Alan van der Merwe, one of the first people on the scene of Romain Grosjean’s horror crash at the Bahrain Grand Prix, has opened up on the Frenchman’s miraculous escape.
Grosjean’s Haas car was ripped in half and engulfed in flames as it shot through the safety barriers on the opening lap of the Formula One race on Sunday.
The sport watched on in shock as TV cameras cut away from the flashpoint and the race was immediately stopped.
A replay then showed Grosjean frantically leaping out of his fireball inferno with the aid of a medical doctor.
It was Van der Merwe, the driver of the FIA’s medical car, who helped Grosjean escape from the fireball – and he has now given his verdict on the shocking incident.
Speaking to Sky Sports, he said: “It was a big surprise. I have never seen that much fire in 12 years.
“Romain got out of the car himself, which is pretty amazing after an accident like that.
“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.”
It emerged that his car sliced in half on impact, with one part of the car going through the other side of the barrier.
A Haas spokesperson said: “Romain has minor burns on his hands and ankles but otherwise he is OK. He is with the doctors now.
“As a precaution and for further medical evaluation Romain will be transported to hospital.”
Grosjean was subsequently airlifted to the MDF MC Military Hospital, 10 miles north of the Bahrain International Circuit, with suspected broken ribs.
Lewis Hamilton was seen shaking his head upon watching a replay of the remarkable incident.
Hamilton, who maintained his lead at the front of the grid, tweeted while the race was suspended and took the crash as a reminder of the dangers of the sport.
“I’m so grateful Romain is safe. Wow… the risk we take is no joke, for those of you out there that forget that we put our life on the line for this sport and for what we love to do,” he wrote.
“Thankful to the FIA for the massive strides we’ve taken for Romain to walk away from that safely.”