How Romain Grosjean walked away from F1’s scariest crash in decades

The Formula 1 cars had barely made it a third of the way around the track before the red flag brought a temporary halt to this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix. The start of an F1 race is often chaotic, especially among the back half of the grid, and so it proved on Sunday when the Haas VF-20 driven by Romain Grosjean speared off track to the right after exiting turn three.

First lap crashes aren’t that unusual in the sport, unlike what happened next. After hitting the guardrail at about 137mph (220km/h), Grosjean’s car ripped in half and then burst into flames—something that hasn’t happened for over 30 years. To make matters worse, the front half penetrated between the guardrails that lined this section of track. As crashes go, this one was more reminiscent of the bad old days of F1, the kind that claimed the lives of drivers like Roger Williamson or Francois Cevert.

But Grosjean walked away—understandably gingerly—with little more injury than some burns to his hands. And that is a testament to the safety that’s designed into modern F1.

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