I “saw death coming” says Grosjean
Romain Grosjean says he “saw death coming” in his fiery crash in the Bahrain Grand Prix and fought to get out “for his children”. The Hass driver suffered burns after his Haas car burst into flames after a 53G crash on the opening lap of Sunday’s race.
Grosjean is to remain in hospital in Manama for a further night on Tuesday. Speaking to France’s TF1 from the hospital he said “I would say there is a feeling of being happy to be alive, of seeing things differently. But also there is the need to get back in the car, if possible in Abu Dhabi.”
The postponed Abu Dhabi race takes place in ten days, with Grosjean saying he wants to race “to finish my story with Formula One in a different way”.
He does not have a drive for next season, after Haas decided to change their line-up and recruit two new drivers who come with financial backing for 2021. Grosjean will be replaced for this weekends race in Bahrain by Pietro Fittipaldi the grandson of two-time champion Emerson.
They announced Russian Nikita Mazepin on Tuesday and are expected to confirm Mick Schumacher, son of seven-time champion Michael, on Wednesday.
Grosjean described his escape from the car as “almost like a second birth”.
He said: “To come out of the flames that day is something that will mark my life forever. I have a lot of people who have shown me love and it has touched me a lot, and at times I get a bit teary-eyed.”
Grosjean says he doesn’t know if it was a miracle but says it wasn’t his time to die. He described his experiences in the immediate aftermath of the crash, as he was in the cockpit of the burning car, which had broken in two and became lodged in a barrier.
He added, “I don’t know if the word miracle exists or if it can be used, but in any case I would say it wasn’t my time [to die]. It felt much longer than 28 seconds. I see my visor turning all orange, I see the flames on the left side of the car.”
Grosjean says “I thought about a lot of things, including Niki Lauda, and I thought that it wasn’t possible to end up like that, not now. I couldn’t finish my story in Formula 1 like that.”
He was due to be discharged from hospital earlier today, but it was later decided that it was safer he remained in hospital for infection control.
“a number of things that shouldn’t have happened”
The FIA has started its investigation into Romain Grosjean’s crash at the Bahrain Grand Prix, with Ross Brawn saying there were “a number of things that shouldn’t have happened” in the frightening incident.
Grosjean escaped the accident with only burns after his car struck the barrier and split in two on the exit of Turn Three at high-speed. It is believed that the halo head protection saved his life, but that will not stop the sport to improve safety standards for both its cars and circuits.
All accidents of this nature are investigated by the governing body to learn more about what happened in Sunday’s to make further improvements.
FIA race director Michael Masi said: “We will look at it all and undertake a full investigation of the whole incident, and what we can learn. Be it car safety, be it driver equipment, be it safety features around the circuit. The survival cell did exactly what it was there to do. It kept the driver safe.”
“But we’ll review the incident itself and see if there’s anything that we can learn in the short term. But, certainly, from the barrier integrity and so forth, there’s no knee-jerking to it.”
F1 motorsport and technical managing director, Brawn said there were several concerning aspects to the aftermath of the Haas car’s impact with the metal barriers.
“Undoubtedly we’ve got to do a very deep analysis of all the events that occurred because there are a number of things that shouldn’t have happened.”
Brawn was part of the inquiry into the fatal accident of Jules Bianchi in 2014, he says there was serval concerning aspects to the aftermath of the Haas car’s impact with the metal barriers.
He suggested that some of the failures were unpredictable, and there is a common thought that the fuel cell shouldn’t have burst. A fire of that nature hasn’t been seen in decades.
F1 races on the Bahrain circuit again this week for the Sakhir GP, although the second race features a shorter but faster configuration.
He said “For sure there’ll be some very careful scrutiny between now and the next race. Any information we can gather between now and the next race we will do so and I’m sure any action that will be taken that needs to be done.
Grosjean wants to race in Abu Dhabi
Romain Grosjean wants to return to drive for Haas at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix according to team principal Gunther Steiner. The Frenchman escaped the wreckage of his car with only burns but will be replaced this weekend by reserve driver Pietro Fittipaldi.
Grosjean wants to return for the last race of the season, assuming he gets medical clearance to drive. He will also stay an extra night in hospital, as his recovery process continues, despite an initial plan to discharge him on Tuesday.
