‘Never Seen Anything Like It’: F1 Photographer Describes the Scary Romain Grosjean Accident at 2020 Bahrain GP

Published 01/10/2021, 6:56 AM EST
Formula One F1 – Bahrain Grand Prix – Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain – Flames seen from the crash scene after Haas’ Romain Grosjean crashed out at the start of the race Pool via REUTERS/Bryn Lennon


Romain Grosjean suffered one of the biggest crashes in F1 as he had a near-death during the race at Bahrain GP last season. However, despite the high G-force, he managed to keep himself conscious, and jumped out of the blazing inferno into the hands of the medics.

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Charles Coates, an F1 photographer, managed to catch a glimpse of the entire accident as it unfolded. Apparently, he was standing near the tricky turn 10 and was setting his camera up for the race start.

However, just moments after the lights went green, the red flags came out, as the surrounding marshals started panicking. It took him a while to realize that there was a car on fire right behind him around the exit of turn 3.

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The photographer’s view of the Romain Grosjean incident

During an interview, Coates spoke about how scary it was to watch the incident from such a close proximity. “I was on a wide-angle lens, ready to do my start as they all came around there. And then, another photographer, James, shouted ‘red flag’,” he said.

I thought, ‘what’s happened?’. And then I looked to my left and obviously it was a red flag. It was like an inferno and I’ve never seen anything like it. Certainly, in my career in Formula 1, I’ve never seen a car go up like that.”

It definitely would have been a scary moment to watch, considering the fact that there was actually a driver trapped inside amid all the fire and smoke. Thankfully, Grosjean escaped with just minor burns, which still looked serious enough as the fire had penetrated deep into his hands.

Was relieved when I saw Romain walking away: Coates

The moment the crash occurred, the photographer immediately turned his camera to take some snaps of the scene. However, he revealed that, deep down, the curiosity of knowing the whereabouts of the driver crept in.

I was shooting it kind of not knowing quite what I was shooting. You know, you obviously shoot it because it’s happening. But you’re aware that probably there’s obviously a car in the middle of that inferno, and possibly a person,” he said.

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Formula One F1 – Bahrain Grand Prix – Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain – Haas’ Romain Grosjean walks away from the crash scene with the help of medical officers after crashing out of the race Pool via REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

And I was very relieved when I saw Romain walking away from it. And still, I don’t quite know how he did it. But I’m very pleased that he did.”

Of course, there have been similar scary crashes in the sport’s past. However, for the first time in decades, an F1 car burst into flames. What was more shocking was that the incident took place in 2020, when the safety measures were over the roof.

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Hence, it looks like more such horror accidents are in the offing, as they are almost inevitable. But will the drivers be as lucky as Grosjean in the future? Well, let’s hope so.

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Rohit Kumar

650 articles

Rohit Kumar is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. He has been an ardent follower of the racing series since 2007, with his love for the sport coinciding with his love for Kimi Raikkonen. He is also an ardent follower of Sebastian Vettel and Aston Martin Racing.

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