Formula One driver Romain Grosjean has praised his car’s halo device for saving his life hours after he was able to walk away from a horrific high-speed crash that saw his car explode into flames.
Speaking in a video from his hospital bed in Bahrain, the 34-year-old told fans ‘I am okay. Well sort of okay’, before waving his hands still wrapped in bandages due to minor burns.
Just hours earlier the racer had a miraculous escape when his car smashed through a crash barrier at 140mph, splitting it in two before exploding into a fireball on the first lap of the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Grosjean was trapped in the burning car for several seconds but, incredibly, was able to scramble over the barrier to safety with the aid of a doctor.
‘Hello everyone, just wanted to say I am okay. Well sort of okay. Thank you very much for all the messages,’ he said in the message.
The Haas team driver, visibly shaken by the incident, also credited the halo device that surrounds the driver’s cockpit for saving his life in the initial crash.
The crash-protection system, which Grosjean admits he has unsure of at first, was added to protect the drivers’ heads in the 2018 season after fellow driver Jules Bianchi died from a brain injury suffered four years before.
‘I wasn’t for the Halo some years ago but I think it’s the greatest thing that we’ve ever brought into Formula One, and without it I wouldn’t be able to speak to you today.
Shocking images show the moment Grosjean manages to pull himself from the burning wreckage and jump to safety over the barrier that has been exposed to the flames for almost 30 seconds
What is the Halo system?
Lifesaver: A computer graphic illustrating how the halo protects drivers
The halo device is a three-pronged titanium protection system which sits above the driver’s head and was introduced in 2018 – played a prominent role in the Frenchman’s remarkable survival.
It was introduced to Formula One after fellow driver Jules Bianchi died from a brain injury suffered four years before.
The titanium bars of the halo can hold the weight of a double decker bus and stops flying debris hitting the driver.
‘Thanks to all the medical staff at the circuit, at the hospital and hopefully I can write to you quite soon some messages and tell you how it’s going.’
In a statement from FIA, the racing federation, officials confirmed Grosjean was conscious at all times before removing his own seat-belt and ‘extricating himself’ from the car.
‘He was taken to the medical centre before being transferred to Bahrain Defence Force (BDF) Hospital by helicopter where he is undergoing further evaluation,’ it adds.
F1 have since awarded Grosjean ‘Driver of the Day’ following a fan vote.
In another twist, a second crash involving Lance Stroll took place only moments after the race started for a second time following a more than one hour delay.
The collision also involved Russian driver Daniil Kyvat, the driver who had previously collided with Grosjean before his crash.
Stroll’s car was flipped upside down in the second crash, though the Canadian reported that he was okay and he also managed to free himself before walking away.
Safety staff at the race track had to extinguish the huge flames from the blaze during the Grand Prix in Bahrain
The Frenchman’s car hit the wall at 53G and promptly burst into flames in sickening fashion
Haas’ Romain Grosjean has suffered one of the most dramatic accidents in modern F1 history when his F1 car exploded after smashing into a crash barrier and splitting in half during the Bahrain Grand Prix
The charred remains of Grosjean’s vehicle were removed from around the track with a crane
Grosjean was helped my doctors into the back of an ambulance although he appeared to escape from the car without any serious injuries
After the race restarted, Belgian-Canadian driver Lance Stroll was involved in another crash, his car flipping upside down horrifically
Despite the shocking crash, Stroll was also able to walk away and is pictured he being helped into the medical car
After the first crash, Grosjean was trapped in the flaming wreck of his vehicle for nearly 10 seconds before somehow finding a way out.
Race footage showed safety officials reaching the car immediately but struggle to locate Grosjean who is still trapped inside the car after breaking through the barrier.
He then appears to escape the wreckage and jump through flames before gripping the boiling hot metal barrier as he hop back onto the track, before being helped by the stewards.
Moments later, Grosjean was shown on television chatting with the race doctor in the medical car.
Grosjean was then helped out of the car and into an ambulance. He appeared to be shaken but did not immediately seem injured other than a slight limp.
Hours after the incident, a bandaged-up Grosjean told his fans from his hospital bed that he was okay before praising the car’s ‘halo’ which he believes ultimately saved his life.
‘Hello everyone. Just wanted to say I am OK, well, sort of OK,’ he said, as he waggled his bandaged hands. ‘Thank you very much for all the messages.
‘I wasn’t for the halo some years ago but I think it’s the greatest thing that we’ve brought into Formula One. Without it I wouldn’t be able to speak to you today.
