The FIA revealed the cause of the huge explosion after Romain Grosjean’s crash during the Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix.
After all the analysis and investigations needed, the FIA also reported some recommendations to avoid these types of incidents and to improve the safety of the sport.
For those who do not know what happened, the Haas driver, Romain Grosjean, was involved in a horrendous crash at the opening lap of the Bahrain Grand Prix four months ago. The French driver collided with the AlphaTauri of Daniil Kvyat. This collision made him lose control of the car, which hit the barrier at more than 200 kph. As a consequence, the car split in two and everything exploded.
Luckily, thanks to the Halo and the other safety measures implemented into the sport, Grosjean was able to escape the fire and he reached the medical car walking on his feet. The French driver was almost uninjured, he only got some burns on his ankles and hands, that prevented him to take part in the last two races of the season.
After the crash, the FIA declared that an investigation would be launched to understand what caused the huge explosion. The report of the inspection has now been released.
“The car suffered extensive damage during the impact including separation of the power train assembly from the survival cell,” mentioned in the report. “The fuel tank inspection hatch on the left-hand side of the chassis was dislodged and the engine fuel supply connection was torn from the fuel tank ‘safety bladder’; both providing primary paths for the escape of fuel from the tank.
“The driver safety equipment including helmet, HANS and safety harness as well as the survival cell, seat, headrest, and Halo frontal cockpit protection performed according to their specifications in protecting the driver’s survival space and managing the forces applied to the driver during the impact.”
“The high voltage Energy Recovery System (ERS) battery was significantly damaged, with some parts of the ERS battery assembly remaining with the powertrain and others remaining attached to the survival cell.”
“Fire was ignited during the final moments of the barrier impact, starting from the rear of the survival cell and progressing forwards towards the driver as the fire grew.”
During the examination of the crash, the FIA mainly focused on the safety of the fuel bladder, which caused the fireball effect after the hard hit.
Something that should not happen during crashes like this one, is to remain stuck. This is exactly what happened to Grosjean though: his foot was stuck and he could not get out. Due to this, the FIA revised “the regulation of survival cell front geometry, plus additional load tests in that area” and a “review of steering column mounting requirements.”
In the report, there was also included that there would be a “review of regulation and homologation requirements for headrest assembly” and “analysis of Power Unit mounting and mount failure modes.”
The safety of the drivers is also ensured by the gloves and the suites, which allow them not to suffer from heavy burns immediately. Grosjean stayed in the fire for 27 seconds, and he only got some small burns. Speaking of gloves and suits, the report mentioned that there would be an “investigation into improvements to the gloves’ Heat Transfer Index (HTI).”
Moreover, the thing mentioned in the report was that there would be an investigation on both the extinguisher system on open-wheel cars and also on the visor mechanism that must be operational even after a huge impact.
“Important learnings have been drawn from these investigations that will drive our continuous mission to improve safety in Formula 1 and global motorsport,” said FIA president Jean Todt.
“The enduring commitment of the FIA, particularly the Safety Department, on reducing risks associated with motorsport enabled Romain Grosjean to maintain consciousness and survive an accident of this magnitude. Safety is and will remain FIA’s top priority.”