The 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix saw the most horrific crash that F1 has seen for a long time. The entire racing world will surely take a lot of time to recover from this crash. Living in Bahrain, seeing a massive incident happen at the Bahrain Grand Prix was even scarier. I’ve watched so many Bahrain Grands Prix, either on TV, but mostly at the track. I’ve never seen a crash of this size happen at Bahrain, forget in all of F1. This Bahrain GP is one that very few will forget, whether they are F1 fans or not because the news spread like wildfire. I probably shouldn’t be using fire similies right now 😬.
The rest of the race wasn’t as tense and/or entertaining as the crazy start, but there were still exciting moments and last-minute twists. Sergio Perez’s engine failure marked an important moment for the 3-way fight for 3rd in the constructors’ championship. Stay tuned, for the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix Race Review will be like no other. A unique race review for a unique race. Let’s get into it!
All About Grosjean’s Massive Traumatic Horror Crash At The 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix
It’s almost impossible to describe the crash that Romain Grosjean faced on Lap 1 of this crazy Bahrain GP. The moment when the car suddenly burst into flames shocked the entire world of racing. A wave of gasps and astonishment passed through the motorsport world as the gravity of the accident instantly hit everyone. The sight of the fire was scary enough, but then everyone soon saw that it wasn’t just the fire and that it was a miracle that Romain Grosjean survived the incident.
The start is always chaotic in Bahrain. The field is always in a packed bunch, and Turn 1 is such a tight, acute corner. There are always overtakes, and sometimes crashes, and madness always ensues on the first Lap. But nothing so severe has ever happened in Bahrain before. Now, let’s take a look at how Grosjean crashed. Then, we’ll take a look at how the FIA’s Safety Measures saved the Frenchman’s life.
Grosjean has had a history of quite good luck at the Bahrain Grand Prix in his career. He achieved his very first podium in F1 at the 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix, after all. He even achieved 2 consecutive podiums in Bahrain after finishing in 3rd at the 2013 Bahrain Grand Prix. However, the past two Bahrain Grands Prix have been disaster for the Haas driver. Unfortunately, the 2019 Bahrain GP didn’t last long for Grosjean. On Lap 1, he made contact with Lance Stroll at Turn 2, and he retired from the race on Lap 19. This year, Grosjean qualified in P19, 11 positions behind his 2019 qualifying position. As the 5 red lights went out for the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix, Grosjean got a reasonable good start, and was up into P17.
After Lance Stroll ran wide at Turn 2 and Lando Norris got damage after Ocon and Gasly sandwiched him at Turn 2 as well. Because of these 2 cars going so much slower than others, a pack of 5 bunched-up cars blocked Grosjean’s way. Grosjean wanted to gain positions, and he found a gap on the inside line on the straight. However, he didn’t realise that Daniil Kvyat was actually alongside him. So when Grosjean went for the open space, his right-rear wheel Kvyat’s front-left tire, and you know what happens next. Grosjean goes hurtling into the barrier on the side of the straight. To make matters worse, the barrier was at an angle of 30°. And Grosjean’s car hit the barrier at an angle too.
With the speed that he was at, coming down the straight, was just too much for the Armco barrier to handle. Grosjean was driving at 140 mph, and the force of the impact was 53 G’s of force, which is EXTREME force upon the driver. The heavier, bulkier part of the car is the back half of the car. That was split off by the barrier. But the front half of the car, with the driver in it, went clean through the metal barrier. Since the crash happened in an unusual place, the barriers were not tire barriers, or Tecpro barriers. Since the force of the accident was so large, the barrier just couldn’t stay rigid. However, questions have been raised, and the FIA are conducting thorough investigations on the crash already.
The surprising part is that the car split in half. Only the front half of the car impaled the barrier, while the rear end of the chassis completely split off. It was sitting a couple of meters away from the driver and the barrier. Since the force of the crash was massive, but the car was stuck in the barrier, the sudden burst of energy channeled to the back of the car. That’s where the engine and the gearbox are. That massive amount of energy was too much for the rear half of the car to handle, and the rear end bursted off. The fuel tank was the main component that couldn’t handle the energy.
The fuel tank is made of kevlar and rubber and is heavily tested to make sure it can withstand large forces. However, the sudden blast of force was too much for the fuel tank, and the protection ruptured, and the fuel spilt. And since it hit oxygen, and there was heat from the battery behind the fuel cell, the car burst into flames. So the rear end of the chassis split off, leaving the driver’s survival cell on fire. The survival cell. Now, we’re looking at how the safety measures saved Romain Grosjean.
