ROMAIN GROSJEAN says he would have been killed without the halo cockpit protection system in his F1.
The Frenchman shared an image of himself smiling from his hospital bed hours after his car breached a security barrier at 140mph and was cut in half, setting off a huge fireball.
The Haas pilot was trapped for 20 seconds in the burning wreckage on the first lap of the Bahrain GP before exiting and walking away.
The 34-year-old was kept in hospital overnight in Bahrain to receive treatment for his burned hands – but there was no doubt the halo had saved his life.
He said, “I wanted to say I’m fine. Thank you very much for all the posts.
“I wasn’t for the halo a few years ago, but I think it’s the best thing we’ve done in Formula One and without it I couldn’t speak to you today.
“Thank you to all the medical staff at the circuit and at the hospital and I hope I can write you a few messages. ”
Lewis Hamilton said the Frenchman was lucky his head wasn’t cut off by the barriers, while 1996 champion Damon Hill said “it’s a miracle he’s alive”.
Hamilton said: “It was such a shocking picture to see. When we come in, when I get in the car, I know I’m taking risks and I respect the dangers that are in this sport.
“I’m so grateful the halo worked, grateful that the barrier didn’t cut off his head or something, you know?” It could have been a lot worse.
“It’s a reminder for us and I hope for the people watching that it’s a dangerous sport and that’s why we push to the limit and play with that limit, but you have to respect it as well. ”
The father of three, who is retiring from F1 at the end of this season, was helped break through barriers by Dr Ian Roberts who was immediately at the scene.
Roberts, who was a passenger in the medical car that travels behind the F1 cars for the first lap, was then helped by his driver Alan van der Merwe, who used a fire extinguisher to put them both out.
The incident occurred on the first lap when Grosjean’s car was cut off by Danill Kvyat’s AlphaTauri and sent running towards the barriers.
The halo separated the barriers – if it hadn’t been there it would have been Grosjean’s head and some fatal accident.
Hero van der Merwe was thanked by Haas boss Gunther Steiner for his courage. He said, “We have never seen so many fires. It took a little while to process what was going on.
“Romain came out himself which is pretty incredible. Very impressive. ”
F1’s MD Ross Brawn has now promised a full crash investigation ahead of next week’s second race in Bahrain on their high-speed oval track.
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He added: “We need to do a very thorough analysis of what happened. A lot of things were worrying. The fire was disturbing and the separation of the barrier was disturbing.
“The safety of the car is what got us through today.
“Barrier splitting was a classic problem many years ago and normally resulted in death.
“There is no doubt that the halo saved Romain and the team behind it deserves recognition for forcing him.
“I don’t think anyone can doubt the validity of the halo. It was a lifeline today.
“There will be scrutiny going into the next race and action will be taken that needs to be done. ”