Loose Drain Cover Causes Haas F1 Driver Romain Grosjean’s 170-MPH Crash

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Haas F1 Team won’t get much sleep Friday night.

The team’s senior-most driver, Romain Grosjean, suffered a 17-g impact during the second free practice session ahead of the Malaysian Grand Prix through no fault of his own. The Frenchman suffered a right-rear tire blowout at 170 mph after he ran over a loose drain cover on the curbing at Turn 13 of the Sepang International Circuit.

The metal grate became dislodged when F1’s two Finns, Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen, drove over it in rapid succession. Given that the cover was painted the same color as the curbs, however, Grosjean’s shunt essentially was unavoidable.

“I didn’t see anything and then suddenly I had a big hit on the right rear,” Grosjean said on the F1 world feed. “I’m good and fine, that’s the main thing.”

F1 enforces a curfew at every race, forbidding teams from working on their cars overnight. But following a review of the incident in FP2, the stewards decided to wave that curfew for Haas, claiming the accident was “entirely and clearly beyond the control” of Grosjean, according to Formula1.com.

The exception — which won’t count as one of the two per season that Haas is allowed under the regulations — only permits the American team from working on the No. 8, however. Grosjean’s crew therefore must work on his VF-17 in view of parc ferme cameras to ensure they don’t also make alterations to Kevin Magnussen’s car.

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