Romain Grosjean describes 28-second escape from burning wreck

Warning – this story contains details that some readers may find distressing

It took Romain Grosjean 28 seconds to emerge from the fiery wreckage of his Formula 1 Haas on Sunday evening.

On impact with the safety barrier, Grosjean’s body was subjected to 53 times the force of gravity, which was enough to split the car in half and ignite the wreckage in a ball of flame.

Over the next 28 seconds, Grosjean faced death, accepted it, then instantly rejected it.

Sitting in videoconference in the F1 paddock five days later, Grosjean, whose worst injuries extend to burns on the back of his hands, was able to speak to reporters about the incident.

Here’s the remarkable story of those 28 seconds, the horror he faced, and the quick thinking that saved his life.

Romain Grosjean:

“Let me relive those 28 seconds and bring you with me.”

“For me, it wasn’t quite 28 seconds, it was more like a minute 30, if I had to put a time on it.

“When the car stopped, I opened my eyes and immediately released my seat belt.

“The thing I didn’t remember the next day was what I did with the steering wheel because I didn’t remember taking it off and they said, ‘no, the steering wheel went between your legs, column and everything broke down and fell. So I didn’t have to worry about the steering wheel.

“So I’m going to jump and I feel like something is touching my head, so sit in the car.” My first thought is that I will wait, I am upside down against the wall so I will wait for someone else to come and help me.

“I wasn’t stressed or aware that there was a fire, but then I looked right and left and saw on the left that there was a fire.

“So okay, I don’t really have time to wait here, next time I try to go up a little more to the right, it doesn’t work, go left, it doesn’t work, sit down you and I thought about Niki Lauda, ​​about her accident, I thought it couldn’t end like this, that it couldn’t be my last race, it couldn’t end like this, no way . So I try again and I’m stuck and so I go back down.

“And then there is the least pleasant moment when my body begins to relax, I am at peace with myself and I am going to die.”

“I wonder; is it gonna burn my shoe or my foot or my hand is it gonna be painful where is it going to start. And I mean, to me it sounds like 2-3-4 seconds but I guess it was milliseconds back then.

“Then I think about my kids, and I say no, they can’t lose their father today. So I don’t know why I did what I did but I decided to turn my helmet on the left side and go up like that and try to twist my shoulder.

“This kind of work works, but I realize my foot is stuck in the car so I sit down, I pull as hard as I can on my left leg, the shoe stayed with my foot but my foot came out. the shoe.

“Then I do it again and my shoulders go by and the moment the shoulder goes I know I’m going to jump, so I have both hands on fire at that point, I see my gloves, which are normally red, I mostly see the one on the left changing color and starting to melt and go completely black.

“I feel the pain that my hands are in the fire but also I feel the relief to be out of the car, then I jump, go over the barrier, feel Ian [Roberts, the FIA doctor] put on my jumpsuit so I know I’m not alone anymore and that there is someone with me.

“I land and they hit me on the back, so I’m like, ‘Oh, I’m a running fireball!’ The image you know we saw on the FIA ​​video shows us where they do a test, set someone on fire and run to show the set was strong.

“Then I squeeze my hands because they are very hot and painful, I immediately took off the gloves because I have this image that the skin is bubbling and melting and will stick to the gloves, so immediately I want to remove the gloves. gloves… the skin does not match.

“Then Ian comes to me and talks to me and says, ‘Sit down! and I gave him…, I said, “talk to me normally please”, I guess he understood by then that I was fine, I was normal.

“Then we sit down and we are too close to the fire, I hear the guys with the extinguisher say the battery is on fire bring more extinguishers, then we get into the medical car, we sit down, they have put cold compress on my hand like I told them, my hands are burning and my foot is broken.

“Then the pain really starts to get really bad, especially in the left foot, the hands were fine at the time but the left foot starts to be very painful.

“Ian explains that the ambulance is coming and they are going to come with the bed and that you are going to be fine and we continue to talk at that point.” I say, ‘no now we’re going to the ambulance, they say’ no, no, the bed is coming “, I say” no, no, no, I get out of the car and say we are walking “,” okay , we will help you ”.

“I guess medically it wasn’t a perfect decision, but they understood for me that it was essential that there be footage of me walking towards the ambulance, so even though I got out fire, I had to send another strong message that I was fine and I was going to walk towards the ambulance.

“Then every time I met someone I would say two burnt hands, one broken foot, that’s all I could say to everyone I met, just because I was obviously scared of my conditions and that I wanted everyone who came to treat me to know that my symptoms were.

“So I guess that’s the full 28 second story and then the rest, as you can imagine, felt like more than 28 seconds with all the thoughts I was having, it must have been milliseconds.” , but all thoughts sounded like 1 -2-3 seconds. ”

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