Formula 1 is not a safe sport. The racing driver Romain Grosjean has now also experienced this firsthand: He survived a horror crash. He owes that to “Halo” among other things. We explain what this is all about.
If you look at the pictures of the accident, it is almost a miracle that Grosjean escaped alive from his burning car.
With the help of the marshals, the 34-year-old racing driver left the scene of the burning accident, visibly dazed. According to his team, he suffered minor burns to his hands and ankles. As a precaution and for further investigation, Grosjean was rushed to hospital by helicopter.
He hadn’t seen so much fire in twelve years, said Alan van der Merwe, the driver of the medical car. “It’s great to see that everything worked: the guard rails, the halo, the rescue measures.” Grosjean himself also mentioned the “Halo” cockpit protection in an Instagram update from the hospital: “A few years ago I wasn’t for him Halo, but I think he’s the best thing that has happened to Formula 1. Without him I couldn’t speak to you now. So thank you. ”
“Halo” is the ring-shaped titanium bracket that is stretched over the driver’s head in the cockpit – similar to a halo. Hence the cockpit protection got its name. Ex-pilot Jean Alesi explained that the long controversial cockpit protection “Halo” probably “saved the life” of his compatriot.
“Halo” is now mandatory in racing cars
The “halo” has been compulsory in Formula 1 since 2018. The cockpit protection is intended to protect the driver from larger parts flying around. Its introduction had been decided by the world automobile association Fia despite criticism – for example because of concerns about a possibly restricted view. The reason for the introduction were serious accidents, which would probably have been less severe with such protection. The Brazilian Felipe Massa was seriously injured in the head by a metal spring in Hungary in 2009. He had to end the season early and was not able to race again until 2010. In 2009, 18-year-old Henry Surtees was also fatally hit in Formula 2 by a flying tire on the Brands Hatch circuit in England.
When the “Halo” was introduced, the racing drivers had to prove that, despite the design, they were able to get out of the car in seven seconds. If that hadn’t worked, Grosjean would probably have burned in the car. But he escaped the flames unaided. Fireproof clothing protected him from severe burns.
The race was interrupted for the rescue and extinguishing work. After 85 minutes it went on and in the end Lewis Hamilton won the Bahrain Grand Prix. The winner then tweeted that he was glad Grosjean was doing well. He also made it clear that the racing drivers were putting their lives at risk. He is therefore grateful for the safety measures in Formula 1: “We are grateful to the FIA for the great steps we have taken so that Romain could get away safely.”
Grosjean won’t be in the next race
On Monday, Haas team boss Günther Steiner visited the injured Grosjean in the hospital. The racing driver will be able to leave the hospital on Tuesday, announced the Haas racing team afterwards. In the penultimate race of the season on Sunday, Grosjean will not be there. Instead, the Brazilian Pietro Fittipaldi will make his debut as a reserve driver in the race. “After it was decided that it was best for Romain to skip at least one race, the decision to put Pietro in the car was pretty easy,” Steiner was quoted as saying.
Fittipaldi was “extremely grateful” for this opportunity, even if the circumstances are “not ideal” to take part in a Formula 1 race for the first time.