Formula One: Hamilton wins in Bahrain as Grosjean survives fireball crash

Flames on the crash site of Haas' Romain Grosjean on the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, on 29 Nov 2020. PHOTO: EPA-EFE
Track marshals remove parts of Romain Grosjean's car after a crash at the start of the Formula One Grand of Bahrain on the Bahrain International Circuit on 29 Nov 2020. PHOTO: EPA-EFE
Romain Grosjean is helped into an ambulance after crashing out of the race on Nov 29, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

MANAMA (AFP) - Lewis Hamilton powered to victory at the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday in a race overshadowed by a horrific crash for French driver Romain Grosjean.

Briton Hamilton, crowned world champion for a record-equalling seventh time last time out in Turkey, held off the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon to claim his 95th F1 win.

The race was delayed after Grosjean survived a frightening collision with a barrier on the opening lap.

The French driver's Haas skewed into a barrier on Turn 3, coming out the other side ablaze and in two parts.

Track marshals at the scene helped him clamber over the barrier to safety as they extinguished the fire.

The clearly shaken driver was taken back to the pits by the medical car at the Sakhir Circuit.

In a tweet, Haas said: "Romain has some minor burns on his hands and ankles but otherwise he is ok. He is with the doctors just now."

He was taken to hospital with suspected fractured ribs and burns to his hands and feet after his crash which was followed by another accident that saw Racing Point driver Lance Stroll rescued from his overturn car.

Lando Norris came home fourth ahead of his McLaren team-mate Carlos Sainz with Pierre Gasly taking sixth for Alpha Tauri and Renault's Daniel Ricciardo seventh.

Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas finished eighth, having suffered a puncture, ahead of Esteban Ocon in the second Renault and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.

Hamilton's victory, his 11th of the season, lifted him 131 points clear of Bottas in the championship, which he has won already.

However, his initial reaction was one of relief for Grosjean.

"It was such a shocking image to see and it shows the amazing job F1 and the FIA have done for him to walk away from something like that."

Race officials praised the modern safety systems developed for Formula One.

Safety and official medical car driver Alan van der Merwe was on the scene within seconds as he followed the field after the start of the race and along with chief medical officer Ian Roberts they battled the blaze to save Grosjean's life.

"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 champion was killed.

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 okay. 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."

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