Formula 1 returned to Bahrain in the form of Bahrain GP due to the pandemic, but no one was expecting what unfolded. After what happened, Haas driver Romain Grojean became a hero overnight ( more about it later).
The Bahrain Internation Circuit is a 5.4 Km circuit designed by the legendary German designer Hermann Tilke. When the circuit was built, the designers had a blank sandy canvas just like Abu Dhabi. This circuit provides great overtaking opportunities and has provided some epic battles like the 2014’s famous “Duel in the Desert” between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.
Going in the weekend the first 2 practice sessions were topped by the recently crowned seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton while the young Dutch Max Verstappen topped the third one. As it is always, qualifying was very close between Lewis, Valterri and Max. But eventually, Lewis took the provisional pole, World Champion for a reason, eh.
The starting grid after the usual practice and qualifiers looked like this –
The race was where it all unfolded.
Just two corners and the spectators were horrified by a fiery explosion at the rear of the grid. It took some time to confirm that it was Romain Grosjean’s car which after making contact with Daniil Kyvat had shunted in the resulting in a massive 52 G crash.
Although it was a slow corner (for F1 cars), the speed was still a shattering 140 MPH. After it crashed, the front end of the car, along with Romain had ripped through the metal guard rail like a can opener. This results in the bursting of the fuel cell, creating an explosion. Heroically, Grosjean pulled himself out even after being in the inferno for nearly 20 seconds.
He was helped by the Medical car driver Alan van der Merwe and Dr. Ian Roberts. The race was immediately red-flagged. Romain was relatively unscathed looking at the magnitude of the accident due to the HALO.
As soon as the race was restarted another major incident took place, this time around Racing Point,s Lance Stroll being rolled over, contact with once again Daniil Kyvat.The driver was safe, once again thanks to HALO. A safety car period followed, after which race was resumed.
The resumption was beneficial for Leclerc. Divebombing his teammate Sebastien Vettel who was left unamused by the youngster’s stunt and overtaking Ricciardo and Gasly, then jumped from P12 to P7-by the end of lap 3. While Bottas suffered a puncture which forced him to pit and came out 16th.
All this while, Hamilton was comfortably building up a lead of 5 seconds over the Dutchman Max Verstappen. He then pitted for mediums along with Albon at lap 19, indicating that another pit was on the cards.
Lap 18 to 23 saw many other drivers pitting for the first time. The Mclaren duo was having a great race, with Sainz overtaking Leclerc and finishing P5 from P15, while Lando finishing ahead of him at P4.
It was not all well at the other side of the Mercedes garage. Bottas had to do multiple pitstops due to issues and eventually finished P8, not where anybody expects a Mercedes to be.
But the real heartbreak was for Sergio Perez. It was lap 54 and it looked like he was comfortably cruising to a podium finish, but suddenly the engine of his RP started emitting a cloud of black smoke and after a few seconds was engulfed in flames. Fortunately, the driver got out with an unscathed body, but a broken heart.
This resulted in the race being finished under the safety car, conquered by Lewis Hamilton. The 2 Red Bulls of Verstappen and Albon followed, finishing 2nd and 3rd respectively.
It was obvious who was voted the Driver of the Day, none other than Romain Grosjean who had survived a massive 52 G crash.
The race had 2 major crashes, Romain Grosjean and Lance Stroll, both highlighting the same thing, the significance of HALO. If HALO hadn’t been there the thing that would have made contact with the Guardrail would have been Grosjean’s head, and we can’t even imagine what that would have resulted in.
So this was the incident that would have shut the mouths of those who stood against the implementation of HALO. One needs to understand that going at 200 MPH in an open cockpit car is a no joke, and these guys put their lives online for our entertainment and the least we can do is ensure maximum safety.
Written by – Tanay Lavingia
Compiled by – Tirth Pandya