Romain Grosjean has been taken to hospital with minor burns and injuries after a terrifying, fiery accident at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The Frenchman’s Haas pierced the barrier, split in two and burst into flames on the first lap of the race, which was stopped.
Grosjean’s car was embedded in the barrier on its side and the driver appears to have been saved by the halo head-protection device.
He has suspected broken ribs and minor burns to his feet.
“It’s a miracle that he’s alive,” said 1996 world champion Briton Damon Hill, who was Ayrton Senna’s team-mate at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix when the Brazilian three-time champion was killed.
Medical car driver Alan van der Merwe said: “It was a big surprise for us as well, we’ve never seen that much fire in 12 years.
“Romain started to get out of the car himself which was pretty amazing after an accident like that. It was a relief to see he was OK.
“It just goes to show all the systems we’ve developed worked hand in hand — the halos, the barriers, the seatbelts, everything all worked as it should. Without just one of those things, it could have been a very different outcome.”
Grosjean lost control of his Haas car after clipping the front left wheel of Daniil Kvyat’s Alpha Tauri at Turn Three on the opening lap.
His Haas team boss Guenther Steiner said: “When you see something like this the only thing you think is ‘I hope we get lucky’ – you don’t think how it happened or whatever.
“I would like to thank all the marshals. They did a fantastic job to get him away as quick as possible from the fire. It was amazing what they did.”
“It was horrible, when I saw the images I was shocked,” said fellow French driver Pierre Gasly.
“It was really scary but I had no idea a Formula 1 car could break that way. The halo really proved to be working. I have text him to wish him a good recovery. I think he is fine but a really scary thing.”
‘It shouldn’t have failed like that’ – what the drivers said
Sebastian Vettel: “I haven’t looked at the images a lot, mainly because I didn’t want to, but a grand prix car and barrier are not supposed to fail like that. It shouldn’t fail and the car shouldn’t catch fire in that fashion, so I don’t know what happened there.”
Daniil Kvyat: “At first I was angry that he had turned across me in the way he did, but that changed as soon as I saw the flames and what happened in my mirrors. I was really worried. It was a scary moment. I was hoping he was OK.”
Pierre Gasly: “It was horrible, when I saw the images I was shocked. It was really scary but I had no idea a Formula 1 car could break that way.”
Lewis Hamilton: “It was such a shocking image to see. When I get in the car I know I am taking risks. I respect the dangers that are in this sport. I posted about it [on Twitter] during the break because it is horrifying. The car, the cockpit. I don’t know what Gs he pulled but I’m just so grateful the halo worked.”
Max Verstappen: “It was scary. We saw a red flag, which doesn’t mean it’s immediately a bad thing. I saw a lot of fire and thought that is not a good thing. Luckily he is OK and hopefully he will recover.”