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Romain Grosjean Crashes After Drain Cover Comes Loose in Malaysia Practice

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Grosjean crashes his Haas F1 car during Free Practice 2 at the 2017 Malaysia Grand Prix

Romain Grosjean was involved in a strange crash today during the second free practice session of the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix. It’s not unusual to see Formula One drivers lose control of their car during practice as they explore the limits of adhesion in preparation for qualifying and the race, but when a driver crashes, it is normally because of their own doing or that of another driver—not so in this case.

A loose drain cover on the inside of a curb was dislodged by Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and then further kicked up by Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen right behind him. Moments later, Grosjean would come flying over the curb only for the now knife-like drain cover to obliterate his right rear tire and sent him straight into the wall. He suffered no injuries, but the session was red flagged with 20 minutes still to go and not restarted.

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Fortunately for Grosjean and the Haas F1 team, the FIA has chosen to give them special dispensation to work on the car overnight, as the incident was regarded as a force majeure—a common legal term for extraordinary events or circumstances beyond the control of the involved parties.

Because of parce ferme rules, teams must typically observe a strict overnight curfew during which they may not work on the cars, but officials said they “consider that the circumstances of the crash of Car 8 were entirely and clearly beyond the control of the Driver and the Competitor (and any other driver or competitor) and consider them as ‘force majeure’.”

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