Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton won a crash-marred Bahrain Grand Prix where Romain Grosjean somehow escaped with only minor burns after his car exploded into a fireball.
The 34-year-old French driver slid off the track at high speed on the first lap and his Haas car burst into flames after being sliced in two by a barrier. Grosjean clambered out with the fire roaring behind him and his race helmet singed. He was conscious and stable and then taken by helicopter to a military hospital.
The crash happened with the seven-time F1 champion Hamilton leading from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Racing Point’s Sergio Perez.
"It was such a shocking image to see ... horrifying. It could have been so much worse,” Hamilton said. “I respect the dangers that are in this sport.”
Read: F1 driver Grosjean escapes after horror crash at Bahrain GP
Moments after the race restarted about 90 minutes later, on Lap 3 of 57, there was another incident as Lance Stroll’s Racing Point clipped the AlphaTauri of Daniil Kvyat and flipped over.
Stroll joked about hanging upside down in his car, before squirming out. The Canadian driver was unharmed.
Kvyat was involved in both crashes but not at fault.
The first accident happened when Grosjean lost grip and slid to the right, where his back wheel clipped the front of Kvyat’s car and he flew off into the barrier.
Perez looked set to finish third and clinch his 10th career podium, but his engine blew with three laps left and flames poured from the back of his car as he pulled over to the side.
That put Red Bull’s Alexander Albon into third ahead of the McLarens of Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz. Jr. while Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas was only eighth.
There is another race in Bahrain next Sunday - on Sakhir’s shorter outer circuit - before the 17-race season concludes in Abu Dhabi.