Romain Grosjean says there are still unanswered questions about his fiery accident at the Bahrain Grand Prix, particularly in regards to his ability to maintain consciousness.
An incident that grabbed headlines far beyond the world of Formula 1, Grosjean was fortunate to escape from the flaming wreck of his Haas after an over-53G collision with the barriers in the run to turn 4 on the first lap of the race.
His life saved in the initial impact by F1’s Halo head-protection device, Grosjean was then able to extract himself from the fire and walk away with only minor burns to his hands.
Subsequently, F1’s governing body, the FIA, has launched an investigation into the circumstances of the crash, with Grosjean indicating that particular attention should be given to understanding why he didn’t pass out.
“There are many things we learn from an incident,” he said in a video posted to social media. “In my case we are lucky that I am alive, that I can talk and that I remember everything.
“I’m not sure it’s a good thing for me, but I do remember everything and I believe some grey areas from safety in motorsport already have been kind of understood, and I see more.
“[In a] 60G impact, you should lose consciousness. Even for a few seconds, but you shouldn’t be as aware as I was, and that saved my life.
“I would like us to understand, with sensors on the brain when there’s an incident, what can we do better on the helmet and headrest and safety and everything that the driver, even with a big impact, stays well conscious and well aware of whatever he has to do.”
At the same time, Grosjean said he was certainly thankful for the safety innovations already in-place, even though in the case of the halo, he had been initially against its introduction.
“Without the Halo – and it’s not big news that I was completely against the Halo when it came into Formula 1 – I wouldn’t be here to talk to you. I think that was one of the biggest safety measures brought in the last few years.
“Also the overalls, this year the regulation has been changed for fire resistance and brought up by 10 seconds. The regulations say 20 seconds, I stayed 28 seconds into the flames, escaping with a minor burn on my right hand and a bit more severe – but nothing too bad – on my left hand.
“The strength of the chassis is coming up every year and it stayed in one piece and the monocoque protected me. I was still able to escape and to get out of the flames. If the chassis would have been broken, legs would have been gone, broken, whatever, I wouldn’t have been able to stand up and walk out.”
His contract with Haas now expired, Grosjean is looking for new racing opportunities in 2021, although he stresses his recovery remains top priority.
“I think first things first, recovering my hands, with full mobility and being healthy. [Also] I’m working psychologically, obviously that was a big shock. And I would lie if I said the image doesn’t come back sometimes.
“But I think Romain Grosjean will be racing. I think Romain Grosjean was born to race, and wants to give to motorsport more. But also give motorsport safety and experience and everything I went through.
“I’ve never been world champion in Formula 1, I’ve never won a grand prix. But if I can save life in the future by my experience, by my incident, by my work… I would have a much bigger legacy than being world champion.”