While filming for The Grand Tour Season 2, Richard Hammond famously crashed a Rimac Concept One during a hill climb race in Switzerland.
The filming for this particular episode gave us a look at three very different cars, with the Rimac being the most advanced model that uses four all-electric motors. Unfortunately, when the trio participates in the hill climb, one of them, Hammond, crashes a car that costs nearly $1 million, the Rimac, but what is a problem in the car or in the driver that caused this crash.
Setting the Scene of the Crash
After crossing the finish line during his fourth run of the hill climb course, Hammond felt the rear end of the electric car slide out from underneath him, causing the car and driver to tumble off the road and down the landscape, narrowly missing a house along the way. The car rolled for more than 360 feet before settling on its roof in a fiery mess. Emergency responders were quickly on the scene, extracting the driver from the wreckage and airlifted the beaten and battered Hammond to a nearby hospital to be treated and repaired.
Was it the Car or the Driver that was at Fault
The biggest question after this crash has been figuring out whether or not Richard Hammond was going too fast or didn’t stop soon enough in the Rimac Concept One. This car is only one of eight in the world, and now there are only seven left after the crash. Rimac is a small company that started out with only six people and has grown to 250 employees. If the problem was in the car, it could put a black eye on a company that has become the pride of Croatia.
The Crash Took Place After the Finish
Another factor to consider in this crash is whether or not there’s room after the finish line for drivers to slow down before reaching a slight curvature in the road. The distance from the finish line before reaching a slight right then left turn in the road is nearly 200 meters, which is more than enough room for most of these cars to slow down to a controlled speed. It seems the error in this crash might have been caused by the driver, not in the car or on the track.
After three other runs of this course, Richard Hammond was getting more confident in the Rimac, as most drivers would. He went from a top speed of 145 km/h in his first run to 177 km/h in the fourth time up the hill. During the three previous runs, he made it to the cornered area at the end of the run at a top speed of 108 km/h, but during the run where he crashed, the top speed at this part of the track was 134 km/h. Did Hammond forget to slow down as soon as he crossed the finish line? This little bit of brain delay isn’t uncommon in race drivers.
A Lack of Video Creates a Bit of Controversy
Richard Hammond sat down with the CEO of Rimac and Drive Tribe to discuss the crash and try to understand what happened. While this interview turned out to be more of a sales pitch for Rimac, a few things were revealed that gave us an idea of why this crash took place. Unfortunately, even though The Grand Tour has cameras everywhere during a race like this, there wasn’t any footage to show what was going on with the car between the finish line and the start of the crash.
An Educated Guess
The only guess that can truly be surmised about the crash of this car is that Hammond didn’t slow down soon enough before the slight right turn. When he reached this turn at a speed that was too high, his reflexes may have panicked, and he overcorrected for a steering and braking mistake. This caused the car to tail out in the right turn and then in the left turn before heading off the road and out of control. When reviewing the road and the speed at which Hammond was driving, this is the one scenario that makes the most sense.
We Just Don’t Know for Sure
There is some visual and audio evidence that things went wrong for Richard Hammond inside the Rimac Concept One, but we don’t know if it was because he realized he was going too fast, lost control of the rear end of the car, or the car didn’t respond to his inputs in time. No matter the reason for the crash, Hammond has been given a great deal of ribbing from his cohosts regarding his failure to slow down after the road says “finish” on it.
Consider the Fact for the Car
The Rimac Concept One should have slowed down before the slight twisting of the road 200 meters away if Hammond had slowed the car as soon as he crossed the finish line. This car only requires 31.5 meters of braking distance to come to a stop from 100 km/h. This is yet another way that we can surmise the failure in this crash has more to do with the driver than with the car itself.
The Most Important Lesson Learned
What Rimac learned the most about the Richard Hammond crash is that their car is a safe one to drive. Even when a driver loses control, this car is safe and can protect a driver during a severe crash, which was exactly what we saw when Hammond went tumbling down the field and past a house. If this car wasn’t as safe as it is, we wouldn’t have the host around to still do his job and tell us about some of the best cars in the world.
While the owner of the car lost one of his prized possessions, we learned a lot more about the safety of the Rimac Concept One and how it should be driven.
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