Nico Hulkenberg climbed out unhurt after barrel-rolling his Renault car into the barriers in a horrifying blazing opening-lap crash in Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The German driver tangled with Frenchman Romain Grosjean’s Haas as they fought for position going into the chicane, Hulkenberg resisting his rival’s challenger for position.
His car was catapulted into the air and rolled at high speed into the barriers where, on impact, flames bust from the rear of the car, which was left hanging upside down.
“Are you ok, Nico,” the team asked him.
“I’m hanging here like a cow,” he told the Renault team by radio. “There’s fire...There’s fire...Get me out.”
He was soon helped by marshals who had to manually roll the car off the barriers before assisting him in climbing out.
Hulkenberg was able to walk away and talk to marshals and medical staff.
Grosjean asked his Haas team if Hulkenberg was ok and, after being told he was, he added that he had nowhere to go when they crashed.
The race stewards quickly announced they were taking no action and treated the crash as a racing incident.
He escaped unhurt and was able to joke about being ‘near the barbecue’ after the race as speculation mounted that his car’s ‘halo’ cockpit protection device may have been hampered his extraction.
That was quelled on Monday when Formula One’s official race director Charlie Whiting said that the halo on his Renault had not slowed his extraction at the Yas Marina Circuit. Hulkenberg had said he felt and was “hanging like a cow” before he was rescued.
Asked if the halo was a problem in the extraction of Hulkenberg, Whiting said: “No, not at all. We knew he was okay. There’s nothing to worry about there.
“The routine under those circumstances is to put the car back on its wheels… which has to be done carefully, of course.
“He was able to get out by himself. It was very controlled from what I could see. Our medical delegate was more than happy with the way it was done. It all worked exactly as it should.
“When you have an accident like that, the radio from the car is automatically routed to race control, so that we get immediate information.
“Drivers normally say ‘I’m fine’ or ‘I’m okay’. So we get that and we relay that to the doctors on the way to the scene, so they know that he’s okay. “Then, they can take their time to get the car righted and just let him get out. Quite clearly, it’s one of the sort of accidents that the halo was designed to help with because it provides more space for the driver once the car is upside down.”
Here’s what the two drivers said after the race:
New five-time champion Lewis Hamilton claimed his 11th win of the season when he drove his Mercedes to a well-judged triumph at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The 33-year-old Briton, who started from his 83rd pole position, came home 2.5 seconds ahead of his main title rival four-time champion German Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari.
Dutchman Max Verstappen finished third ahead of his Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, in his 100th race for Red Bull and 150th overall before moving to Renault, and Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes.
With inputs from Scroll Staff