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On this day in 2018: Nico Hulkenberg survives spectacular crash at Abu Dhabi GP

The German somersaulted through the air following an opening-lap collision with Romain Grosjean.

Nico Hulkenberg looking thoughtful
Nico Hulkenberg looking thoughtful

Nico Hulkenberg walked away without injury despite being trapped when his Renault caught fire at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, on this day in 2018.

World champion Lewis Hamilton ended the year with an 11th victory, while Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull driver Max Verstappen finished second and third respectively under the lights of the Yas Marina circuit.

But the dead-rubber race is remembered for Hulkenberg’s opening-lap crash.

The German somersaulted through the air following a collision with Romain Grosjean at the ninth bend, before landing the wrong way up and precariously against the tyre barriers.

Flames briefly billowed from the back of his yellow Renault, with Hulkenberg unable to get out.

“I’m hanging like a cow,” the panicked driver said over the radio. “Get me out. There is fire. There is fire!”

To emphasise the drama of the incident, television footage captured British popstar Sam Smith and former Spice Girl Geri Horner with their jaws open in disbelief as they watched on from the Red Bull garage.

Hollywood superstar Will Smith held his hand over his mouth.

Hulkenberg was still upside down and strapped into his Renault. Safety marshals dashed to the scene before the flames went out and, after more than three minutes, they gingerly flipped the car back on to four wheels.

Then aged 31, the driver was assisted to the medical centre where the FIA, Formula One’s sporting federation, reported he was shaken but had escaped the incident unharmed.

“It was not the most comfortable situation to be in,” Hulkenberg said.

“There was a little barbeque at the back, so I just wanted to get out. You feel pretty helpless.”

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