Romain Grosjean managed to escape from a horror crash at Sunday’s Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir.
After lights out, the French driver made it to the cusp of turn three, where he clipped wheels with the Alpha Tauri of Daniil Kvyat, sending him at full speed into the barriers.
Footage of the horrific accident showed Grosjean’s VF-20 split in half and burst into flames as spectators watched on and waited to hear of the driver’s fate.
After approximately 28 seconds submerged in the fire, the 34-year-old could just barely be seen extracting himself from the car, and jumping over the barrier with the help of Medical car driver Alan van der Merwe.
Van der Merwe, speaking after the race, said his escape was “pretty amazing”.
“It just goes to show all the systems that we’ve developed, everything worked hand in hand: the halo, the barriers, the seatbelts.
“Everything worked how it should and without just one of those things, it could have been a very different outcome.”
Van der Merwe, alongside members of the marshall team, showed no hesitation putting themselves in danger to assist the Haas driver to safety from the flames.
The crash served as a stark reminder to both the drivers and motorsport fans of the life-threatening danger drivers face every race weekend.
Following the crash, Grosjean was taken by ambulance to a hospital with burns on his hands and wrists – a welcomed outcome from what could have been a much worse end result.
Fellow F1 drivers took to social media to wish the Frenchman a speedy recovery and to thank the FIA for the safety developments over the years that almost certainly ensured Romain’s survival this weekend.
Lewis Hamilton was the first to post from the paddock during the red flag period, saying:
George Russel took to Instagram to say;
Ferrari’s Leclerc also posted;
Romain took to social media to update fans and reassure them that he is now on the mend, exclaiming that the recent input of a halo above the driver’s head on modern F1 cars is the reason he’s alive today.
In the video he said: “Hello everyone, just wanted to say I’m OK.
“But sort of OK. 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 to Formula One.
“Without it, I wouldn’t be able to speak to you today.
“Hopefully, I can write you quite soon some messages and tell you how it’s going.”
Renault driver, Daniel Ricciardo spoke to Ziggo Sport following the race to criticise the fact that regular replays of the incident were broadcast during the long red flag period, saying it was “disrespectful” to both Romain’s family and every other driver’s family who were tuned in.
He said; “I want to express my disgust and disappointment with F1.
“The way the incident of Grosjean was broadcast over and over, the replays over and over, it was completely disrespectful and inconsiderate for his family, for all of our families watching.
“For me, it was entertainment and they’re playing with all of our emotions and I thought it was pretty disgusting.”
In response, the FIA released a statement saying: “Firstly, at F1 this isn’t about entertainment and a few procedures and protocols are in place before any decision to run a reply is made.
“Following an accident all onboards, helicopter feeds etc are cut. There are direct comms between race control and the broadcast centre.
“No footage is shown until there is confirmation that the driver is OK. On this occasion, at this point, F1 showed Romain with the ambulance, helmet off, and walking with aid.
“No replays of an accident are shown until there are approval and confirmation from race control/FIA that all persons are safe – driver, marshals, and doctors. Replays then started.
“The context of what a viewer sees and hears with the commentary is important, with them talking about the safety of Romain, the halo, FIA safety improvements, and updates from the medical centre.
“There is a constant dialogue between F1, FIA, race control, and sound judgement on viewers, families and those affected.”