Romain Grosjean said he will be psychologically “marked for life” after his miraculous escape from Sunday’s horrific crash at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Grosjean, who wants to compete in Formula One’s final race of the season in Abu Dhabi in less than two weeks, relived the trauma after emerging from the flaming wreckage of his car with relatively minor injuries.
“It is like a rebirth for me. I will be marked for life by this accident,” Grosjean told French news channel LCI.
The 34-year-old said that he feared for his life as he struggled to get out of his car, which burst into flames after colliding head on into safety barriers at 137mph shortly after the start of the race.
“I saw death coming, I had no other option but to get out of there,” he said.
The Frenchman put his survival down to a “combination of circumstances which went in the right direction” after spending 28 seconds in the blaze, adding: “I’m not complaining. It wasn’t my time.”
Grosjean, who described his second degree burns to both hands as “superficial”, said he was fully conscious throughout and had been determined not to suffer more serious injuries for the sake of his children and parents.
“I saw my visor all orange, the flames around me, and the accident of Niki Lauda came to mind,” he said.
“I didn’t want to end up like that. I had to get out, for my children. In the end, my hands were burnt and a big sprain, while I thought I had broken my foot.
“I was more afraid for my relatives, my children in the first place, but also my father and my mother, I was not really afraid for myself.”
Grosjean said he was determined to return to the track at Abu Dhabi in order “to finish my story in F1 differently”.
“I will be happy even if I finish 20th,” he said. “Even if it’s complicated for those close to me, it’s a need for me to get back into a Formula 1 car, to see where I am, if I can continue to drive.”
Grosjean, who will spend a third night at the Bahrain Defence Force Hospital, also spared a thought for countryman Jules Bianchi, who died after his crash at the Japanese Grand Prix in 2015.
“I think Jules didn’t want me up there,” added Grosjean, who posted a picture of himself doing body squats on Instagram.
Grosjean’s team boss at Haas, Gunther Steiner, said: “The aim is Romain really would like to do the race in Abu Dhabi (on December 13).
“I told him try to get better and we will speak on Sunday or Monday and see how he feels and if it is doable. We will cross that bridge when we come to it.”
Stepping into Grosjean’s shoes this weekend is Haas’ Brazilian reserve driver Pietro Fittipaldi for his F1 debut. The 24-year-old is the grandson of double world champion Emerson Fittipaldi.
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