*

upload_article_image

Hamilton wins Bahrain GP, Grosjean escapes burning car

Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton won a crash-marred Bahrain Grand Prix where Romain Grosjean somehow escaped with only minor burns after his car exploded into a fireball.

The 34-year-old French driver slid off the track at high speed on the first lap and his Haas car burst into flames after being sliced in two by a barrier. Grosjean clambered out with the fire roaring behind him and his race helmet singed. He was conscious and stable and then taken by helicopter to a military hospital.

His relieved team said Grosjean had only light burns to his hands and ankles.

A part of Haas driver Romain Grosjean's car is taken after the crash at the start of the Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix in Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. (Tolga Bozoglu, Pool via AP)

The crash happened with the seven-time F1 champion Hamilton leading from Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Racing Point's Sergio Perez.

Hamilton was subdued and did not celebrate his win after climbing out of his car, other than a brief fist-pump with the Red Bull drivers.

“It was such a shocking image to see ... horrifying. It could have been so much worse,” Hamilton said. “I respect the dangers that are in this sport."

Staff extinguish flames from Haas driver Romain Grosjean of France's car after a crash during the Formula One race in Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. (Brynn Lennon, Pool via AP)

Moments after the race restarted about 90 minutes later, on Lap 3 of 57, there was another incident as Lance Stroll's Racing Point clipped the AlphaTauri of Daniil Kvyat and flipped over.

Stroll joked about hanging upside down in his car, before squirming out. The Canadian driver was unharmed.

Kvyat was involved in both crashes but not at fault.

Staff extinguish flames from Haas driver Romain Grosjean of France's car after a crash during the Formula One race in Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. (Bryn Lennon, Pool via AP)

The first accident happened when Grosjean lost grip and slid to the right, where his back wheel clipped the front of Kvyat’s car and he flew off into the barrier.

Hamilton's record-extending 95th win saw him finish ahead of Verstappen, who took his 41st career podium and a bonus point with the fastest lap.

Perez looked set to finish third and clinch his 10th career podium, but his engine blew with three laps left and flames poured from the back of his car as he pulled over to the side.

Haas driver Romain Grosjean of France is helped by medical staff after he crashed his car during the Formula One race in Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. (Hamad Mohammed, Pool via AP)

That put Red Bull's Alexander Albon into third ahead of the McLarens of Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz. Jr. while Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas was only eighth.

There is another race in Bahrain next Sunday — on Sakhir's shorter outer circuit — before the 17-race season concludes in Abu Dhabi.

More AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/apf-AutoRacing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sport

A part of Haas driver Romain Grosjean's car is taken after the crash at the start of the Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix in Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. (Tolga Bozoglu, Pool via AP)

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain leads at the start of the Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix in Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. (Tolga Bozoglu, Pool via AP)

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain leads at the start of the Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix in Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. (AP PhotoKamran Jebreili, Pool)