Lewis Hamilton won an extraordinary Bahrain Grand Prix after Romain Grosjean miraculously survived a fireball crash at 140mph – one of the most remarkable accidents any driver has ever walked away from.
While it was routine for Hamilton, notching his 11th win of a brilliant season that saw him clinch his seventh world title only a fortnight ago in Turkey, it was the scenes right at the start that will linger in the collective memory.
Grosjean’s white Haas car touched Daniil Kvyat’s AlphaTauri at Turn Three of lap one and went careering into the barriers. His car immediately turned into an inferno on impact, orange flames lighting up the night sky.
Lewis Hamilton celebrates after notching his 11th victory of the season at the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday
Hamilton’s dominance over the rest of the Formula One field has continued after his Bahrain Grand Prix success
Seven-time world champion Hamilton took the chequered flag with ease, leading in every lap bar one in Bahrain
Hamilton’s latest victory was marred by Romain Grosjean’s horror crash during the first lap though on Sunday
The Haas driver is helped into the medical car before he was taken to hospital for further assessment after his sickening crash
The Frenchman, 34, was stuck inside the blaze for more than 20 seconds as marshals on the ground and the medical car on the road hurried along to douse the fire with extinguishers. Amazingly, Grosjean’s chassis penetrated the steel wall, and he ended up the far side from the track.
He finally freed himself as the rescue team arrived and, with the help of medical delegate Dr Ian Roberts, climbed back over the barrier on to the side from which he had arrived in such spectacular, alarming fashion.
The TV cameras cut away fearing for Grosjean’s life.
His car was split in two in a 56G impact, but he was in one piece, though hobbling. He was taken by helicopter to the BDF Military Hospital 10 miles north of the Bahrain International Circuit with suspected broken ribs and foot. He also had burns to his hands and ankles.
Damon Hill, the 1996 world champion, said: ‘It is a miracle he is alive. We just haven’t seen anything like that since something like Gerhard’s accident in Imola all those years ago,’ added Hill, referring to the 1989 crash that ruptured the fuel tank on Austrian Gerhard Berger’s Ferrari.
Grosjean’s car burst into flames after he drove straight into the metal barriers at 140mph during the first lap
The Bahrain Grand Prix was delayed for 90 minutes while the barrier was mended, with the help of a welder
Grosjean’s Haas car split straight into two after he went careering into the barriers during the early action on Sunday
Hamilton, who won from pole, said: ‘I’m so grateful Romain is safe. Wow… the risk we take is no joke, for those of you out there that forget that we put our life on the line for this sport and for what we love to do,’ said Hamilton on Twitter.
‘Thankful to the FIA for the massive strides we’ve taken for Romain to walk away from that safely.’
Medical car driver, South African Van Der Merwe, sprayed the fire extinguisher on Grosjean and Dr Roberts as they emerged from the fire. He said: ‘I am sure it was only a second or so but it felt like ages and then Romain started to get out of the car himself which was pretty amazing after an accident like that.
‘There was some relief when we got back here and he was OK.
‘It just goes to show that all the systems we developed worked hand-in-hand, the halo, the barriers, the seat belt, everything worked how it should and without just one of those things it could have been a very different outcome.’
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Alex Albon finished second and third respectively behind the seven-time world champion
Verstappen set the fastest lap of the day but could get nowhere near a once again dominant Hamilton on the weekend
Above all, the halo device – protecting the head – may well have saved Grosjean’s life from the impact. It cut through the barrier rather than letting his skull hit the steel.
The race was delayed for 90 minutes while the barrier was mended, with the help of a welder.
When it restarted, Lance Stroll’s Racing Point ended up on its back at Turn 8, having clipped Kvyat (him again!). The Russian was handed a 10-second penalty. Stroll crawled out from the belly of his machine, and was declared unharmed after visiting the medical centre.
The safety car came out.
Finally, the action began once more. Hamilton was in charge, albeit complaining of vibrations, to beat the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Alex Albon second and third after Sergio Perez’s engine blew, while in third. That brought about another ball of fire – but nothing at all on the same of the Grosjean deliverance.
With Perez’s misfortune the race ended under a safety car.
But not before someone – a marshal presumably – ran across the track as McLaren’s Lando Norris approached. What a night this was.
There was heartbreak for Sergio Perez with just laps left after his engine blew while he was moments away from taking third
Perez’s Racing Point car is lifted away from the track after his third-place hopes collapsed after his engine blew
Just moments after Grosjean’s crash, the safety car came out after Lance Stroll’s car flipped upside down on Sunday
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