LONDON (Reuters) - The Formula One medical car team who helped Romain Grosjean make a ‘miracle’ escape from a fiery Bahrain Grand Prix crash played down their heroics on Monday and said they would learn from it to do better if such an horrific accident happened again.
FIA doctor Ian Roberts, who rushed towards the blaze in an open-face helmet to help Grosjean clamber out of the inferno, said the Frenchman had done a ‘fantastic job’ in extricating himself.
Roberts and medical car driver Alan van der Merwe were hailed as heroes after Sunday’s drama but they said they were just doing their jobs.
“I’m no hero. Lots of people do seriously and proper heroic things. I did what was necessary, so no I don’t consider myself a hero,” the doctor told Reuters television. “But I’m very pleased for people’s kind words.”
Van der Merwe said there had already been discussions about changes that could be made for next weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix at the same circuit.
“Ian and I will do very small things which we think would have bought us some more time or some more margin. We’ve discussed that over breakfast this morning,” he said in the same interview.
“We’ve got some more experience now to go off of. This used to be a scenario that we dreamt up, now we’ve been there,” he added. “Now we know what we need to do and what we need to improve on.”
Roberts said the scene of the crash had looked like something out of a Hollywood movie when they arrived seconds after Grosjean’s Haas had speared through the metal barriers, splitting in two and erupting in flames.
“I could see Romain in his car attempting to get out, the fire was well going and I could see him behind essentially a sheet of flame, almost furnace like,” he recalled.
A marshal had run across the track with an extinguisher and that was aimed at Grosjean to push the flames back for precious seconds.
As Grosjean appeared at the top of the barrier, Roberts could reach in and grab hold of him.
“The fire was pretty intense... it was stinging my face and knowing what Romain was climbing out of, the guy did a fantastic job of extricating himself,” said Roberts.
“I pulled him across over to our car but he couldn’t actually see anything, the tear-offs (strips across the helmet visor) had melted and his visor appeared to be pretty opaque.”
Grosjean, whose last recorded speed before hitting the barrier was 221kph, had burns to the back of his hands but was otherwise unscathed. He is expected to remain in hospital until Tuesday and will not race next weekend.
Van der Merwe said being called a hero was ‘slightly embarrassing’.
“I did my bit. I wouldn’t call it heroic. I think we performed well. I think we can perform better next time,” he said.
“It’s a really positive story, it’s really good for Formula One. It validates that we’re doing the right thing and that I think we should keep doing what we’re doing, which is to try and improve things.”
Writing by Alan Baldwin, editing by Christian Radnedge
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