Lewis Hamilton wins Bahrain GP as Romain Grosjean survives fiery crash
Romain Grosjean transported to hospital but believed to have escaped with just minor injuries after first-lap crash, which saw his Haas car split in half before bursting into flames; Lewis Hamilton wins Bahrain GP from Max Verstappen, with Alex Albon third after Sergio Perez's late failure
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 30/11/20 12:50am
Lewis Hamilton cruised to the 11th victory of his title-winning Formula 1 season at the Bahrain GP, which was overshadowed by Romain Grosjean's terrifying and fiery accident.
Grosjean miraculously escaped with minor burns and injuries after his Haas pierced the barriers, ripped in half and burst into flames on the first lap of the race, leading to a red flag and delay of over an hour.
The Frenchman, who somehow clambered out of his cockpit while it was engulfed in flames before being rescued by marshals and an FIA medical official, was transported to hospital via helicopter where he is undergoing further evaluation.
- Romain Grosjean's miracle escape from fireball crash
- Lewis Hamilton: 'Horrifying' accident a reminder of F1's danger
- Halo saved Grosjean's life - Ross Brawn
Haas boss Gunther Steiner told Sky F1 that he "feels good and nothing is broken" but will say at hospital overnight on Sunday.
Sky F1's Martin Brundle and Damon Hill said it was a "miracle" Grosjean was alive after the crash.
Drivers were visibly shaken watching footage of the accident, but Hamilton - who said he was "so grateful that Romain was safe" - was typically controlled and dominant when the race got back underway.
Following an immediate Safety Car after the restart as Lance Stroll's Racing Point was flipped by Daniil Kvyat, pole-sitter Hamilton was rarely troubled in the Mercedes - with Max Verstappen his only rival for victory.
Verstappen finished second for Red Bull after three pit-stops, with Valtteri Bottas only eighth after suffering an early puncture following the dramatic opening laps.
Alex Albon completed the podium as Sergio Perez was cruelly denied a third place he held for the majority of the floodlit race. Perez, who has been in superb F1 2020 form and is targeting Albon's Red Bull seat for next year, was four seconds ahead of Albon when he suffered an engine failure with just three laps remaining.
The race finished behind the Safety Car after Perez's issue, with Red Bull sealing their first double podium since 2017.
McLaren impressed on Sunday after a disappointing qualifying, securing fourth and fifth through Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz, which puts them ahead of Racing Point in the constructors' battle for third.
Renault also lost ground to McLaren, securing only seventh and ninth through Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon, while Ferrari only scored one point after a miserable evening under the lights for Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel.
Bahrain GP Race Result
1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
2. Max Verstappen, Red Bull
3. Alex Albon, Red Bull
4. Lando Norris, McLaren
5. Carlos Sainz, McLaren
6. Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri
7. Daniel Ricciardo, Renault
8. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes
9. Esteban Ocon, Renault
10. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
Grosjean's miraculous escape: How it happened, and how he survived
Grosjean's frightening Bahrain GP crash and the sight of his Haas car torn in two prompted disbelief, and relief, that the Frenchman was able to survive.
It all happened after just two corners of the Sakhir race, as Grosjean - who started 19th - swerved to the right before making contact with the front wing of Daniil Kvyat's AlphaTauri.
He then went straight on into the Armco barrier, piercing it "like a can opener" and becoming stuck - with that, and the 53G force of the crash, then ripping his Haas in two.
"This was particularly graphic, particularly shocking. It is a miracle he is alive," said Sky F1's Damon Hill.
Andy van der Merwe, the driver of the FIA's medical car, and Ian Roberts, the FIA doctor, were two of the first on the scene and Roberts bravely helped rescue Grosjean from the flames, and then to the medical car.
"It was a big surprise. I have never seen that much fire in 12 years," commented Van der Merwe.
"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."
The Halo, the head protection system which was brought to F1 in 2018, was credited with saving Grosjean's life by many, including the majority of the grid.
"There's no way he could have survived that without the Halo," added Hill, the 1996 world champion.
Hamilton, meanwhile, praised the "amazing job" F1 has been doing with their increased focus on safety.
"It was such a shocking image to see," said Hamilton after winning the 57-lap race. "When I get in the car I know that I'm taking risks and I respect the dangers that are in this sport. I posted about it whilst we were in that break because it's horrifying.
"I'm so grateful that the Halo worked, I'm grateful that the barrier didn't slice his head up or something like that. It could have been so much worse.
"But it's a reminder to us and hopefully the people that are watching that this is a dangerous sport and that is why we are out there pushing to the limit and playing with that limit, but you also have to respect it.
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. Thankful to the FIA for the massive strides we've taken for Romain to walk away from that safely https://t.co/dG8AXmsbKN— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) November 29, 2020
"I think it shows an amazing job that Formula 1 and the FIA have done over time to be able to walk away from something like that. But that will be investigated and they'll do a lot of work to make sure that doesn't happen again."
Hamilton was superb on Sunday, as was main rival Verstappen. But the Bahrain GP was really all about Grosjean - and thankfully the Haas driver and GPDA director, who is leaving F1 at the end of the year, is safe after a horrifying accident.
As the race-winner and seven-time champion said, it could have been so much worse.