SAKHIR, BAHRAIN – Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean appears to have escaped with minor burns after his car crashed and caught fire moments after the start of the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday.
The 34-year-old Frenchman slipped off the track on the first lap and his Haas car caught fire after being cut in half by a barrier. Grosjean came out with the roaring fire behind him and his racing helmet burned.
The FIA governing body said Grosjean was stable and taken by helicopter to a military hospital.
“Romain is fine, I don’t want to make a medical comment but he had minor burns to his hands and ankles,” said Haas team principal Guenther Steiner. “Obviously he’s shaken… I want to thank the rescue teams who are very quick. The stewards and the people of the FIA did an excellent job, it was scary ”
Grosjean got stuck inside the burning wreckage for almost 10 seconds before finding a way out. Race footage showed security officials immediately reached the car, but Grosjean was still stuck inside. He managed to find a way out and jumped through the flames and gripped the scorching metal barrier as he leapt down the runway, clutching his hands in agony before being helped by the flight attendants.
Moments later Grosjean was shown on TV 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 appear injured other than a slight limp.
The drivers and team members stood up and applauded as they saw the footage of Grosjean climbing over the barrier to safety and being sprayed with a fire extinguisher.
Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton expressed his relief on Twitter as he waited for the race to resume.
“I am so grateful that Romain is safe. Wow… the risk we are taking is no joke, for those of you who forget that we put our lives on the line for this sport and for what we love to do, ”Hamilton wrote. “Thank you to the FIA for the considerable progress we have made to get Romain away safely. ”
It seemed like an extraordinary escape after Grosjean’s car was cut in half upon impact with the barrier.
The crash happened when Grosjean lost grip and slid to the right, where his rear wheel cut the front of Daniil Kvyat’s Alpha-Tauri and he flew into the barrier.
Grosjean’s teammate Kevin Magnussen looked distressed when he saw the footage as the drivers waited in the paddock for the race to resume, while officials returned to the crash scene to pick up the debris littering the destroyed car.
Officials worked quickly to build a makeshift security fence where the old one was destroyed.
The race resumed approximately 1 1/2 hours later with the positions of the pilots when the accident occurred. Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton was in the lead, ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Force India’s Sergio Perez.