It was like some over-the-top Hollywood action stunt and it was difficult to believe what your eyes were seeing. That was surely the effect it had on the marshals on the scene too. There was a driver somewhere in the middle of that ball of flame, but he’d gone through the metal barrier. It was natural to fear the worst. The worst seemed the most likely outcome.
The medical car pulled up, and Dr Ian Roberts ran to the scene, followed on by the medical car driver Alan van der Merwe. Grosjean was in the flames for 26sec before emerging in between the small gap between the halo and what remained of the metal barrier. He was doing this just as Roberts was arriving on the scene and getting a marshal to train his extinguisher to a point that kept the flames back just enough to reach out to Grosjean and help him over the barrier. He was minus a shoe, which was presumably still in the cockpit of the burning Haas. His visor was melting. Van der Merwe squirted extinguishant at both Grosjean and Roberts.
Romain Grosjean emerges from the fireball of his wrecked Haas
Peter Fox/Getty Images
Roberts removed the helmet. Grosjean was complaining of pain in his hands and ankle. In the car some gel was applied to the burns there. But essentially Grosjean was ok. The halo had saved him, but so had the impact resistance of the tub, the HANS device, the quality of the belts, the fire-resistance of his heavy multi-layer suit and many other features which are the cumulative result of the safety drive of the last few decades.
The drivers’ faces as the Grosjean accident was played and replayed on the big screens told of the obvious stress as they waited for over an hour while the barrier was replaced. But they all got back in and did it all over again.
Drivers watched replays of Grosjean’s accident in disbelief
Antonin Vincent / DPPI
Hamilton, for the second time, won the start and again it was Verstappen and Sergio Perez who filled the places behind. Bottas got a puncture and would soon pit. Kvyat was involved in another skirmish, his car this time used as a launching pad by Lance Stroll at Turn Eight, the Racing Point flipping upside down. Out came the safety car for seven laps.
That changed the race from a likely three-stop to a two. The left-rears are always under immense stress around Sakhir. Their thermal degradation defined the pattern of the race as Hamilton eked out just enough of a gap over Verstappen not to be under threat as the first pit stop window opened. They left the rest well behind in their private contest. Perez, in turn, kept his Racing Point just out of reach of Alex Albon’s Red Bull.
Sainz passed both Renaults in a late charge
Dan Istitene/F1 via Getty Images