Romain Grosjean's escape from a 140mph fireball inferno during the Bahrain Grand Prix was hailed a 'miracle' on Sunday as the Frenchman said Formula One's halo head-protection device had saved his life.
The 34-year-old Haas driver was involved in one of the most dramatic accidents in the sport's recent years on Sunday when his car pierced a steel barrier, split in two and burst into flames on the opening lap.
He managed to scramble from the burning machine and was flown to the BDF Military Hospital, 10 miles north of the Bahrain International Circuit, where he remained on Sunday night with burns to the back of both of his hands but amazingly no other serious injuries.
An update from Romain himself. Pleased to see you’re in good spirits! We hope you make a speedy recovery 🙏 pic.twitter.com/njnjjH4GBi
— Haas F1 Team (@HaasF1Team) November 29, 2020
Speaking in a video from his hospital bed, Grosjean reassured his worried fans and admitted his opinion on the halo device — the driver-three-point titanium cockpit protection system controversially introduced in 2018 — had changed after his brush with death.
"Hello everyone. Just wanted to say I am OK, well, sort of OK," he said, as he moved his bandaged hands. "Thank you very much for all the messages. I wasn't for the halo some years ago but I think that it is the greatest thing in Formula One and without it I wouldn't be able to speak with you today. So thanks to all the medical staff at the circuit and at the hospital. Hopefully I can write to you quite soon some messages and tell you how it's going."
The restarted race was eventually won by Britain's Lewis Hamilton who said afterwards: "I am just so grateful the halo worked and the barrier didn't slice his head off. It could have been so much worse. It is a stark reminder that this is a dangerous sport."
Former world champion Damon Hill, whose Williams team-mate Ayrton Senna was killed at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, described it as "a miracle that he's alive."
Formula One's governing body, the FIA, will launch a full investigation into the accident, which came he clipped the front left wheel of Daniil Kvyat's Alpha Tauri at Turn Three, with the focus on how the car penetrated a steel barrier, broke in two, and why it caught alight.