Alan van der Merwe is a South African race driver that is currently behind the wheel of the Mercedes Safety Car for Formula One.
Bahrain (30 November 2020) – Yesterday at the Bahrain GP, Romain Grosjean a driver for Haas, was involved in a horrific accident when his race car veered into the barrier, split in two and burst into a ball of flames. Thankfully the race had only just started, and the medical vehicle was there within seconds of the accident.
The medical team rushed to assist Grosjean despite encountering flames hotter than any of their uniforms could handle. Grosjean was thankfully able to free himself from the wreckage and get away from the flames. According to sources at Formula One, he has sustained mild burns to his wrists and ankles.
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The accident was massive, and without the incredible innovations in safety equipment, it could have ended with a very different headline.
Throughout the coverage of the crash and resetting of the track, one name was repeated and got us questioning just who he was. Alan van der Merwe, a South African race driver who drives the Mercedes Safety Car for Formula One.
So who is Alan van der Merwe?
Alan has been the official driver for the Formula One Safety Car since 2009. Before that, he had a career as a race driver and won the 2001 Formula Ford Festival. He became the British Formula 3 Champion in 2003 and drove for Super Nova Racing in Formula 3000 in 2004.
“In 2005 and 2006, Van der Merwe raced in the A1 Grand Prix series for A1 Team South Africa with a best-placed finish of 7th in New Zealand. In 2006 he joined the Bonneville 200 MPH Club, driving a BAR-Honda team car to speeds in excess of 400 kilometres per hour (250 mph) for their Bonneville 400 project; an attempt to set an official land speed record for a Formula One car on the famous Bonneville Salt Flats. In 2008 he drove for James Watt Automotive in the 1000 km of Silverstone, part of the 2008 Le Mans Series, finishing in 33rd place and completing 159 laps. He returned to A1 Grand Prix in 2009 in the final round at Brands Hatch.”
Alan retired from racing in 2009 and became the safety driver for Formula One events around the world. The medical safety car is operated by Alan and Dr Ian Roberts. The duo has spent a great deal of time together and have even developed some of the safety equipment used to monitor drivers during the gruelling races. Signal Biometrics innovates safety devices for racing teams.
Today everyone is talking about the South African that played a vital role in saving Grosjean from the ball of flames. Social media has been filled with thanks to Alan and his fellow medical team. Haas took to their social media to thank Alan personally as well.
Thank you to Medical Car driver Alan van der Merwe, the circuit medical team and marshals for their quick thinking and actions in getting to Romain so soon after the accident 🙏 pic.twitter.com/hkUChcweeq
— Haas F1 Team (@HaasF1Team) November 29, 2020