Grosjean urges brain research after horror crash

Date published: December 24 2020 - News Desk

Romain Grosjean PA

Romain Grosjean wants Formula 1 to conduct research that results in ways of helping more drivers stay conscious after high-speed crashes such as his in Bahrain.

The Frenchman’s final moment in an F1 race looks like being the 137mph accident in which his Haas car clipped Daniil Kvyat’s AlphaTauri, speared into the barrier, split into two and burst into flames.

Mercifully, Grosjean was able to clamber from the burning wreckage in less than half a minute and over the barrier to safety, unharmed physically apart from burns to his hands and a sprained ankle.

Four days later, he was back in the paddock greeting the marshals and medical officials who helped to rescue him, but his five-year spell at Haas ended with the 34-year-old having to miss the season’s last two races due to the burns he had sustained.

Along with the Halo device that protected his head at the moment of impact, Grosjean was saved by the fact he remained conscious throughout and was able to use his legs to help extricate himself.

Now he is keen to improve the understanding motorsport has on how the brain reacts in such incidents.

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Romain Grosjean injuries

“I think there are many things we learn from an incident and in my case we are lucky that I am alive, I can talk and remember everything,” said Grosjean in a video released on his YouTube channel.

“I’m not sure if it’s a good thing for me, but I do remember everything and I believe some grey areas for safety in motorsport have already been understood and I see more (being understood).

“The next big step to me is to understand what is happening under the helmet, to the brain.

“Physically, we saw I came out of the car intact, yes (I have) a little burn on my hands and we can improve safety with the gloves, but also what is happening in the brain of the driver.

“In a 60G (impact) you should lose consciousness, even for a few seconds, but you shouldn’t be aware, as I was.

“That saved my life. But I would like to understand, with sensors on the brain where there has been an incident, what can we do better on the helmet and the headrest and safety and everything that the driver, even with a big impact, stays conscious for whatever work he has to do.”

Reflecting on the other factors in his miraculous escape, Grosjean added: “I think without the Halo – and it’s not big news that I was completely against the Halo when it came into Formula 1 – I wouldn’t be here.

“I think it was one of the biggest safety measures brought in (in) the last few years.

“Also, the overalls this year, the regulations have been changed for fire resistance and being brought up by 10 seconds. The regulations say 20 seconds, I stayed 28 seconds in the flames and escaped with minor burns on my right hand and a bit more severe but nothing too bad on my left hand.

“If the chassis had been broken, my legs would have gone, been broken or whatever, and I wouldn’t have been able to stand up and walk out.”

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