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Here’s How Technology Saved Formula One Racing Driver Romain Grosjean’s Life 4 Times Inside 28 Seconds

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - NOVEMBER 29: A fire is pictured following the crash of Romain Grosjean of France ... [+] and Haas F1 during the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on November 29, 2020 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

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Formula One has seen some incredible tragedies over the years, with the most famous of recent years, the awful death of Ayrton Senna, having a deep impact on the sport’s safety standards. This legacy saved the life of Romain Grosjean today multiple times in the most phenomenal, terrifying and, to be frank, miraculous accident that I have ever seen unfold at an F1 race track.


On the first lap of the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix, mid field runner Romain Grosjean steered sharply across the track at almost 150 miles per hour to avoid cars decelerating in front of him and clipped the Alpha Tauri driven by Daniil Kvyat. This set Grosjean’s car into the worst trajectory for any racing driver; the one straight into the nearest metal barrier.

Grosjean’s car was arrested at a peak deceleration of 53G, and this was the first moment that Grosjean’s life was saved, by the titanium safety cell, or “tub”, that the drivers sit within. Without the safety cell, introduced in 1981, the carbon fibre nose of Grosjean’s car would have given little protection before his legs and torso had become the main shock absorber to resist that huge impact. Such catastrophic injuries in Formula One races in the middle of the last century resulted in many deaths through blood loss and shock. But the safety cell did its job and Grosjean did not suffer any injuries to his legs, enabling him to jump out of his car all on his own. But we are a long way from there yet.

As the crash barrier began to envelop the safety cell and the deceleration ramped up, another life saving technology fired into action. The Head and Neck Support, or HANS, device is now almost 20 years old and has saved dozens of drivers in many different racing categories. The HANS device’s kevlar tethers anchor the driver’s helmet to the headrest, preventing whiplash. In Grosjean’s 53G impact his whiplash could easily have be fatal, as the hyperextension of the neck in such a rapid deceleration can result in a skull fracture and a broken neck.

Around one tenth of a second later, Grosjean’s life was saved for a third time. This time by a piece of technology that was only introduced in 2018, the titanium “halo” protective rail that runs across the front of the otherwise wide-open Formula One cockpits. In Grosjean’s accident, his collision with Kvyat turned his car into the barriers on a fast straight, resulting in his car hitting the barriers nose first with a lot of speed. This caused the barriers to split, with a large metal piece sliding over the top of the nose towards Grosjean’s head. The halo worked as designed and deflected this huge piece of metal up over the top of Grosjean’s helmet as he and his car continued to embed itself into the barrier. Less than one second later the worst part of the crash unfolded.

As the front half of Grosjean’s car embedded itself in the barrier and rapidly decelerated, the back end of the car was still trying to travel along the barriers at over 100 mph. This tug of war was won by the rear half of the car, which was ripped in two just behind the safety cell. Unfortunately the fuel tank is in the section that was ripped in half. A huge fireball lit up millions of television screens around the world and a timer began for Grosjean that would determine if he lived or not. That timer is better known as his Nomex race suit.

Nomex is the brand name of the heat and flame resistant materials that race suits have been made out of since 1975. Their ability to resist fire is based on chemical reactions, and of course race suits only contain a finite amount of Nomex. They can resist fire for around 30 seconds before they start to burn. Grosjean crashed about 50 metres from a marshall’s station, and with the crash taking place on the first lap, the medical car was also on the scene within just 11 seconds. But no-one could even see where Grosjean was within this huge inferno. No one was going to be able to get to him, undo his seat belts, and drag him from his car. He would need to get out himself, and within 30 seconds.

Grosjean had been forced right through two twisted sheets of the metal barrier and was inside a fireball. But thanks to his safety cell, his legs were not broken. Thanks to HANS his neck was not broken. Thanks to his halo he was not unconscious, or already dead. And sure enough to the shock, terror, amazement of the millions of spectators like myself, within 20 seconds of the impact we could see movement within the fireball. Arms, a torso, a helmet. Grosjean emerged from the flames 28 seconds after his car hit the barriers, and he was dragged across the top of the remains of the crash barrier by the first responder on the scene. He limped to an awaiting ambulance - missing one of his fire-retardant shoes. The TV cameras caught a glimpse of him sitting up on a stretcher in the back of the ambulance, smiling. Shortly after he that he cried.


From what we know right now, about ten hours later, Grosjean has cracked ribs and burns to his hands and feet, but he has sent messages of thanks from his hospital bed. Ironically three years ago Grosjean was one of the drivers that was against the introduction of the halo. I’m sure that he and many other critics have a very different viewpoint today. Grosjean has three kids. They are going to have the most incredible Christmas with their dad. Thanks to titanium, kevlar, Nomex and the most important 28 seconds of Grosjean’s life.

