Romain Grosjean miraculously survived a huge crash on the opening lap of the Bahrain Grand Prix when his car hit the wall and burst into flames.
Frenchman Grosjean, 34, veered off the track after just three corners, hitting the barriers with an impact registering at 53G.
The sport held its breath as the TV cameras cut away from the flashpoint and the race was immediately stopped.
— Formula 1 (@F1) November 29, 2020
But Grosjean’s Haas team reported that the driver was out of the cockpit.
He was then pictured sitting in the medical car before gingerly heading towards a stretcher.
A replay then showed Grosjean frantically leaping out of his fireball inferno with the aid of a medical doctor.
— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) November 29, 2020
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.
Further replays showed that Grosjean moved to the right of the track, clipping the front-left wheel of Daniil Kvyat’s AlphaTauri before crashing head on into the barriers.
There will now be question marks as to how Grosjean’s car managed to penetrate a steel barrier and even if the race will resume.
A delay of at least 45 minutes was confirmed by race directors. Lewis Hamilton was seen shaking his head upon watching a replay of the remarkable incident.
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
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.”