Romain Grosjean has provided an extraordinary account of his miraculous 28-second escape from the burning wreckage of his Haas Formula 1 car after his terrifying Bahrain Grand Prix crash. 

Grosjean survived a 137mph, 53G impact with the barriers that tore his Haas car in half before it burst into flames relatively unscathed, suffering burns to his hands and an injury to his left ankle.

After spending three nights recovering in hospital, the Frenchman was discharged on Wednesday before making his return to the Bahrain paddock on Thursday. Grosjean provided a detailed account of the accident and his escape to reporters on Friday.

Grosjean admitted there was a brief moment when he had accepted his fate, before thoughts of his family and children provided him with the determination and motivation to haul himself to safety.

"For me it wasn't quite 28 seconds, it felt more like 1m30s if I'd put a time on it," Grosjean recalled as he spoke to media on Friday ahead of the Sakhir Grand Prix.

"When the car came to a stop, I opened my eyes, and undid my seatbelt straight away. The thing I didn't remember the next days what what did I do with the steering wheel because I don't have the memory of taking the steering wheel off and putting it out?

"The team said no, the steering had gone in between your legs, the column and everything broke and went down. I didn't have to bother with the steering wheel then, so I tried to jump out. But I felt like something was touching my head, so I sit back down in the car and my first thought was, I'm going to wait. I'm upside down against the wall, so I'm going to wait that come someone comes and helps me.”

Grosjean said it was the realisation of there being a fire that forced him to take action.

“So I wasn’t in stress and obviously not aware at the time there is fire,” explained.

“Then I look right and left, and watching on the left I see fire. So I say ‘OK, well I don’t really have the time to wait here’. So next thing is that I tried to go up a bit more on the right, it doesn’t work. I go again on the left, it doesn’t work. I sit back down and then thought about Niki Lauda, his accident [at the Nuburgring in 1976], and thought ‘it couldn’t end like this, it couldn’t be my last race, it couldn’t finish like this. No way’.

“So I try again and I’m stuck. So I go back and then there’s the less pleasant moment where my body started to relax. I’m at peace with myself, and I’m going to die.

“I asked my question: ‘Is it going to burn my shoe or my foot or my hand? Is it going to be painful? Where is it going to start?’ To me, that looks like two, three, four seconds. I guess it was milliseconds at the time. And then I think about my kids and I said ‘no, they cannot lose their dad today’.

“I don’t know why, but I decided to turn my helmet on the left-hand side and to go up like this and then try to twist my shoulder. That sort of works, but then I realise my foot is stuck in the car.

“So I sit back down, I pull as hard as I can on my left leg and my foot comes out of the shoe. Then I do it again and then the shoulders are going through, and at the time the shoulders are through I know I’m going to jump out.

“I’ve got both hands on the fire at that time. My gloves are red normally, so I see that especially the left one is changing colour and starting melting and going full black, and I feel the pain. But also I feel the relief that I am out of the car.”

It was at this point that Grosjean was helped from the burning wreckage by F1 doctor Ian Roberts, who was one of the first to arrive on the scene.

Once out of the car, Grosjean explained that he quickly removed his gloves to ensure they did not continue to burn his hands as he feared further injury.

“Then I jump out,” Grosjean continued. “I go on the barrier and then I feel Ian [Roberts] pulling on my overalls, so I know I’m not on my own anymore and there’s someone with me. Then I land and then they touch on my back so I’m like ‘Oh shit, I’m like a running fireball’.

“I had that image that we've seen a video from the FIA when they did a test, they put someone on fire and he runs around just to show the overalls were strong. I've got an image that I've got fire following me.

"Then I shake my hand because they're very hot in pain. I removed my gloves straight away because I've got also that image that the skin is in bubbles and melting, and it's going to stick to the gloves. So straight away I want to remove both of my gloves so that the skin doesn't go with it.

"Then Ian comes to see me and speaks to me and says 'Sit down!' I gave him shit and said, 'talk to me normally please'. I guess he understood that I was okay at a time, that I was normal.

"And then we sit and we're too close to the fire and I hear the extinguisher guys from the fire saying 'the battery is on fire, bring some other extinguisher bring some other extinguisher’.

"Then we go into the medical car. Sit down. They put some cold compress on my hand. I told them my hands are burned, my foot is broken. But then the pain really starts going very high, especially on the left foot. The hands were okay at a time, the left foot starts being very painful.”

Grosjean revealed he wanted to walk away from the medical car to the ambulance so that he could show to the TV cameras that he was not seriously injured.

“Then Ian explains to me the ambulance is coming in and that ‘they’re going to come with the [medical] bed and you’re going be OK’,” he said. “And I say ‘no, no, no, we walk into the ambulance’. ‘No, no, no, no, the bed is coming’. And I said ‘no, no, no’. And I walk out of the car and I say ‘we are walking’, and he says ‘OK, we are going to help you’.

“I guess on the medical side, it wasn’t the perfect decision but they understood that, for me, it was key at the point that there was some footage of me walking towards the ambulance. Even though I’d walked out of the fire, I needed to send another strong message that I was OK and I was going to walk towards the ambulance.

“Then every time I met anyone, I said ‘two burned hands, one broken foot’. That’s all I could say to everyone I was meeting just because I was scared of my condition and I wanted everyone that was coming and treating me to know what the symptoms were.

“So yeah, I guess that is the full story of 28 seconds and then the rest. But as you can imagine, it looked longer than 28 seconds with all the thoughts I had. It must have been milliseconds, but all the thoughts to me look like, you know, one, two, three seconds [each]. I don’t know.”

 

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