Steiner told Motorsport.com, “The aim is really Romain would like to do it. I spoke to him yesterday about it. He really wants to be in Abu Dhabi. But I said, ‘Try to get better, we speak on Sunday or Monday let’s say, how you feel, if it is doable.’”
“But basically we cross that bridge when we come to it. At the moment we’ve got plenty of time. Pietro is here, Romain is here, we just have to see how he feels, so I’m not in a hurry to decide what to do, or what is needed. It depends on his health.”
Despite the plan to discharge Grosjean today, it’s been decided he will remain in hospital because it will help with the healing process. Steiner said it was not a sign of a problem, and the Frenchman is in good spirits.
Steiner also confirmed that Grosjean couldn’t return for this weekend’s Sakhir GP: “No, he couldn’t race this weekend with the burns he has got.”
Asked what Grosjean remembers, he said “He remembers how he wanted to get out, or how he got out, he explained that very well to me. What he asked me was, ‘How did I end up there?’ I said, ‘You ran over Kvyat’s car, basically, you turned right and ran over his front wheel, and that turned you around and put you in the wall.’
He said, “’I didn’t see the car.’ I don’t want to put words in his mouth and say he doesn’t remember it, I think he didn’t realise what he did. I wouldn’t say he lost any memory of it. I think it went so quick that he cannot remember it.”
Fittipaldi name returns to F1
Pietro Fittipaldi will replace Romain Grosjean following his crash at the Bahrain Grand Prix. Grosjean sustained burns to the backs of his hands in a terrifying crash on the opening lap of the race on Sunday, leaving him in need of treatment in hospital.
Haas has announced that he is unable to race in the Sakhir Grand Prix this weekend. As a result, Haas reserve driver Fittipaldi will get the call up to make his F1 debut, replacing Grosjean.
Haas F1 team principal Gunther Steiner said “After it was decided that the best thing for Romain was to skip at least one race, the choice to put Pietro in the car was pretty easy. Pietro will drive the VF-20 and he’s familiar with us having been around the team for the past two seasons as a test and reserve driver.”
Steiner said it was the right thing to do and that the Brazilian has been patient and has always been prepared for this opportunity. Fittipaldi is the grandson of two-time F1 world champion Emerson Fittipaldi and won the 2017 World Series Formula V8 3.5 title before appearing in IndyCar and once in Super Formula alongside his Haas reserve commitments.
Fittipaldi admits this was “not ideal” circumstances under which to make his debut, but thanked the team for its faith to put him in the car.
Saying “I’ve been with the team a lot this season, both trackside and working on simulator sessions, so I’m familiar with the team’s operating procedures on a Grand Prix weekend.”
“It’s going to be exciting to make my first career start in Formula One. I’ll be giving it my all and I look forward to starting in free practice on Friday in Bahrain.”
Mazepin named as Haas driver
Haas has announced that Nikita Mazepin will be one of its race drivers next year, becoming the fourth Russian to race in Formula One. The Russian who is currently third in Formula Two going into this weekends season finale at the Sakhir Grand Prix.
Mazepin is expected to be joined at Haas by championship leader Mick Schumacher. The twenty-one-year-old has already undergone extensive preparation for his step up to the top level, having first tested for Force India at Silverstone as long ago as 2016.
He also logged mileage with the team in 2017 and 2018, and since 2019 he has had an association with Mercedes. Mazepin made his first official outing for Mercedes at last season’s third Barcelona Test. He has also received coaching and assistance from the marque’s reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne.
team principal Gunther Steiner said, “Nikita has underlined his credentials in F2 this year with a brace of victories and a handful of podiums in what’s been a strong sophomore season for him.”
“He’s developed into a mature racer moving up through the junior ranks – notably most recently in the GP3 Series, where he finished runner-up in 2018, and obviously in F2 over the past two seasons.
Steiner says he is excited to see what Mazepin can achieve at the highest level next season.
Mazepin added “Becoming a F1 driver is a lifelong dream come true for me. I really appreciate the trust being put in me by Gene Haas, Gunther Steiner, and the whole of the team. They’re giving a young driver an opportunity and I thank them for that.
“I’m looking forward to starting our relationship together, both on and off the track, and I’m naturally keen to continue to demonstrate my abilities after a strong F2 season.
