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Formula 1: Fire accident – Grosjean reports from the fire hell

Grosjean reports on the hell of fire

Romain Grosjean survived a terrible fire accident at the Bahrain GP – also because a lot is being done for safety. Now he is reporting on it for the first time.

Romain Grosjean continues to recover from a serious fire accident in Riffa hospital. He has now spoken for the first time via an interview on French television.
“I saw that my visor was all orange and the flames were burning around me,” said Grosjean in an interview with TF1. “Niki Lauda’s accident came to mind. I didn’t mean to end like this. I had to go out for my children. “
The Haas pilot continued: “I stayed in the flames for 28 seconds, but it felt a lot longer as I tried three times to get out of the cockpit. I was able to remove my seat belt. The steering wheel was no longer there. In the end my hands were burned and I had a huge sprain, thinking I broke my foot. After this accident, I am happy to be alive. “
He is now hoping to race again next week at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. “I was more afraid for my relatives, primarily my children, but also my father and mother,” said Grosjean. “I wasn’t really scared for myself. I saw death coming, I had no choice but to leave.”

Grosjean compares his accident to Niki Lauda’s

Niki Lauda’s fire accident in 1976 at the Nürburgring is one of the most famous accidents in Formula 1 history. Probably also because the Austrian survived the accident. His burns on his face became a symbol of the Formula 1 era at that time. As world champion, Lauda united the glorious sides of the sport as well as the dangerous.

Four drivers were not so lucky and died in Formula 1 races because their cars went up in flames: Stuart Lewis-Evans at the 1958 Morocco GP, Lorenzo Bandini at the 1967 Monaco GP, Jo Schlesser at the 1968 French GP or Roger Williamson at the Dutch Grand Prix in 1973. Ronnie Peterson would have survived his fire accident in 1978, but died in hospital of an embolism.

Since then, various safety measures have ensured that fire accidents in Formula 1 no longer occur. Actually. Until the Bahrain GP. But Romain Grosjean’s terrible crash shows that all efforts, including making the drivers’ racing overalls more and more fireproof, are not in vain.

Romain Grosjean survived a terrible fire accident at the Bahrain GP.

© FIA / F1

The racing suits are made from a fireproof material called Nomex. In them, the racing drivers can survive temperatures of up to 840 degrees for 35 seconds. It took Grosjean 27 seconds to free himself from the glowing hell. Not only overalls, but also shoes, underwear, gloves and face masks are now made from the special synthetic fiber.

This not only protects drivers from the fire itself, but also from aggressive gases and acids. This is not unimportant, especially with the modern Formula 1 racers. Thanks to the hybrid elements, batteries with toxic materials are also on board. A racing suit costs 1200 euros, weighs 1.9 kilograms and has to withstand a fire of 820 degrees for ten seconds beforehand. That also saved Grosjean, although the Frenchman lost a shoe in his crash.

Grosjean survived mostly because of Halo

But it’s not just the racing suits that are safer. Today’s cars are also made of carbon fiber and no longer made of easily inflammable magnesium alloys. The fact that Grosjean was not beheaded when it hit the guardrail is thanks to the HALO cockpit protection, which was introduced in 2018 and initially received a lot of criticism. The titanium bar, which is being built in Büren near Paderborn, has to withstand forces of twelve tons from above, 4.7 tons from the front and 9.5 tons from the side. The roll bar on the airbox is now designed for a load of 27 tons.
The safety cell, the so-called monocoque, consists of a Kevlar-carbon composite and is loaded with 20 tons from the front and 25 tons from the side during the crash test. “It’s our bulletproof vest,” said former world champion Nico Rosberg once. The wheels are also attached to the monocoque with three Kevlar straps.
By the way: The Halo cockpit bar was also introduced because of Jules Bianchi’s accident in Suzuka in 2014. Today his mother wrote to a French journalist: “You introduced Halo after my son died, and today he saved Romain’s life. That makes me happy.”

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