Romain Grosjean said he was motivated to survive his Bahrain Grand Prix accident for his children, as he revealed he also thought of Niki Lauda’s 1976 fiery escape.
Grosjean’s Haas VF-20 was severed in two after it penetrated the Armco barrier, with the monocoque wedged inside and bursting into flames with the driver still strapped in.
With assistance from Dr Ian Roberts, the Frenchman managed to emerge from the wreckage and escaped with minor burns to his hands.
Recalling the drama in his first extended interview since the accident, Grosjean said it felt longer than the 28-second period from impact to escaping the burning car.
He also reflected on the late Lauda, who survived a similar accident at the Nürburgring in 1976.
“I don’t know if the word miracle exists or if it can be used, but in any case I would say it wasn’t my time (to die),” the 34-year-old told French broadcaster TF1.
“It felt much longer than 28 seconds. 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.
“And then, 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.”
Grosjean admitted he may need psychological intervention to unpack the trauma, and was more concerned for the welfare of his loved ones.
“I was more afraid for my family and friends, obviously my children who are my greatest source of pride and energy, than for myself in the end,” he continued.
“I think there’s going to be some psychological work to be done, because I really saw death coming.
“Even in Hollywood, we’re not able to do images like that. It’s the biggest crash I’ve ever seen in my life.
“The car catching fire, exploding, and the battery that burst into flames too, so it added a lot of energy to the impact.”
Grosjean’s rivals were left in shock by the incident, with Ross Brawn and the driver himself crediting the halo safety device for saving his life.
Roberts and Medical Car driver Alan van der Merwe were also praised for their response, with Grosjean describing his aided escape like a “second birth”.
However, Grosjean, who will leave Haas at the end of the season, added he was motivated to end his stint with the team on track at the Abu Dhabi season finale.
“I would say that there is a feeling of being happy to be alive, of seeing things differently,” Grosjean said.
“But also there is the need to get back in the car, if possible in Abu Dhabi, to finish my story with Formula 1 in a different way.
“It was almost like a second birth… to come out of the flames that day is something that will mark my life forever.
“I have a lot of people who have shown me love and it has touched me a lot, and at times I get a bit teary-eyed.”