BAHRAINI marshals continue to be celebrated for saving former Haas F1 driver Romain Grosjean’s life in November last year.
The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), which governs motor sport, shared interviews with marshals and volunteers during the three-day season-opening 2021 Formula One Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix race weekend.
Grosjean crashed into a barrier during the first lap of the 2020 Formula One Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix, causing an explosive fireball, and was rescued by two marshals before other volunteers rushed to put out the blaze.
The French driver’s car sliced in half after penetrating the barrier and quickly caught fire. He was trapped inside the cockpit for 27 seconds before scrambling out, yanking his jammed foot out of his racing boot in order to do so.
Grosjean suffered only minor burns to the back of his hands and a sprained left ankle, and was discharged from hospital soon after.
The crash happened on the opening lap when the right rear wheel of his car clipped the left front wheel of Russian driver Daniil Kvyat’s AlphaTauri, when trying to pass from the left to right-hand side of the Bahrain International Circuit’s Sakhir track.
“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 … providing primary paths for the escape of fuel,” the FIA said in a statement after investigating the incident.
“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.”
The ring-shaped halo device at the front of Grosjean’s cockpit protected his head by withstanding the huge impact, and he credited it with saving his life.
The videos provide insight into the in-the-moment thoughts of fire marshals Joby Matthew and Thaer Ali Taher, medical doctor Dr Yaser Yar Muhammad, track marshal Mehab Mehadt Fauzi, recovery marshal Ahmed Abdulla Mohammed and sector marshal Abdulla Ahmed Qambar.
“My first thoughts were to extricate the driver out of the car and extinguish the fire as soon as possible,” explains Taher.
“I was worried that the driver would not be able to get out. We used about 25-30 foam and powder fire extinguishers to put out the fire.”
The marshals and their heroic efforts were also highlighted during the ninth episode of the hit Netflix series Drive to Survive, as the film crew discussed the crash and how Bahrain’s marshals’ quick response saved his life.
“Actually, we were just behind the cars in the fast lane, so we could see the accident happen,” adds Dr Muhammad, who was in the FIA Medical Car.
“We are the first ones who responded to the accident. Dr Ian (FIA doctor Ian Roberts) and I rushed to the driver.
“Initially, he was not moving at all. After some time, he started moving and Dr Ian pulled him out, we took him to the car and assessed him.
“The first things that came to my mind were whether he is safe, if he had any head injury, chest trauma or any major burns.
“Our first priority was to extricate him from the car as soon as possible.”
The interviews were released by the FIA Volunteers and Officials Commission as marshals were being trained again during the weekend on FIA response procedures including how to extract unconscious drivers from cars in less than 20 seconds.