Formula One driver Romain Grosjean had a miraculous escape after his car exploded into a fireball in a horrific 140mph crash that split the vehicle in two at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
In shocking footage, the Frenchman’s car hit and pierced through a crash barrier before bursting into flames as TV cameras cut away and the race was stopped.
Grosjean was trapped in the burning car for several seconds but, incredibly, was able to scramble over the barrier to safety with the aid of a doctor.
Despite the explosion, Grosjean suffered only burns and broken ribs and was airlifted to hospital where he is ‘doing okay’.
In a statement from FIA, the racing federation, officials confirmed Grosjean was conscious at all times before ‘self-extricating’ himself from his car.
‘He was taken to the medical centre before being transferred to Bahrain Defence Force (BDF) Hospital by helicopter where he is undergoing further evaluation,’ it adds.
F1 have since awarded Grosjean ‘Driver of the Day’ following a fan vote.
In another twist, a second crash involving Lance Stroll took place only moments after the race started for a second time following a more than one hour delay.
The collision also involved Russian driver Daniil Kyvat, the driver who had previously collided with Grosjean before his crash.
Stroll’s car was flipped upside down in the second crash, though the Canadian reported that he was okay and he also managed to free himself before walking away.
Haas’ Romain Grosjean has suffered one of the most dramatic accidents in modern F1 history
The Frenchman’s car hit the wall at 53G and promptly burst into flames in sickening fashion
The charred remains of Grosjean’s vehicle were removed from around the track with a crane
After the race restarted, Belgian-Canadian driver Lance Stroll was involved in another crash, his car flipping upside down horrifically
Despite the shocking crash, Stroll was also able to walk away and is pictured he being helped into the medical car
Safety staff at the race track had to extinguish the huge flames from the blaze during the Grand Prix in Bahrain
Grosjean was helped my doctors into the back of an ambulance although he appeared to escape from the car without any serious injuries
After the first crash, Grosjean was trapped in the flaming wreck of his vehicle for nearly 10 seconds before somehow finding a way out.
Race footage showed safety officials reaching the car immediately but struggle to locate Grosjean who is still trapped inside the car after breaking through the barrier.
He then appears to escape the wreckage and jump through flames before gripping the boiling hot metal barrier as he hop back onto the track, before being helped by the stewards.
Moments later, Grosjean was shown on television chatting with the race doctor in the medical car.
Grosjean was then helped out of the car and into an ambulance. He appeared to be shaken but did not immediately seem injured other than a slight limp.
Governing body FIA said Grosjean is stable and being taken by helicopter to a military hospital.
‘Romain is doing okay, I don’t want to make a medical comment but he had light burns on his hands and ankles,’ Haas team principal Guenther Steiner said.
‘Obviously he’s shaken… I want to thank the rescue crews who are very quick. The marshals and FIA people they did a great job, it was scary’
It is unusual for a Formula One car to burst into flames and it remains unclear precisely what happened – though he collided with Daniil Kvyat before hurtling off at the third corner of the first lap.
The driver of the medical car, Alan van der Merwe, said: ‘Big surprise for us, we have never seen that much fire in 12 years, and an impact like that.
‘We took a bit of time to process what was going on, and then Romain got out of the car himself which was pretty amazing.
‘It goes to show that all the systems that we have developed, everything worked – like halo, seatbelt, and barriers.’
The remains of Grosjean’s car, which broke into two after the crash, was cleared from the track
Grosjean was mercifully able to clamber out of the car and was helped into an ambulance
There were huge clouds of smoke billowing from the car as flamed erupted from the high speed crash
Grosjean, who was taken to the medical centre, suffered minor burns and also broken ribs
A delay of 45 minutes was expected and it was unclear whether the race would continue at all
Ross Brawn, Formula One’s managing director, has already said the cause of the crash and fire need to be looked into, while praising the halo crash-protection system for effectively ‘saving’ Grosjean’s life.
‘We need to do a deep analysis of what occurred. The fire is worrying. The split barrier is worrying. There’s no doubt the halo is the factor that saved the day… saved Romain. The team behind it need credit for forcing it through,’ said Brawn.
Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton expressed his relief on Twitter while waiting for the race to restart.
‘I’m so grateful Romain is safe. Wow… the risk we take is no joke, for those of you out there that forget that we put our life on the line for this sport and for what we love to do,’ Hamilton wrote. ‘Thankful to the FIA for the massive strides we’ve taken for Romain to walk away from that safely.’
It appeared an extraordinary escape after Grosjean’s car was sliced in half upon impact with the barrier.
The accident happened when Grosjean lost grip and slid to the right, where his back wheel clipped the front of Daniil Kvyat’s Alpha-Tauri and he flew off into the barrier.
Grosjean’s teammate Kevin Magnussen looked distressed when he saw the footage as drivers waited in the paddock for the race to restart, while officials returned to the site of the crash to pick up debris littered around the destroyed car.
The last fatal crash in F1 came in 2014 when French driver Jules Bianchi lost control of his car and smashed into a recovery vehicle in Japan
The rest of the drivers were sent back to the pits and had viewed the horror smash via replays
TV images showed the car on fire as marshals and emergency services flocked to the scene
Stewards attempt to clear the car of Haas’ Romain Grosjean from the track following the crash
Officials worked quickly to build a makeshift crash barrier where the old one was destroyed.
The race restarted about 1 1/2 hours later – and was followed by another crash just moments later.
The last fatal crash in F1 came in 2014 when French driver Jules Bianchi lost control of his car and smashed into a recovery vehicle in Japan.
He was in a coma for nine months before he died.
His death was the most recent in the sport since Ayrton Senna’s death at the San Marino Grand Prix in 1994.
The crash left a huge dent and hole in the side of the track as investigators turned up to inspect the damage
Grosjean escapes from the car as medical teams spray fire extinguishers at the car in their rescue effort