The survival cell in an F1 car is designed to protect the driver under any circumstances. Since you don’t want an F1 car on fire, the survival cell is designed to have the fuel cell as a part of it. Since the survival cell is strong and secure, the fuel tank is part of it, so that that has protection too. While that is a smart thing to do, it proved to be something that harmed Grosjean instead of helping him in the situation of this crash.
Because the fuel tank couldn’t handle the force, it ruptured and spilt fuel. Since the force of the crash split the rear end of the car off, the fuel spilt all over the driver’s survival cell and caught fire. The survival cell and the safety measures still did their job, however. The survival cell protected Grosjean and absorbed the shock, meaning Grosjean was still conscious and unhurt. And of course, there was the halo. The halo can easily be named as one of the most controversial features of an F1 car. This was before this crash, of course. After the death of Jules Bianchi, the FIA decided to introduce a safety feature to protect the driver’s head. And for the 2018 season onwards, the halo became a part of F1 cars.
Many lashed out and said that this device ruined the aesthetics of an F1 car. Many drivers, including Romain Grosjean, were against the introduction of the halo. However, the halo has saved lives all over motorsport. There have been massive crashes that have saved drivers’ lives. But at the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix, everyone was silenced. This is because when Romain Grosjean’s car pierced the barrier, the halo stopped the sharp and really hard metal barrier from hitting Grosjean’s head. If the halo wasn’t there, Grosjean’s head would’ve hit the barrier. On top of that, the HANS device played a huge role in saving Grosjean from major injuries in his neck. The HANS device is the Head And Neck Support device that drivers clip onto their helmets. The device stops the impact from injuring the neck when a driver crashes and huge amounts of force hit them.
The HANS device meant that Grosjean was unhurt despite withstanding 53 G’s of force. All in all, the advanced safety measures of a Formula 1 car saved Romain Grosjean’s life. On top of that, the clothing of the drivers is extremely important. Drivers wear fireproof race suits that can resist fire for up to 20 seconds. The drivers wear fireproof gloves and socks, along with a fireproof balaclava for the drivers’ faces. Those items can resist fire for 10 seconds. Up until 2019, the race suit was only fireproof for 10 seconds, but thank goodness the FIA upgraded the race suits this year. That change proved to be vital because Romain Grosjean couldn’t escape that flaming car for around 30 seconds, which is crazy.
The fact that the car was engulfed in flames was already really bad because then it is much more difficult for the driver to escape. The fire has surrounded the driver, and it is really difficult to escape a burning car. On top of that, Grosjean had just faced 53 G’s of force. That amount of force can easily leave someone unconscious. Then, Grosjean can see almost nothing but fire all around him. And to make the situation even worse, the halo and a headrest made it even more difficult for him to leave the car. This is where extraction tests come in.
At winter testing in Barcelona, the drivers have to pass an extraction test. Every year, the drivers take tests to see if they can exit the cockpit of an F1 car within 5-7 seconds. The drivers must pass the test, and will keep taking the test until they pass it. Grosjean obviously passed it, but it wasn’t so simple for him in Bahrain. He had many obstacles in his way, as I mentioned earlier.
“I undid my seat belt right away and I tried to get out of the car, but I realised my helmet was hitting something,” Grosjean trembled. “I sat back down, told myself that I was stuck and that I’ll wait. But on my left, it was all orange and I realised that it was burning. I told myself: ‘No time to wait, I’m going to try to get out on the right’, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t get out on the left either.
He thought, “It can’t end like this, not now’. I tried to get out again, but I couldn’t, so I sat down and I saw death, not close up, but from too close … It’s a feeling that I wish on no-one. It changed my life forever”
Grosjean thought about his children, he thought about his wife. He had the determination to save them from a world of pain.
“That’s where I found the resources to pull out my blocked foot, to turn my head … to put my hands up to hoist myself out knowing that they were going to burn, but that was okay,” he said.
Grosjean was obviously in pain after the crash, less physically than emotionally, I would imagine. The Frenchman was in a medical centre when he started shivering from the shock and the pain he had faced from the crash. Grosjean was able to speak to his wife and his children and with other “familiar faces”. This crash was obviously a huge mental shock, and Grosjean spoke about how he is often speaking to his sports psychologist to discuss any mental issues that he would be facing after the crash.
“For now, I’m not having nightmares, bad thoughts, flashbacks or moments of fear, but that doesn’t mean they’re not going to come and that’s why we’re going to keep discussing it. The limits imposed on me for the future are not about fear of this happening another time but rather of never having to do this to my loved ones again. A week ago, taking a year off seemed impossible. Today I tell myself that I will kitesurf, bike races, see my kids, have fun, drink wine. It will change my life forever,” Grosjean said. It’s impossible that an incident like this won’t change someone’s life. Anyone would look forward to a year away from such huge risks. Now that we’ve looked at Romain Grosjean’s traumatising crash in meticulous detail, let’s swiftly move on to the rest of the race.
