA and all relevant parties will be consulted.

“With every with every incident, but more so with every major incident, the FIA safety department leads the investigation.

“The single seater department, of which F1 is a part from a technical perspective, has an involvement. The F1 teams and the technical directors will be involved. The circuits commission will be involved [on] circuit safety.

“All of the various parts of the FIA group as a whole and all the respective subject matter experts really will review this particular area and see what can be learnt, what can be improved.

“With small, large and in-between incidents, there’s always something to be learnt. It’s a credit to the safety systems that we have as a whole and our entire safety package and the way the FIA has been working through it all over many, many years, that Romain came out relatively – all things considered – unscathed.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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25 comments on “Grosjean crash response was “a credit to all involved” says Masi as FIA begins investigation”

  1. I’ve seen a lot of comments saying the barriers should be stronger, but I’m not sure that’s a given.

    Whilst the scary element is penetrating the barrier and the fire, If the barrier had been harder it’s likely the G forces would have been higher too. Would RG have remained conscious and able to escape the fire?

    I still can’t believe he escaped, but I’m not sure the alternatives would have been any better, especially when you consider this didn’t happen in an area you’d predict a crash.

    1. I don’t know. Seems to me that if the barrier hadn’t trapped the front of the car then the rear of the car wouldn’t have been ripped off in the way that it was. I’m not crazy about the concrete blocks but it shouldn’t be possible for a car to penetrate the barrier for the safety of the marshals.

      1. Yeah, I think it’s the penetration, particularly how the barrier was split that will come into question.
        I don’t think concrete is the answer, the steel Armco works to distribute the load along the wall and will flex a little to absorb the impact and like Kris said the impact was over 50G with significant force dissipation. Without that you’re talking bigger initial impact and then being bounced back into the circuit like a spinning top.

        1. techpro barriers need to be used more

        2. I wonder if the nose of the car pierced one of the gaps in the barrier. Maybe they should start overlapping the 3 strips of armcove barrier, or have a steel sheet in front of them.

          The other thing they probably should do is just eliminate the blind spot. Drivers can’t see what is along and just behind them and so they crash because of it quite a lot. So maybe introduce a different style of wing mirror or have digital screens in the cars. I don’t think that would be a popular change, but it would be safer.

      2. It may be worth pointing out that the car breaking in half is a safety feature. F1 cars have been built to do this for a, very, long time. Thankfully, we haven’t seen very many accidents that would result in said feature occurring.

        Concrete is, also, generally a bad idea as it doesn’t absorb energy as efficiently as a steel barrier.

        I’m going to make the wild suggestion that penetrating the barrier probably saved him (obviously with help from the halo)

    2. The laws of unintended consequences rules in this environment as it will be so interlinked. Simply making everything stronger may not be the optimum solution, one obvious disadvantage is that weight gets added.

    3. While it’s good to have an in-depth rethink about the use of barriers and the geometry of their deployment, I don’t think the first-order solution here for next week’s race is that difficult to diagnose or address. They can put a tyre barrier in front of the armco — just as there was on the similarly-angled wall directly across the track from where Grosjean crashed. If Grosjean had cut across and gone off at exactly the same point but to the left instead of the right, there wouldn’t have been an issue. Clearly, someone thought that those tyre barriers weren’t needed on the inside of the exit of the previous corner, but reality has shown otherwise.

  2. Glad to hear he can leave hospital tomorrow.

  3. Bernardo B Fortes
    30th November 2020, 12:22

    like all accidents that scare us, it’s a mix unfortunate events, followed by a mix of fortunate events…

    IMHO, Nobody could think of a crash like this, at this angle and speed happening at that point, therefore the only protection was the guardrail

    The guardrail should not have ripped and allowed the car to go through it. That’s the essence of it. If that is the correct protection for the area, if the G forces could have been too much… all that are different discussions. The fact remains that the Guard Rail failed to fulfill it’s duty. It’s an error to say that the Guardrail helped by absorbing the impact by allowing the car through it. That should not have happened.

    maybe if the car wasn’t through the guardrail, it may not have been ripped apart.

    I’m sure that next weekend we’ll see some of those plastic things protecting the area to absorb impact for the next weekend…

    Despite the failure of the track, Romain is alive due to 2 aspects combined.

    1 – The fact that he didn’t black out after the crash. Most likely he wouldn’t have survived if it was like that.

    2 – the great security increase of all the survivor cell. From HALO, to HANS to crash tests. That all payed off in that single event. He didn’t have a single broken bone after such a horrific crash. A HALO like item would have, most likely, saved Senna. Kudos to FIA for the great security increase.

    As a long time F1 fan, I could not imagine anyone surviving this sort of crash in a pre 2017 era.

