Formula 1

Todt: "Scary" return of fire to F1 needs understanding

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FIA president Jean Todt says the "scary" return of a fiery crash to Formula 1 is something the sport quickly needs to understand.

As motor racing's governing body begins a detailed investigation into Romain Grosjean's escape from his terrifying accident at the Bahrain Grand Prix, Todt said the way the car burst in to flames was a key issue for him.

In an exclusive video interview with Motorsport.com, Todt admitted that the Grosjean crash had been 'scary' to watch, but it was the fire aspect that had surprised him the most.

"I think we all lost memory of a car catching into fire and into flames," said Todt. "So we need to understand why it happened.

"I must say, I don't remember a lot of accidents where you see the car cut in two pieces like that. But we need to have good expertise.

"It's seems the monocoque resisted very well. Can you imagine how will be his legs, his feet, if the monocoque did not resist, which is absolutely outstanding. And then a lot of things were the result of improvement."

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Todt said that while F1 safety measures worked in many ways to save Grosjean's life, the FIA would look into why the Frenchman's hands got burned.

"We need to understand the gloves, because his hands are slightly burned second degree," said Todt. "So we need to understand what has happened, for clearly him and the doctor, because the doctor, his overalls were also burnt."

While Todt said there was satisfaction from the way that the Halo had helped save Grosjean's life, he pointed to other aspects of the crash that showed more could be done.

"You cannot anticipate the way a car could leave the track as it happened," he said. "The angle was determined because he touched the wheel of Daniil Kvyat and then went straight into the barriers in a place where you would not expect a car to leave the road.

"Then the car with 100kg of fuel, when it was cut in two, we need to understand that. It probably hit at over 200 km/h the rails, and we know that if the Halo had not been there, I don't want to think about what would have been the tragedy."

Other elements of the accident were down to good fortune Todt reckoned: such as the incident happening near the first corner on the first lap so the medical car could be quickly on the scene.

The safety vehicle arrived at Grosjean's fire just nine seconds after the blaze started.

Todt added: "In a way it is fortunate to have the medical car following the group of Formula 1 [cars], because it was just after the start. So they could be there very, very quickly.

"And then you can see how brave were the crew in the car, with Ian Roberts and Alan van de Merwe, who immediately came out and exposed themselves, including local marshals.

"So here you see great people and it is probably what does inspire me. Very often I say, there are a lot of things I don't like in Formula 1.

"But there are a lot of things I love in Formula 1. And it's part of the thing I do love and it just encourages me, the organisation and the team to move forward."

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Series Formula 1
Author Jonathan Noble