How The Tables Turned In The Constructors’ Fight For P3
Aside from the madness involving Romain Grosjean’s crash, there was an EXTREMELY tense battle in the midfield. Before the Bahrain Grand Prix, 3 teams were engaged in a fierce battle. They were all eyeing the coveted 3rd position in the constructors’ standings, but with the midfield being so close together this year, this battle’s going all the way to the end. Before the Bahrain GP, there were mainly 3 or 4 candidates for 3rd in the title. McLaren, Renault and Racing Point. You can probably include Ferrari in this fight, although it seems unlikely that they have the capability of grabbing 3rd in the title.
The 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix proved to be a pivotal race in this fight, as the tables definitely turned. Coming into this race weekend, Racing Point was looking strong enough to take this position. However, heartbreak came for both Racing Point drivers, in the forms of Daniil Kvyat and an engine failure. Things started going wrong pretty early for Racing Point. On Lap 3, when the race restarted after the red flag, Lance Stroll was running in P12. He’d had a topsy-turvy restart, and was defending from Daniil Kvyat as the drivers approached the hairpin of Turn 8.
Kvyat was on the Softs, while Stroll was on the mediums, so Kvyat was looking to make a move down into Turn 8. However, the Russian didn’t place the car well. He was too far on the inside, meaning that Stroll couldn’t see him. Stroll turned in for the corner, and his rear-right tire rode on Kvyat’s front-left, thus flipping the Racing Point over. It initially looked like a big crash, but it was a very small, slow rollover. The crash was a lot smaller than it looked. It was all Kvyat’s fault because he didn’t commit to the overtake enough. The stewards awarded him a 10-second time penalty for causing a collision, but that collision proved to be a pivotal one for the constructors’ title.
Things still weren’t too bad for Racing Point. Stroll’s teammate Sergio Perez was running in a solid P3, which is a good 18 points. However, Renault and McLaren weren’t giving up yet. By now, Ferrari is pretty much out of the picture, because their car was seemingly ‘undrivable’. Coming to McLaren and Renault, by the end of Lap 3, Lando Norris was in P5. This was already a great position, Stroll was out of the race and Sainz was in P10. However, the Renaults were in P6 and P8, meaning they were in for a haul of 12 points, while McLaren only got 11 points, and Racing Point got 18. While the drivers probably wouldn’t have known this information at the time, Sainz DEFINITELY had other plans.
When the Safety Car period from Stroll’s crash ended, Sainz was looking incredibly punchy on his fresh Soft tires. By Turn 4, he already passed the AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly. That’s one more point for McLaren, but Sainz wasn’t done yet. Daniel Ricciardo was going through a phase in the race where the car felt absolutely atrocious. He fell down the order from P8 to P10, meaning Renault were in for only 9 points. McLaren continued improving, with Carlos Sainz making a massive divebomb on Charles Leclerc for P7. McLaren was now bringing home 16 points, and they were surely going to continue their charge.
Sainz managed to do a brilliant job by holding onto his soft tires for a long time. He went for the overcut on the Renaults, and it definitely worked. Sainz used his fresher mediums to push and overtake Ocon in the Renault to make it P5 and P6 for McLaren. What a race it was for them. McLaren was already doing extremely well, and it was only Lap 27 of 57. To make things better for McLaren, and worse for Renault, the Renaults spent unnecessary time battling. Ricciardo wanted to get past his teammate since Ricciardo was going faster than Ocon. After a bit of squabbling between the Renaults, Bottas overtook Ocon for P9, meaning Renault was only getting 5 points from this race. Disastrous. However, things got better for Renault and McLaren when Perez’s engine failed. Perez was out of the race since his engine was on fire (SERIOUSLY?!).
McLaren had a brilliant finish with P4 and P5, bringing a massive 22 points for the team. Renault only achieved P7 and P9, with only 8 points for the team. None of the midfield teams scored less than Racing Point, as it was a double DNF for the team. Perez’s retirement also allowed Alex Albon to FINALLY take another podium in 2020 after he claimed his maiden podium at Mugello.
The 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix was truly unforgettable, and it was a true pleasure to review it. I hope you guys enjoyed reading our review of this race here at F1ntastic. Let me know in the comments below, do you think that the safety features should be improved in Formula 1 so that massive fires like Grosjean’s don’t happen? Do you think that the fuel cells need to be improved? Don’t forget to stay safe, and stay on the lookout for new posts!
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