A technical issue at the start of the Styrian MotoGP left Cal Crutchlow five-seconds behind the field during the opening laps of the Red Bull Ring race.

It also meant the Englishman, making his first grand prix start since retirement last season, was first to witness the full fiery devastation at Turn 3, after Lorenzo Savadori slammed into the fallen KTM of Dani Pedrosa.

"I had a problem on lap 1 and slowed down to check the bike because I thought I'd damaged it," said Crutchlow, riding in place of the injured Franco Morbidelli at Petronas Yamaha.

"As the guys were going out of Turn 3, I was still in the braking zone and saw all these flames. I just thought 'oh, no'. I wanted to check the riders were alright because I saw two bikes and the fire. I could see Lorenzo on the floor but I didn't know if there was someone else actually in the fire.

"It wasn't red flagged at that moment and no marshals were going to go near those bikes at that point. So I wanted to check there were no riders in there. I slowed down and looked, and was obviously glad to see nobody was burnt.

"It was good that they were both okay, obviously Lorenzo's got an injured ankle, but I'm sure he'll be back soon."

Although Crutchlow has made his feelings clear regarding the need for safety improvements at the fast Austrian track, the #35 felt it was the kind of incident that could have occurred anywhere.

He also didn't think the new barrier added to the entry of Turn 3, after last year's huge accident for Morbidelli and Johann Zarco, had unsighted Savadori.

"I think it's the type of accident that can happen in any circuit," he said. "The [new] barrier is good, don’t get me wrong, but if you rode into it you'd know about it…"

While the stoppage gave Crutchlow a second chance after the previous bike problem, he struggled with a rear tyre grip issue throughout the restart.

"Mine was the rear tyre, Miguel's was the front, some other people said they had some strange feelings with the tyres but they didn't lose the amount I lost, that's for sure. So we'll see when we speak to Michelin and investigate a little bit more over the next few days as to why." said Crutchlow, who crossed the line 17th and 40-seconds behind race winner Jorge Martin.

"But overall, genuinely I was happy I raced, happy with my own performance in the race. I think we could have been a lot faster as I've said if things went a lot better with the rear tyre. I was actually riding in a very good way I felt, a lot better than here last year with the Honda. Which was ironic considering I've had five months off a bike and happily retired!

"So we can take the positives from that and from my physical condition in the race, I felt good, and go into next week where we'll have a little bit more experience and can analyse the data to be better next week," he added.

Team-mate Valentino Rossi finished in 13th place.

KTM test rider Pedrosa went on to finish tenth in the restart, while Savadori was diagnosed with an ankle fracture and will also miss this weekend's second Austrian event.