An F1 crash that engulfed Romain Grosjean in a fireball for nearly 20 seconds before the driver escaped with minor burns prompted social reaction from drivers around the world Sunday, hailing the safety of auto racing.
Grosjean was airlifted to a nearby hospital with suspected broken ribs but seemed to have avoided major injuries after being able to scramble from the remnants of his destroyed car.
Lewis Hamilton, who clinched his seventh Formula One championship two weeks ago, was leading after starting from the pole position in the race, which was red-flagged for more than an hour after the terrifying crash on Lap 1 of the Bahrain Grand Prix.
During the delay for repairs, the Mercedes driver posted his gratitude for Grosjean’s health and for F1 safety advancements,noting in a tweet that “the risk we take is no joke, for those of you out there that forget we put our life on the line for this sport and for what we love to do.”
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. Thankful to the FIA for the massive strides we've taken for Romain to walk away from that safely https://t.co/dG8AXmsbKN
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) November 29, 2020
Many other drivers chimed in on Twitter, particularly several from the NTT IndyCar Series.
IndyCar introduced the aeroscreen last season, a device designed to shield drivers in crashes by essentially enclosing a cockpit that historically had left their heads exposed to debris and intrusion. Justin Wilson was killed after being hit by a nose cone in an Aug. 23, 2015 incident at Pocono Raceway.
It came in the wake of F1’s halo, which was made mandatory in 2018 — three years after French driver Jules Bianchi died from suffering a head injury during a crash in the Oct. 5, 2014 race at Suzuka, Japan.
The device since has been credited with saving other drivers from serious or fatal injuries.
IndyCar champions Tony Kanaan and Dario Franchitti were among those who hailed enhancements to keep drivers safe.
If you guys are still debating about Halo and Windscreen just take a look what happen today with @RGrosjean . You might change your mind.
— Tony Kanaan (@TonyKanaan) November 29, 2020
Maximum respect to the marshals on the scene and the medical car team for diving straight in to help @RGrosjean .Thanks you Jackie Stewart, Sid Watkins, Dr Trammell, Dr Olvey and all the motor racing safety pioneers. #F1
— Dario Franchitti (@dariofranchitti) November 29, 2020
Two-time Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne and IndyCar driver Dalton Kellett directly credited the halo with helping save Grosjean’s life, with Kellett explaining how energy was redirected into the chassis and away from the driver.
The damage to the tub, around the halo mounting points, shows how much energy was directed away from the driver, and into the chassis, due to the halo.
— Dalton Kellett (@Dalton_Kellett) November 29, 2020
The risk 0 doesn’t exist in motorsport. The HALO & all new safety measures developed by @fia / @JeanTodt clearly saved Romain’s life. I’m glad you’re ok @RGrosjean 🙏🏼. Congratulations to the marshals and fia doctors for their reactivity #Motorsport #Safety #F1 pic.twitter.com/Aa3THVjMJs
— Jean-Eric Vergne (@JeanEricVergne) November 29, 2020
Simon Pagenaud (a fellow countryman of Grosjean), Graham Rahal, Jack Harvey, Pato O’Ward, Max Chilton, 2016 champion Nico Rosberg and several drivers from NASCAR and elsewhere also weighed in after seeing the Grosjean crash.
— Simon Pagenaud (@simonpagenaud) November 29, 2020
Today we witnessed a miracle. I am SO SO SO grateful @RGrosjean is ok. Thank you to @fia @F1 that continue to push the safety of the cars year after year to keep drivers as safe as possible. Get well soon Romain, we are with you🙏🏻
— Pato O'Ward (@PatricioOWard) November 29, 2020
Just woke up and turned on the TV to see what happened and the aftermath of @RGrosjean incident. We’re all so fortunate to be living in the safest time ever for racing drivers, but that was insane to see. So glad he is safe and ok!
— Graham Rahal (@GrahamRahal) November 29, 2020
— Jack Harvey (@jack_harvey42) November 29, 2020
I have never seen an accident that bad in my lifetime and for him to jump out is an outstanding achievement for all those continuing to push the safety forwards. 5 years ago that would have been a different story.
— M A X Chilton (@maxchilton) November 29, 2020
— Nico Rosberg (@nico_rosberg) November 29, 2020
— Nico Hülkenberg (@HulkHulkenberg) November 29, 2020
His number wasn’t being pulled today. https://t.co/sOXzKVm2iS
— Corey LaJoie (@CoreyLaJoie) November 29, 2020
This is unbelievable!
Glad he is ok https://t.co/viV5SadXq1
— Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) November 29, 2020
My goodness he is so lucky to be alive! https://t.co/5TjPm94JF8
— Matt DiBenedetto (@mattdracing) November 29, 2020
Unbelievably scary moment at the start of the @F1 race today! Glad @RGrosjean was able to climb out of that car and escape a small hole in the barrier. I’m proud to be an @alpinestars driver. It was incredible I see how well his fire suit and safety gear did their job! https://t.co/d6H0I18B33
— Justin Allgaier (@J_Allgaier) November 29, 2020
Formula One technical director Ross Brawn told Sky Sports that the halo device, which was installed on F1 cars in 2018 to prevent cockpit intrusion and protect drivers’ heads, had prevented the type of fatal crash that often happened in similar impacts from years ago.
“Undoubtedly, we’re going to do a very deep analysis of all the events that occurred because there were a number of things that shouldn’t have happened,” Brawn said in a postrace interview. “The fire was worrying. The split of the barrier was worrying. I think the positives are the safety of the car. That’s what got us through today. … There’s no doubt the halo was the factor that saved the day and saved Romain.”
FIA president Jean Todt said the organization “always put safety at the top of our priorities and will continue to do so.”
So relieved that @RGrosjean is safe. Thanks to Dr Ian Roberts and the @FIA teams for their courageous and efficient intervention. We have always put safety at the top of our priorities and will continue to do so.#F1 #BahrainGP 🇧🇭 pic.twitter.com/64xubWCgUH
— Jean Todt (@JeanTodt) November 29, 2020