Romain Grosjean has described how he came to terms with his brush with death in his fiery Bahrain Grand Prix crash, and the positive effects it has had for his life.
Five months on from the crash, and following his return to racing in IndyCar, Grosjean says the traumatic experience has had some upsides.
“Obviously, it’s a big thing in my life but I must say I’m very happy nowadays,” he told the BBC. “That experience was a tough one, I don’t wish anyone to go through that, but also made my life better.”
Two days after the crash, Grosjean began therapy to come to terms with what he had gone through.
“I worked very quickly after the crash, Tuesday night I think it was in Bahrain, with my psychologist. We went through different things because you can’t leave an experience like this without having some consequences. But we worked through all of the phases that were a bit difficult at the time.”
Grosjean returned to the cockpit in an IndyCar test in February, and started his first race in the series for Coyne/Rick Ware last month.
“When I jumped back in a racing car, things felt pretty normal,” he said. “I felt [at] home, even though it was a different car.
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“Then the big question was how the first race was going to be when I was restarting the season in IndyCar. And actually it went really well and since then I feel good in a race car.
“It is my passion, it is my life. And I guess it’s also made [me the] dad that I am because I live what I like to live. Really we’ve done great work with the psychologist. The first couple of weeks were a bit tricky, but after that, things really got smooth and as I say, I’m happy.”
To escape from his burning car, Grosjean had to place his gloved hands into the fire, sustaining serious burns which he is still recovering from.
“The right-hand side is absolutely perfect, I just need to avoid the sun for a couple of years,” Grosjean explained.
“The left hand is still quite red. It is not pretty. It’s not very comfortable. But with creaming every hour or so and some treatment and a bit of work through the day, actually it works very well.
“The most important thing is that I can play with my kids, I can cuddle them, and also I can drive a racing car.”
Grosjean said his decision to resume his racing career gave him a target to aim for in his physical recovery from the crash.
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“I always I think a sportsman needs a target to come back from injury. And for me, 31st of January was kind of the date where I wanted to be able to use my hands properly, and my left thumb with the ligament issues, I had to go to surgery for the ligament.
“But I always put it that as a date because I knew in February I wanted to go and drive the IndyCar. So for me it was a way to speed up the process, to keep doing the rehab and to push my body to heal faster.”
His injuries prevented Grosjean from being able to participate in the final two races of last season, which were due to be his final appearances in Formula 1. Mercedes CEO Toto Wolff has therefore offered him the opportunity to drive one of their cars, which he will do on two days at Paul Ricard in June, in between his IndyCar races at Road America and Mid-Ohio.
“It will be a very, very special day,” he said. “The first time would be at the French Grand Prix, 27th of June, for a few laps in front of my home crowd. It’s great to see that even with Covid, the French Grand Prix is able to get few fans. So that’s going to be a good way to say goodbye to my fans.
“Then on Tuesday after that we’ve got a full day of testing. That one is more like for me to enjoy a full day in the car, obviously give as much feedback as I can to the engineers and work around it. But it’s just going to be a beautiful experience and I’m very lucky to have that because that is very rare in Formula 1.”
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