Abu Dhabi - The TV cameras captured open-mouthed looks of horror. Gasps through the paddock. It was the moment Nico Hulkenberg somersaulted through the air and flames licked the back of the Renault in which he was trapped.
Yes, Lewis Hamilton’s victory at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, his 11th race win of the season, was accomplished serenely from pole, the perfect finale to the campaign of a lifetime so far. But the drama came much earlier, on the ninth corner of the first lap at Yas Marina’s bulb-lit track.
Hulkenberg and Romain Grosjean became entangled. Hulkenberg was sent spiralling into the air, doing one-and-a-half complete revolutions before nestling in the hoardings upside down.
"I’m hanging here like a cow," said the German in panic over the team radio. "Get me out of this car. There’s fire."
His pit-wall people sought to reassure him, saying: "They’re coming, they’re coming," citing the marshals scurrying to the scene.