Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean has told Sky he was “at peace” with dying during the 28 seconds he was trapped in his burning car, following a horrific crash at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The 34-year-old Frenchman miraculously escaped with minor burns after his Haas car was sliced in half by a safety barrier and burst into flames during last Sunday’s race.
He said the thought of his children – and also what happened to F1 legend Niki Lauda – gave him the strength to finally escape.
In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports, he described the moment he realised his car was on fire after hitting barriers at around 137mph (220kmh).
Grosjean told Sky F1’s Martin Brundle: “The first thing I did was undo the seatbelt, try to remove the wheel – which was gone, so at least one less concern – and then try to jump out.
“I hit something on top of my helmet, so I sit back down and thought I must be upside down up against the barrier, so I’ll wait until they come and help me.
“I looked to my right, looked to my left, and it was all orange. That’s strange, I thought… Then I realised it was fire. So I knew I didn’t have time until they come.”
However, despite repeated efforts, Grosjean said he couldn’t find a way out of the car.
He considered giving up but then thought about Niki Lauda, who suffered severe burns while trapped in his car at Germany’s Nurburgring in 1976.
“I said, ‘I can’t finish like Niki, I can’t finish like this. It cannot be my last race’.”
However, he still couldn’t find a way out.
He added: “So I tried again, I’m stuck… I was almost at peace with myself, thinking, I’m dead. I will die.
“And then, I don’t know if that moment allowed me to recover a bit, try to think of another solution, but I thought about my kids. [Grosjean has three] and I said, no.
“I cannot die today. For my kids, I cannot die today.
“Then I start to twist my head, go up and turn my body. It worked.”
Describing the moment he got free, he said: “I jump on the barrier, then I feel Ian [Roberts, FIA medical delegate] that pulls on my overall and that is an extraordinary feeling.
“When he pulls me, I know there’s someone with me. I’m alive.”
The first responders to Grosjean said they immediately knew the Frenchman had – miraculously- avoided a serious injury. He was taken to the medical centre afterwards.
He spent three nights at the Bahrain Defence Force (BDF) hospital after the accident but has now left.
He will remain in the country to continue private treatment for his burns.
The full interview will be aired during the build-up on Sunday for the Sakhir GP – from 3.30pm on Sky Sports F1.
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