It is a sad fact of motorsport that improvements in safety are identified and implemented following tragic accidents. The Halo, HANS device, collapsible fuel cell, the survival cell, Nomex racewear, wheel tethers and SAFER barriers were all developed in the wake of someone dying. We must of course give thanks to the brilliant engineers who design these items. We also need to recognise the tireless work of the governing bodies such as the FIA who make these innovations part of the regulations.
Romain Grosjean was so lucky to escape his horrific accident yesterday with no more than minor injuries. From all of us at GP Grandstand, we wish him the speediest of recoveries.
But there is a dark truth which needs to be acknowledged here. If that had been an F2 car in that crash, the driver would probably have been killed. It is no secret that junior formulae cars are built to a price. There would be no junior single-seaters if they cost as much as an F1 car.
Therefore the obvious solution is that there needs to be a different design of barrier on the exit of Turn 3 at Bahrain. Just as the barriers changed at Radillion following Anthoine Hubert’s death. Or the Nouvelle Chicane barriers changed at Monaco following Jenson Button’s awful crash there among others.
Barrier reassessments, not just at Bahrain
Freak accidents do occur and must be mitigated against. We were lucky this time and luck cannot be relied upon when a driver’s life is in the balance. The height of the gap between the metal strips of an Armco barrier at Bahrain or any other track should never be anywhere close to the height of the nose of a single-seater car.
So what can the FIA and the Bahrain circuit do prior to the cars taking to the track on Friday? Well, discarded tyres are plentiful and could be used with a rubber belt across the front as a temporary solution. And there is time for simulators and models to be run to identify any other possible weak points in the circuit barriers. Especially around the new outer loop section where we have no idea if we will be seeing cars going wheel to wheel.
But perhaps for the future, a Tecpro barrier would be a better and more permanent solution.
We look forward to seeing what has been implemented for the barriers in Bahrain later this week.