‘Thanks to all the medical staff at the scene and the hospital.
‘Hopefully I can write to you soon some messages and tell you how it’s going.’
It is unusual for a Formula One car to burst into flames and it remains unclear precisely what happened – though he collided with Daniil Kvyat before hurtling off at the third corner of the first lap.
The driver of the medical car, Alan van der Merwe, said: ‘Big surprise for us, we have never seen that much fire in 12 years, and an impact like that.
‘We took a bit of time to process what was going on, and then Romain got out of the car himself which was pretty amazing.
‘It goes to show that all the systems that we have developed, everything worked – like halo, seatbelt, and barriers.’
Governing body FIA said Grosjean is stable but has suffered minor burns to his hands and ankles. He has since been taken by helicopter to a military hospital
The remains of Grosjean’s car, which broke into two after the crash, was cleared from the track
Grosjean was mercifully able to clamber out of the car and was helped into an ambulance
There were huge clouds of smoke billowing from the car as flamed erupted from the high speed crash
Grosjean, who was taken to the medical centre, suffered minor burns and also broken ribs
A delay of 45 minutes was expected and it was unclear whether the race would continue at all
Ross Brawn, Formula One’s managing director, has already said the cause of the crash and fire need to be looked into, while praising the halo crash-protection system for effectively ‘saving’ Grosjean’s life.
‘We need to do a deep analysis of what occurred. The fire is worrying. The split barrier is worrying. There’s no doubt the halo is the factor that saved the day… saved Romain. The team behind it need credit for forcing it through,’ said Brawn.
Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton expressed his relief on Twitter while waiting for the race to restart.
‘I’m so grateful Romain is safe. Wow… the risk we take is no joke, for those of you out there that forget that we put our life on the line for this sport and for what we love to do,’ Hamilton wrote. ‘Thankful to the FIA for the massive strides we’ve taken for Romain to walk away from that safely.’
Carlos Sainz, speaking to Sky Sports said: ‘It is tough, especially at the beginning when you see the flames of the car and not knowing what is happening. When you see him jump out of the car it is really, really a relief.’
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel: ‘I haven’t looked at the images a lot, mainly because I didn’t want to, but a grand prix car and barrier are not supposed to fail like that. It shouldn’t fail and the car shouldn’t catch fire in that fashion, so I don’t know what happened there.’
Alan van der Merwe, driver of the F1 medical car, meanwhile said it was the most serious incident he had seen during his time in the sport’s top flight.
‘I’ve never seen that much fire in 12 years. It took a little while to process what was going on but then Romain started to get out of the car himself, which was amazing.
‘Everything worked hand in hand today: the halo, the barriers, the seat belt. Without one of things it could’ve been a different outcome.’
It appeared an extraordinary escape after Grosjean’s car was sliced in half upon impact with the barrier.
The accident happened when Grosjean lost grip and slid to the right, where his back wheel clipped the front of Daniil Kvyat’s Alpha-Tauri and he flew off into the barrier.
The last fatal crash in F1 came in 2014 when French driver Jules Bianchi lost control of his car and smashed into a recovery vehicle in Japan
The rest of the drivers were sent back to the pits and had viewed the horror smash via replays
TV images showed the car on fire as marshals and emergency services flocked to the scene
Stewards attempt to clear the car of Haas’ Romain Grosjean from the track following the crash
Grosjean’s teammate Kevin Magnussen looked distressed when he saw the footage as drivers waited in the paddock for the race to restart, while officials returned to the site of the crash to pick up debris littered around the destroyed car.
It appears the halo device – the driver-cockpit protection system controversially introduced in 2018 – appears to have played a major role in the Frenchman’s remarkable escape.
Officials worked quickly to build a makeshift crash barrier where the old one was destroyed.
The race restarted about one and a half hours later – and was followed by another crash involving Kvyat and Stroll just moments later.
The last fatal crash in F1 came in 2014 when French driver Jules Bianchi lost control of his car and smashed into a recovery vehicle in Japan.
He was in a coma for nine months before he died.
French journalist Julien Febreau said he had received a message from Bianchi’s mother today that said: ‘They introduced the Halo following my son’s accident and the Halo saved Romain’s life today. This is great. I’m glad that he’s okay.’
Bianci’s death was the most recent in the sport since Ayrton Senna’s death at the San Marino Grand Prix in 1994.
The crash left a huge dent and hole in the side of the track as investigators turned up to inspect the damage
Grosjean escapes from the car as medical teams spray fire extinguishers at the car in their rescue effort