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F1® safety measures crucial in Grosjean crash, says medical car driver


Alan van der Merwe explained how the Frenchman was able to walk away.

Formula 1®'s safety measures helped make sure Romain Grosjean escaped following a huge crash at the Bahrain Grand Prix, according to one of the first on the scene of the incident.

The Haas driver hit a barrier on the opening lap of proceedings at the Sakhir circuit on Sunday, his car then splitting in two and bursting into flames.

He thankfully emerged from his cockpit as the red flag came out to halt the race, with marshals then quickly on hand to deal with the situation.

Grosjean went to hospital for further checks having suffered minor burns to his hands and ankles, according to his team, though Alan van der Merwe – driver of the medical car – admitted the FIA's protocols avoided a "very different outcome" to the incident.

"It was a big surprise for us. I have never seen that much fire in 12 years," van der Merwe told Sky Sports F1.

"We had to process what was going on. Romain started to get out of the car himself, which is pretty amazing after an accident like that.

"It was a relief when we finally got back to the medical centre and he was OK.

"All the systems we have worked to develop, everything worked hand-in-hand: the halo, the barriers, the seat-belt. Everything worked.

"Without just one of those things working, it could have been a very different outcome."

Haas boss Guenther Steiner was quick to thank van der Merwe, the circuit's medical team and the marshals for their "amazing" efforts in the immediate aftermath.

Steiner told BBC Radio 5 live: "When you see something like this the only thing you think is, 'I hope we get lucky'. You don't think how it happened or whatever.

"I would like to thank all the marshals. They did a fantastic job to get him away as quick as possible from the fire. It was amazing what they did."

The race was restarted in Bahrain after repair work was carried out on the barrier following the damage caused by Grosjean's car.