At the end of the 2020 Formula One season, Haas driver Romain Grosjean suffered a terrible accident at the Bahrain International Circuit. His car got lodged between sections of the Armco barrier, split and caught fire. It was one of the most violent accidents we’ve seen in F1 in a long time, and the FIA, F1’s governing body, has finally released a full report of what happened, including what, exactly, went wrong.
the The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) generally handles these investigations with care. Every time a driver is killed or seriously injured, or every time an accident is much more violent than most others we have seen recently, the FIA does an in-depth analysis of the cause and shares the report.
Here’s what the most recent report on the Grosjean incident had to say:
The car was severely damaged during the impact, including separation of the powertrain assembly from survivable cAna. The fuel tank inspection hatch on the left side of the chassis came off and the engine fuel supply connection was ripped from the fuel tank “safety bladder”; both provide primary pathways for fuel to escape from the tank.
The driver’s safety equipment, including helmet, HANS, and safety harness, as well as the survival cell, seat, headrest, and Halo cockpit front guard, performed to their specifications to protect the driver survival space and control 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.
The fire was lit during the final moments of the barrier impact, starting from the rear of the survival cell and moving forward.You burn towards the conductor as the fire grew
So basically the FIA has confirmed what appeared to be the case just by looking at the accident footage – the car and all of its safety measures seemed to do their job. The main problem here was the fact that the fuel tank’s safety bladder ruptured on impact, which was what started the fire.
With that said, there are many things the FIA is going to be looking into after the Grosjean accident, including:
- Changes in fuel bladder and / or fuel type
- The steering column, as it caught Grosjean’s left foot early in the accident.
- Assembling the power unit
- Headrest position, specifically in cases of fire
- Improvements to flame retardant gloves
- Railing improvements
- Better barriers
- More efficient fire suppression options
So basically any part of the bug that didn’t work as expected will be investigated in depth, with updates and improvements in the future.
Racing is an inherently dangerous sport and there is always the opportunity for an accident that defies expectations. But the FIA does a very good job of making sure those accidents don’t happen again.