Juan Manuel Correa has opened up in details about his FIA Formula 2 (F2) Championship crash at Spa-Francorchamps and talks on his recovery plus return along with Billy Monger and Alexander Albon.
Its been months since the tragic incident during the feature F2 race at Spa-Francorchamps where Anthoine Hubert lost his life, while Correa got severely injured as he went into coma initially and then underwent surgery on his legs, especially the right one.
Having spent nearly two months in the hospital in Belgium and the United Kingdom combined, Correa finally was able to travel back home in Miami in United States of America, where he is resting and also recovering from the life-changing injuries.
In a rare interview since the incident, Correa spoke to Mundo Sport about certain topics related to the crash, where he explained his side of things especially recalling the moment he hit Hubert’s car, the aftermath and also the FIA findings.
In addition, he also spoke about the surgeries he has had along with the recovery programme while admitting that he isn’t sure whether he can race again or not. He is taking inspiration from Monger, who survived with both his legs gone.
The crash, what happened, its aftermath and FIA notes
Correa: “It’s all clear, I had meetings with the FIA, it was an accident with very bad luck, a long chain of events where four or five cars were involved. What I told about what I experienced coincides with the FIA report.
“But it’s over, no investigation is going to change the fact that I have a hard year ahead. When I went past Eau Rouge I stepped on a debris from Alesi’s car that got under the front wheels, lifted them so I went straight, with the bad luck that I went straight into Hubert’s car.”
Surgeries, recovery and return
Correa: “Basically the doctors rebuilt my right leg, the left one suffered much milder injuries, a single surgery was enough. The process will last a year with more surgeries to come, recovery and rehabilitation. Unfortunately, it is most likely to never make a full recovery in my leg. But I will fight to recover it enough to step on the throttle again.
“I lost six centimeters of bone in the lower part of the tibia, it is growing again with a special device, that’s why I have all those metals pieces around my leg that you see in social media. I grow the bone by one millimeter per day. On December 23 I have the next surgery where the bone will reach the foot.
“Then process will come where the new bone will get strengthen hard so it can support weight. After that the metals will be removed to recover as much as possible, and assess how much pain or mobility I have and see what other operations follow. At the beginning the doctors expected two years to make the recovery.
“But my body is doing everything faster, it recovers and regenerates the bones faster than normal. Being optimistic, in a year we could have the full idea of how much more I can recover or if I will get just to there. Being a professional athlete was a huge help, not only because of the bones and the body but also the pulmonary arrest I suffered.
“I spent two weeks in a coma. I would not have survived without being in this physical condition. It’s strange that I didn’t lose consciousness in the crash, it was an impact of 70G, when I told doctors that I hadn’t lost consciousness they didn’t believe me. Before I crashed I put my muscles hard and I held on tight, that helped me too.
“I wanted to get out of the car myself, I was conscious throughout the whole accident. I didn’t do anything I didn’t do before, I’m with the same people that surrounded me before, a lot of physical and mental work. They were my base alongside my family. I have a strong character, when I woke up from the coma I realised that I could stay in bed feeling bad and depressed or fight to get up and go back, and that’s what I do.
“I am motivated by the dream of returning to F2 and reaching F1 in the future. The amount of messages I received and people who wanted to visit me in the hospital, even from people I don’t know, motivated me a lot, especially in the toughest moments.”
Monger, Albon and the mental aspect
Correa: “I met Billy Monger who keeps racing after what he suffered, that helped me on the mental issue because after an accident like mine I saw that I could recover. I tried to find him. I wanted to congratulate him on how he came back, only him and I know what we went through so we had an instant connection.
“I was motivated by his attitude, he is a very happy guy with a lot of energy, good vibes and that helped me out of the hole in those two months. There are drivers who didn’t go through things like those who also sent a lot of energy. I was very close to Alex Albon, we have known each other since 2014.
“He came to see me in London, the whole motorsport community was amazing with me. “It took me a few weeks to accept everything, it is difficult to understand with pain drugs in the hospital. It took me time to accept it, but my attitude is pragmatic, nothing will change what happened, so I have to make the best of it.
“Of course I feel sadness, Anthoine was a good friend, but now I feel that I have to return not only for myself but also for him. It was an accident that changed my life, not only physically but mentally. When you have an experience so close to death and you go out alive, your eyes open beyond motor racing.
“There were moments in the hospital where I wasn’t sure if I wanted to race again. I realised that racing is not the most important thing, it is my passion, but such an accident shows you the priorities, and my priority was my health and my family. Leaving that hole I had time to reflect.
“My passion is still racing. A friend asked me if this turns off my F1 dream. I told him that an accident does not turn off the dream, it does make you think if you want to take a risk for a dream. And I decided that I want to continue doing so because it is my dream.”
Here’s the last story from our end on Juan Manuel Correa
Note: The English translation of the interview was carried by f1feederseries.com