Formula 1 circuit designer Hermann Tilke says that “several factors” contributed to the shocking nature of Romain Grosjean’s Bahrain Grand Prix crash.
Grosjean speared into the infield fence on the opening lap of the race at the exit of Turn 3 after contact with AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat.
Such was the 53G impact with the barrier, his Haas was essentially torn in two and caught fire, while the Frenchman suffered burns to his hands but was cleared of any broken bones.
Among the concerning aspects of the crash, which is the subject of an FIA investigation, was that part of Grosjean’s car managed to penetrate the armco fence.
According to Tilke, who designed the Bahrain International Circuit, what transpired was due to an accumulation of a number of factors.
“At some point everything will break if the force is great enough,” he told Austrian newspaper Der Standard.
“Several factors came together.
“The accident happened on a straight, where the run-off zones are narrower and the crash barriers are parallel to the track.
“The angle of impact was 90 degrees. If it had been sharper, the car would have scraped along the guardrail and drained the energy.
“53G acted on Grosjean, an incredible amount.”
Tilke also cautioned that changes to safety standards would need to be carefully considered in order to prevent negative consequences.
“With Grosjean’s angle of impact, it would have been better if there had been a force retarder in front of the guardrail, for instance a stack of tyres,” he observed.
“In other impacts, however, this could be counterproductive because the car can get caught in them.
“Everything has advantages and disadvantages, you have to be careful not to worsen other scenarios.
“For example: if you drive a car, buckle up, because you know that the seat belt will protect you in an accident. In 0.001 percent of accidents, however, it could be better not to wear a seat belt. But you won’t say: ‘Then I won’t buckle up again.’
“The FIA will be investigating the incident closely. The system worked for decades. Such an accident happened for the first time in this form.”