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2020 Bahrain Grand Prix Blog

Romain Grosjean suffered one of the most terrifying crashes we’ve ever seen at the start of the Bahrain Grand Prix. His car was torn in half and engulfed in a ball of flames. How he walked away with just minor injuries is a miracle. For the millions of fans watching around the world there was a moment when your stomach lurched. The outcome could have been much, much worse.

Thankfully crashes like this are rare in Formula 1. Monaco 1991 was the last time a car was split in two. Imola 1989 the last time one caught fire in a crash. That doesn’t make it any less scary though and Alan van der Merwe, who was driving the Mercedes Medical Car, described the scene that greeted him, saying: “This was crazy. Honestly, to get there and see half of the car, and the other half nowhere to be seen and a huge ball of flame.”

A crash of this scale obviously overshadowed the race itself. There was a delay of more than hour whilst the barriers were repaired, which must have been horrible for the other drivers. They returned to the pit lane but did not really know what to do with themselves. As professionals they were trying to focus on the race, but it would have been impossible not to think about their colleague who was being airlifted to hospital.

It was a relief to everyone when Gosjean posted a social media update from his hospital bed later in the evening. His hands were heavily bandaged, but he seemed in good spirits. Grosjean said in his message that he had been sceptical about the introduction of Halo but has since changed his mind. Hardly surprising, as it saved his life.

The race seemed destined to never get underway. After the restart we made it to Turn 8 before Daniil Kvyat made contact with Lance Stroll as he tried a lunge down the inside, which resulted in the Racing Point being flipped upside down and a further safety car period. Thankfully Stroll was ok and he was chatting over team radio as he was rescued from his stricken vehicle. The stewards handed Kvyat a 10-second time penalty for his part in the incident.

Racing did finally get underway and it was business as usual for Lewis Hamilton. He led from the front and despite Max Verstappen’s best efforts, he was never able to mount a serious challenge, allowing Hamilton one of the easier victories of his career. Toto Wolff said afterwards: “I’m very happy for the team and Lewis. The car showed strong performance today and the strategy team was on its A game.”

Racing Point can consider themselves the unlucky team of the weekend. Stroll’s race was over before it started but Sergio Perez was going strong and looked set to claim a place on the podium before a power unit failure forced him to retire with three laps to go. Otmar Szafnauer bemoaned his team’s luck, saying: “A tough evening in Bahrain. Checo was cruelly denied a podium after an MGU-K issue forced us to park the car with three laps remaining. Up to that point, he had driven a flawless race.”

One team’s loss is another’s gain, and it was McLaren who took advantage of the Pink Panther’s misfortune. Lando Norris finished in P4 with Carlos Sainz one place behind him. A 22-point haul from the race means McLaren leapfrog Racing Point in the Constructors’ standings. Andreas Seidl was pleased, saying afterwards: It was a well-executed race today, with the right calls in terms of tyres and race strategy and good work in the pit-stops. We can’t get carried away by it. Our target for the final two races must be to qualify higher up the grid – and we’re looking forward to attempting that next week when we’re back here in Sakhir, albeit racing on a very different circuit.”

Sub-60s laps can be expected as F1 utilises Bahrain’s ‘outer track’ for the forthcoming Sakhir Grand Prix. We can’t pretend that we are not excited by this prospect, however, the best news to come from this weekend’s race was to see Romain Grosjean walk away after such a horrific crash. We wish him a full and speedy recovery.