Romain Grosjean says he “saw death coming” and willed himself to escape his fiery crash at the Bahrain Grand Prix for the sake of his children.
The Frenchman’s car burst into flames after a first-lap crash during Sunday’s race.
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Grosjean has since spoken in detail about the incident, saying he thought of Niki Lauda's fiery crash and willed himself to get out of his burning Haas car for the sake of his children.
“I saw my visor all orange, the flames around me, and the accident of Niki Lauda came to mind I didn't want to end up like that,” the 34-year-old father of three told TF1 and LCI from his Bahrain hospital room.
“I had to get out, for my children.
“I saw death coming, I had no other option but to get out of there.”
Grosjean’s car careered off the track at high speed on the opening lap of the floodlit Bahrain Grand Prix.
The car speared through the protective barriers lining the track in a 53G impact that split it in half and burst into flames.
The Frenchman, who had remained conscious throughout, miraculously extracted himself from the blazing wreckage before being helped to safety by fire marshals and FIA doctors.
Images of the burning car were evocative of a more dangerous era of Formula One such as when three-time world champion Lauda was administered the last rites after suffering severe burns and scorched lungs in an accident at the 1976 German Grand Prix.
The Austrian, who died last year at the age of 70, was back in his Ferrari just six weeks later, his wounds still bandaged and healing.
Grosjean suffered little more than burns to the top of his hands which he jokingly referred to in the interview as “Mickey Mouse” hands because of the bandages swaddling them.
He said the accident felt like a “rebirth” that would mark him for life.
Grosjean could return in Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Grosjean said he wants to compete in Formula One's final race of the season in Abu Dhabi.
The French driver, who has already been ruled out of this weekend's Sakhir Grand Prix, provided an update on his condition, posting a photo to Instagram performing squats with his hands still heavily bandaged.
“Never thought that a few body weight squats would make me happy,” he wrote.
“Body recovering well from the impact. Hopefully same about the burns on my hands.”
Speaking on Tuesday, Grosjean's team boss at Haas, Gunther Steiner, said: “The aim is Romain really would like to do the race in Abu Dhabi (on December 13).
“I told him try to get better and we will speak on Sunday or Monday and see how he feels and if it is doable.
“We will cross that bridge when we come to it. I'm not in a hurry to decide what to do, or what is needed because it depends on his health.
“He is just trying to get better to be in the car in Abu Dhabi.
“That is his aim and that shows that he wants to keep on doing it.”
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