Romain Grosjean somehow escaped from the most horrifying Formula 1 accident for six years with burns to the back of his hands – and the sport is still reeling from the shock of the incident and the amazement that it was not so much worse.
The crash had the appearance of something from a bygone age, as the car broke in two, caught fire and split the barrier, before coming to rest embedded between two twisted sheets of metal on its side.
Grosjean hit the barrier at 137mph and the impact measured a force of 53G. He was in the inferno for nearly 30 seconds before extracting himself and then being helped over the barrier by FIA doctor Ian Roberts, who had just arrived in the medical car, run towards the flames, and helped a marshal set off a fire extinguisher before going to the driver’s aid.
The last time an F1 car split in two was at Monaco in 1991. The last time one caught fire in a crash was at Imola in 1989. And you have to go back to the 1970s to find accidents in which cars pierced barriers in such a way.
On both occasions, at Watkins Glen in the USA in 1973 and 1974, the drivers, Francois Cevert and Helmut Koinigg, were killed.