'I Can't Finish Like This' Romain Grosjean Says His Escape Was As Harrowing As It Looked

Illustration for article titled 'I Can't Finish Like This' Romain Grosjean Says His Escape Was As Harrowing As It Looked
Photo: Getty Images (Getty Images)

Romain Grosjean sat down with Sky Sports to narrate his fiery crash at the Bahrain Grand Prix. It was the first time Grosjean was interviewed by an English-language TV station about the wreck. His description of how everything went down is as terrifying as the footage made it seem.

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A transcript:

Straightaway, when movement stopped I opened my eyes and first thing I did was undo the seatbelt, tried to remove the wheel. It was gone, so at least one less concern. And then tried to jump out.

Interviewer: But the flames were already erupting around you?

Initially if I talk through from that point, it’s 28 seconds but for me looks more like one minute thirty. You will see from the explanation. So, it stops. I open my eyes. I undo the seatbelt. Steering wheel gone. And I lift. I want to jump out. I hit something on the top of my head. I feel I hit something so I sit back down. I must be ... against the barrier. I will wait, they will come and help me. So I sit back down and look at the right and look at the left, and I see, oh, it’s all orange. That’s strange. A few things: Is it sunset? No, it’s not sunset. Is it the light from the circuits? No. Also the [gestures to helmet] starts to melt. Oh, it’s fire. No, I don’t have time for them to come. So this time I try to go up, a bit more to the right. Doesn’t work. I come back down. I try a bit more to the left. Doesn’t work. So I sit back down. Then there’s a bit of swearing going on. And I said, “No, I can’t finish like this.” I can’t finish like this. I thought about Niki Lauda. To me, it’s funny, it’s the driver that I love the most in the history of Formula One. And I said, “No, no, I can’t finish like Niki.” I can’t finish like this. It cannot be my last race. It. Can. Not. Be my last race. So, I try again. I’m stuck. And then comes the path, which is the less funny one. Funny is not the word but ... I sit back down, all my muscle relaxes. Almost, not a smile, but peace with myself, thinking, I’m dead. I will die and then I thought, which parts will burn first. Is it the foot? Is it the hands? Is it going to be painful? Very, very strange feeling, you know. I think sometimes we are close to death we are a bit scared. This time death for me was here [gestures.] Don’t ask me why, I just had to put a name on it and I called it Benoit. And then, and then, I don’t know if that moment allowed me to recover a bit, get my brain, try to find another solution. I thought about my kids and I said, “No, I cannot die today. For my kids I cannot die. I’ve got to see them.” And then I need to twist my head like this [moves head to his left], go up, and turn my body. It works, but then my foot is stuck on the pedal. So I’ve got to go back down in the car, pull as hard as I can on my left leg. I mean the shoe stayed where my foot was and my foot came out. And then I do it again and it went through and the shoulder went through and this time the shoulder had passed through the halo part. I was going to leave. I knew I’ve got two of my hands in the fire, on the halo. I can see my gloves, they are red normally, I can see them going full black. I can feel the pain and the burn. But I’m going up. I jump on the barrier. Then I feel [F1 doctor Ian Roberts]. That is an extraordinary feeling. When he pulls me, I’m like, there’s someone with me. I’m alive. And I feel like, on the back they touch me and I’m like, oh, am I on fire? I’m on fire from the back? Then Ian talked to me and he said, “Sit down! Sit down!” You know, very, as you would with anyone ... And I gave [sounds like “fuck shit”], talk to me normally! So I guess from that point he knew I was OK.

Eventually Grosjean got on the phone with his wife.

[F1 president Jean Todt] puts her on speakerphone. I say, “Mosquito!” — I call my wife mosquito — “Mosquito, I’m here! I’m here!” And she exploded in a laugh, as well as crying, she was with the kids and my dad. And it last five seconds, that. But she knew I was alive.

Not much more to say at this point except thank god Grosjean was able to get out. The FIA said yesterday that it expected that its investigation into the crash would take up to eight weeks. The FIA has also said that the results of the investigation will be made public.

News Editor at Jalopnik. 2008 Honda Fit Sport.

DISCUSSION

Time apparently slowed down for him as all of what he described took place in what, 18 seconds?  crazy that he was able to wriggle out of that car.  One time when I nearly drowned in a relatives pool, time slowed down for me too in that I was able to do some similar sole searching until my cousin yanked me out of the deep end.