Todt vows to “go even further to improve safety” in wake of Grosjean crash

2020 F1 season

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FIA president Jean Todt said Romain Grosjean’s astonishing escape from his fiery Bahrain Grand Prix crash was the best motivation to continue improving safety standards in motorsport.

During yesterday’s FIA prizegiving Todt gave special awards to the marshals and medical team who attended to Grosjean after his crash. His Haas VF-20 split in half and exploded when it struck a barrier on the first lap of the race. Grosjean took 28 seconds to emerge from conflagration, suffering burns to his hands.

“When you see that, you have a kind of a scary expectation,” admitted Todt, who was at the circuit when the crash happened. “Because what you see on the TV, on the screen; the car exploding and [catching] fire – you don’t know what is going to happen.

“When, after very long seconds, which seemed to be like hours, you see a shape coming out of the car then, okay, he’s surviving.”

Despite Grosjean’s incredible escape, Todt pointed out fatal crashes still occur in motor sport, often in less high-profile categories.

“It’s something that we’ve discussed periodically at the FIA through [the] special safety group where we are engaging with the special safety department, with the medical commission, with different commissions,” said Todt in response to a question from RaceFans.

Why Grosjean’s crash escape wasn’t just a matter of ‘luck’
“We put safety on top of the agenda with the aim ‘vision zero’. Unfortunately – I don’t want to say every weekend – but too often and mainly in national championships, national series, you have officials, you have drivers, you have co-drivers who get killed during the event and we want to stop that.”

The FIA is investigating all aspects of the Grosjean crash and expects to publish its findings late next month.

“Of course we speak a lot about Romain Grosjean because it was live all over the world, on TV and it is Formula 1,” said Todt. “And of course we feel relieved that he could escape.

“We need to also understand why the car was cut in two pieces, why the fuel tank probably exploded, all that we need to learn as we did after each accident. Not only the accidents you see on global media but every accident which happens in motor racing is clearly studied in order to understand from it.

“Of course, it gives a result and that’s why it’s probably the best encouragement to always be more ambitious about what you want to achieve in safety. But if you see what has been done over the last decade by my predecessors, by my team, myself, now, it’s very encouraging to go even further to improve safety.”

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2020 F1 season

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15 comments on “Todt vows to “go even further to improve safety” in wake of Grosjean crash”

  1. …why the fuel tank probably exploded…

    I thought the fire wasn’t actually the 100 plus litres of fuel from the fuel tank burning, but somewhere between 2 and 10 litres of fuel from the collector tank (nope, I have no idea what the collector tank is or what it does) that had ignited, probably as a consequence of the separation of the rear of the car from the survival cell.

    1. That’s probably true @drycrust, though the fireball certainly made it look like it (but that does not actually need a huge amount of fuel if it is widely dispersed and mixed with oxygen) so I think for simplicity sake Todt certainly can let his feelings speak for all of us there, esp. when he also said the investigation is what will guide measures to take.

    2. Todt should have awaited for the report. One thing is certain the fire ball is not from the main fuel tank, not because of the size of the fire but because it lasted very little and we saw no spilled fuel on the track.

    3. @drycrust @peartree

      Yes the fire was from the main tank, not just fuel that was outside the fuel tank. The fuel tank did not fail, but the blanking plate on one side of the fuel tank came loose and so alot of fuel burned, but the extinguishers removed the oxygen and eventually put out the fire. Much more than 10L of fuel burnt.

      The rear of the car is designed to separate from the survival cell, everything when to plan except the small plate on the side of the fuel cell that they use to access things(pumps, baffles, etc) inside of the fuel cell came loose upon impact.

    4. That was wishful thinking in the heat of the moment. Pictures showed the fuel tank was ruptured so it is likely all fuel burned.

      Todt probably now knows all of it went up so stopped talking about collector tank.

      In my opinion critical safety change should be moving the fuel away from the driver so that safety cell separates cleanly, without fuel. If engine part burned instead of safety cell Grosjean would have been under mich less risk.

  2. I bet that the wall angled to the track will not be a topic, just like the Imola wall was never an topic in the Senna accident.

    Same with the marshall’s poor equipment. It will likely be all about what the teams can do.

  3. Great. The cars will weigh a ton by 2030.

  4. To be honest, Todt has not said anything over and above what we would expect an FIA president to say in this situation, especially as the Grosjean moment was so recent. Good that he said it but it is one of those things that if he didn’t say it then questions would be raised as to his commitment to safety.

    The thing that I took away from the article is that Todt rightly points out that it is lower category motorsport that will bear the brunt of bad injuries and fatalities and we should not forgot that.

  5. Next step is to prohibit racing. That will be safe. It’s also a good idea to lock the top speed at 90 kmph for F1, 75 kmph for F2, 65kmph for F3. In sports karting, kids must only be allowed to look at karts, never come close and, god forbid, try to seat in them.

    1. not everything is black and white you know. that’s not a very reasonable argument you’re making. motor racing will always be dangerous, doesn’t mean they stop racing altogether or start racing without helmets just because that’s what they did in the good old days..

  6. I’d say one of the biggest problems to F1 safety has been solved already.

    Grosjean retiring from F1. Lets face it, he swept across the track like a rookie on the first lap of a race. The bloke was an idiot.

    1. Did you just pull off a killshot on Romain?

  7. F1 has already gone too far in terms of safety cars and VSC. Before Bianchi’s freak accident in which he was not following protocol, safety cars were a rarity. During Schumacher’s run of four titles in the early 2000s, it took a car being dead and unmovable without a truck in the middle of the track to trigger an SC. And, guess what? Nobody died or crashed into a stranded car. These days, a winglet on the edge of the track triggers an SC let alone a car safely parked outside an area that would be inconceivable to hit. It’s a joke.

    Up until the late ‘90s, they were too lax regarding track hazards (marshals pushing cars off the track while race cars flew past at yellow flag speeds was a disaster waiting to happen they were lucky never happened). Now, they’ve gone so far in the opposite direction it is pathetic. All sense of rationale risk levels has flown out the window in this slippery slope of “if we can’t allow that, then we can’t allow this either.” It’s the reason they have no idea how to direct wet races anymore and it is unlikely we’ll ever see a full race in heavy (but not aqua plaining) ever again.

    Grosjean’s crash should not trigger something like every track needs the special barriers in every inch of the track. The guy made an insane movement in the middle of a straightaway (ive watched 40 years worth of F1 and never seen a driver do something like that before) and lived. If drivers are surviving crashes that look like suicide attempts I think we’re in a good place. I’m not suggesting they don’t continue to try and strengthen the survival cell or fuel tank, but they shouldn’t take measures that put a huge extra cost on tracks or teams or any on track rule changes.

    1. Dude marshals on track are still a huge problem. And VSC is helping as it reduces the threat when a Marshal is working near the track(like runoff) and just in general helping by reducing the overall speed of the cars.

      By the way you free to quit following F1. If you like seeing people die just sign up at any hospital – especially with COVID right now.

  8. Maybe he should go as far as to leave

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