Saving Romain Grosjean

Source: Haas F1 Media

The horrific crash that saw Romain Grosjean’s Haas F1 car torn in two after it submarined through a metal barrier fence is the type of incident that one doesn’t expect a driver to walk away from. When you add the fact that a raging fire had engulfed the monocoque, it was a hear-in-mouth moment during the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Thankfully the FIA medical car follows the field on the first lap and were the first on the scene to assist Grosjean but the flames were massive and it was the blast from a corner marshal’s fire extinguisher that allowed Dr. Ian Roberts to assist Romain out of the flames.

“First lap, following them around as normal,” Roberts told Sky F1. “There was a massive flame and we arrived to a very odd scene where you’ve got half a car pointing in the wrong direction and just across the barrier a mass of heat.

“Then looking to the right at that point, I could see Romain trying to get up. We needed some way of getting to him, so we got the marshal there with the extinguisher, and the extinguisher was just enough to push the flame away as Romain got high enough, so I could reach over and pull him over the barrier.”

After Romain was clear of the fire and wreckage, Roberts began triage and assessed his medical state.

“I think I told him to sit down. He was obviously very shaky, and his visor was completely opaque, and in fact melted. I managed to get his helmet off to check everything else was OK.

“It was going to be flames, smoke inhalation, airway issues, and that nothing went up to his helmet, and we had a look at the helmet as well.

“But looking at him clinically we were quite happy with him from a life-threatening injury point of view, so it was about making him comfortable from the injuries we could see.

“He’d got some pain in his foot and hands, so from that point we knew it was safe enough to move him around into the car for protection and get some gel on to his burns, and then into the ambulance and to the medical centre.”

As Autosport points out, the Medical car driver Alan van der Merwe said the continuous practice pays off in times like these.

“A lot of it is down to preparation,” he said. “When you get to something like this, and we’ve not seen this combination before.

“I’ve not seen fire like this in my stint as the medical car driver, and a lot of it new and unknown territory, so we can only be as prepared as our own ideas.

“We do a lot of checklists and a lot of preparation, talking about scenarios, but this was crazy.

“Honestly, to get there and to see half of the car and the other half nowhere to be seen and just a huge ball of flames so you have literally seconds, thinking on your feet, so preparation only gets you so far. Then it is down to instincts and quick thinking.”

It was a huge endorsement for the HALO system for sure but I would also add that the other safety measures as well as the FIA medical Car staff all played a huge role in saving Romain Grosjean.

The amount of G-forces Romain experienced were most likely a test of the HANS device and one would assume the internal fire extinguisher went off too but I have not read that yet and a full review of the crash is planned from the FIA.

Regardless of HALO, HANS and well-prepared medical staff, there are most likely lessons to be learned from this incident and I look forward to seeing what measures might be taken by the FIA in the future.

4.7 3 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Tim C

The fact that RG was composed enough to get himself unbuckled and out of the cockpit after a crash like that is a miracle unto itself. I can’t even imagine the G-forces he went through when he hit the barrier. Like you said NC, lots of things went into him walking away from that crash . . . including RG himself.

gary said what?

Indeed. So many things had to got RIGHT for him. What if the guardrail had ended up blocking the top of the halo? That was my first jolt of a thought. And is that Armco made of aluminum or steel. Part of it melted!

I’d say Romain was the luckiest man on the planet for the day. And from the lovely tweet from his wife, he’s pretty darn lucky every single day.

Pat Goodman

Watching Grosjean’s crash, the fire, and the views of the damage to the car and fence was mortifying. Clearly a lot of factors, the survival cell, the HANS device, and the HALO device worked very well. Just as clearly, many things failed such as the barrier’s permeability, the leaking fuel, the inability to safely extract the driver, and the melted face shield on the helmet. Reports of the elapsed time from impact to successful evacuation over the armco barrier vary from 18 to 28 seconds. Exacerbating the concern is the fact that the driver did not receive assistance until he… Read more »

Andrew page

Devils advocate/ just putting this out there but if and thank God it didn’t happen this way. But if his crash had killed him or left him inflicted with a life changing injury. Would we really have been shocked? I’m not saying we would have not been saddened and feel very bad for all of his friends and family. But shocked…. I don’t think we could honestly say that. Now there’s been many red flags from were I have been sitting year after year. And we all know there are a few other drivers that seem to be involved in… Read more »

Worthless Opinion

NC I agree with you but that’s also sort of the point, right? If you can’t keep track of the drivers around you but you do rash moves anyway, you have a tendency which endangers yourself and others, especially when it always seems to happen at the same stage of the race. It’s difficult, sure, and yet it doesn’t happen to everyone. As Sir Charlsley put it so well, there’s such a thing to be considered as the driver’s body of work and what traits form a theme throughout it.

Andrew page

No of course he didn’t do it intentionally. Just seems like he has a lot if big shunts. I recall max had a phase where he kept on having avoidable accidents and the FIA made him do some safe driving education stuff a few years ago and he now seems to have calmed down. Anyways. Like I said devil’s advocate. And perhaps to soon to talk about it like this. Thank God that he is ok and know one was badly injured.

Worthless Opinion

First of all as a halo hater I think it’s important to admit the thing very likely saved Romain’s life. Second of all to the commenter below, yes, this was a sort of Romain move. And third, I want whomever builds Kvyat’s front left suspension to create a demo-derby car for me.

Worthless Opinion

I have zero criticism for the medical team but I do find it strange they’re getting all this love. They stood in full nomex and helmets looking at the damn thing till Romain leaped into their arms. Meanwhile the marshalls, who had just nearly been killed by the wheels and fire, and who were wearing cotton coveralls and a paper mask, actually got in there against that unimaginable heat with the extinguishers. I realize F1 has such an unfortunate combination of snobbery and excessive political correctness that it’s likely to step over a dead overweight Arab to fawn on an… Read more »

Xean Drury

So glad Romain is safe. One of my fav drivers (when he’s on, that is). But really Grosjean, they’d have probably given you an exit bonus if you asked for it. No need to go the insurance route!!