The FIA has announced the findings from its investigation into Romain Grosjean’s fireball crash during last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix, and identified over 20 areas where driver safety can be improved.
The report confirmed details of the severity of the impact Grosjean suffered. His peak impact force with the barrier was determined as being 67G at a speed of 192kph. The impact caused the middle rail of the barrier to fail, and his survival cell became trapped within it.
“The driver safety equipment including helmet, HANS and safety harness as well as the survival cell, seat, headrest and Halo frontal cockpit protection performed according to their specifications in protecting the driver’s survival space and managing the forces applied to the driver during the impact,” noted the report.
While Grosjean freed himself from the wreckage, the Medical Car arrived on the scene within 11 seconds of the crash.
The FIA has made 22 safety recommendations based on its analysis of the Grosjean incident and the safety team’s response to it, and 18 other serious accidents which occurred in circuit racing during 2020.
Among the recommendations specified by the report, as previously revealed by RaceFans, are improvements to the fuel hatch, footwell and headrest on F1 cars.
Grosjean’s foot was trapped beneath his pedals following the crash, forcing him to pull his foot from his racing boot in order to free himself. His headrest was damaged in the impact which “significantly restricted the path for driver egress”, stated the FIA.
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He suffered burns to his hands due to the fire, caused by fuel which leaked from two locations. These were the fuel tank inspection hatch on the left-hand side of the car, which was dislodged in the impact, and the engine fuel supply connection which was torn from the safety bladder on the fuel tank.
The FIA will begin work on improving other aspects of vehicle construction, including the survival cell, steering column and fuel cells. Up to four F1 teams are believed to have already made changes to their fuel tanks for 2021.
Circuit safety measures will also be addressed, including a review of the position of circuit barrier opening installations. Grosjean struck a section of barrier where such an opening was situated. The barrier was revised for Formula 1’s second race at the venue on the weekend after Grosjean’s crash.
Improvements to driver safety equipment and the equipment and training for medical and rescue teams are also planned.
The full list of areas the FIA intends to address following its analysis of the 19 incidents including Grosjean’s crash are as follows:
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- Regulation of survival cell front geometry, plus additional load tests in that area
- Review of existing regulations regarding rear view mirrors
- Review of steering column mounting requirements
- Review of regulation and homologation requirements for headrest assembly
- Analysis of power unit mounting and mount failure modes
- Ongoing research project: wheel restraint cables (tethers)
- Design review of safety fuel bladder installations in all FIA single seater categories
- Recommendations for safety fuel bladder installation best practice
- Update of the FIA Standard for safety fuel bladders
- Review of regulations for design of safety fuel bladder connections and inspection hatches
- Fuel homologation to include compatibility of bladder material and specific fuel
- Increased functionality for Circuit Safety Analysis Software (CSAS) including quantitative impact probability classification
- Review of existing circuit barrier opening installations
- Review of guidelines/process for circuit homologation and licence renewal
Driver safety equipment
- Investigation into improvements to the gloves’ Heat Transfer Index (HTI)
- Ongoing research project: Visor opening/locking mechanisms; project scope extended to include requirements to ensure that visor opening systems are operational after being exposed to fire
- Ongoing research project: Extinguisher system for open cockpit cars; project scope extended to include investigation of improved activation mechanisms
Medical and Rescue
- Updates to Medical Intervention Vehicle equipment, including alternate extinguisher types
- Provide ASN [motorsport club] guidance on post-fire decontamination
- Ongoing development of FIA firefighting training module for ASNs
- Ongoing development of FIA high voltage safety training module for ASNs
- Ongoing development of FIA Incident Command/Co-ordination training module for ASNs
The FIA Safety Department also plans research projects on proximity warning systems for drivers, new and upgraded barrier systems, and firefighting equipment.
“Important learnings have been drawn from these investigations that will drive our continuous mission to improve safety in Formula 1 and global motor sport,” said Todt.
“The enduring commitment of the FIA, particularly the Safety Department, on reducing risks associated with motor sport enabled Romain Grosjean to maintain consciousness and survive an accident of this magnitude. Safety is and will remain the FIA’s top priority.”
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