Formula One’s governing body has revealed the cause of Romain Grosjean’s fireball crash at last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix and also outlined areas in order to improve driver safety.
The Swiss-born French driver sustained a scary crash on the opening lap at Bahrain on November 29 when he crashed into the barrier 180 metres after the apex of Turn 3. Grosjean Grosjean's car was travelling at 241 km/h when he lost control on the exit of Turn 3 following contact between his right rear wheel and Daniil Kvyat’s left front wheel when attempting to pass from the left to right-hand side of the track.
The contact lifted the French driver’s car and impacted the triple guardrail barrier behind the run-off area at 192 km/h and at an angle of 29 degrees, with an estimated yaw of 22 degrees to the direction of travel and a resultant peak force equivalent to 67g. The high-energy impact saw his Haas F1 team car catch fire while it also led to the separation of the power train assembly from the survival cell.
The Geneva-born driver was able to climb out of his car unaided and was out of the Haas machinery after 27 seconds. Grosjean suffered burns to the back sides of both hands.
“The arrival of the Medical Car carrying the FIA F1 Medical Rescue Coordinator Dr Ian Roberts, FIA F1 Medical Car Driver Alan van der Merwe and a local doctor, provided immediate assistance with each performing a pre-determined role.”
“Ian Roberts went immediately to the scene of the incident and instructed a marshal to operate the dry powder extinguisher around the cockpit where he identified Romain Grosjean as trying to make his egress. Alan Van der Merwe retrieved a fire extinguisher from the rear of the FIA Medical Car whilst the local doctor prepared the trauma bag,” read the statement.
FIA President Jean Todt said: “Important learnings have been drawn from these investigations that will drive our continuous mission to improve safety in Formula 1 and global motor sport. The enduring commitment of the FIA, particularly the Safety Department, on reducing risks associated with motor sport enabled Romain Grosjean to maintain consciousness and survive an accident of this magnitude. Safety is and will remain FIA’s top priority.”
Commenting on the investigation, FIA Safety Director Adam Baker said: “Incidents involving fire of this scale are thankfully rare, so it is very important to learn what we can, including the interaction with the high voltage system.
„The efforts of those involved were heroic and have quite rightly been the subject of much praise. Following the approval of our findings by the World Motor Sport Council, we will integrate the actions into the ongoing work.”
The FIA has outlined a total of 22 areas where driver safety can be improved as a result of the investigation, including changes to the fuel hatch, footwell and headrest. The full list of areas the FIA will look to address are as follows:Vehicle
- Regulation of survival cell front geometry, plus additional load tests in that area
- Review of existing regulations regarding rear view mirrors
- Review of steering column mounting requirements
- Review of regulation and homologation requirements for headrest assembly
- Analysis of Power Unit mounting and mount failure modes
- Ongoing research project: Wheel Restraint Cables (tethers)
- Design review of safety fuel bladder installations in all FIA single seater categories
- Recommendations for safety fuel bladder installation best practice
- Update of the FIA Standard for safety fuel bladders
- Review of regulations for design of safety fuel bladder connections and inspection hatches
- Fuel homologation to include compatibility of bladder material and specific fuel
- Increased functionality for Circuit Safety Analysis Software (CSAS) including quantitative impact probability classification
- Review of existing circuit barrier opening installations
- Review of guidelines/process for circuit homologation and licence renewal
- Investigation into improvements to the gloves’ Heat Transfer Index (HTI)
- Ongoing research project: Visor opening/locking mechanisms; project scope extended to include requirements to ensure that visor opening systems are operational after being exposed to fire
- Ongoing research project: Extinguisher system for open cockpit cars; project scope extended to include investigation of improved activation mechanisms
- Updates to Medical Intervention Vehicle equipment, including alternate extinguisher types
- Provide ASN guidance on post-fire decontamination
- Ongoing development of FIA firefighting training module for ASNs
- Ongoing development of FIA high voltage safety training module for ASNs
- Ongoing development of FIA Incident Command/Co-ordination training module for ASNs
- Investigation of options for proximity warning systems and electronic visibility aids
- Research into retrofit and upgrade options to improve impact performance of existing guardrail barriers
- Research into novel barrier systems, effective across a wider range of impact conditions
- Research to assess current fire extinguishing media, firefighting equipment and personal protective equipment and assess new technologies