The fiery accident Romain Grosjean experienced on the opening lap of the Sakhir Grand Prix last November triggered a reset in his brain.
The shocking crash stunned millions, fearing the worst we watched the live feed, as we collectively held our breath until he emerged from the blaze alive.
It was an agonising half a minute or so before that palpable relief was allowed to be released and we realised that the Frenchman, father of three, would live to tell the tale. A miracle, or series of miracles, saved his life on that night.
In further analysis of his ordeal, he told CNN in an interview yesterday: “Twenty-eight seconds I was in the flames if you look. If you ask me how long it was, I would have said a minute … minute-and-a-half.”
Lucid as he emerged from the inferno into the hands of safety teams that operated impeccably, faultlessly even, on that night in Bahrain. Grosjean’s memory of those moments remains intact.
“I remember everything about it, every single detail,” he revealed. “From the moment I started undoing my seat belt, to the moment I realized I was stuck in the car thinking it was okay, they [safety crews] would come and help me to jump out, then realizing there’s fire.
“I realized after a few attempts of jumping out that I was completely stuck and thinking that I’m going to burn here. I asked myself: where is it going to start? By the foot? By the hands? By the head? Is it going to be painful or not?
“I was in peace and accepting it, but then that’s where I thought about my kids and that I couldn’t leave three kids without a dad. I had to try a last attempt. That moment was like a reset button for my brain.
“It’s two, two-and-a-half months now and two-and-a-half months that I am in pain. I could use painkillers, but psychologically I stopped painkillers, so I don’t want to get back at it,” explained the 34-year-old Frenchman.
Grosjean has departed Formula 1 after a career in which he made 179 Grand Prix starts, finishing ten times on the podium but never winning a race. He raced for Renault, Lotus and Haas.
Today he begins the next chapter of his racing career when he straps himself into the Honda-powered Dallara DW12 in Dale Coyne Racing colours for a private test ahead of the 2021 Indycar season.