Damaged Haas VF-20 chassis from Romain Grosjean's 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix crash

Pictures: Wrecked chassis from Grosjean’s Bahrain fireball crash to go on display

2023 F1 season

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The wrecked Haas chassis from Romain Grosjean’s violent, fiery crash in the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix is to go on display next month.

Grosjean struck a barrier on the inside of turn three head-on at a speed of 192kph, sustaining a 67G impact. The engine and rear assembly was torn from the car and it exploded into flames.

It took Grosjean 28 seconds to climb out of the blaze, during which time he suffered burns to his hands. The strength of the VF-20 chassis, and in particular the presence of the halo cockpit protection device, was widely credited for saving Grosjean’s life.

The extensively damaged structure hasn’t been seen since the race in December 2020. It will be put on display at the Formula 1 Exhibition in Madrid next month.

Report: ‘I put both my hands in the fire’: Grosjean describes his 28 seconds trapped in an inferno
“From my point of view, it was a big accident but I didn’t realise the impact or how violent it was from the outside,” Grosjean, who now races in IndyCar, recalled.

“It was only the next day when I asked someone to show me what it looked like that I realised. My wife was actually watching that race with my dad and my kids. They will remember that moment their entire life. They were just spectators waiting to hear something, waiting to see something from Bahrain.”

The chassis will be shown in a dedicated room, under the title ‘Survival’. Previously unreleased footage of the crash will be presented alongside it.

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“I had to break the headrest, punching it with my helmet and then I eventually managed to get my helmet through and stand up in the seat,” Grosjean explained. “I realised my left foot was stuck into the chassis and I pulled as hard as I could on my left leg. My shoe stayed in the chassis but my foot came loose so I was free to exit the car.”

“It was 120 kilos of fuel plus the battery – both were on fire. Dr Ian Roberts, Alan [van der Merwe] from the medical car and one fireman were trying to open a gap in the fire to help me get out. I believe that helped me at least to get a vision of where I had to go and where the exit was.”

“The survival cell is there for you in case of a huge impact. I was intact inside the shell. The chassis is still in one piece, the halo is there and apart from the damage and burn it is still as it should be. I guess that saved my life.”

Pictures: Grosjeans’ Bahrain crash chassis

The F1 Exhibition will open in Madrid on March 24th.

Video: Grosjean’s Bahrain 2020 crash

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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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22 comments on “Pictures: Wrecked chassis from Grosjean’s Bahrain fireball crash to go on display”

  1. Surprising that the monocoque has been stored somewhere in the world this whole time & even the steering wheel copy used for that race is still attached, some dedication.
    I wonder what ‘unreleased’ footage, as no other camera angles ever caught his fiery off than the ones used for the world feed coverage & the T-cam only recorded until the impact point before getting destroyed.
    I wish I were in Madrid during the Exhibition period, but unfortunately, I won’t, but perhaps I’ll be lucky that the same exhibition goes to other places too.
    As a trivial side note, if he started the race with around 120 kg of fuel, he would’ve been disqualified had he finished the race, as 110 is the maximum permitted.

    1. I am not sure that this is correct @jerejj

      As a trivial side note, if he started the race with around 120 kg of fuel, he would’ve been disqualified had he finished the race, as 110 is the maximum permitted.

      They can only USE 110 kg during the race as maximum. But there still has to be some fuel in the fuel tank etc. There is nothing preventing a team from lugging around more than what they can use, as long as they do not go over the limit with actually using it, right?

      1. @bascb Yes, teams over-fill for the reconnaissance laps & formation lap, but the absolute amount gets calculated to avoid carrying more than 110 from the race start onwards, i.e., not a milligram more than 110 left in the tank by that point as teams couldn’t really avoid using more if a greater amount was still left during the races.

      2. @bascb you are correct that the teams are permitted to carry more fuel than 110kg if they so wish, with the only limit being the amount that is used between the start signal being given and the car crossing the line to end the race.

