There are plenty of things a Formula One driver needs to worry about when he’s racing, but loose drain covers and flying debris shouldn’t be one of them. In the case of F1 team Haas’ Romain Grosjean, things could not have been any worse when he suffered a freak crash during second free practice (FP2) at the Malaysian Grand Prix on Friday.
A loose drain cover that Grosjean ran over shredded his right-rear tyre, sending him into a nasty collision into the wall at Turn 13. Video footage had shown Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen driving through the same spot seconds before.
Grosjean said later that he didn’t see anything as he negated the racing line, and then the big impact happened. Hitting the kerb at more than 200kmh, the impact instantly ripped his right rear tyre and sent him crashing into the wall. He was lucky to come out of the incident unscathed.
Gunther Steiner, Haas’ team principal annoyingly remarked, “drain covers coming up at F1 circuits is just not acceptable in the year 2017.”
Due to the freak accident, FP2 had to be ended 15 minutes early. The session was red-flagged to accommodate repaired to the damaged drain cover and kerb, as well as to run safety checks around the circuit.
The incident subsequently caused a reshuffle in schedule, which later caused another bizarre incident involving the Formula 4 SEA Championship race.
But, this isn’t the first time that loose drain covers have caused damage in a Formula One race. Here’s a couple of other instances over the years:
Barichello’s Williams FW32 car crashed into the barrier after running over a loose manhole cover at Turn 2, which spun up and hit his left wheel. His car was badly damaged in the crash, and ended his race.
McLaren F1 driver Jenson Button was lucky to have escaped any bodily harm when a loose drain cover inflicted heavy damage to his car.
The 1kg piece of metal wrecked the car’s front wing, brake, intake, suspension and wheel during a practice session. The McLaren was flying at 225km/h at the time.
The drain cover was set loose by then championship leader Nico Rosberg while he was roaring up the hill to Casino Square.
Williams drive Valtteri Bottas had a horrific FP3 at the Baku City Circuit as his car was badly damaged by a flying metal drain cover. The metal piece also narrowly missed marshals on the pit wall.
The car suffered damage to its bargeboards, floor, sidepods and also put a hole through the radiator.
The battle for the 2005 World Constructors’ Championship was down to the wire with Renault and McLaren at the season finale.
Things didn’t bode well for McLaren though, as its driver Montoya ran over a loose drain cover that subsequently pierced a hole in the floor and damaged the car’s radiator intakes, sidepod and punctured the front tyre. Montoya was forced to retire from the race.