Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin described the barrier damage in Romain Grosjean’s crash as a “major problem” and believes its positioning also needs evaluation.
Grosjean suffered minor burns in a violent accident on the opening lap of Formula 1’s Bahrain Grand Prix, with his Haas VF-20 impacting the barriers at 221km/h (137mph).
The impact, measured at 53G, split the VF-20 in two, with the car erupting into flames.
“There’s a huge element of luck in him surviving that accident,” said Shovlin.
“When you actually saw him in the medical car, almost that you couldn’t believe that he was in the medical car and had got there by himself.
“There is clearly an issue where the barrier came apart, which is a major problem and the way that the car stuck into the barrier.
“Even the positioning of the barrier could come under question because ideally you hit them at a very shallow angle and this was a major impact.
“Then there will be other things to understand on the car because we have had a lot of big accidents in Formula 1 but it’s a very long time since we’ve breached a fuel cell.
“This is the stuff where you can jump to conclusions and say what you saw on the photos, but it does really need to be a forensic analysis of what was left of the car, because some of the features and safety standards are common to every car on the grid and there will be learnings there.
“A fire like that, regardless of what happens with barriers and everything, is a very scary event.”
Shovlin nonetheless praised the FIA for its protocols both in terms of safety advancements and collaborative efforts when learning from major incidents.
“Rather than us all barrelling in and saying what we think should be done differently, the FIA, who have a lot of people dedicated to safety and have no doubt contributed to that kind of incident being survivable, we let them get on with that and the teams will all get involved where they can,” he said.
“What has been reassuring about these types of accidents is the teams do share their information — it’s a very different environment to the one we work in when we talk about performance.
“Hopefully there will be a lot to learn from it and make sure that next time we are not completely reliant on good fortune not to have someone seriously injured in that kind of thing.
“We need to let an established process and established team work on this with the sport and the teams, and we will no doubt be in a better place in the future.”