What remains of Romain Grosjean's car after his crash during the Bahrain GP on November 29, 2020, will be analyzed at the factory.
Tolga Bozoglu / AP / SIPA
Romain Grosjean escaped a very impressive crash on Sunday at the Bahrain Grand Prix unscathed.
The French driver can thank F1's latest innovations in safety, which saved his life.
Consultant for Canal +, Franck Montagny deciphers all the progress made in recent years and what still needs to be improved.
A collision in a barrier at 220 km / h, a car cut in two, an explosion of the tank which immediately sets off a spectacular fire and only a handful of seconds to get out of the passenger compartment… From our window, Romain Grosjean is a true miracle worker after his terrible crash on Sunday in the first round of the Bahrain Grand Prix.
"I believe rather that it is a proof of the incessant work of all those which are committed for the safety within F1, the FIA and on all the circuits of the world", reacted Sunday evening Michael Masi, the race director of the International Federation.
It is true that in recent years the progress made in Formula 1 in terms of safety has been spectacular.
And it is all the new standards that allowed Romain Grosjean to get by with only a few burns on his hands.
This crash is "a first for our generation", in the words of Pierre Gasly.
"All the systems we have developed - the halo, the safety barriers, the belts - have worked as expected," said Alan van der Merwe, who has been driving the medical car since 2009. Without just one of these, the result would have been could be very different.
»Franck Montagny, former pilot now consultant for the Canal + channel, helps us to see more clearly in the elements which saved the life of the French pilot of the Haas team.
When did the main progress in terms of security date?
There was a big leap forward from the 2000s. The FIA started the movement, and then when the manufacturers entered F1, things changed a lot.
Because what is tested in Formula 1 is then used for private cars.
It is a good laboratory.
The first thing was to improve everything around the pilot.
Today everything is carbon.
We have installed what is called a survival cell, that is to say an area where it is very difficult to enter for external elements.
The legs, the feet, the lower body to the shoulders, all of this is almost 100% safe, whereas these areas were affected a lot before.
Romain Grosjean's car on fire.
- Brynn Lennon / AP / SIPA
What about the head?
The evolution is more recent.
Improvements have been made to helmets.
They are now "bullet proof" ("bullet proof" in VF), while remaining very light, around 1 kg.
The visors were also developed because there was an accident with Felipe Massa, who had had his eye damaged after taking a spring lost by another car in the head [in 2009].
Until coming to the famous halo, introduced in 2018 ...
It is a reflection which had started before but which accelerated after the death of Jules Bianchi [the Frenchman had hit a tow truck during the GP of Japan in October 2014, he was dead nine months later].
It is a carbon part, integral with the chassis, which protects the heads of pilots during big crashes.
At the beginning, nobody wanted it because it is not very nice, it distorted F1, it added weight, etc.
But we can only see its effectiveness.
If there is no halo, Romain is no longer there.
There was also concern that it might interfere with vision, but the front bar is very close, and since the pilots don't look at what is immediately in front of them, they got used to it quickly.
# BahrainGP🇧🇭 Increasingly efficient
▶ ️ https://t.co/7plkVVV12v pic.twitter.com/ggdIABK3lN
- CANAL + F1® (@ CanalplusF1) November 29, 2020
What are the areas where there is still room for improvement?
On external security, for example.
We saw that the rails had opened.
You have to work on this to achieve minimal risk, even if it will always remain a risky sport, with cars that go at 300 km / h and that can crash into each other.
Flame-retardant suits have also made great strides, but we can always go further, especially in the area of knuckles, seams, gloves.
We saw, moreover, that Romain's car caught fire.
However, that too, that has changed, the tanks are no longer solid but soft, with a foam all around the tank to capture liquids and prevent it from igniting.
And at each part connected to this tank, there is a double safety to prevent any escape of liquids.
But there, as the car was completely cut in two, the tank could catch fire.
This case will be studied.
How exactly do we learn from this type of accident?
Grosjean's car will go for analysis.
We call it quarantine.
Each part is going to be brought to a Haas factory, and there an army of engineers will comb it all.
In a team like this, there will be around 400 working on it, but at Mercedes, for example, it's 1,500 people.
In the factory, there will be areas with rubalises, like a crime scene in fact, with the parts arranged by category: aerodynamic development, mechanical development, dynamic development.
Each engineer will come to study the parts, redo the tests, run them under infrared, etc., to understand what happened and further improve the car.
There will also be engineers from the FIA, and even from outside if necessary.
Romain Grosjean crash: The pilot thanks the Safety Halo, "without that I wouldn't be here to talk to you"
Crash of Romain Grosjean: The driver will be released from the hospital on Tuesday but is forfeited for the next Grand Prix