SAKHIR, Bahrain. — Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean is lucky to be alive after a fiery crash during the opening lap of the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday.
The crash happened as drivers were jostling for positions between turns three and four. Grosjean clipped the front tires of Danill Kvyat and was sent headlong into a metal barrier — a collision that ended up splitting the car in two and causing the car to burst into flames.
Grosjean was able to hobble away from the wreck with only burns to his hands and feet.
“Grosjean is continuing his convalescence at the Bahrain Defence Force hospital having remained there overnight following Sunday’s incident,” said the Haas F1 Team, whom Grosjean drives for. “It is anticipated he will be discharged from the care of the hospital on Tuesday.”
The wreck brought on an outpouring of support from fellow F1 drivers and drivers from several other major racing series all over the world, including IndyCar. It also underscored the importance of new safety features in formula style cars over the last half-decade.
In 2018, Formula 1 was the first series in the world to use the “Halo”, which is a metal apparatus that encircles the driver’s cockpit in order to protect the driver from flying debris. A variation of the Halo, called the “Aeroscreen”, was adopted by the IndyCar Series for its 2020 season.
“I wasn’t for the Halo some years ago,” said Grosjean from his hospital bed on Sunday. “But, I think it’s the greatest thing we brought to Formula 1 and without it, I wouldn’t be able to speak to you today.”
The Halo and Aeroscreen both received some criticism from the racing community and fans alike. Most of the criticism stemmed from how they made the cars look. Grosjean’s crash at Bahrain on Sunday seems to have put those criticisms to bed for good.
As Grosjean recovers, Pietro Fittipaldi will step in to replace him in the next race which will also be in Bahrain. Fittipaldi is the grandson of two-time F1 World Champion and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Emerson Fittipaldi.