        Furthermore, there is also the requirement for the teams to be able to provide a minimum volume of fuel for post-race testing to ensure that the fuel samples match their homologated fuel mixtures, which therefore also needs to be taken into account when determining the minimum amount of fuel that the cars start the race with.

    2. even the steering wheel copy used for that race is still attached, r

      The detachable steering wheel I feel does not often receive the credit it deserves as a life saving device. Unconscious driver may not be able to be extricated immediately as they are simply stuck, add fire etc. Much better these days than the incident I remember though.

    3. As an engineer whose job included diagnosing aerospace failures, I’m not even a tiny bit surprised they kept the evidence from this crash. It’s absolute gold dust for anyone trying to improve safety in the real F1 world, as important as a dinosaur bone to an archaeologist.

      Many years ago I visited the Science Museum where there was a display of an F1 McLaren after a crash, IIRC one of David Coulthard’s efforts. It was of course speaking to the safety improvements of a carbon tub.

      Related, it frustrated me 3 years ago that medical science seemed to virtually ignore the outcome of the 3,700 passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship exposed to the Wuhan Covid strain. It was the kind of thing that couldn’t be set up as a deliberate experiment for obvious reasons. It remains the worst infection/death rate in the entire pandemic but it was still many times less severe than the pessimistic modelling generated by Ferguson et al and clearly identified the age groups at risk.

      1. That was Hakkinen’s tyre blow out from Hockenheim 99.

        1. That was one heck of a whack. Possibly one of the worse places on the calendar at that time for the it to happen. It is indeed a testimony to the monocoques that he was able to walk away.

  2. I wonder if the shoe is still in the monocoque.

  3. One of F1’s great survival stories

  4. Romain still being with us and able to tell his story is the culmination of more than 25 years of hard work of countless engineers and multiple FIA administrations not getting distracted by the empty bluster of the manliest of men.

  5. That was a shocking incident, I never thought for a moment that he would emerge from that alive when I saw it on TV. It’s incredible that he only escaped with minor injuries.

  6. That was a shocking moment and the stills bring the severity of the crash and fire home even more poignantly than video somehow. Glad Grosjean is still out there racing. A side note though: when so much about F1 is over-dramatized for consumption, this is just about the one thing that doesn’t need it. The video saying that the chassis is shown for the first time ‘in history’… when the crash happened barely three years ago… just why? Maybe I’m just not from the netflix era, but that is a ridiculously cheesy and overblown misuse of language.

  7. Just so unbelievable that he lived through that! I personally wouldn’t want to see it or be reminded of that day if it were me in the car.

    1. He didn’t live through that. The car burned for a while after he got out.

      1. What a completely stupid and pointless comment. Just because he didn’t live through the entire time the fire burnt doesn’t mean he didn’t live through the experience.

        Surviving nearly 30 seconds in the middle of a huge, fuel based fireball says he lived through it.

      2. amian, your commitment to the obvious is notable, although not necessarily commendable.

        1. Still, what’s the point and wisdom in insulting someone in response?

  8. “The extensively damaged structure hasn’t been seen since the race in December 2020.”
    Just being pedantic, but I’m sure someone has seen it in the meantime…

  9. Remember watching it live and seeing the fireball before the camera cut away and thinking, no one is going to be able to put that fire out in time, and no one is walking out of it…
    Truly a miracle occurred that day.

  10. Coventry Climax
    21st February 2023, 22:56

    I remember him starting to making the move to the right, that led to the crash, and yelling “Idiot” at the screen.
    It’s good he lives to tell the story, but he shouldn’t have made the mistake in the first place. He made many more stupid misjudges before, that could not only have killed himself, but others as well.
    Glad he’s gone, to be honest. So in that sense he (his career) has not lived through the accident. I actually pity his fellow racers in the series he’s currently in. Some of those have already complained about him doing the same silly things that he did in F1. Nice guy, no doubt, but he lacks an awareness that’s essential in -surviving- motorracing.

  11. Halo, indeed.

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