Source: Here’s How Technology Saved Formula One Racing Driver Romain Grosjean’s Life 4 Times Inside 28 Seconds

Three Drivers, Or A New View Of Technology After Covid-19

With the news of a possible set of Covid-19 vaccine possibilities, it has to be time to genuinely try and stretch ideas about a post-Covid-19 world and what it might look like. To do this on a colossal scale outside a set of one microscopic view is far past me or the space this column allows for, so I will pick the technology market as an illustrator of the five business models I believe will become dominant components in the post-Covid-19 pandemic world.  

Economic crisis, Businessman using mobile smartphone analyzing sales data and economic graph chart ... [+] that is falling due to the corona virus crisis, Covid-19, stock market crash caused.


Think of the three patterns Covid-19 has revealed as being vital compass points for the new post-Covid-19 world:

Virtual moments and physical moments collide forever.

Ideas like telehealth, virtual delivery of products (look at the market estimated value for Door Dash), virtual team meetings and associated tasks, and purchasing cars online are the new future. In a recent interview, I did with the CMO of Cadillac, Deborah Wahl (not yet released for Forbes Futures in Focus podcast). She talked about 70%+ of shopping for Cadillacs were happening over zoom with the representative. A car purchase is one of the most expensive decisions any household will make. 

Think about how viewing homes, the most expensive decision we all make, is being done in this higher converged world. 

This shifts how companies think about managing all interactions and the associated technologies needed to converge physical and virtual moments into one decision. Merging data sets, living feeds of telemetry, and spending data. The applications of data become exponentially more valuable when worlds collide.

Online everything rips up the old book as we change so fast. Lean into dynamic knowledge

I am not sure brand loyalty has gone up or down in the Covid-19 world. We know that our desire to be curious about choices has risen a lot as we spend way online, look at Forbes, and the number of article views people now get. As we go heavily online, the ability to copy features and online experiences by competitors means that the layers that once acted as a defense can be stripped away very fast. Imagine having a Tiffany experience online at a major store's online site. They might send you a Grub Hub gift card for spending time with them or get a customer to answer live questions in a community board for you or show you pictures of them wearing the rings you looked at on Instagram. 

Digital data


The companies that win here are aggregating data are learning how to personalize in ways most humans used to do in person. These businesses will live on the cloud, automate knowledge processes as much as possible and see results with AI far faster than ever before as it is done in real-time. The need to integrate how that knowledge is developed, deployed, operated, and enhanced over time is how digital transformation moves to the core of a company and not just at the edges.

Man plus Machine plus Code. The sky is infinite with this.

System shocks force more in-depth discussions than we have been prone to have before. Even if the areas like the environment, healthcare, fair economic opportunity have been well-trod subjects. Being virtual from each other has forced us to really examine how we get things done in new ways. Increasing we really do not care how things are done or delivered anymore. We just want it to happen. Man, machine, code will become equal partners in this process. Think about how much customer service is done by software now. Ponder how powerful machines are in doing work we once left to man, from mining to robotic surgeries done across the world. We have learned to trust that the outcome's power is better when we use any one or three of these components in their creation. Man, machine, and or code will rule the post-Covid-19 world, so getting them to work together in pairs matters. My recent podcast with Srini Kalapala, Verizon's Infrastructure lead for Forbes, highlighted the sensor economy by 2030. Yes, sensors will be an integrated part of the global workforce by 2030.  

This pandemic has forced that shocking moment to say what or who does the work does not matter. We want the job done. Like Srini, we recognize that the skies the limit if we add machines, code, and man together. Think about 1,000 Tesla companies in that world and not just one.

Automotive sensing system concept. Autonomous car.


The way we think about business challenges will be different because of Covid-19. Some of the ideas, cloud, cyber-secure, AI, automation with machines, and software's inherent power to deliver are not new. The way they will be seen and mixed with other components will be. That's why I will look at four technology business models that will thrive with this post-Covid-19 world.

Model One: Cloud everything changes how we think about data, work, management go far beyond the backbone's idea to heart, head, and maybe even soul.

Model Two: Cybersecurity needs to be in the background in everything we do but actually help change our increasingly data-based behaviors to protect us.

Model Three: Adaptability is the new strategy for technology, and we no longer live or even think about the old 80% being invested in legacy models.

Model Four: Telemetry is everything as we move to mass personalization of every element. It just has to be secure, so companies need to sell in a super transparent way that they can be trusted.

Source: Three Drivers, Or A New View Of Technology After Covid-19

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