Hamilton tests positive for Coronavirus
Lewis Hamilton will miss this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain after testing positive for coronavirus. Mercedes said the Briton woke with mild symptoms on Monday and returned a positive result at a subsequent test and again at a retest.
The seven-times champion is in self-isolation in Bahrain and Mercedes say his replacement will be announced soon. A statement said, “Apart from mild symptoms, he is otherwise fit and well and the entire team sends him our very best wishes for a swift recovery.”
In a statement, Hamilton added, he was “devastated” to miss the first race of his F1 career. He said he was following protocols and urged others to stay safe. Two individuals in Hamilton’s ‘sub-bubble’ are also self-isolating as a result, it is understood.
This could mean he will not race again before next years Australian Grand Prix. He must return a negative test before returning to the paddock and therefore is a doubt for the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi on 13 December.
Hamilton now cannot equal Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel’s all-time record of thirteen wins in a season, but his absence from Bahrain’s second race ends that prospect for 2020. He currently leads the driver’s championship by 131 points.
Mercedes said Hamilton was tested three times last week, including on Sunday at the Bahrain International Circuit, and returned a negative result on each occasion.
However, as well as waking with mild symptoms on Monday, he was also informed that a contact “prior to arrival in Bahrain” had tested positive.
The team haven’t announced a replacement, but the team’s reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne was always scheduled to head to Bahrain this week following the Formula E test in Valencia.
Vandoorne favourite to replace Hamilton
Stoffel Vandoorne is believed to be the leading candidate to replace Lewis Hamilton, he, however, says he hasn’t given much thought to a possible Formula One comeback with Mercedes.
The seven-times champion tested positive for coronavirus on Monday and has to self-isolate in Bahrain for the next ten days. Mercedes said it would announce a replacement for Hamilton “in due course”, but no news is expected to be issued on Tuesday.
Vandoorne who raced for McLaren in 2015, currently competes in Formula E for Mercedes and is the F1 teams designated F1 reserve driver, having served in the role since the start of the 2019 season. The Belgian was already due to head to Bahrain on Tuesday.
Speaking in Valencia where he was taking part in pre-season testing, Vandoorne said he remained unsure whether or not he would be racing in Bahrain this weekend.
Vandoorne said “I’m anyway going to Bahrain, I’m catching a flight tomorrow. At the moment, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I know there is a chance for me to drive, but let’s wait and see. I’m travelling there tomorrow and I’ll find out probably.”
Vandoorne revealed that he first learned Hamilton had been ruled out on Tuesday morning shortly before the announcement had been made.
The Belgian had not been able to give much thought to a possible first F1 start since his final appearance for McLaren at the 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix due to his commitments with Mercedes.
The other option could be agreeing on a temporary release deal with Williams for George Russell, a Mercedes young driver. However, it would leave Williams without a driver.
It is unclear if Hamilton will be able to race in the season finale in Abu Dhabi, with his ten days of self-isolation set to end on the Thursday of the Yas Marina race weekend.
No decision on Albon’s future before end of season
Red Bull says it will not decide on Alexander Albon’s future with the team until after the final race of the season. The British-Thai driver is currently under pressure as Red Bull consider replacing him with a more experienced driver.
The Austrian team says if they were to replace Albon they would look outside of its existing driver pool, with Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg both possible options.
Albon has struggled to match teammate Max Verstappen’s form throughout the 2020 season but scored his second podium finish with a run to third in Bahrain on Sunday. He inherited third after Perez retired late in the race, after the Racing Point retired.
Team principal Christian Horner said, “I think Alex drove a good race today. Sergio was unlucky, Alex benefitted from his misfortune, and I think that’s what we’re needing to see from Alex.”
“His recovery from Friday was strong. Obviously, after the off that he had, he qualified fourth, he was there to capitalise on Sergio’s misfortune, and he’s finished on the podium. It’s our first double podium since Japan 2017. It’s our first podium in Bahrain since 2013.”
For Albon, it was his second podium which could boost his chances of staying with the team. Horner confirmed that Red Bull was happy to give Albon the chance to maximise his chances in the last two races of the season, with no call to be made on his future until after the season finale in Abu Dhabi.