  4. dont know if it has been discussed, but the track marshall first on the scene seemed to have a much weaker fire extinguisher than the medical car guys, why is that?. also he seemed a bit scared to get close enough to the car, so his reaction to the incident didnt help at all. If Grosjean was unconscious, and the fuel cell fire was bigger, that marshall’s actions could have proved pivitol? i guess an investigation will ask all this, and why more marshalls were not closer? made they need more training and work in pairs? are they all volunteers?

    1. From the angles I’ve seen, the track marshall you mentioned had no protection on his face. Even if he were closer to the fire and his fire extinguisher were stronger, he was never going to put out the fire on his own.

    2. Lots of very good questions here, I would in addition be interested how effective the on-board fire extinguisher was as well and how much extinguisher is carried at each marshall post.

      However I do believe that Grosjean was lucky, the facts that it happened at T3 (ie not T12 so medical car was on the scene in seconds), he was conscious and that he had an ‘easy’ extraction route (ie he wasn’t upside down for instance) were all pivotal to his survival. Any one of these going against him may have been fatal!

    3. I wouldn’t blame the marshal, but it’s possibly fair to question their equipment.
      I guess that what he had would typically be used on break ducts, etc or anything small.

      As far as I am aware, there are different types of marshals, flag marshals, fire marshals, etc.
      Again, I’m guessing that there are fewer fire marshals, but they have will have better equipment, whereas he regular marshals simply have regular equipment. A better extinguisher would be heavier, so slower to the scene. I suppose you could argue that all marshals deserve better equipment, face coverings, fireproof overalls etc

    4. I had the exact same thoughts. Also, when he started extinguishing fire, he started at the outer rim of the fire, while Grosjean was still being roasted in the middle of it. I would aim the foam or what is it straight at the person who is on fire, but perhaps starting at the outer rim of the fire is the proper fire fighting procedure.

    5. My experience of fires (which mostly are small compared to this one) is they emit a lot of hot heat, which you can feel on your face. I’m guessing the marshal was in pain from the burning sensation on his face.

  5. It’s a freak head on crash with a barrier at full speed. The first time a car has sheared a barrier since McNish in Suzuka qualifying 2002?

    It gets to the point where if you think the Sakhir isn’t safe enough then we can’t be racing at Monaco, can’t have Eau Rouge in its current form, can’t be racing flat out through blind turns in Baku. This is one of the safest tracks on Earth.

    I suppose in future they can put tyres or a ‘safer’ barrier in front of barriers angled towards the track, but really they are probably better off focusing their energy elsewhere.

    This accident much like the Bianchi crash and other big incidents in recent years (including the Hubert crash in F2 last year) was caused by reckless aggressive driving (Bianchi barely scrubbed off any speed through double waved yellows in torrential rain). Drivers need to look at their attitudes.

    The second big contributor to these big shunts I think are the cars themselves. The cars are too wide, visibility is terrible for the driver.

    It’s a bad combination. Over aggressive drivers who think they’re bulletproof behind the halo in a cockpit where there is next to no visibility apart from what’s straight ahead of them.

  6. Yes, investigation is necessary, but clearly his move across the track caused the accident. And it was not a smart move. The drivers themselves should be involved in addressing and solving such on-track behavior through GPDA…of which Grosjean is one of the chairmen.

  7. A. MIRACLE that RG survived this catastrophic accident & fire.
    A+. Outstanding the Medical car duo. The marshals too.
    B. Once RG’s recovered sufficiently. His peripheral vision needs to be checked professionally.
    His unbelievable hard swerve to the right into DK path was the start of this catastrophic accident.
    This isn’t the first time RG’s appeared not to see a close & approaching race car.

    1. I wondered if the reason for Romain’s turning across the path of Daniil was because it had suffered some sort of damage that affected his ability to control the car, e.g. a tyre deflation.

  8. Is it really a safe track when it has a steel/concrete barrier that close to the track?

    Shouldn’t it there be lots of tires or other more modern shock absorbing material?

  9. Paul Bertenshaw
    30th November 2020, 13:58

    It looks like one the upper steel (I presume) support brackets was instrumental in breaking the car apart. In one of the aftermath pics a bracket can clearly be seem bent over just to the left edge of the horizontal forced apart steel barrier sections.

  10. I don’t understand the praise being heaped on the medical car duo, as Grosjean 100% saved himself. All anyone else did was grab his arm after he’d already loosened his belts, stood up, got out of the car, put a foot on top of the barrier and lifted his body on top of it. Don’t get me wrong, the marshals couldn’t have done anything more, I just don’t understand it. Is it just a better story that Grosjean was saved, even though he saved himself?

  11. Now Masi is getting downright annoying. Praise all round? A death trap fence on an angled wall, useless marshall equipment and response, no fire truck response and it was all amazing? Jeez.. 👎

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