French Formula One driver Romain Grosjean of Haas F1 Team steers his car during the first practise session of Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix at the Sepang International Circuit, near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 29 September 2017. The 2017 Formula One Grand Prix of Malaysia will be held on 01 October. EPA-EFE Photo

SEPANG: Formula One officials launched an inspection of every drain cover at the Sepang circuit Friday after Romain Grosjean suffered a frightening tyre explosion during Malaysian Grand Prix practice.

A drain grille, which should have been welded down securely, popped up at a kerb on turn nine after Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari drove over it.

A few seconds later Grosjean hit the same spot at more than 200 kilometres (124 miles) an hour with disastrous effect.

The impact instantly ripped his right rear tyre from its rim and threw his car into the barriers.

Happily Grosjean was able to walk away, and declared “I’m all right” as the second practice session was red-flagged with 20 minutes remaining with a gaping hole left in the track.

Race director Charlie Whiting said that the cover had been welded down but had broken loose and would be replaced.

Asked if that meant his crew now had to inspect and repair every drain cover on the 5.543-kilometre layout, Whiting said: “Yes. For the rest of the day we shall concentrate on that. They’ve been welded a long time I expect.

“So we shall re-weld where necessary and then tonight we shall check everything. We have to get it fixed for tomorrow.” --AFP

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