MANAMA, Bahrain — Romain Grosjean will spend another night in hospital recuperating from his fiery Bahrain Grand Prix crash, but the Frenchman is keen to race in the Formula One finale in Abu Dhabi. He told a French broadcaster that he “saw death coming” as he was trying to escape his burning car – and that “for my children, I told myself that I had to get out.”
Grosjean, 34, limped away from the horrific crash with burns to his hands but not a broken bone in his body. He was set to be discharged from a nearby hospital on Tuesday.
He broke through the barriers on the opening lap of Sunday’s race, which tore his car in two before it caught fire. In his first interview since the crash, he told French broadcaster TF1 he had time to think about his children — and even about the former F1 racer Niki Lauda, who nearly died and was badly burned in the 1976 German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring.
“It felt much longer than 28 seconds,” Grosjean told TF1. “I see my visor turning all orange, I see the flames on the left side of the car. I thought about a lot of things – including Niki Lauda – and I thought that it wasn’t possible to end up like that, not now. I couldn’t finish my story in Formula 1 like that.
“For my children, I told myself that I had to get out. I put my hands in the fire, so I clearly felt it burning on the chassis. I got out, then I felt someone pulling on the suit, so I knew I was out.”
Thank you so much for all your messages
Loving life pic.twitter.com/uTyfhTYTxP
— Romain Grosjean (@RGrosjean) November 30, 2020
Grosjean, who is out of a drive and set to leave Formula One next season, will be replaced by Haas’ Brazilian reserve driver Pietro Fittipaldi, for the second of Bahrain’s two races this weekend.
He has put up several posts from hospital on his social media including one on Tuesday showing him, his hands and left foot swaddled in bandages, doing squats.
His Haas team boss Guenther Steiner said he is working to be back to full fitness in time for the Dec. 13 season-ending race in Abu Dhabi, which is likely to be his Formula One swan song.
“That is his aim now. He just tries to get better to be in the car in Abu Dhabi. I think that shows that he wants to keep on doing it you know,” Steiner said.
Haas on Tuesday announced Russian Nikita Mazepin as one of its two drivers for the 2021 season.
Mick Schumacher, son of seven-time world champion Michael, is the favorite to land the second seat at the American team, with Grosjean’s teammate Kevin Magnussen also leaving the team at the end of the season.