“That must not happen”: Vettel shocked by the security gap


The dramatic accident of Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean is surprisingly light – also because numerous safety measures are in place. But one factor of the fire disaster terrified the four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel lastingly.
No, it is no wonder that Romain Grosjean survived his shocking, worst accident in recent Formula 1 history, almost unhurt, apart from minor wounds. The fact that the Frenchman can only escape from his car that is on fire and has been torn into two parts with minor burns and damaged ribs after a violent impact on the guardrail at 221 kilometers per hour is due to the steadily improved protection of the driver over the years.

The Halo protective bar, long controversial even among the drivers, prevented the Haas pilot from being beheaded; a suit that was fire-resistant for many seconds protected him from the most serious and life-threatening burns. And yes, of course, good luck and a marshall and medical crew who react quickly and competently are responsible for the mild outcome of the incident.

When Grosjean was successfully recovered and the fire extinguished, the extent of the catastrophe became apparent: the car, at least the part in which Grosjean was sitting, was still stuck in the middle of the guardrail, which had burst under the force of the impact. And that’s exactly what made the spectacular accident so incredibly dangerous, according to Sebastian Vettel. “I didn’t really look at the pictures a lot because I didn’t want to, but the main thing is that he got out of there,” said four-time world champion Vettel, relieved after the race – and amazed: “I honestly don’t know how he did it, “said Vettel in view of the pictures.

“That mustn’t happen”

But the Ferrari driver had seen enough to quickly draw conclusions: “I didn’t see much, but enough to see that there was a hole in the guardrail” – and that should not happen under any circumstances. “It’s good that the cars are safer than they were in the past, but the guardrail shouldn’t fail and the car shouldn’t catch fire like that,” added Vettel. “I don’t see why and how the guardrail can fail in such a way that the car even breaks through, gets stuck and tears the back of the car off the front, which of course then exposes the gas tank and starts the fire. That must not happen. ”

Mercedes Motorsport Director Toto Wolff agreed with Vettel: “The angle must have been so precise – like a knife that cuts through. I don’t think that modern barriers should be divided like that. We have to analyze that.”

World champion Lewis Hamilton, who won the race in Bahrain after a restart, recalled the risks of the sport shortly after the interruption after Grosjean’s crash on round one: “Wow … the risk we are taking is no joke for those of you of you out there forgetting that we are risking our lives for the sport and for what we love to do. We are grateful to Fia for the big steps we have taken to ensure Romain gets away safely. ”

Race director Michael Masi did not want to agree in an initial analysis: “There is only a certain amount of energy that it can withstand,” he defended the construction. “The mass of energy has to go somewhere. The car and the security cell did exactly what they are there for: to protect the driver,” Masi continues. “The halo did what it should, too.”

“Should have other protective measures”

Vettel’s reference to the dangerous guardrail is not just about the safety of the driver: “There are also people behind the guardrail. If the car breaks through and is not stopped by the guardrail, then there has to be something stronger than the guardrail”, said the 32-year-old. “The marshals behind it are volunteering for us and putting themselves at great risk. […] So maybe we should have other protective measures in such places. ”

Formula 1 sports director Ross Brawn announced a comprehensive review immediately after the race. “A lot of investigations will be carried out between now and the next race. I am sure that we will then act accordingly,” said the Briton after the Haas driver’s crash. Brawn was mainly concerned with the question of how the monocoque could dig itself into the guardrail and the car caught fire.

“The halo saved his life today,” Brawn said of the ring-shaped stirrup. This titanium device, which is stretched over the driver’s head and fixed in the middle, has been mandatory in Formula 1 since 2018. Halo is English and translated means halo.

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