The 2020 Bahrain GP saw one of Formula One’s most horrifying crashes in its history when the Haas of Romain Grosjean erupted into flames.
As the race-start grew nearer on Sunday afternoon, the usual pre-race nerves I experience gradually intensified.
A number of thoughts start going through my head, who would get a good start? Who would lead into the first corner? Would anyone pick up damage?
But whilst deep at the back of mind there is always the worry a bad crash may occur, I don’t think anybody could’ve imagined the horrific incident that unfolded.
As the lights went out, there was the regular chaos as the 20 cars shuffled for position and tried to make it past the first few corners without any mishaps.
After the first phase, I could take a breath and take in the events of the start, Lewis Hamilton led the race, Valtteri Bottas got a poor start, and there was some contact between cars.
The pack began to make its way towards Turn 4, and the TV cameras changed shot, a quick glimpse of Lando Norris who had picked up front-wing damage, then the camera shot looking towards the cars streaming towards Turn 4.
Hamilton passed through the shot, and then in the background there was a sight that I will never forget.
The Haas of Grosjean, ploughing into the barrier out of Turn 3 and bursting into a fireball.
Usually I would make some sort of noise when there is a crash, a shout or anything of the sort, but when I saw a crash of such ferocity, I was left absolutely speechless.
I sat still, frozen in the chair, unable to come to terms with what I had just seen.
The first thoughts that went through my head was not how it had happened or which car it was, it was the question of have they survived?
The next few moments, waiting for confirmation that the Frenchman was out of the car, seemed like an eternity.
The news that Grosjean had climbed out of the cockpit and was in the hands of the medics was one of the biggest reliefs I think I will experience.
As the replays were broadcasted, the already severe crash took an even more frightening turn, as it was revealed the car had torn in half and the cockpit had lodged itself within the Armco barrier.
The safety of Formula One today no doubt saved the 34-year-old’s life, the strength of the monocoque, the fire resistance of today’s race suits, and the Halo device, all played a crucial role in the outcome of that accident.
The Haas driver escaped the incident with only minor burns to his hands and ankles; it is miraculous how his injuries were not even more severe, or even how he walked away relatively unscathed.
Ross Brawn (Formula One Managing Director), gave his thoughts on the crash after the race:
“I think the positives are the safety of the car and that’s what got us through today,” he said.
“The barrier splitting was a classic problem many years ago and normally it resulted in a fatality.
“There’s absolutely no doubt the Halo was the factor that saved the day and saved Romain.”
When the Halo device was introduced to the Formula One cars in 2018, a number of drivers, including Grosjean, had their doubts over its necessity.
The crash that occurred on Sunday no doubt ended the debate over the device.
In a video posted on social media, the Haas driver spoke of his relief that the Halo was there to protect him, and thanked fans for their messages of support.