Lucky-to-be-alive Romain Grosjean has spoken about his planned return to motor racing three months after his horror crash at the Gulf Air Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix last year.
The Frenchman shared his memories of the accident, explaining to CNN Sport that he remembers ‘everything about it, every single detail’ and that he had accepted his fate in the cockpit at one point.
Still battling the physical repercussions of the crash, Grosjean says he has also had time to consider its emotional consequences as he prepares to get back behind the wheel and race again in IndyCar.
“I remember everything about it, every single detail,” Grosjean said, “from the moment I started undoing my seat belt, to the moment I realised I was stuck in the car thinking it was okay, they (race safety staff) would come and help me to jump out, then realising there’s fire.
“I realised after a few attempts of jumping out that I was completely stuck and thinking that I’m going to burn here. I asked myself: ‘Where is it going to start? By the foot? By the hands? By the head? Is it going to be painful or not?’
“You kind of accept the situation. I was in peace and accepting it, but then that’s where I thought about my kids and that I couldn’t leave three kids without a dad. I had to try a last attempt.
“That moment was more like a reset button for my brain. I don’t feel like a superhero, I feel like a dad that has done what he had to do to go and see his kids. That was really the target when I was in the fire, it was jumping out to go and see my kids. They were the energy that I had.”
Grosjean suffered burns to his hands after his Haas car split in two, penetrating a metal barrier and erupting in flames.
During his hospital spell in Bahrain, he spoke of the ‘professionalism’ of the Bahrain International Circuit marshal with the extinguisher and FIA doctor Ian Roberts, as reported in the GDN. “I felt Ian’s hands pulling me over the barrier and knew I was safe,” he said.
Grosjean explains to CNN that it’s because of the halo, a mandatory protection device on F1 cars, that he is able to return to racing and acknowledges that safety mechanisms brought into the sport after the deaths of drivers Jules Bianchi and Anthoine Hubert contributed to his own survival.
“I never stopped thinking about Jules and I always kept in touch with mainly his father,” he said. “I was one of the guys against the halo. I didn’t like it. I didn’t think it was great for motorsport. I must say I changed my mind big time and that I won’t race a car with no halo because it’s saving our lives.
“Jules (Bianchi) saved my life with the introduction of the halo. We’re going to learn from Anthoine (Hubert) and from myself and just make sure that we get better and better. It’s never going to be safe. Motorsport is dangerous, we know that. But if we can learn, if we can make it better and if we can bring that to real life road cars, then it’s very impressive.”
Grosjean, who has French-Swiss nationality, is now concentrating on returning to racing. He is due to compete in the 2021 IndyCar Series with Dale Coyne Racing. Grosjean had previously spent nine seasons in Formula One for a variety of teams, picking up 10 podiums.
“Driving on my own won’t be a problem at all,” he said. “I think the question that I have and can’t answer right now is how is it going to be in the peloton with other drivers, the race starts, and so on; is it going to bring back memories? Is it going to frighten me? But I’m optimistic that it’s going to be alright.”