Romain Grosjean walked away from one of the worst Formula 1 crashes in years. The fact that he escaped serious injury in the incident, which took place on the first lap of the Bahrain Grand Prix on November 29, is testament to the safety of the today’s F1 cars and firesuits. Grosjean credits his survival to the halo structure above the cockpit, a controversial safety measure when it was introduced. But that doesn’t really tell the whole story of what he went through.
Jolyon Palmer, a former F1 driver and now a commentator, gave an in-depth analysis of the circumstances of the crash, which saw Grosjean hit the barrier at 137 mph. Via the Formula 1 YouTube channel:
Using the onboard cameras from the racecars, Palmer broke down the events of the crash. The start was tight, as expected, with the field bunched up as drivers tried to gain positions.
It appears Grosjean, in a Haas entry, clipped Daniil Kvyat before blowing through the Armco barrier, experiencing around 50G of force as the car split in two. Though it took him 28 seconds to get out of the burning car, Grosjean escaped relatively unscathed — just burns on his hands.
Autosport focused on the crash itself, analyzing the aftermath on its YouTube channel:
Based on photos taken at the scene, it would appear the halo played an vital role in keeping Grosjean alive. It peeled the barrier open and kept his head safe. The rest of the car’s safety structure also did a remarkable job, considering the huge forces of the crash.
If any controversy remains over the halo, that should be settled now, as this crash shows it can be a life-saver. It made a believer out of Grosjean.
This crash is the perfect example of how effective the advanced safety technology in racing today can be, even when drivers crash at triple-digit speeds and experience incredible forces.